Staying motivated even when the results aren’t obvious


Logically, we all know that the weight won’t drop off the minute we walk into a gym, or choose the first healthier meal. We know that the weight crept on and it will more than likely creep off too. We know this but we still want to see results NOW. Scratch that, we want results yesterday. We want to look in the mirror and see a svelte self; we want the numbers on the scale to start descending immediately. We want it all.

Compounding this is the fact that the first week of being on track – be it exercising or eating better, or both – we usually see results. We lose a lot of excess water weight and we feel quite virtuous. So, we step on the scale and voila, the number is lower. This is good, we think. This is easy. Why didn’t I do this years ago? This was me last week – I was down a pound and thrilled. All it took was making a few different decisions, like avoiding chocolate and moving more, and amazingly, I lost weight. Easy.

And then week 2 hits.

We gain it back or don’t lose anything else. Our body betrays us. And we remember why we didn’t do this years ago – because it’s not that easy. It’s bloody HARD actually. This week, my scale deserted me. It stood on the other side of the bathroom and laughed at me. It stayed the same and then, slowly, went up and up. I’ve gained that pound back and more. This week. I exercised more, I drank more water, I ate as well as I did last week and I gained weight. My skin has broken out, the weight hasn’t shifted and I feel like crud for it.

This week, I realised why weight loss is not easy peasy; why staying on course is not a given. It’s easy to stay focused when you’re losing weight because you’re getting a constant reward, but it’s when you’re not losing weight that you need to be even more focused and motivated. It’s when you’re not seeing the results that you need to remind yourself why you’re doing this. It’s not to look fabulous (although that could be one reason) but it’s to be healthy, to be strong; to feel great. It’s to be here for many years more.

Week 2 is when you need to support yourself and everyone else who’s on the course with you.

So this week, I’m still making good choices. I’m still going to get to the gym 4 times this week. I’m still going to drink a riduculous amount of water so I stay hydrated. And hopefully, my body will catch onto the plan and start doing what I want it to do.

I am focused because this is not a sprint. This is a marathon. This is for good.

 

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The importance of a buddy


We’re all social creatures by nature. Even those of us who are introverted need people around us and need support and encouragement. But wait Gemfit, you said this the other day when you wrote about support, aren’t you repeating yourself? Well yes and no. The previous post was about asking for support and supporting someone in your life by asking for the support you need. Today, I’m talking writing about another kind of support: that of The Gym Buddy.

The Gym Buddy can be an important part of your fitness life. The Gym Buddy does not have to be a literal gym buddy – some people hate the gym, don’t belong to a gym and never will. Your gym buddy has a number of qualities.

  1. They encourage you by joining you on your journey
  2. They join you in your exercise of choice – they’re your walking/running/Zumba/diet/Weight Watchers buddy
  3. They make “appointments” with you (by organising runs or meetings to attend together) which forces you to actually do these things you talk about but often don’t follow through on

The buddy can be an important part of your healthy living journey and the best thing is that they can be anyone in your life and you can have many buddies! My Walking Buddy is the Boy, who pushes me to walk further and faster than I would alone. My walks alone would be about 5km on average – his are 12km on average. That’s a lot more activity and even when we’re walking quietly, it’s encouragement and support. My Gym Buddy (newly acquired) is the Boy’s brother’s girlfriend (wow, that’s a mouthful) who lives down the road from the gym and is a new Zumba convert thanks to me. Together we muddle through Zumba and make up our own moves when we get lost (and end up cracking up in the back row like kids). I can be sitting at home thinking about going to the gym when a text message from her asking if I’m going comes through. As soon as I say yes, I’m committed and I get off the couch and go. Hopefully we can keep it up.

I know Charlotte at The Great Fitness Experiment has a great bunch of gym buddies (I’m kinda jealous to tell the truth) but you don’t need a huge group. All you need is the accountability and commitment of having someone with you on your journey, whatever your journey is. Who are your gym/diet/running/whatever buddies?

Why math is not my friend


I spent the last two weeks counting calories. I’m not a calorie counter and really, even when I was seeing a nutritionist briefly, I purposely didn’t wan to know how many calories he’d planned for me. There was no real reason for my avoidance of calorie counting other than I had a feeling it wasn’t a way to live a life.

After my two week calorie counting experiment, we can either look at it and say I failed it OR I proved my intuition was 100% spot-on.

One thing studies show about tracking and calorie counting is that it makes people more mindful about what they’re eating. The reasoning goes along the lines of if you have to write down that you ate a Snickers bar for dinner, you’re less likely to actually eat it. That if you’re thinking about how many calories you have for the day, you’re less likely to spend your calories on high-calories drinks or snacks and more likely to spend them on nutritious food.

Well, that may have been true for me but I think I took it a little too far. I became slightly obsessed about my calories and even though I was aiming for 1500 a day, I started getting freaked out when I got close, feeling “better” when I was around 1200 calories. Which, as most of us SANE people know, is not sustainable. Heck, my BMR is higher than that! I was counting out almonds for snacks and getting really angry with myself for feeling hungry after “eating a  lot” in my mind. The kicker came this week when, after losing weight for the last two weeks, I got onto the scale and found I’d gained this week. Gaining after eating well and exercising? Now, I know it’s probably water bloat ( my period is due next week) and there’s no way I really gained fat, but the whole point of tracking initially was to lose weight in a healthy way. It’s always been about doing things in a healthy way and this didn’t feel healthy to me.

I learnt a great deal from my 2 weeks of tracking. I figured out what good snacks fill me up and what a 1500 calorie day looks like in my life. I also learnt that some days I’m just hungrier than others. I remembered that life happens and I’m not someone to turn down a dinner out or with family because I’m counting calories. I know what works for me and this is not it.

One good thing that has come from all this is that I’m eating less chocolate and snacking on healthier things instead. So that’s a win. Ultimately, for this to be a lifestyle, I need to be able to live with it. I’m back to just being aware of my food.

I never liked math anyway.

Intuitive eating vs. tracking


Mid-week through my let’s-use-technology-to-track-and-see-how-we-go phase, I’m learning a bit more about how I eat and remembering why I’m not entirely a fan of tracking every single calorie. When I started on Weight Watchers about 4 years ago, I tracked my points religiously. I ticked all the boxes for fruit and vegies and drank every glass of water I was supposed to. I also found it really really tough to eat every single one of my points and trust me, I was not on a lot of points. Toward the end, I had 18 points to eat a day and I would get to 15 and wonder what else I could eat when I was so full already.

See, what happens to me when I’m tracking is that I’m hyper-aware of every morsel I put into my mouth and not always in a good way. Yes, I stop myself eating the whole Snickers bar or choosing the salad greens over the pasta but I also tend to go slightly overboard. Until dinner tonight, I’d eaten a total of 900 calories and burnt 350 of those off through my workout and walking to and from said workout. That left me with a net total of 550 calories for the day. Hardly a lot of food. And even after dinner (salmon linguine) I’m still only at a net total of 1000 calories and when you consider that my BMR is about 2200 calories, I’m not eating enough. Even just to get to a net total of 1500 calories, I have some serious snacking to do now.

I end up becoming obsessed with calories and nutrients and how much of my diet seems to be carb based and how much fat there is out there. This is not the focus of my life. I’m going to continue tracking for a bit longer and see how I go. I may end up tracking for a week and then stopping, just giving myself a bit of time to get an idea of how 1500 net calories feels to my body. I got out of whack and stopped trusting my body to feel full and tell me what I needed.

How do you deal with tracking? Do you track? Do you not track?

I don’t want to say I told you so, but …


Fad diets don’t work.

There. I said it.

I’m only 29 years old and yet I’ve known this since I was a little girl skipping down the driveway (and back up again since I wasn’t allowed to leave the house alone). How is it possible that I’m in possession of this AMAZING information that so many people never seem to learn?

I watched my mother then and I watch her now. And while she never seems to learn, I am taught this lesson over and over again.

A few weeks ago, when I flew into Melbourne from Toronto, my mother enthusiastically told me all about this new diet that was going to help her shed all her excess weight. All 6lbs of excess weight. What was this AMAZING eating plan? It was a 7 day extreme detox/weight loss plan devised for obese heart patients who needed to lose weight before surgery. It involved eating vegetable soup all day and then different foods every day for 7 days. No protein until Day 5 when you were allowed 3 pieces of chicken over the whole day. Day 4 involved soup and 6 bananas. Day 3 involved packets of tomatoes. Day 6 involved tons of steak. And always the soup.

As soon as she told me about this GREAT plan, I rolled my eyes. She quickly told me about all her friends who had lost TONS of weight. It helped that they had tons to lose. She wasn’t stupid – she wasn’t going to do this for more than a week … at a time. I got so frustrated – could she not see how ridiculous this was? How nutritionally devoid of anything healthy this was? How does a woman reach her 60s without realising that your body needs nutrients and depriving it is not going to achieve results?

I told her what I thought and then I spent the week biting my tongue as she told me that she’d lost a pound. Then, on the last day, she came home from playing bridge and her face was white. She’d almost fainted and had to eat something OFF DIET while she was there. She was genuinely surprised (it seemed) that this diet had not been good for her body. And the next day, when she weighed in and discovered that she’d lost absolutely nothing in the week, she again seemed really surprised.

I held back on the famous foud words I was dying to say … I.Told.You.So.

I’ve watched her try every single diet out there (even the ones she’s forgotten about): SlimFast, cabbage soup, green soup, detox, WW, Jenny Craig, SureSlim, you name it. Every diet was designed to help her shed those lost pesky 10lbs and every diet was abandoned when it didn’t work overnight.

I know that I have 6lbs to lose to get back to my best weight – my healthiest, happiest weight. I know that those last few pounds will take me time to lose. I’ve done it before and I know what to do but I also know that it’s a tough process, without immediate gratification which makes it so demoralising sometimes. But I know it’s doable.

I just wish my mother would learn that too.

Transitioning slowly


31 days until I fly out and wow, there’s a lot to get done. How am I tackling this pile of STUFF?

Am I working methodically through my list and being super productive everyday, aware that I have limited days?

Am I eating healthily and working my way through my pantry to make sure I’m using up everything I have?

I can categorically say no to both of those questions. More specifically, I’m not being consistent with either of those points. I have my moments and then I slip into procrastination which leads to stress which leads to eating and not exercising. Which leads to me feeling like crap because my jeans don’t fit right and I feel UGH which leads to sitting on the couch and eating. And now you see the cycle.

Why do I eat when I’m confronted with stress like this? Why do I manage to justify “treats” because I’m stressed? After 2 years on this new lifestyle, why am I regressing to previous unhealthy behaviours when I KNOW what works and what I need to do?

I’m super frustrated with myself right now and I know that being frustrated is not helping. I need to break out of the “I deserve this treat” cycle.

I’m drinking more water and trying to stop with the snacking so we’ll see. Today is a new day and this week is a new week.

Taking time and making time pt 1


Wow, what a cryptic title. What on EARTH could I be talking about? Have I found a way to MAKE time?

Well, no. But hear me out.

We live in a world where time is precious. We never have enough and we want everything to happen quicker and sooner and faster and NOW because we don’t have time to waste. Which means we put off things like going to the gym or cooking a big meal when it’s only for ourselves, or dressing well, or looking after ourselves because, well, there are more urgent things to do.

But this is wrong. This is bad.

Because if we don’t take the time for ourselves, if we don’t make the time for ourselves, then we’re really no good for anyone else.  Our work is not productive, our social lives suffer because we have no energy and no zest, and everything else that seems so important suffers. All because we think we have no time.

The thing is that we do have time for ourselves – we just need to find it, and take it. Yes, our days are busy with work, with family, with STUFF, but there are minutes and hours that are there for the taking.

Food is often one aspect that falls by the wayside when time is crunched. It seems easier to order in or buy convenience foods instead of eating well. But food is fuel and with crappy fuel, you have less energy and all that jazz. There are tons of ways of making time work for you when it comes to food:

  • Invest in a slow-cooker. I have a new one being christened today and I love it. I throw in the ingredients in the morning while I’m getting ready for work, program it to cook all day and dinner is ready when I get home. No effort required – no thought at the end of a long day. And the bonus is that I’ve got enough cooked for a few meals – bringing me to point #2
  • Cook in bulk and freeze ready-made meals. These are SO much better than the ones you buy at the grocery store and tons cheaper too. You control the ingredients and the sodium and the chemicals so they’re so healthy. Cook a big meal and then freeze separate portions so they’re easy to grab from the freezer when you have no food in the pantry or time to prepare a new meal.
  • Separate food into ziploc bags when you first put them away. Things like veggies you plan to use for salads or meals or snacks. It may take a little more time than simply stashing them away, but it makes it super easy to grab on the go – for lunches or snacks or whatnot. It takes away the thought and effort when you’re in a rush. It also means you’re less likely to eat an entire bag of chips in one sitting and ignore your dinner – it takes more effort to keep getting up for another little ziploc bag of snacks!
  • Menu plan and shop mindfully. Again, putting in a little more effort at the beginning saves time down the track. If you sit down before you grocery shop and plan your meals for the week (it doesn’t need to be a hard-and-fast every item plan), it can save you time and money at the store and mean that you’re less likely to wander aimlessly and throw out food at the end of the week. I’ll admit that I don’t follow this all the time, but I notice when I don’t. For example, this week, I planned my slow-cooker meal tonight, which will last for lunch and possibly dinner tomorrow night. I’m out Wednesday and Thursday night so no meals then. I have some tuna for tuna salad for lunches and then I bought some stewing meat for another slow cooker meal for Friday night.  Not expensive and not time-consuming at all.
  • Buy frozen veggies and use them liberally. Frozen veggies are not the devil’s invention but rather, an amazing time saver! Frozen chopped onions, chopped spinach, mixed veggies – they all make life easier.  Again, this is simply about not trying to re-invent the wheel – if you have the time to buy fresh, great, but if not, it’s super easy to throw some veggies in with some chicken strips and sauce and voila, you have a stirfry.

Some simple hints and tips that can make life easier and show you that time is there for the taking when it comes to easy meals. I hear too many people say that they have Kraft Dinner in their pantry because it takes too long to make a good meal and it’s only for one person and it’s expensive. It’s really not any of those things!