Tuesday, March 13, 2012
This morning I knew it was just going to be one of those days. Regardless of rest between workouts, adequate rest last night (though admittedly not the best), and my first workout of the week, this morning I felt like I wasn't myself. I am normally energetic in the gym, wanting to pump more and run faster. However, this morning I could barely muster up the energy to finish my typical routine, let alone go above and beyond. I don't like that feeling. I can tell it takes a toll on my workout and I'm not doing my absolute best. And it makes working out much less enjoyable. After, I did my weekly weigh-in and saw I didn't even lose a pound :( I felt discouraged since I was making progress (finally) the week before. I wondered, am I plateu-ing...already?! I barely lost a few pounds and already it's tougher to lose weight. Soon, that dreaded thought entered my mind: What's the point? Why bother trying so hard if Iím not seeing results?
Losing weight and getting healthy is as much, or more, of a mind game than it is of body training, at least for me. That thought and similar thoughts, which have creeped into my mind over the past 10 years, have prevented me from ever reaching my weight loss goals. Now, I try to avoid those Ďwhy botherí thoughts and have generally succeeded. I try to remember; change and success takes time. And energy. And effort. And more time. It's hard. It's never easy. If it's easy, you aren't seeing results. If I gave up (meaning forgetting my goals and stopping efforts), I would undoubtedly stop losing weight. But, if I continue, I will lose weight. It will take time. And more energy and effort. Even though I felt frustrated after all my hard work, deep down I know there's room for improvement. I did have that cupcake yesterday. And skipped my third workout last week. I also havenít been strictly getting my 5 servings of fruit/veggies per day. Iím one of the first people who say you must have cheat times. But it comes with a toll. You must realize you will reach your goals a little slower if you have those cheat times. Also, itís a balancing act. Too much and youíll never see results (or worse, back track). Too less and you might burn out. Factor in our emotional responses, habits, and stressors, and our ideas about what and when we should (or want to eat) getís skewed, to say the least.
I wanted to write about this because I think itís important to acknowledge your down days. They happen. To everyone. I think talking about it is important. Otherwise, you donít know how to work on it. And without talking about it, the perfection myth prevails. Iím imperfect. I donít always make my workout and nutrition goals. The hardest thing for me is to say thatís ok and forgive myself. And then continue on. I need to recognize it is hard and give myself credit for doing what I have been, which is shaping healthier habits even when it gets hard. Not giving up is important. So this time I will try something different, instead of letting those thoughts Ďwiní. Since I always like to have a plan (it makes me feel better), I will make one to help address my negative feelings right now. In this case, Iíll keep doing what I am doing, according to my health plan and goals, (as well as improve areas I havenít done too hot in, such as increase fruits & veggies per day) and in two weeks, revisit my current plan and goals. Maybe it is just taking me longer and in a week or two, Iíll be down a pound or two. Then, Iíll feel better and know I am in fact making progress. If not, then itís time to re-evaluate why Iím not seeing the results I want to. Pounds arenít everything, I know. I am due for my monthly body measurements and I will take that information into consideration. Maybe itís not as bad as I think and seeing my measurement data could help me see that! Which is a reminder why tracking is so important for me to do.
What turned into an emotional pep talk for me, I am curious to know what you do when you are feeling lackluster about your progress?
Monday, March 05, 2012
Historically, I've been quite the yo-yo dieter, often within the time frame of a month, week, or even day. Maybe I would eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, but once dinner came, I threw my hands up and ate that extra large value meal. Or, I might make it to a few days or even a week of eating healthy, but when I saw the scale didn't budge, I gave it all up and wouldn't attempt another healthy meal until I went back into diet mode. After years of this, I felt hopeless and concluded my goals were impossible. Then, in January of this year, I found Spark and finally was able to change some habits and reshape my health. Since changing my habits to a more integrated, healthy way to "diet" I've discovered some useful tactics to avoid totally ruining one's diet.
Some global things I've learned:
1. Be realistic AND don't be too hard on yourself
I have always been hard on myself. I'd set up very restricted diet plans (e.g., Slim Fast for breakfast and lunch with a salad for dinner) with no wiggle room (I couldn't sustain that). I'd 'should' myself to death (e.g., you should eat this, you shouldn't eat that) (which not only made me feel horribly guilty, it provided no motivation or tools to actually change anything). When the weight wouldn't budge, I'd feel frustrated and mad at myself (even though I didn't give it enough time to change). This cycle was highly emotional and hard on me. So these realizations are two in one - you must set realistic expectations and don't be too hard on yourself when you have small deviations from your plan or diet. Life happens and I've realized it's more important to keep trying rather than get discouraged from veering and giving up all together. Which leads me to my next tip...
2. Don't give up!
It's a lot of work, not to mention time and energy to make these lifestyle changes. So take a deep breath, prepare as best you can (using Spark's tools at your disposal), act, follow through, and don't give up! It would be better to take 6 months to make gradual changes than try for a month and not do anything for your health for 5 months. Remember it's all about getting healthy which is a lifelong process and won't be easy.
3. Rethink your goals
Sit down and really analyze your goals. What's more important to you? Numbers on the scale or healthy habit changes? Would altering your goals allow for better diet success? See my blog post on my personal goals and how they help me moreso than goals of pounds to lose: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
Some everyday tips:
4. If you have a craving you can't knock, give in or find a compromise.
For example, tonight I was craving something, anything bad. I really wanted a couple slices of pepperoni, extra cheese pizza. So, I found a compromise. I went to Panera and got a cup of soup and a small macaroni and cheese. Definitely not diet food, but at about 500 calories, won't break my daily goals either (and I incorporated something healthy with it). I also was craving some chocolate. So, I had a piece of my Hershey's Big Kiss (still from V day!), but instead of eating half or all of it, I had the serving size (one fifth). In other words, portion control!
5. Try to eat for your stomach, not your brain.
I love this saying and live by this mantra (side note: still not a fan of the "eat to live, not live to eat" saying though. I still enjoy food and like to enjoy it!). When I feel starving, all hell breaks loose and I am more likely to eat something way unhealthy. When that happens, sometimes I just ignore my impulses and eat something healthy. In the end, it's all calories and once I stop feeling hungry, I don't want my initial off-track, impulse choice. After doing this so many times, your brain learns it's not necessarily a certain food you are craving, but food in general. Don't let being really hungry alter your healthy choices. A way to avoid that is to eat something small before a meal or before you get to that starving point. Which is why I usually keep a granola bar in my purse and a small bag of Pirate's Booty in my bag. It will save you in the long run to munch on something small before you get to the point of being really hungry.
6. Get rid of the junk and stock up on healthy foods
This one is absolutely crucial to my success. I am the type of person that if there is junk around, I will eat it. I am working on controlling that and not lean on it as an excuse, but right now I basically don't trust myself with junk food. Therefore, I got rid of all the junk in my house and replaced it with healthy, good foods. I make sure I grocery shop at least weekly to keep a decent stock of food. Otherwise, with no food at home, it is easy to drive through somewhere and veer off track. Or with unhealthy food at home, it's easy to reach for those items. I still have my splurge items, but they are not complete junk (like popcorn or the mini Drumstick ice creams). If you decrease your number of unhealthy choices at home and increase your healthy choices, you're setting yourself up for success!
7. Make eating healthy food fun!
This step has changed the way I look at healthy food. I used to think healthy food was a necessary evil that I would never enjoy. I've learned to find some healthy foods that I enjoy just as much (if not more) than unhealthy food and really capitalize on that. For example, Panera Strawberry smoothies, Laughing Cow cheese wedges, Honeycrisp apples, watermelon, frozen yogurt, etc.). I keep some of these foods on hand regularly so eating healthy is more enjoyable. I also try to find new, fun, and of course, healthy recipes to try. This tip is also great because it reduces burn out for me.
8. Track your intake and your progress
By measuring and tracking everything that goes into your body, you get data to see where you are at and help make better decisions. In other words, this knowledge gives you power. It becomes a problem to solve, and armed with this knowledge, you are better able to meet your goals successfully. Tracking is great to so you can see your success when and where it happens. You might not be able to see a half inch off your waist, but if you track and measure you can be reinforced by that success and know you are that much closer to your goal, which is probably the strongest form of motivation!
I hope these tips helped you, because all of them were crucial to the reshaping of my health-conscious lifestyle. What are some tips you use that helped you reach success?
Thursday, March 01, 2012
I've created a token reward system for reaching my nutrition, fitness, and fast break goals. I decided against rewarding incremental weight loss goals (e.g., 5 lbs, 10 lbs, etc.) because those tend to take me longer (especially with a total goal of 25 lbs) so I think this system will keep me motivated (and the weight loss will come with accomplishing these goals :))
First, I made tokens on colored cardstock with various inspirational quotes on them. I went to a quote website, copied all the quotes under inspirational and motivational categories , and pasted them into a word document. Print and cut and you're ready to go!
Then I placed them in these cute little containers I got at Target for $1 each. When I meet my goals, I place them in another empty container (you can label them if you'd like :)).
Here are my specific goals and how many tokens I get for them:
Fast Break Goals
1. Track calories each day
2. Walk Libby (my puppy) each day
3. Post goals where I can see them
Fast Break Rewards
-All three in one day = add 1 token to reward jar
-Every day for a week = add 3 tokens to reward jar
1. Burn 650 calories a week
2. Do cardio for 30 minutes 3x/week
3. Do strength program 3x/week
-Work out = 1 token in reward jar
-Reach all three goals weekly = 5 tokens in reward jar
1. Consume between 1200 & 1550 calories per day
2. Consume between 27 & 60 grams of fat per day
3. Consume between 135 & 252 grams of carbs per day
4. Consume between 60 & 136 grams of protein per day
-all four in one day = add 1 token to reward jar
-every day for 6 days = one cheat day
Weight Loss Goal
1. Lose 25 lbs by 6/20/12
Weight Loss Reward
-Go on a shopping spree and buy a new wardrobe!
Now to the good stuff :) Here are my rewards for March!
25 tokens = magazine subscription to Self
50 tokens = scrapbooking class at Archiver's
75 tokens = ModCloth dress
100 tokens = Nadri crystal bracelets
So if I have 55 tokens at the end of March I get to go to a scrapbooking class at Archiver's :) Each month I have different rewards with some stuff I'm really excited about (like fresh flowers, an Ipod armband, spa treatment, perfume, cooking class, and more!).
Some tips I used along the way:
-try not to use food as a reward (except with my cheat days because I don't want to burn myself out)
-regardless of whether it's your fast break goal or not, post your goals and rewards around to remind you and motivate you! And help you keep it all straight because it can get confusing.
-don't break your bank. There are some cheap or free ways to reward yourself, just research, research, research!
-make sure your goals are somewhat easy to accomplish. I thought I would blow through these goals in February because they appeared to be so easy to accomplish - however, I only earned 26 tokens and just barely earned my class at the Botanical Gardens.
-don't swap rewards or use your reward anyway even if you didn't make your goals. If you do that, you know you aren't holding yourself to your goals and your motivation will go out the window. I also didn't repeat rewards because of this. I only get one chance to get it!
-I don't get all the rewards if I meet the top tier (i.e., 100 tokens), just the top one. I made my rewards hierarchical so the 25 token reward is my least favorite and 100 token reward is the best.
-make it your own and make it fun! Keeping you motivated is the goal :)
Friday, February 17, 2012
This is my first blog post on Spark and I've been on Spark for about a month and a half now. I've been trying to use as many Spark tools as I can so I can have more chance of success to reach my goals. One of the tools as my disposal, is to blog. So here I am. Trust me, I know it sounds silly at first to collect points, write blog entries, read articles, join a community group, find a fitness buddy, take a poll and so on as a means to meet our goals - to those of us who are skeptical (or those who find the glass half empty and whatever's in it is probably watered down), we aren't buying it, initially at least. Suspiciously we wonder; how is that going to help me lose weight/fit into skinny jeans/let me lose the Spanx? I mean, really? Earning points by spinning a wheel? Maybe if I was in elementary school but c'mon....
Well, I have been converted, seen the light, whatever you want to call it. All the support and multiple outlets to support your goals does, lo and behold, help you succeed. Especially if, like me, you don't have any 'real life' support for your goals, the support is monumental to your success. Simply being immersed in the Spark environment is helpful. So how did I come to buy it? Simply put, it is helping me. Historically, I have been a yo-yo(-yo) dieter. Since high school, 9 years ago, I have constantly been in one of three states: crash dieting (which resulted in me giving up after 1-2 weeks from being unable to keep up with the rigorous diet and/or being frustrated from not seeing results); wanting to diet, yet not diet (e.g., 'I hate how I look' or 'I SHOULD eat this' but still eat it anyway); or partially accepting it's the way I am and I can't lose weight, but still not satisfied (e.g., 'maybe I'm at my set point and I just need to accept it'). No matter what state I was in, there was one common, overarching thought: I'm not happy with me.
From talking to others in group message boards, reading articles, logging calories, etc., I've learned so much about myself and how to make lifestyle changes. From doing the extras - like writing a blog post, spinning the daily points wheel, etc. - I've been reminded by my goals and successes which inspires me to continue. I have truly been making lifestyle changes. No, I'm not working out 5-6 times/week and eating only fruits and veggies, which I could not sustain in the past (and quite frankly wasn't effective for me - it might have been for the time I did it but in the long run, it didn't have many effects). Since I've joined Spark, I've truly realized how to many lifestyle changes, to remove the guilt out of eating, to still enjoy food, but do so in moderation, and to be healthy. It sounds so simple but eating is so psychological for me, my perception was too skewed to realize it before. This is the longest I've stuck to a 'diet' consistently which is an accomplishment in and of itself in my book. I splurge and eat unhealthy things and sometimes only make it to the gym 1-2 times/week but I'm sustaining this. And I'm taking it slow so I can be sure to reach my goals. It might take longer, but I'm doing it healthier. And in the long run, I believe it will help me to reach my goals. I am ready. I am set. And I am going.
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