Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Recently, I enrolled in an eight-week course at work that focuses on teaching healthier diet and exercise habits. Each week, you have to read one chapter in a workbook, fill out a quiz and discuss the day's topic during the class. The classes focus on one theme each week related to nutrition, motivation, fitness, emotional eating, etc.
The class has a total of 12 women, who range in age from 27 to about 62 and range from a few pounds overweight to morbidly obese. Our facilitator is a 32 year-old man who is a certified trainer and has a bachelor's degree in a fitness-related field. He runs at least one or more marathons a year.
Much of the information shared in the class is familiar, but he said some things that challenged my thinking, which I'm listing below:
1. Whatever exercise you're the worst at, go do it. You probably hate it because it's challenging and you need to get past that.
2. You never stop setting fitness goals. Even after you reach your goal weight, set new goals. Run a 5K. Then run a 10K or a half-marathon. Whatever you do, set a concrete fitness goal and get after it.
3. Don't exercise outdoors on days that your city has an ozone alert. It's bad for your lungs.
4. You are never going to LOVE exercise if you don't already. It's hard work and can be a drag at times. Just focus on how it makes you feel and it's impact on your appearance and weight.
5. If you don't have time to exercise, you need to reframe what you're really saying. The fact is, you are not making exercise a priority in your life. If you don't make it a priority, you will fail.
6. Surround yourself with fitness oriented people if you are not getting support from home. Find a runner's group. Sign up for a class.
7. Your new habits are going to threaten the people around you. Overweight is the new norm in our society. As your habits change, your friends and family will notice and start feeling inadequate. People have gotten divorced because one spouse adopted a healthier lifestyle.
8. Find an exercise to do that seems scary or intimidating. Hit the gym and lift weights. Do something to take yourself out of your comfort zone.
9. If you travel, book a hotel with a good workout facility. If they don't have one, don't stay there.
10. DON'T TELL ME YOU'RE TOO BUSY TO EXERCISE. If you tell me that, bring me your work schedule laid out in 15 minute increments. I guarantee I will find 30 minutes during each day for you to get a workout in.
These weekly face-to-face meetings have been helpful to me on my journey. I am considering finding another area support group once this class is complete.
Onward and downward.
Monday, July 16, 2012
The last couple of weeks I haven't felt motivated to do much of anything. I was kicking, screaming and whining about maintaining my new habits.
Today, though, I feel different. I feel motivated and inspired to continue this journey. I've had a series of non-scale victories that have helped me understand that eventually I will arrive at my destination.
Yesterday, I went shopping for casual summer clothes. The summer stock is on sale now, and the stuff I wore last year doesn't look quite right. I must've tried on about a dozen different outfits in several sizes. I hadn't been in the misses sizes in so long I had forgotten that the clothes are cheaper! Plus, the choices in styles and where I can shop were nearly overwhelming. Because I haven't been at this weight in awhile, I was trying on lots of different types of outfits, just to figure out what worked and what didn't. Before, when I'd try on clothing, I would purchase something simply because it fit. Now, I have to think about whether or not the outfit is age appropriate, because the styles are so much more youthful.
My shopping expedition was a celebration of the new me. A chance to revel in the progress I've made and to reward myself with a few items of clothing to get me through the rest of the season. Instead of focusing on the work that's left to do, I was focused on my progress and the results of all those hours in the gym and nearly seven months of 1,200 to 1,600 calorie days. All those days when I was longing for the moment when I'd look in the mirror and be pleased with my appearance.
Somehow, the celebration ignited my motivation to push forward on this journey and see it through. Besides, celebrating success is so much more fun than looking at the work that's left to do. It is reassurance that, yes, I CAN do this. The confidence has given my motivation a much needed shot in the arm. AND it had NOTHING to do with the number on the scale.
So the lesson I've just internalized is how IMPORTANT it is to truly celebrate your success, no matter how seemingly small and insignificant. Reward yourself, nurture your spirit, take a moment to revel in and appreciate the awesomeness of what your body can do. It will make you feel better and keep your motivation ignited.
Onward and downward.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
As I continue to pour over magazine articles, blogs and videos about weight loss. I keep noticing the phrase "weight loss is a by product of a healthy lifestyle." I understand the thinking behind the phrase. The idea is that if we eat nutritious foods and exercise regularly, then we will lose weight. It is certainly better to lose weight in a healthful way, than, say a diet of coffee and cigarettes or adopting some hare-brained scheme like tapeworm pills, body wraps or colonics.
But, to me, the phrase sounds like another "take the die out of diet" cliche. It assumes a healthy lifestyle automatically leads to weight loss. I believe the assumption is wrong and here's why. Ultimately, losing weight is about burning off more energy than you consume. It means that you are either moving more or eating less. If you adopt a healthy lifestyle, there is no guarantee that you will lose weight. You will probably improve your energy level and sense of well-being with healthier habits. But weight loss? Still a question mark.
You could walk for 30 minutes four times a week, eat oatmeal, nuts, seeds, salads and drink orange juice and never lose weight because it still comes down to calories consumed versus calories burned. The exercise might not be intense enough. Maybe the healthful foods you consume add up to thousands of calories a day. There are lots of healthy overweight people out there. They are eating right and exercising. The doctor has given them a clean bill of health. But they are still overweight. Why? Calories in versus calories out.
I've adopted a healthier lifestyle, but I don't view weight loss as a side effect. Weight loss is my intention. My weight is a risk factor for diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. The only way to minimize the risk is to drop the weight. Therefore, every day, I have to create a calorie deficit so that my body will burn fat. And, as everyone knows, creating a calorie deficit through diet or exercise is hard work. If it was easy to do, there would not be a billion dollar weight loss industry begging for our hard-earned dollars.
True, I have the rest of my life to build a healthier lifestyle and I don't knock that line of thinking. But too often, I'll read stuff like. "Don't give yourself a deadline for losing the weight." Advice like that doesn't work for me because my weight is now affecting my health. To me, realistic deadlines, like one or two pounds a week are necessary.
So is it a lifestyle or a diet? It's both if you want to lose weight and keep it off. The diet will create the calorie deficit you need to lose weight. The lifestyle is the culmination of healthy habits you build during the act of losing the weight. Once the weight is gone, you'll add calories back into your diet, but if you ditch the healthy habits, the weight is going to return.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Today, my meetup group went hiking for 90 minutes at one of the most beautiful parks in the metropolitan area. After the hike, we went to lunch at a nearby brewhaus. I handled it well; I had a walnut cranberry salad with grilled chicken and it was fabulous!
When I entered the hike in my fitness tracker, it showed I'd burned off about 800 calories. Wow! Really?! Then this weird message popped up saying that I wasn't eating enough for the calories I'm burning. I don't hike every week, so I'll write the message off as an anomaly. My daily calorie intake averages 1,500. If I want to take off 1.5 pounds a week, that's where I'm supposed to be.
I'm in a really good mood today. This morning, I wore a simple fitted t-shirt with jeans. There were no rolls on my waist or back fat. No more Michelin man look! It's an amazing non-scale victory. Also, at the gym track yesterday, I alternated walking with jogging for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, I realized that I was able to jog without feeling out of breath or like I was running in quicksand. In fact, it was rather.....fun. Wow!
I still have a ways to go with the jogging. My biggest barrier is feeling self conscious about my chest bouncing around, but I have a really good sports bra now, so yesterday it wasn't an issue. I also used to hate how tired and miserable it made me feel. But now that I have a plan to ease into it, I'm doing much better. Baby steps, baby steps. Who knows? Maybe one day, I'll be in shape enough to run a 5K.
Onward and downward.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Yesterday afternoon, I received some discouraging financial news. After work, I phoned a girlfriend and cried on the phone with her. I vented a few moments, my girlfriend shared some encouraging thoughts and then she said, "Go to the gym and work out."
So I did. It wasn't the greatest workout because I was feeling depressed and crabby. I was hopin' no one would notice my swollen, baggy eyes. But the workout did one thing. It totally distracted me from my problems. Somehow, in the midst of lifting weights, my focus shifted to counting reps and what machine or free weight I was going to work with next. By the time my workout was complete, I was still depressed, but I felt calmer.
On the way home I contemplated stopping and grabbing something or other from a fast food joint, but I stood firm. If I was going to mess up my eating, it was going to happen at home. I had visions of plowing through an entire box of skinny cows. But, when I got home, that's not what happened. I ended up eating turkey and one skinny cow. Despite the stress, I had stayed within my calorie limits, drank lots of water, worked out at the gym, and even got all my fruits and vegetables in.
This morning, I feel better. I did an internet search regarding my situation and realized I still have options. I know that like all the other crap I've been through, this, too shall pass. All I can do is keep my head up and keep pushing forward.
Onward and downward.
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