Being Healthy During the Holidays

Another holiday is around the corner, and for people who are trying to be healthy, it can be really stressful. It can cause you to second guess yourself and wonder if a healthy lifestyle is worth the hassle. Regularly scheduled meals and workout times may be interrupted by family meals and activities. A healthy lifestyle could cause you to feel isolated and feel like the “weird” one with the family. I know it’s hard, but I want to provide some tips to encourage everyone to stay focused and make healthy decisions this weekend.

  1. Don’t arrive at the family cook out hungry! Make sure you have followed your scheduled meals that day instead of saving all of your calories for the cook out. You will eat way too much and feel horrible.
  2. Volunteer to take a healthy item to add to the meal. If your cook out is pot luck, bring something that you can eat. Look for healthy recipes that could be considered “clean cheats.” Try the recipe before you go to make sure that it’s good. You don’t want to be the weird cousin bringing strange food.
  3. Watch your portion sizes. If you want to eat what everyone else is eating, make sure that you don’t over eat. Stick to portion sizes and don’t go back for extra food.
  4. You can’t out train a bad diet. No matter how much you work out, you can’t undo the damage of a poor diet. However, I do think it’s good to work out during the holidays because it keeps you focused and serves as a reminder that being healthy is a lifestyle and not something you do when it’s convenient for you.
  5. Get back on track! If you decide to make poor eating decisions and not work out, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just get back on track right away. Don’t put it off and give yourself extra days off. The longer you stay away from eating healthy and working out, the harder it will be to return to these habits.
  6. Enjoy time with your family! Don’t spend your weekend focusing entirely on your food and working out. Spend time with your family and enjoy yourself!

 

Progress, Not Perfection

In a society that celebrates the idea of the “perfect body,” it would be easy to lose focus and get discouraged. We’re constantly bombarded with images of what women are  supposed to look like: tall, thin, and big breasts. I’m none of these things and I’m okay with that. Now that hasn’t always been the case; I used to constantly compare myself to others and never felt like I measured up. I felt like I was trapped in a body that I didn’t want to be in. When I began working out and eating healthy, my only thought was to get skinny. I’m so glad my thinking has changed because I’ve come to realize that shouldn’t have been my goal.

My view of myself has shifted because of my progress in the gym. If I had merely lost weight instead of getting stronger, I would still constantly criticize my body. As I got stronger, my way of thinking drastically changed and I began to have a more positive view of my body. I still occasionally have negative thoughts, but when they creep up,  I choose to concentrate on what my body can do now that it previously couldn’t do. I think that has gotten me through the last few months. I haven’t been able to work out like I had been because I have Achilles Tendinitis and it still hurts when I do too much. I could have used this as an excuse to return to my old eating habits, but I didn’t. Although it has been discouraging, I know that I have to keep working to improve my fitness level.

At the beginning of the year, my goal was to lose another 15 pounds so that I could wear a bikini with confidence. I wore a bikini on my cruise last October, but I was so insecure about the way I looked. Instead of celebrating my 50 pound weight loss, I chose to focus on what I needed to fix. I took a different approach on vacation last week. I decided to focus on my success of maintaining my weight loss; I only purchased bikinis for my trip. There were times I was self conscious, but I also realize that I have come a long way. I did yoga and fitness classes on the beach. That’s something I wouldn’t have done in October. I’m learning how to be comfortable in my own skin and celebrate my fitness accomplishments. I’m no longer striving to have the perfect body.

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New Year and New Challenges

Last year, I faced challenges when I decided to get healthy. The biggest obstacle was working out because it was so hard for me. I struggled through most of my work outs because my fitness level was so low,  but I didn’t give up. Eventually, the gym wasn’t quite so intimidating. I began to like working out because I was stronger and my body could do things that it previously couldn’t. I gained so much confidence in myself through working out.  It has become a major part of my life and I don’t regret the amount of time and energy that I’ve put into it.  A year ago, I never would have thought I would feel that way. This year, I’m struggling because I have had to cut back on the intensity of my work outs because of an injury. I really think it’s harder to cut back than it was to start working out.

After 14 months of being in the gym, it’s hard to believe that February was the first month that I didn’t achieve a new goal. Many of my goals were small, but each one was a big deal to me. One of my favorite goals was the first time I ran in class and came in next to last. I was super excited because I had spent 7 months being the last person to finish running in every class I attended. Achieving goals like this helped me to focus more on fitness instead of weight loss.

Even though I have been very frustrated the past month, I’ve tried to stay positive. I’ve worked out as much as I can and I haven’t used this as an excuse to eat unhealthy foods. I’m hopeful that I can start back working out like I used to. It’s time for me to start working on new fitness goals!

Small Changes-Big Results

When I began my transformation, I made radical changes. I immediately gave up diet coke, which I used to call my medicine. I started working out six days a week and struggling every single day because my fitness level was so low. I ate healthy even when I was at restaurants and for special occasions. I also stopped using food as a source of comfort. Needless to say, this was far from easy and I’m still surprised that I stuck with this lifestyle. While this worked for me, I know these radical changes won’t work for everyone.

I’ve had a lot of people  ask me how I lost my weight and they look overwhelmed when I mention everything that I have done. They want to lose weight, but they just don’t want to do everything that I did and that’s okay.  I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone to make a lot of changes at once; this is just what worked best for me. For some people, I think it would be better to make changes gradually in order to see results.  By implementing small changes, they will be more likely to keep them.  So, I’ve come up with some small changes that people can do to get them started on their way to a healthier life.

  • Drinking water every day is the simplest and cheapest way to begin. For people who hate water, it would be good to start small and substitute one soft drink with a glass of water. Hopefully, it will encourage them to increase their water intake.
  • For people who don’t exercise because they don’t think they have time, they can start with very small amounts of activity. At the grocery store, try walking the perimeter of the store twice before shopping. Parking at the end of parking lots and taking the stairs will also be great ways to get started. Hopefully, this will inspire them to strive for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
  • It would be helpful to stop eating one unhealthy thing each week and replace it with something healthy. For example, eat sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, plain oatmeal instead of flavored oatmeal, or ground turkey instead of ground beef. Also, try to add more veggies everyday.

It will take longer to see results with subtle changes, but I think it will be enough to help someone who is struggling to make healthy changes. A healthy lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint.

 

Goals

For someone on the outside looking in, I have it together and I have won my weight loss battle. I hear people say that I’m tiny or skinny and that I shouldn’t lose more weight. I’ve been asked when I’ll stop going to the gym so much. There isn’t a finish line when someone makes a transformation to lead a healthy life because it goes so much deeper than that. However, I think I have lost sight of that because I let some of these comments get to me. I’ve been doubting my decision to make so many posts on social media about my progress. I thought I was helping people by inspiring them to work hard like I have done, but I had one person to tell me that she hoped I gained all of my weight back. I’m sure it was a joke and I laughed about it,  but I’m still very sensitive about my weight and it bothered me. Since then, I haven’t wanted to post any accomplishments or write any entries for my blog.

Although I didn’t let these comments keep me from working out or eating healthy, I did let them keep me from my goal of writing  my blog.  Sharing this blog on social media was a big step for me because it requires more vulnerability that just making a post on FaceBook. I started this blog last February, but I only let a few people read the entries that I made. Needless to say, a few negative comments made me re-think writing. I didn’t write about my sense of accomplishment of increasing the amount of weight that I can lift or that I didn’t gain any weight over the Christmas holidays- this was the first time in years that I didn’t.

The past week I’ve been thinking about my decision to not share my recent accomplishments and I have realized that this was the wrong decision. I can’t control how people see me or if they resent my weight loss. I can only control how I see myself and I’ve decided to be unapologetic about what I have done. I don’t think I have done anything special besides stay consistent and focused. Anybody can do what I have done; it just takes determination and the ability to not stop when faced with fear and self doubt. Now, I have to stay focused and continue my blog. I owe it to myself to write about this journey and celebrate the milestones that I reach. If people like it and are inspired by it, I will be humbled. If they don’t like it, I’ll remain focused on the goals that I have set for myself.

 

 

This Is When It Counts

This year, I have learned that it’s easy to go to the gym when I’m motivated and well rested. It’s quite another story when I’m physically and mentally tired, sore from a previous workout, or just burnt out from being at the gym so much. I’ve had days this year when I didn’t want to work out; I wanted to sleep late or stay in my recliner and watch tv. These days were even harder if the weather was cold and rainy. It was enough to make me want to skip and just stay home; however, I would remind myself that days like this are when it really counts.

This morning was one of the times that I had to remind myself that “this is when it really counts.” I was really tired and didn’t feel like going to the gym at 5:00 a.m., but it was the only time that would fit in my schedule today.  It’s been a long week and I wanted to stay in the bed, but it would have been crazy not to work out on my one year anniversary! I’m glad I went today because I pushed myself to increase my speed on the stair master and did leg day on my own for the first time. That was quite an accomplishment because I hate the stair master and I’m still intimidated when there are people close by when I’m doing weights. If I hadn’t pushed past my thoughts of sleeping in, I would have missed achieving these goals.

As I start my second year, I’m sure there will be days when I don’t want to be at the gym, but I will remind myself of how far I have come. I can’t stop or stay away from the gym too long because I refuse to lose the progress that I have made. I refuse to return to where I was a year ago.

My Top Five List

My way of thinking has definitely changed a lot this year. When I started working out a year ago, I wanted to lose the weight and be done. Then I realized that this way of thinking led me to my highest weight of 187 pounds. People under 5 feet shouldn’t weigh that much!!! So, my thoughts and attitude about working out and healthy eating changed so subtlety I didn’t even recognize the changes. I decided to make a list of the things that seemed crazy to me last year.

5. There is always time to workout.

Just like everyone else, sometimes my schedule gets busy and working out just can’t happen during the day. However, it can be done at times that you usually sleep. I remember when I told Tina that I couldn’t meet for  weight training because of night events at work, she told me that we could meet at 6:00 a.m. I thought this was insane, but I have adjusted to this way of thinking. I will wake up at 4:30 a.m. if that’s the only time I have to get in my workout. It’s worth the loss of sleep.

4. It’s good to work out with people who are more advanced than you are.

When I work out with people who are stronger and faster than I am, I push myself harder. At first, I was intimidated by these people; however, I decided to look at it another way. These people were stronger and faster and they provided examples of people who kept pushing to get better.

3. It’s okay to miss a deadline for a fitness goal.

By the end of the year, I wanted to be doing one arm push ups and pull ups. I’m not there yet, but I will get there one day. Both of these moves just look cool to me and that’s my only reason for wanting the strength to do them.

2. Weekends shouldn’t destroy the progress made during the week.

In the past, I would try to eat healthy during the week; the weekend was a completely different story! From Friday night to Sunday night, I ate whatever I wanted and lots of it! It was a struggle to eat healthy on the weekends, but it did get easier. Now that I have lost 50 pounds, I do let myself have certain foods on the weekend now. I just know that it’s not something that can be done all of the time.

1. I can be a personal trainer and help others like me.

When I walked in the gym last December, I would have laughed if someone would have told me that I would decide to become a personal trainer before the year was up. Well, I passed my test last weekend to become a trainer and I’m very excited and ready to get started. I hope I can be as good as my trainer because she is awesome!!!