On January 11, 2019 I made a commitment to myself to take steps to lose weight and feel stronger. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but I knew I wanted to do it. I’ll tell you why I made this commitment… I was looking at pictures of myself from our visit to Texas and I didn’t like what I saw – typical of almost every American woman, sadly. 😦 I decided at THAT moment that I deserve better.
I deserve a body that doesn’t ache when I get off of the couch. I deserve a body that doesn’t get out of breath going up the stairs to work everyday. I deserve a body that doesn’t make me sad when I look in the mirror. I deserve a body that makes me feel good! How the fuck do I do that?!
I’ve never put myself first. I’ve never really chosen healthy foods and exercise because it was too much work… I THOUGHT it was too much work. Honestly, if my life was as stressful as it was 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do it – I couldn’t have done it – and clearly, I didn’t do it! It just took me a single moment – a “bottom of the barrel” moment – a “holy shit, I look like THAT!” moment – and everything that goes along WITH that moment of self hate and shame of being overweight and all the other bullshit lies I tell myself as I take myself down a long dark hole that seems nearly impossible to pull myself out of……. (pause: breathe in…. breathe out…) Ok. I’m back.
So, that was MY moment. The moment I decided to make changes in my life. I deserve it! I made a commitment to myself to be healthy and strong and to strive to be more authentic in my life. So, I made a goal for myself – and honestly, I really had no idea where to start. I listened to a couple of people who inspired me. One is Mel Robbins and the other is Corrine of Phit-N-Phat fame. They both had very inspiring and real things to say. During one of Mel’s Ted Talks, she said (paraphrased) – you’re never going to WANT to do anything that’s good for you… it’s too hard… our brains save us from difficult things and so our brain stops us from doing things we KNOW we SHOULD do, because it’s hard. Her 5-4-3-2-1 theory has helped me do things I wouldn’t otherwise be doing! She also talks about setting a goal of who you want to be… how you want your life to look… now, every time I make a decision, I base my choice on which one will get me closer to my goal. If I want to be healthy and I have a choice between carrots and a donut – I may WANT the donut and at the same time the carrots will help me reach my goal. OK, I’ll have carrots and be happy about it! Seriously! I’ll be happy because I know that after I eat them I WILL be happy and proud of myself for making a good choice based on advancing myself towards my life goal. You dig?!?! You still with me?! Pretty cool, right?!?!
Ok. Step 1 – Make good choices! Hahaha… sure, let’s give it a whirl! I’ll tell ya, this can be pretty tough – although, you know that already. This time, though, I was doing it with a goal in mind… something I could visualize. I see that visualization of a better me (whatever that looks like to you) every time an opportunity comes my way. (Another tool I’m using is to change the way I self-talk – more on that later.) I need to make mindful choices every day all day long… it sounds pretty tiring. It definitely can be! I’ve been dealing with a pretty heavy emotional load the last few years and I’ll say after all that emotional stress, I didn’t have it in me to work on myself. But, like I said – everyone has their moment and it’s like a perfect storm… you have to be ready physically, emotionally, and mentally to really make a change – and keep that change going.
I found myself in that perfect storm, yet, I wasn’t sure where to start. I stumbled upon a podcast by Phit-N-Phat. She talked about how losing weight seemed impossible and out of reach. When you look at the end result and you think to yourself, “I’ll NEVER be able to get there!” and “Oh, my gosh… no way!” or the ever popular, “I’ll fail… it’s too hard… it’ll take FOREVER!” – just remember that it is one day at a time and in a year’s time, you’ll be happy you made the changes you did! She talked about waking up every day with the intention to treat your body right… to do good things for yourself. These thoughts DO NOT happen on their own! It takes practice and it takes mindfulness.
I have a little book called, “How To Eat,” by Thich Nhat Hanh. I’ve had it for a few years and only now can I actually understand it and want to try his mindfulness meditations. He talks about the simple practice of eating and being in the moment and connecting to the earth and connecting to each other …. the meditations are helpful ways to be mindful while eating. I’m still practicing! It isn’t something that comes easily since I’ve lived my life doing almost the complete opposite! I would eat mindLESSly all the time. I wasn’t really hungry – I was bored or sad or lonely or mad or tired or ______ (fill in the blank) and I didn’t know what I was eating – and more importantly – how much! I’ll tell ya – it was A LOT!!! And it was a lot of crap!!!
Mindfulness is not easy! It is hard work to be mindful when eating. It is hard to turn down the pint of ice cream while I’m on the couch watching tv. But, I look at that end goal and think about the decisions I’m making – does it get me towards my life goal? Yes? Good choice. No? Choose something different.
Ok… let’s get to Step 2 – Self-Love! Do I love myself? Well, I say I do, but you should hear the way I talk TO myself and ABOUT myself!!! I would never be my friend if I heard me saying those things about me! Time to knock that shit off! I’ve been practicing talking more nicely to myself. It’s really important to keep my motivation going. When I am making decisions about what to eat, I don’t say, “I CAN’T have” that tub of ice cream. It is such negative talk… I’m basically punishing myself and I’m an adult damn it!!! I can have whatever the fuck I please! If I want it, I will have it! Thank you very much. So, instead of punishing myself, I’ll think of the choices and say, “I choose to have a 1/2 cup of ice cream in a dish” – it gives me more power just by saying “I CHOOSE” instead of “I CAN’T.”
Phit-n-Phat talked about making small changes that you can live with today. Eventually those changes may lead to bigger changes. Her example was that she made a commitment to herself that she would only eat ice cream out of a bowl. No more eating out of the carton. She didn’t limit how much she could put in the bowl, just that she was NOT going to eat it out of the carton! A small change, but over time that change would have big results! She suggested finding places in your life where you feel like you can make those small commitments to yourself. When my daughter and I would go to the movies I would get a large buttered popcorn (shared between the two of us), some reese’s pieces, and a slurpee. Now, I get a medium buttered popcorn (shared), some reese’s pieces, and a water. It’s a small change, but I can commit to doing that for myself… and remember you are doing something good FOR yourself! It’s not a punishment!!! You are loving yourself enough to make a choice that is in alignment with your life goal. Self-love, baby! I’ve met you and you’re great! I would talk nicely about you if I were you! 🙂
Ready for Step 3? Drink 2 liters a day! I have a hard time emotionally with this one. So much stress in my life comes from my daughter NOT drinking 2 liters a day. It is hard to drink 2 liters of water a day…for her it seems nearly impossible. Let’s just say – it’s a struggle! I found it challenging at first, but I made it one of my goals, so I kept at it. I keep a 10 oz cup next to the sink in the kitchen and I fill it up and drink one down while I’m in there. When I see that cup it reminds me to drink. Drinking lots of water also helps keep me full longer and less apt to snack (again – mindful eating comes into play here, too) on crappy stuff. I keep track of how much water I drink with my fitbit app. There are tons of apps that you can use to help you keep track of how much water you’re drinking – I highly suggest using one – or a white board or a notebook or an abacus that’s within reach! I also have a water bottle at work that holds 20 oz, so I drink it down and add it to my app, then I get in some steps when I go fill it up! 🙂 So, yeah, DRINK LOTS OF WATER!!!
I know you’ve been waiting for this one, Step 4 – Exercise! Why is it such a horrible word?!? Because everyone is telling us to do it and we don’t have time and it can hurt and it doesn’t sound fun… I know. I agree… yet, the magic trick to losing weight and feeling strong? You guessed it – and you already know it – it’s eating better and exercising! I used to HATE exercising – or at least the THOUGHT of doing it. Again, its the self sabotage crap – “I can’t do it… it’s too hard… I don’t have time… I can’t run a marathon…” Yes. Yes, you can. Maybe not today, but let’s just look at today. Start where you are – no matter where it is – and do NOT compare yourself to anyone else. This is your body and these are your goals and it’s your life. Do what YOU can – cuz you’re the only you there is! 🙂
I started with a commitment to myself that I would go to the gym (I got a $10/month membership at Planet Fitness) and walk on the treadmill for 60 minutes a day at least 5 days a week… just walk. I started where I was – I did the minimum that I KNEW I COULD COMMIT TO DOING! Picking goals that are too much for you to do, will be just that – too much for you to do and you won’t do it. After I started feeling better from just walking, I added running for 1 minute and walking 4 minutes. Now, two months later, I’ve increased to running up to 10 minutes at a time and burning 500 calories an hour! I know, look out Boston Marathon, here I come!!! Ha! But, I’m really proud of myself and I feel strong when I’m running. I feel strong when I say to myself, “You got this. You can run for another 30 seconds or minute or two…I can do this!” AND I DO IT! I feel the difference in my body and the courage I feel every time I step on the treadmill. It feels good! (Self-love!)
I won’t lie, though, some days I don’t want to go to the gym and I do it anyway and I always feel better for doing it! I also do yoga or a dance/exercise video on youtube at home a couple days a week. I lift some light weights at home while watching tv for toning my arms… and on those days that I don’t get to the gym or do an exercise video, I literally walk in my living room while I’m watching tv to get my 10,000 steps in! Just. Keep. Moving.
Something else that has helped me is Step 5 – Counting Calories! For me, this has been life changing! I never really knew how many calories I was eating every day – it’s really insane! Some of those small choices throughout the day can add 1000 calories without a lot of bang for the buck! That fattening food doesn’t keep you full for long and it certainly doesn’t have any nutritional value! I use my fitbit and add everything that I eat and it calculates my intake of calories for the day and of calories that I’ve burned. It is a little tedious at times and I need to do a bit of research sometimes, but for me – it is totally worth it! One more way to help me be mindful when eating.
I will say that food is the toughest part when trying to be healthier. Looking at calories, protein content, and serving size are the first thing I do now with food. I’ve been scouring websites and Pinterest for recipes and snack ideas. I have gotten into the habit of eating 1 or 2 eggs every morning for breakfast. I got this cute little egg poacher/boiler and it makes it SUPER easy now! The easier it is, the more likely I will be to do it – and keep doing it! So, I start my day with 10 oz of water, then maybe some decaf coffee with some creamer. Then I eat an egg (usually hard-boiled cuz its easy to eat and easy to take with me) mid-morning and sometimes I’m not even hungry for lunch or I’ll eat a microwavable meal. I really like Kashi and Lightlife brands. Super yummy and full of good stuff with lots of protein to keep you full and not too many calories. I don’t mind eating those for lunch or dinner if I don’t have anything else to make or if I’m too tired to make a healthy meal and I don’t want to grab everything and scarf it down! Oh, and I always have a couple boiled eggs in my fridge so if I’m super hungry I can grab one and it satiates me until I can find a good healthy meal to eat.
I will tell you that I still eat some crappy food, I just don’t eat that much of it. I learned from Phit-n-Phat to make smart choices, small changes. If I want a Whopper – I might have one, but not the fries and I get light mayo and maybe take off one of the buns? (I haven’t done that, yet, but its an option!) – and I don’t have one every day or every week. I will add that the more healthy food that I eat, the more a Whopper sounds disgusting! The last time I had one, I can honestly say it didn’t taste that great! Now, instead of Burger King when I’m craving that fattening fast food, I cook up some tempeh in seaseme oil and a little soy sauce – it totally hits the spot! One last example of a change I’ve made is when we go to Olive Garden, my kid’s favorite restaurant. I have lots of salad and order the lasagna and take half home. Smart choices that align with my long term goals and help me feel better.
I don’t just crave fattening foods…how about that sweet tooth? I don’t really crave sweets, but I do like chocolate! I still have chocolate treats, but just a smaller portion. I still have cookies, but very seldom and not a whole bag! I have really looked at serving sizes – it matters, folks! I used to love Keebler Double Stuffed EL Fudge cookies… I would eat half the package, which is 10 cookies = 900 calories!!! Ugh. Holy hell. Now, I just don’t buy them cuz it is too tempting and I don’t need it and they are NOT good for my body anyway. I do, however, get these Bark Thins or GFB Bites and have just enough to nibble on and it doesn’t ruin my forward progress. . It’s really about portion sizes, mindful choices, and small changes.
The last bit of advice for today, in this long post, is to Listen to Your Body! I have learned a lot about my body in the last two months. I learned that boiled eggs do fill me up. I’ve learned that I can feel strong running without thinking I need to run a marathon. I’ve learned that I need to eat a healthy protein filled meal for lunch if I’m going the gym later that evening. If I eat just an egg and some fruit for lunch, which keeps me going until I get home, I don’t have as much energy to give it my all at the gym. I’ve also learned that I’m human and some days I will eat more than I’d like and then I’m strong enough to keep going the next day. It should not be about failure and punishments. It is about strength, mindfulness, and living your best life.
Good luck to you and let me know if you have any questions or need some support… and let me know about your progress. You got this!!! #betterme #goals #create #10000steps #keepmoving #smartchoices #healthyandstrong