Sometimes I feel like weight loss and healthy living is a full time job.
Planning the workouts to make sure I get something in everyday but also target both resistance and cardio
Planning meals and shopping for ingredients and cooking said meals
Making sure I’m drinking enough water
Wondering how badly I need to go to the bathroom since my muscles ache too much to move
Thinking about how good/tough my last run was and wondering how the next one will go
You get the point. It’s a lot of thinking and planning and preparing. I can see how professional fitness people do this – they need everyday to workout and plan for eat and workout some more. It can be all-consuming.
Alas, I’m not blessed with time and I bet none of you are either. I have 2 clients’ project to manage, conference calls to plan, emails to send. I have a wedding to plan, friends to make, a fiance to hang out with and in-laws to see. And on top of all that, I have TV shows to watch, dammit! (Okay, that last one is not entirely true – there’s not much on TV these days and we don’t have cable so I’m pretty safe from TV watching). I don’t have kids yet (no, I’m not trying!) but I have enough on my plate to make thinking about healthy living all day every day an impossibility.
And right now, with the deadlines I’m facing, I really don’t have time to think about it.
Which exactly when I need to be thinking about it. When we’re stressed, it’s too easy to make excuses about not having time to exercise or prepare healthy meals, or take time out to breathe. I was go go go yesterday until I remembered that I had a breathing physiotherapist appointment. I debated canceling but I would have forfeited $75 and I really didn’t want to do that. So I worked flat out until 1:30pm, got a cab to the appointment, talked asthma and breathing and did some exercises and came home feeling amazing. The exercises she had me do are really simply belly breathing but focusing on your breath – kind of like a mini meditation. It made me realise how stressed I was and calmed my mind down.
Really, the exercises took all of 5 minutes and I was good to go. And I remembered why I do this whole healthy living thing. Why I take the time to plan my meals and buy healthy snacks (generally) and workout. It’s so I can get through these times of stress and be around for the good times. It’s so that when I eventually have kids, I can be around for them for a long time. I do this because while my mind pays the bills, it’s nothing without the body.
And then I have the time to do it all.
I’ve reached that stage of a new habit. Everyone reaches this at some point when they’re trying something new or different. Stop shaking your head or walking away slowly. Admit it. You start out all gung-ho and excited. You’re going to DO IT this time. You’re going to be the skinniest one in the room. You’re going to be fittest of your friends. You’re going to run that 5k and WIN.
For the first few days/weeks you’re on a roll. You’re acing your plan. Every meal is perfectly portioned. Every exercise day has a big tick next to it. You are AWESOME.
And you ARE awesome but also human. But at some point, your enthusiasm flags. Maybe you’re tired after a really long day at work and you can’t be bothered going to the gym. Maybe you wake up craving pancakes and cheese and chocolate and you tell yourself “It’s okay. It’s just today. I’ll be back tomorrow”. And tomorrow you wake up at a crossroads. Do you get back on track or do you give up? It’s not always such a clear cut decision – if it was, it would be super easy. Who really chooses to give up over staying the course? I mean, most of us do at some stage but after one day, it’s not as obvious when you’re making that choice. After one day, all it seems to be is that you’re choosing to take it easy – I mean, you’re busy at work, right? It’s the holidays, it’s too hard right now. You just don’t have the time. But you will later. You’ll start again later.
I’m at that stage right now with trying to eat healthy and exercise again. It’s been 2 weeks of enthusiasm and excitement. I’ve been losing that extra weight (only 6lbs to go!), fitting into my clothes better, feeling brilliant about myself. You’d think that this would be the ultimate in motivation, right?
Yeah, not so much. I’ve become bored and complacent. I went over my calorie budget last night by 500 calories. I’ve eaten almost my entire calories budget today already and it’s only lunchtime. I’m annoyed with myself and annoyed with the fact that cheese has a lot of calories – why in G-D’s NAME does my favourite food have so many calories? And why on EARTH did I decide to know that?
What I do now is going to influence what happens to this newly unformed habit of mine. If I choose to be grumpy about it, I’ll stop tracking entirely and give up, convinced that my weight is FINE THANKYOUVERYMUCH and maybe I’m being ridiculous to even keep trying to lose weight. Or I can choose to give myself a day or two of chilling out, eating pizza (for dinner, it was lovely) and then get back to it, knowing that this is a GOOD path and a GOOD choice. And it is a choice. Everyday is a choice. Every meal is a choice. Everytime I exercise is a choice.
Everyone has a different way of staying motivated and different reactions to blips along the way. It’s important to remember that we’re all human. Nobody is perfect. If we were perfect, none of us would be unhealthy or unfit. Sometimes you may just need to remind yourself of why you’re choosing to do this.
I’ve done this today by re-reading my archives, by remembering how good it feels to be strong and fit and healthy. Knowing that, remembering that, means I’m back on track tomorrow.
Today we had a company-wide meeting. Company-wide meetings are known for a number of things:
- Taking a LOT of time, which can be good when you’re bored and not so good when you’re busy
- Either numbers being tossed around or ‘engagement’ type activities
- Supply of coffee and cookies
It’s the last one that usually gets people there and usually trips me up. The cookies are heavenly chocolate chip or chocolate and macadamia cookies. They’re yummy and full of sugary-goodness which, combined with a coffee, can be the difference between surviving a meeting and going stir-crazy. I usually grab two. Cookies, not cofffees – two coffees would mean I’d be bouncing off the walls for days.
But last night, as I looked in the gym mirrors, I realised that no amount of ‘rationalising’ could deny that I have gone soft. I have lost all definition in my waist and I have gained fat. It’s not the jeans. It’s not the angle. I am not bloated and I have not recently eaten. This is all me and it’s not what I like to see or feel.
So from last night, I stopped with the rationalising and the excuses. Just because I am leaving in 2 weeks (well, less now) does not mean I have to slack on the food. Just because I have a ton of farewell drinks and lunches and dinners does not mean I *have* to make bad choices. I can do all this stuff and still be healthy. Still feel good when I get up in the morning.
So today, I had a plan. I got to work and bought some oatmeal from the cafeteria for breakfast and I bought an apple. Ten minutes before the meeting I ate my apple so when I went to the meeting, all I grabbed was a coffee and I walked right past the cookies. I ignored them and I survived the meeting (okay, I left halfway through but that was only because I needed the washroom from the coffee and I couldn’t see the screen because I left my glasses in my office).
Tonight, after I (hopefully) sell my laptop, I’m going to hit the gym. I’m also going to buy some groceries and while I will keep them to a minimum since I’m only in my apartment for another week and a bit, I will be healthy. Because I feel better when I’m healthy.
It’s been happening slowly slowly – so slowly in fact, that I barely noticed it. At first it was simply a case of availability and ease. I’m really just lazy and this happened to be the easiest thing to do. But then, slowly, I realised that I didn’t miss anything and really, it made a lot of sense to make it official.
I’m cutting out red meat.
I’m not going completely vegetarian – still going to eat fish and probably chicken (although at the moment, after all the chicken breasts I ate last year, I’m slightly ill at the thought of cooking chicken) but definitely no red meat – no steak, no burgers, no lamb. Nada.
And really, I don’t think I’m going to even notice really. Why?
- I am, as mentioned above, inherently lazy. Cooking meat takes more effort than fish or chicken from my experience. It’s also usually more expensive and not always available in the cuts I like at the store, so I end up sticking with other options.
- It’s usually more expensive at restaurants too and, since we’re all on the money-saving kick, I end up bypassing the meat options. Unless it’s a burger but really, I could always choose the chicken burger instead.
But it’s a step. And I’m making it official. I could say that this is a step in being more religious and keeping the laws of kashrut; I could say that I’m appalled by the treatment of animals and am making a stand. But really, I’m just making my laziness official.
I’m dealing with someone at work at the moment who has a seemingly endless list of reasons why her work is late. I’m really dying to hear, one day, that she has no excuse and it’s ALL HER FAULT, not the fault of her computer, the weather, the hot water tank at home, a birthday party, a headache or one of the other millions of excuses she’s provided over the past 2 weeks. Her lack of responsibility is driving my stress levels up and there’s nothing I can do other than report her to the bosses and hope they do something about it.
But this brings me to my rant of the day: how can you live your life if you don’t take responsibility for your actions? If you’re constantly blaming outside influences for things that “happen” to you, how can you ever expect anything to improve?
You have choices EVERY SINGLE DAY. Every moment of your life is about choice in some way. Sometimes you have to make the best of a number of bad choices (I have to choose not to throttle the aforementioned co-worker as she still has work to be completed and there’s nobody else on payroll who can do it) but it’s all about choices. I think you lose your sense of identity if you don’t accept that you are in control of your life and your decisions.
This comes into play in all your lifestyle decisions IMO.
Yesterday I had a ‘bad’ day of eating – I made the conscious decision to eat 2 chocolates and a bag of chips. Not because I was hungry. Because I was stressed out. I know that. My body didn’t need the sugar but I chose to eat it. Nobody forced me. In fact, I didn’t really enjoy the chocolate in the evening (but boy did I enjoy the chip at 4pm). Now, I could have used the excuse that because of my workload, I was working a 12 hour day and had eaten my lunch at 1pm. I needed some nourishment.
Sure I did. But did I make the right choice? I knew there was a possibility I’d be working late and my choice should have been to bring extra food. Failing that, I could have chosen to buy some peanuts instead of the chips. But I didn’t. Any weight gain from said choice? My responsibility.
Blaming the world for my misfortunes is not going to make them go away.
So Leslie and Charlotte both have very interesting posts today (go! check them out!) and they made me think a little. Normally, they’d make me think a lot but it’s Friday and it’s a long weekend coming up. My brain can’t work that hard.
I went out for dinner last night with some work friends and we ended up at a place who’s name I will not divulge as I would hate to give them any business. Yes, it was THAT bad. The service was awful. The food was okay but nothing special either. But that’s not the point.
They had some good choices on the menu and, when you worked it out, it was cheaper to get a dinner special with 3 courses than one dish alone. Weird, I know!The options were green salad or caesar salad for starters, grilled salmon, chicken or pasta for mains and creme brulee or fresh fruit for dessert. I chose the green salad (it came with a mustard vinegarette dressing), the salmon and the fruit. I got roundly mocked for choosing the fruit. I was told that one creme brulee wouldn’t hurt. I just shrugged and said I’m sticking with the fruit.
It turned out that after I ordered the fruit, 3 other people changed their orders. They hadn’t wanted the creme brulee but felt that it was weird to order fruit. Once I had ordered it, they did to. I’m not trying to paint myself as the great conquerer though – I didn’t try influence or persuade. I just ordered.
And you know what?
When dessert came around, the creme brulee turned out to be sub-par. One or two people finished it and everyone else took a couple of diets, pulled a face and pushed it aside. The fruit plate consisted of one strawberry, 4 blueberries, some canned mandarin and some canned grapefruit. But I enjoyed it more than any crappy creme brulee!
So I see my parents this evening. I’m obviously very excited about this, considering that I woke this morning at 6:30am. It’s Saturday. I should not see 6:30am on a Saturday. But I opened my eyes and I was definitely awake.
So I got up, opened the blinds, made my bed and made myself a breakfast wrap. This is my favourite breakfast to make at home. It’s a whole-wheat tortilla with some low-sodium tuna, some medium salsa and a handful of low-fat cheese, grilled for about 5 minutes each side. It’s so yummy and really healthy, as long as you don’t add too much cheese!
I had that and a cup of green tea and I cleaned the kitchen. Then I cleaned the living room. Then I brushed my teeth and washed my face. And it was only 8:00am.
I wanted to vacumm but considering that my roommate had only gotten to sleep at about 5am, I didn’t think that was exactly fair. So I contemplated my options.
- I could watch some mindless tv
- I could pretend to do some work
- I could go to the gym and then get some groceries
A while ago I would have picked the first option without a second thought. Today, I picked option 3. I got dressed, grabbed my water and my shopping bag and headed to the gym.
I got onto the treadmill and did 35 minutes on level 4, random setting. Then I got onto the rowing maching and went mental on level 10 for 20 minutes. Then I couldn’t feel my arms! LOL!! I felt so sore but it was so worth it. I have muscles hiding underneath this fat and I really need to show them off. I can see them peeking out sometimes (yesterday I saw a recalcitrant tricep for a moment) and I want to uncover them once and for all.
I’ve done my grocery shopping and my roommate is STILL sleeping so I’ll shower and have some more green tea before vacuuming at noon (I think that’s fair enough, right?).
It’s funny how habits change and things you would never have even thought of doing before starting a fitness journey now seem natural to you. Six months ago, I would have found every excuse in the book not to go to the gym. Today excuses didn’t even enter the equation. As Nike says, I just did it.
And you should too!