Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Over the past four weeks, as I became acutely aware that I had somehow slipped back into caring more about losing weight vs. snacking, drinking, and being lazy, I've begun to ask myself a defining question at every fork in the road. Every time I'm faced with a food choice, or drink choice, and any time I'm faced with doing a scheduled workout or not, I ask myself a question that seems to rally the troops, and keep me focused on making the right choices. I ask myself "will this help get me closer to the body I want to have, or take me further away?"
It's a defining question in every aspect, one that focuses me unlike anything else. I've asked myself this when facing weekend binges, or late night snacking. I've asked myself this question when I've had some good workouts, and my body is somewhat tired when facing the next workout - questioning if it's alright to skip one. I ask it when it's getting late, and I'm contemplating going to sleep at a decent hour or staying up. It's become a resounding drum beat in my head that has helped me, in part, to stay in control of making good choices.
At the end of the day, if you've made more good choices than not, you're going to feel better and find some varying amount of progress. The better the choices, the better the progress. Here's a list of the good choices I've been making:
• No more constant drinking (alcohol) throughout the week •
I can have one drink on Thursday nights when my family visits, and one on Saturday. Alcohol is wasted calories. It interrupts our metabolism and digestion, since our bodies consider it toxic, placing all resources toward processing it out before going back to digestion and fat burning. I love booze, a lot, so this was a tough one, but I asked myself if having multiple drinks every week was something that would bring me closer to the body I want, or further away, and with the answer clearly being further away, this has become easier and easier to resist. I want my healthy, fit body back more than I want alcohol, and that's all there is to that.
• Eating within my recommended calorie range every day •
This is something that I've been flirting with on and off over the past many years, with some days great, sometimes even weeks being great, but the higher balance being worse days, and worse weeks. This is how you gain weight, pure and simple. Exercise helps to balance the bad days sometimes, but when you let the exercise slip away, the result is consistent weight gain. Now I face my days and weeks with forethought, again asking what sort of meals will bring me closer, and which will take me further away, and I'm amazed by how it compels me to choose wisely. If you're not counting your calories, you're probably consuming more than you realize. Counting your calories, and more importantly making them count, results in less bloating, little to no weight gain, and a feeling of deep satisfaction in knowing that you're managing things.
• Exercising at least three times a week for an hour and change each time •
This has been the most important good choice I've made this past month, as it is 100% the missing element for weight loss. Without this piece of the puzzle, it's hard to feel like you're making any progress, as weight loss may only end up being a few pounds every month, and your body doesn't make significant changes on a weekly basis. These changes are the real sparks I think, as you start to see and feel that the effort is completely worth it. Once you put the pieces in place (healthy eating, less snacking, good exercise) and see actual progress, it inspires you unlike anything else. It makes you want to try harder, and see more success. It makes answering the question "will this bring me closer or further?" so much easier to do correctly, and more importantly, to follow through with that correct answer. I've had plenty of summer vacation-type interruptions to my workout schedule, but every time I've made it a priority to re-schedule and maintain consistent weekly routines. The reason for that? The question, and more importantly: the answer.
• Drinking more water, and keeping an eye on my sodium intake •
Our bodies carry so much water weight, and the more sodium you ingest, the more water weight it carries. The feeling of being bloated, and looking swollen is directly related to your sodium intake. If you keep it to the daily recommended limits - which, might I add, is almost impossible to do if you eat take out more than once a day (sometimes even just one bad meal choice will sink this ship) - then you'll find that your body will shed the excess water, through urine, bowel movements, and most easily through sweat when you workout, and your body will immediately begin to look less swollen and you'll feel less bloated. You might even find multiple pounds dropped that first week when you weigh in, as it's pretty normal when you restore your body's water and electrolyte balance. Remember though, you need sodium, or else your body's water balance will tip the other way, and you'll expel too much water, and your muscles will cramp, and your organs will be taxed. Track your food, follow the daily suggested intakes, and you'll be fine.
I learned all about this stuff when I lost 85 pounds three years ago. Knowing it doesn't help you unless you start answering the question honestly, and following through with the answer. When I started to want my healthy body back MORE than living lazily and consuming more than I should, it suddenly became easy to make the right choices. Take today as a good example. I got lunch at subway - a six inch turkey and ham (low cal, low fat, high protein, low sodium), some baked lays (low everything, good filler), and a drink. I've stayed away from diet soda for weeks now, but something inside of me wanted one, so I filled up my cup with diet pepsi - mindlessly adding a touch of regular pepsi to top it up for better flavor. As I was driving back to work to eat my lunch, I kept asking myself the question, but was avoiding answering it - knowing what the answer would be. I got back to the office, and the question continued to loom large. So large, that the few sips I took felt awfully unsatisfying. I looked at the drink and finally allowed the question to flow out freely, and I answered it truthfully. When I did so, I stood up, took the drink to the sink and poured it out. I replaced it with water, and am sipping it now as I type even. :D
Anyways, maybe if you've been struggling to get anything going lately, try asking yourself the question every time you're faced with food choices, or the choice to be lazy or exercise. Answer it honestly, and envision the body you want to have, and try making the right choice. It may help, it may not, but if you really want that healthier body and self-esteem, you'll find the right choice may come easier than you'd think.