The struggle to maintain and lose weight is a struggle most women (and men) face throughout their lives. It’s a constant battle of the right food, correct amount of intake, right exercise, finding the exercise you prefer to do...The list is never-ending.
Here’s the truth- you have to do you. You have to do what feels good and right to you! Not anyone else! You need to do whatever it is that will make you feel good in your own skin.
Here’s the hard part- not letting society dictate what to do. We live in a world where skinny and lean is the expectation of what is sexy and healthy, and there is a constant pressure to live up to that impossible expectation.
We all have different body types and needs. What I do to stay in shape may not work for you, but parts of it might work for you. Take it or leave it.
This is a hard truth that I have had to try and face myself. I have tried several different programs and diets and none of them made me happy- working out and eating became a chore after just a few weeks of trying to stick to a diet and exercise routine. I couldn’t commit to one program for more than a month at time. No joke. I would lose interest and gain back any weight I may have lost right away. (I am here to tell you, after you have a kid your metabolism goes out the window.)
Finally I stopped and asked myself why do I want to be in shape? Why do I want to lose the weight? What is the point if I simply hate all the workouts I try? Was I supposed to hate the process? Everyone in the videos or posters or books seem so happy to be working out and being health, but I was so miserable that I didn’t want to do anything but eat right.
While eating right is 80% of process and I was feeling better about myself. I knew I was missing out on the endorphins from my runs and the burn of lifting weights. I had the drive deep down to do those things but not on a consistent enough basis to see any results from the sporadic workouts. Finally, I took a moment to just sit in the mess of thoughts about my workout habits and sorted through all of them. (Mindfulness works people! Try it)
Here’s what I came up with:
- I don’t do well with a prescribed workout regime or program. Probably because I don’t have the discipline to follow those fad quick fix plans- I need the advice and help from a person, in person.
- My eating habits need to fit my life. I have a picky husband and three year old. I can’t force quinoa and feta down their throats if they don’t like it, so I need to find meals that I can make healthy without having to make six different meals for three people.
- I am freaking busy! I don’t have time to work out twice a day five days a week. (That’s just extreme and I am not training for an Ironman or anything)
- I need downtime. I have to force myself to sit still and recharge or I hit a breaking point and I can’t function.
So what does my workout look like? Well I go to a bodypump class twice a week if I can wake up at the ass crack of dawn to make it in time at my local gym. Even if I am only able to make it once in a week I feel better knowing that I was able to fit a full body workout in. One or two days a week I try to go for a 3-4 mile run, and if I can’t do that I go for a really long walk with my pups in tow. They need and love to walk with me plus it gives me a reason to practice some mindfulness while I spend time with them. Do I always get four days of workouts in? No. I do strive for it though, but I don’t put myself down if I don’t get that workout in. I don’t let the unrealistic worldly expectations fee the guilt surrounding a missed workout. You have to stop thinking that way right!
I watch what I eat. I make sure I have three big-ish meals a day and 3 healthy snacks in between meals. The hardest part of a diet for me is giving up sweets. I hated not having something sweet after dinner or in between meals. Do I have ice cream every now and then? You bet your ass I do. I don’t starve myself (I have been there and I don’t need to go back) and I do indulge in the OCCASIONAL treat. I say occasional because I have been in the habit of saying, “Oh, I worked out today. I can have a cup of ice cream.” everyday I work out. Well as you can imagine, that was counter productive to my weight and body goals and would cause me to give up. So I treat myself with sweets that are healthier for me- homemade banana ice cream, oatmeal energy bites, breaking off a corner of dark chocolate. So I make sure it isn’t in the house so I am not tempted to just dive right in and eat all the junk. The beauty of it is I do the grocery shopping so I have the control over what goes into my fridge. I consult my husband on meals he thinks sound good and I put my own healthy twist on them. I have my daughter eat the same food as us to start to instill healthy eating habits for her.
Downtime is probably the most important part of my self discovery. I recently lost my grandma, but the month long process of waiting for her to go almost broke me. My anxiety levels were through the roof and I kept thinking I needed to get a workout in to relieve stress, but my body kept telling me no and forcing me to sleep. The anticipation of a phone call about my grandmother passing, my PhD workload, and maintaining the rest of my life was too much. I hadn’t stopped moving and thinking for almost a month straight until I finally hit my breaking point. I was on the verge of a panic attack and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I finally realized (even though everyone I talked to said it too) “L. you need to take a break. Just zone out for a minute and let your mind stop.” I may have to force myself to take some down time, but my body and mind are so much better for it. My downtime looks different everyday. One day I play tea party with my kid and allow myself to just be with her fully, another I write posts like this or work on my novel. Somedays I just sit still and watch a movie. (Ask my husband, that is very hard for me)
The fact of the matter is you gotta do you. You need to find what healthy habits you can and will enjoy attempting to incorporate into your life permanently to help boost you towards your goals and fuel your body’s needs. I encourage you to remember: It’s your body. You choose how to treat it and what fuels it.