Since I started actively working on living a healthier lifestyle, (ironically for my 2013 New Year’s Resolution…who sticks to those??), I have lost a total of 20 pounds, 35 pounds since my heaviest weight ever. Over the last few months I have kicked my fitness into even higher gear, and I am by far the healthiest I have ever been. This summer I have been getting a ton of compliments, many asking me what my secrets were. I will be the first to tell you there is no magical pill (because God, if there was I would invest all my money in their stock). I have worked my butt off (literally) and I have had my highs and lows. From my year and a half of really working on myself, I have learned a few things from trial and error. This is what works for me…
I am a work in progress. I am nowhere near perfect. I hope people realize I am not writing this post out of arrogance or ignorance. I have also not reinvented the wheel, everything I am going to say has been said before by people much smarter than me. You have probably heard before everything I am going to say and you have probably heard it said simpler and more profound. So then your thinking, “OK, boring.” But wait! What I bring to the table is showing you how I, a normal 25 year old female dealing with body issues and finding the healthiest me, used the techniques perfected by “the pros.” These are the few core concepts I have adopted and continue to adapt to fit me and my needs…
1. Active Lifestyle:
– Find something you love: I don’t like to think of it as “working out.” If you think of it as a chore or something you “have” to do, it won’t be fun and you won’t stick to it. To stay active long term you have to find things you enjoy. I love to dance. I started dancing when I was three years old and never looked back. I used to compete when I was younger and did everything from ballet, Pointe, jazz, tap, lyrical, and hip hop. Then during high school I tragically shattered my foot and stopped classically dancing, BUT I did not stop dancing. I joined the ballroom team during college where we competed and put on shows. My friends and I would go line dancing weekly. Once college ended I wanted to join some type of dance or “dance class” and found OC Zumba Fitness and Yoga Booty Ballet. I now go to YBB every Monday and Zumba every Wednesday…religiously…like clockwork. It also took me a really long, hard time, but I have finally learned to love running. If you hate to run, trust when I say you are not alone. I was the kind of kid in PE who would rather fake my period than run the mile. In college I was impressed with myself if I could run around half of the school track without stopping (that is an eighth of a mile for you math majors).
One day about three years ago I woke up and I was like, “You know what, I am tired of hating to run and I am tired of being fat, let’s try to make this happen!” I started VERY small. Going to the track and making myself jog (slowly) one lap while walking the rest. Going to my community gym and seeing how long I could go at a snails jog until I gave up. I remember the first time I actually ran (I use the word “ran” loosely, I just hate the word jogging, it makes me feel like a 90 year old woman holding 1 pound weights in a hot pink track suit) an entire mile. I was literally jumping and screaming for joy. Eventually one mile led to two. Eventually my pace got a little faster. Then one day my dear friend Hoda convinced me to sign up for a 5K Color Run. I consider this my running tipping point. This is where I went from “trying” to run (again, using that word loosely), to going on scheduled runs and training and practicing and really trying to get better. Yes, I trained my butt off for a 5K (I know my marathon friends are laughing right now). When the time for the 5K came, I had lost about 10 pounds and felt amazing. Ironically, we didn’t even run most of the 5K. My friend’s sister had hurt her ankle and we wanted to stay back with her, but I didn’t care.
The milestones I accomplished before that were way more important than the actual 5K. As my sister’s favorite quote says, “The journey is the destination.” A few months ago I ran my first 10K race (the Safari Park 10K). Yes, again I trained. Hard. My next goal is a half marathon and perhaps one day a marathon. I am not a running expert so I am not even going to sit here and pretend to give you advice on how to become better at it. That’s what those professional bloggers and books are out there for. Find a running coach you enjoy reading about and hit the pavement!!
The biggest setback: Finding what you love. Not everyone is going to have something like I have dance where you feel it deep in your soul. Sometimes it will be more like my love for running, something you have to work on and that thin line of love and hate gets blurred from time to time. Keep trying different things until you find something you enjoy. And promise me you won’t just try it once and give up. Every class or activity will feel weird the first time you are doing it. You might get intimidated or even feel like you hate it. Force yourself to try it again. After 3-5 times you can make a more educated decision if the new activity is something you could learn to love.
– Mix it up: As important as finding something you love, you have to change things up. If you do the same thing over and over again, you will get bored and your body will get used to the monotony and you will plateau.
As well as my normal dance classes twice a week and running at least once a week, I also try other dance workshops/classes/and activities like ballroom, line dancing, Barre, Yoga, Pilates, etc. I also love to go on hikes with my puppies, long walks with my hubby, swimming in our community pool, trampolining at places like Big Air and Sky High, and rock climbing at our local gym Aesthetic Climbing Gym. I one day want to try a Pole Fitness and Arial Gymnastics class.
The biggest setback: $$$. Taking classes are not free. I am not a huge fan of gyms, but the cool thing about them is they usually have a ton of free classes you can try. Usually at a minimum they have spin, yoga, Zumba, kickboxing, as well as strength classes, so usually you can find something you enjoy.
– Find a buddy (or two, or three) to be active with: You are much more likely to attend your planned activity if you know someone is depending on you.
For my dance classes, even though I didn’t start the classes with a “buddy,” I have made friends with other students and the teachers. Now I know that if I miss a class for whatever reason, my teacher WILL be asking me where I was! It totally holds me accountable if I feel like being lazy and not putting pants on. Also, while we were training for our 5K my friend Hoda and I had regular running “dates.” Then, Hoda found some great Groupon deals for yoga classes (she is a HUGE yogi and is trying to convert me) so I knew that not only was Hoda expecting me to carpool to the yoga studio, but my Groupon was going to expire at a certain time and I had to use all my classes before then. Also, my pets are great buddies. There are days when I feel lazy but I know they are antsy and would LOVE to go out for a hike, so for the love of them I get my butt off the couch and go out with them.
2. Eating Right:
– Everything in moderation: Diets don’t work. Fads don’t work. Eliminations don’t work. They might work for that “I am attending my ex’s wedding in two weeks and I have to look amazing” emergencies, but for the long term they DO NOT WORK. I am avidly against any type of elimination diet. Different food groups contain different essential nutrients and vitamins your body needs. If you completely get rid of a food group your body is more likely to start craving it, which means you might binge on food that is not good for you later. And yes, I am even talking about my favorite food group: sugars and fats. I have found that if I completely eliminate sugar from my diet I might be good for a while, but eventually I start to crave it…hard. Until that is all I can think about and eventually I give up and eat an entire chocolate cake in one sitting. However if I let myself eat a small piece of dark chocolate each night or on weekends if I let myself eat that one (or two) chocolate chip cookie(s), I am way less likely to binge later. I am an emotional and a bored eater. If I had a rough day at work the first thing I want to do is run out and get a pint of ice cream. I can also devour one of those XL buckets of popcorn while watching a movie and not even notice. With that being said, I have created a few tricks to get that sugar fix without actually getting a sugar fix.
– First, don’t have sweets lying around the house. Obvious, but hard. If it is in the house, I will eat it. It will call my name and one day I will convince myself that I “deserve” the treat. (My favorite, “Yay! I did the dishes! Way to go me, lets celebrate with cake!!) Now, there are some nights when I am craving chocolate chip cookies, like I want them so badly I would do anything to get one. But most of the time, since they aren’t in the house, I am too lazy to go all the way to the store to buy them. However that doesn’t mean I haven’t ran to the store at 10pm just to buy chocolate chip cookies, because I don’t want to lie to you, my husband and I do that more often than I care to admit. This might also be because I am allergic to milk and wheat, but I don’t buy pre-made cookies or cake, I make them from scratch or boxed. This has also stopped me from bored binging because I was too lazy to get the mixer out. Or we didn’t have enough eggs in the house! Making yourself work for the sweets might stop those cravings and bored binges…at least most of the time!
– The second thing I have learned, sometimes you don’t need an entire chocolate lava cake to satisfy your sweet tooth. I try to have oranges, grapefruit, bananas, and apples in the house always that I can eat whenever I want. I have realized that sometimes an orange is all I need to have my sweet tooth satisfied. If an orange just won’t do, I make “mini-desserts” like toast with cinnamon sprinkled on it, or a small bowl of granola and almond milk. When it doubt, try a piece of fruit first, usually it is all you need!
3. Motivation: Some days I feel motivation is more important than exercise and nutrition. We ALL know that exercise is good for our body, we ALL know good nutrition is good for our body, but gosh darn it there are days when I want to sit on the couch ALL day watching Netflix and eating a dozen cupcakes. Here are some of my biggest motivators to get me out of my Honey Badger Don’t Give a Sh*t mode:
– Celebrities/ Celebrity Coaches: With social media nowadays it is super easy to follow…pretty much anyone. Celebrities, health professionals, professional athletes, etc. post new information daily about ways to improve your life. Your job is to find the people that you respect and trust and take what they say and apply it to your life. Disclaimer, you WILL not look like them no matter how hard you try. Do not set yourself up for failure. It is their full time job to look amazing, their job IS their body. If I had nothing to do all day, got paid multi-million dollars to look good, and had the money to hire a plethora of personal assistants whose job is to make me look good, I like to think that I would be able to do that too. BUT you can take what they post and their advice and apply it to what works in your life. Who I love to follow:
Jillian Michaels: She is my all time favorite celebrity “athlete.” Why? It’s hard to tell you. There is just something about her personality and her charisma that really speaks to me. I also think she is hot. I have many of her books and workout DVDs and watch her when she feels like gracing The Biggest Loser.
Lance Armstrong: Regardless of the way you feel about him, I hope you can agree with me that he NEVER gives up. Whether it was telling F-U to cancer, or doing (literally) anything to win 7 Tour de France titles, the man refuses to take “no” for an answer. I respect that in him. If I was ever in a pickle, I would want Lance on my team.
Lauren Conrad: Love her. Loved her on reality television, love her now. Not only is she sweet, funny, and beautiful, she posts amazing beauty and health posts in her blog (along with her team). I have watched every show she has been in, every “how-to” video she has posted, every book she has written (she is a fabulous fiction writer!), and every blog she has posted. If I could have a famous BFF, it would be her.
– People in My Life: I like to surround myself with people who are better than me. There is a benefit of looking up to celebrities, but like I said, they live a fake life. They aren’t real. I respect and honor people who I see in my life every day who have a full time job and are able to life a healthy lifestyle. I am lucky to have quite a few in my life.
My Doctor: Dr. Monica Harms is my actual doctor, and yes, I follow her on Facebook. She is what a doctor should be. She walks the walk and talks the talk. She posts great fitness and nutrition posts and I know I can trust them because she is my doctor and obviously knows what she is talking about. Plus, she is beautiful and a personal trainer.
My Dance Instructors: I have been going to OC Zumba Fitness for years now. I had an instructor there I absolutely adored, but unfortunately she left and I started showing up less and less. That is, until Nneka arrived over a year ago. She is a professional dancer (I started to list the dances she can do but I am pretty sure it is easier to list what dances she can’t do), which I LOVE. She has a huge energy which radiates throughout the classroom and makes all of us work as hard as we possibly can. Oh and did I mention? She has the fittest body I have ever seen in real life, it is ridiculous. I go to her Wednesday night classes religiously because as weird as it seems, I don’t want to let her down. A year ago I started going to Yoga Booty Ballet, and I have fallen in love with the class and instructors Kim Esmond (a retired professional cheerleader) and Claire. They bring a high upbeat energy to the class, as well as being beautiful and fitter than I am. Also, Kim has started a nonprofit called The Infinite Smile Project which fosters children to create random acts of kindness and spread love and generosity throughout our community. So, obviously she is a beautiful person on the inside and out.
My Main Workout Partners:
My friend Hoda forced me to take a few months worth of yoga classes with her and I am grateful for them. I was not a yogi, nor do I consider myself one after the process. During yoga I kept thinking, “F this class, F the teacher, F this pose, F yoga, I hate this, why am I here, I am never coming back, F the world.” And then once the next week rolled around I found myself thinking, “Oh yay, I get to go to yoga tomorrow.” This is the weird relationship yoga and I will continue to have for the rest of my life, but now that my two Groupons have expired I do find myself missing yoga and the benefits I noticed it was giving me. So thank you Hoda for making me try something new and thank you for giving me an example of something I hope to work toward.
Even though I don’t get to work out with my sister as often as I would like, when I am visiting her we usually take Zumba classes together and other fun activities. I will not disclose how much older than me she is, but I think she looks amazing and I hope to be as thin as she is when I am the same age.
Now, I can’t finish my motivation list without listing my husband, though I am not sure why because he doesn’t even read my blogs. He used to race downhill mountain bikes professionally in college and continues to ride one of his many bikes every day, so he is very physically fit. Whether we are riding bikes together or going on a hike, he always motivates me to keep pushing harder. Also, because he is such a great husband and he is so darn attractive I want to continue to be healthy so he is proud of me and can brag that he has a trophy wife.
As a disclaimer, I don’t believe in Twitter or Instagram, so when I speak I only talk about the Facebook, but what I am about to say really is related to all social media.
Fitness Inspiration Profiles: I “like” a few different fitness inspiration Facebook profiles. Seeing daily memes of inspiration and quotes really (as cheesy as this sounds) have helped me hurdle over some of my toughest plateaus and mental blocks.
Two quotes in particular that I found via Fitness Inspiration profiles really stuck out at me. The first, “Your body isn’t giving up. You are.” God this one gets me. Perhaps it is because I am so dang stubborn that the fact that someone is calling me out pisses me off. My husband and I were on a mountain bike ride a few months ago and we were climbing up this impossibly large hill. I kept wanting to give up and to get off the bike and walk, but then with every pedal stroke I kept saying, “Your body isn’t giving up. You are.” And then I would immediately respond with, “F you, I am not giving up.” I had that battle in my head over and over and over again until magically I looked up and the hill was gone. Since then, every time I am doing something that is particularly hard, I repeat that quote to myself and it pisses me off enough to keep pushing. The next quote I fell in love with is, “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullsh!t story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” Gosh, isn’t this one the truth!! So many times we keep telling ourselves, “There is no point doing this, I am just going to fail.” Instead if we would just shut the heck up and do it we would be able to impress ourselves.
The Rest of my Facebook Friends: I am not going to lie, I have some pretty awesome Facebook friends. I like to think I surround myself with like-minded people (at least with the deep important stuff, variety is the spice of life after all). I have so many friends that post their own inspirational before and after photos, fitness tips, and yummy healthy recipes. I get some of my best ideas from them including my favorite smoothie recipe and my favorite toning workout.
Well, if you are even still reading this (I realize it is amazingly long), congratulations, here is a cookie! (Wait, dang it, didn’t I just say not to use food as a motivation?!) Do I live every day of my life strictly following the above standards I have made for my self? Heck no techno. There are some days I am proud of myself for just putting a bra on. And you know what? That is OK! Even the healthiest people have cheat days and let themselves have a little fun.
What are you going to implement? Let me know!