Somewhere between “I’m really going to get serious about getting the weight off this time. No really. Tomorrow.” and “I think I want to be a fitness model” I found my happy place. In that place I work out regularly,but don’t beat myself up if I miss a work out (or two). In that place there are lots of fruits and veggies and the occasional Krispy Kreme or bacon cheeseburger. I learned that I can’t live a life of all or nothing. If my “plan” consists of never eating crap or working out every single day, I will fail my plan. So, my happy place is somewhere in between. Below are some of the ways I got to my happy place. A road map if you will. Your happy place is probably different, so the directions may vary.
1. Portions. This was the first and most powerful change I made. First you should know I love food. I didn’t eat because I was trying to fill some void in my life. I ate because food is tasty! The tastier the food, the more I ate. I’m talking huge, man size portions. It was pretty ridiculous. Instead of giving up this food group or that food group I ate exactly the same way I always had, just reasonable portions.
2. Speaking of food, eat breakfast. I used to say, “oh, I don’t eat breakfast because it just makes me hungrier if I do. I’m starving by 10 am if I eat breakfast, but if I skip it I can make it to lunch.” DUH! Do you know WHY you feel hungrier when you eat breakfast? Because it speeds up your metabolism. This means your body is burning calories and it’s hungry. It takes work to burn calories. Feed the fire! It’s a good thing.
3. Don’t drink your calories unless they give you a buzz. Look, I’m a realistic girl. I can’t realistically live in a world that cuts out something completely if I enjoy it. I don’t drink a lot, but if I feel like throwing down on a Saturday night with a couple (or so) beers, I’m going to do it. Period. However, I don’t drink sodas. They’re a waste of my calories. I drink diet soda ( I know, bad fake sweeteners, blah blah – this is my map), water, and coffee with Splenda. If I want to blow 200 calories, I’m going to EAT them. Probably in the form of chocolate. I’m just sayin.
4. Move your booty! Let me be very clear about my fitness level when I started. I never played sports in school. I hated sweating. I didn’t like to be outside or in a gym. Or lift weights. Or you know, get my heart rate up. I was so out of shape I would literally be winded from a flight of stairs. I started walking. Slow. That gave me a lot of time to think. And what I thought was, “I’m freaking 32 years old. I should be able to do something besides just walk.” So, I walked faster. Think “my favorite store is giving away shoes at the other end of the mall and I have 5 minutes to get there” faster. It made me sweat, but it also made me feel good, so I realized it really wasn’t that bad. The more I walked, the more I realized maybe I could do more. So I started the Couch to 5K program (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, google it and do it. You can thank me later).Once I “graduated” the C25K program, I became a regular runner. I also had the courage to try other things. Crap, if I could run 3.1 miles, I could do ANYTHING!
5. Speaking of running – I called myself a runner. Even when I was running really slow and taking walk breaks. I rejected the term jogger. That brought to mind something slower and weaker. I was fast and strong (not really) but I felt like it. Claiming myself as a runner, made me feel like a runner. It made me feel powerful and athletic. Turns out, this girly girl likes to feel powerful and athletic. Who knew?
6. You can NOT do this for anyone but yourself. First of all, changing years’ long (or even life long) habits is tough for anyone. It’s mental warfare with yourself. Be prepared. So if you aren’t doing it for you, the fight is going to be a hell of a lot harder. If you’re doing this for your significant other, they will inevitably piss you off. Know what happens then? You’re going to “show them” by giving up and not meeting your goals. Instead you need to tell yourself you are worth it.
7. I stopped letting the scale determine my happiness. If I had an off week, I didn’t let it get me down. It was one week of my life and I have a WHOLE lot more to go. In the big scheme of things, one week didn’t make that big of a difference. It was all about staying focused on my goal.
8. I counted calories. I hated it to be quite honest. But since I was eating like a man and restaurants serve enormous portions, my brain had to be retrained on what a real portion looked like. I felt like a real jack ass pulling out the measuring cups at dinner time to make sure I only had half a cup of corn, but after a while, I could totally eye ball it. After getting good at that, I stopped counting calories. Of course every once in a while the scale would start moving upward and I’d start counting again just to reign myself back in. I still count calories sometimes. Just to keep it real.
9. I bought cool work out clothes, but I only wore them to work out. There was definitely a time or two the ONLY reason I went to the gym or for a run was so I could wear my cute new clothes. I totally didn’t feel like working out.
10. I got real about salad. All salads are not created equal. If my salad is 1500 calories, I’d really rather have a cheeseburger. I decided what I HAD to have on there and what I could give up. I had to have eggs, avocado, and a little cheese. I gave up bacon, croutons, and (gasp) ranch dressing. It took a while, but now I don’t even miss it. No for real, I don’t.
This is not a complete list of what I did to get me started, but it is a lot of it. Whatever changes you are making, have to be do-able. They can’t be temporary, otherwise you’ll be right back where you started when you stop with the good habits and go back to the old ones. Experiment. Find YOUR happy place.
*photo by emilychang