Working out for a half hour, 3(ish) days a week, walking a smidge and eating as well as you can without being too diligent might NOT get you to your aesthetic goals, flat abs, a goal weight or the podium/finish line. That’s true. Those things often need more effort for most people, more effort than you may be willing or able to put in. And that’s okay.
But it’s certainly enough to get & keep you relatively healthy, improve your mood, make you feel bad ass, “maybe” lose a little weight, and boost your confidence - if you let it. And it’s more than okay to let yourself think it’s “this is what I can do and its good enough”.
All too often, I hear the same story: "I was doing really well! I was working out 6 days a week, eating only clean food, and I lost so much weight! But then I started feeling un-motivated, and then this happened, and that happened and I just gave up all together". This happens a lot. It’s an “all or nothing” attitude, and it typically leads to burn out, exhaustion, feelings of failure, sabotage, etc. It’s also no fun living that way. And deep down, you know it. Our bodies and brains take steps to slow us down when we’re going extreme for long periods of time, so the story often ends the same way: we stop, give up and give in.
Aren’t you tired of that? That sucks, no?
How about this instead…
Do a little. Do more when you can. Do what you can when you can. Don’t beat yourself up when you can’t. And know that doing your best has value, even when your goals seem far off. (it’s also okay to change those goals, put then on hold, or ditch them).
The person who commits to a few days a week, most weeks (or who finds a way to move a little each day) and eats as well as they can without being too diligent can often keep it up for a LONG ASS TIME. Especially if they focus on finding things they LOVE. When we treat our workouts and diets like punishments, they feel that way. And your body doesn’t like to feel punished.
Happier, healthier people don’t always fit into skinny jeans, workout everyday or eat like health superstars. But they do keep thing relatively consistent, stay flexible, and they don’t beat themselves up. You can always add more when you can, but knowing that you can be flexible and do the minimum too is more likely to help you adopt habits longterm.
Living with “all or nothing” extreme thinking means you’ll have periods where you’re 100% on target and periods where you give up all together. If that’s YOU, try a new approach. You might just find it serves you better long term, even if you don’t hit your aesthetic goals.
Excuses, Excuses, Excuses…. What’s yours?
Here’s mine: I’m not as lean as I could be because I don’t WANT to do the things I’d have to do to get there.
No other reason. That’s my truth and it feels amazing to me.
Don’t get me wrong: I’d be fine with a leaner bod. I have the time, the expertise & know how and ALL the tools I’d need. And even on the genetics front, I could do it - with effort. I’m one of “those” people, lol. I even have the nutty, fit freakin’ passion for it that not everyone has. In fact, the only thing keeping me from having a leaner body is the desire to commit to the lifestyle I’d need to work towards one.
I JUST DON’T WANNA BE THAT DILIGENT. Don’t wanna.
Been there. Done that. Moved on. To me, the additional sacrifices and monitoring aren’t worth it. That’s personal, based on my own history, priorities and my own preferences.
I don’t want to count every calorie. That sucked. I don’t want to weigh myself everyday. That sucked. I don’t want to feel as though my success as a person depends on my ability to maintain my weight or body fat percentage. THAT SUCKED! One of the greatest joys IN MY LIFE when it comes to my fitness has been feeling like it’s a perk and not an obligation. I value my feelings, my moods and my excuses, because they are all feedback. I don’t bully myself for them, but work with them. Every excuse I have is a valid one, at least in the sense of I validate the feeling. It’s feedback, a starting point and a place from which I can evaluate my options and make a call.
It’s not because I’m lazy, not dedicated or because I am delusional. I work hard yo. I’m bad ass. I listen to my body. I know what it would take for me to get to a leaner, fitness model bod. I looked at my history and decided I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I decided I have other priorities that take precedence. I’ve made a very informed and calculated choice to live my life the way I like, which includes burpees, spinach, wine, chocolate, flexibility and sometimes gaining/losing a little weight.
And the moment I made peace with this, everything changed on a fundamental level. There was no more beating myself up. I actually got stronger. It was easier to eat healthy most of the time (nothing to rebel against and no sense of deprivation LITERALLY equaled more veggies and cleaner choices). I learned to listen to the feedback my body was giving me.
So what do I think of my “I don’t wanna” excuse? Valid. Totally. I’ll defend her to the end. Healthier, happier me.
We’re all different, and you gotta do YOU.
YOU includes a history that you need to work with to make the best decisions for your body: the way you approach your diet and training needs to work for all of “you”.
Some people are totally amazing at moderation. They can have treats in the house, and eat them when desired, without finishing the whole box or bag. Others might struggle more with it, and having treats in the house is too much pressure for them. They might feel like willpower failures, but the truth is they aren’t. All it means is that in order to make the best decisions for themselves, they might need to be more diligent about controlling their environment. That’s empowerment, not weakness: a former alcoholic who refuses to keep booze in the house isn’t weak, but rather doing what they need to do. The same goes for people who might need to calorie count and those that don’t. Or those that need trainers/buddies to workout and those that don’t (sometimes you’re better off with friends and sometimes, it’s not the best for you). When you employ techniques, sometimes you need to base them on WHO YOU ARE. Not necessarily who you’d like to be. In short, it means keeping them realistic to your current situation.
If you can’t seem to commit to an hour a day, there’s nothing wrong with 20 minutes. If you can’t ever seem to make a morning workout, maybe a different time works best. If you have tried and absolutely HATE broccoli, there’s no need to eat it. There are far too many veggies in the world for broccoli to be the end all be all. Try something else.
I’d love to be the person who can keep treats in the house and never touch them. But I’m not that person. If I buy them, I’ll eat them. If I eat them, I often feel shitty on the inside and my workouts/life suffer for it. I’d also love to be the kind of person who loves going to the gym, but I’m not. At-home workouts are what works best for me, and I focused my energy on making them awesome with tools, research and by making my space conducive to home sweating. I used to feel guilty about this (as a trainer, I suppose it’s weird to hate gyms), but I realized there are loads of people like me who can benefit from at-home training experiences. I simply stick to what I do best and kick as much ass with it as I can.
In addition to your routines, your goals should also reflect your own self-awareness. My example would be the fact that I’m not pursuing goals related to incredible leanness, six packs or getting the lowest body fat percentage possible. For some (especially those competing), these are goals they attribute to success and they work really hard to get there. For me - due to my history- these are goals I attribute to disorder: it can be dangerous for me to focus too heavily on aesthetics or numbers. I don’t feel empowered when I micromanage my diet: I feel out of control. I don’t feel good about measuring my body fat percentage against other people: I feel obsessed. It would be very easy for me to pursue those goals, especially with the support I’d have from MANY awesome people. I even feel as though I “could” do it and keep my body in fairly good health too (or at least try). But because of my history - because of my self-awareness OF that history - I’d be poking a sleeping dragon. It wouldn’t be healthy for me to pursue those goals given my history with body image and food.
The world is filled with conflicting messages, right? Body acceptance in the world of fitness is a topic where conflict often arises. Many people struggle with the messages that they should love and accept their bodies as is, while simultaneously they feel pressured to improve the body they have (lose weight, get stronger etc). It becomes murky territory for those of us who support people on their quests to implement change in their lives, while also trying to make sure they love themselves and stay realistic.
Can you love your body AND still want to change it? Well… yeah. Of course! But for some people, the concept is a tough one to wrap their heads around. Hopefully, this will shed some light on how it’s done and how to start shifting your thinking & attitude.
A quick list of things you can work on this year, that will bring you nothing but ‘awesome’. And none of them have to do with weight loss, losing ‘flaws (always in quotations), or changing your appearance. Those are bonuses and things you can ALWAYS work on of course, but unless those changes are made with LOVE (not hate), they aren’t likely to stick OR make you feel better.
This is about being mother f*cking at HOME in the body you are in, whatever it’s shape. You deserve it. You do. Trust me & thank me later.
Here’s some ways you can START your body love journey.
1. Put down the magazines. Scroll past that site. Don’t indulge in hours of ‘ideal body’ pinning (and pining). Want to feel better about your body? Stop feeding it unrealistic expectations.
2. Re-examine your relationship with the scale. Does it make or break your day? Does the thought of missing a weigh in stress you out? Ditch it. Nothing should have that power over you.
Progress kinda sneaks up on you… it tends to happen when you’re not paying attention. One day you ‘can’t’, and the next day you ‘can’. It’s awesome.
The progress will reveal itself when it’s ready… no need to stress out about not being where you want to be. Enjoy where you ARE. Celebrate mini-victories along the way (don’t negate them! They count!).
Having a goal is great, but I urge you to focus on enjoying the process too. That’s the good stuff. The meat.
I love being able to do pushups: all kinds of them. But nothing was quite like the feeling I got from being able to do just ONE. No matter how fancy, bad ass, or surprising my ‘new’ pushups are, nothing compares to that first feeling of ‘holy shit. I did it!’. I wouldn’t have relished it nearly as much if I’d been holding out for the day I could do 10. That first one was AMAZING. (awww crap. Am I tearing up at hindsight? Totally mushballs. This is why people think I’m nuts.)
One got me to two. Two got me to three. Eventually, I got to 10. Then 20. Then 40. It took forever, but I got there. And the journey was the best part… not the end game.
So enjoy it. Celebrate it. Embarrasingly. Throw yourself a parade. Make yourself a plaque. High five yourself when no one’s looking. Even better, when EVERYONE’S looking. Big steps, little steps, missteps, first steps, failures, mistakes and bumps: they’re all awesome and a magical part of your story.
Embrace them. They rock, and so do you.
Try this, avoid this, use a smaller plate, attach a vibrator to your fork, only eat _____ color foods, lock your fridge, spank yourself with rubber bands, count to ten while you chew, do lunges while vaccuming, put up pictures of larger women on your freezer, hop on one leg while having dinner, don’t eat after this time, only do cardio, don’t do cardio, “trick” your body into _______.
I can’t stand high horses, and the people who sit upon them (and not because I’m only 5ft 2). I’m pro-people & it burns me up inside when I see others discouraged, hurt or shamed when trying so hard to make positive changes in their lives.
For the “your workout is my warm-up” crowd, I feel it’s necessary to point out that it’s kinda…well… a douche-y thing to say. (Even if true, why put anyone down?). Your “warm-up” probably used to be an intense workout for you too: we all don’t start out as athletes. How well you ‘perform’ is about fitness level, goals, time and training. Years. Effort. Sweat. And a little luck too. It has nothing to do with you being a ‘more awesome person’ in some fashion. Beginners often find this kind of attitude intimidating… and shouldn’t we be a bit more supportive? Beginnings are rough enough. (P.S- being fitter doesn’t make you superior to anyone else. You might be an improved YOU maybe, but you still poop).
For the “my workout is better than yours” crowd, a gentle reminder that not everyone works out with the same goals. Just because your goals are athletic, and hers might be just “having fun”, doesn’t make yours “better”. We also have different likes/dislikes/experiences/resources etc. Comparing apples and oranges. As long as someone’s moving, let them move. You do you. She does she. Focus on your own happy sweat, let her have hers.
For the “my lifestyle diet makes me a better person” crowd, a reality check. You are not your diet. She is not her diet. He is not his diet. We’re PEOPLE FIRST. We make choices. Your diet is a series of choices you make based on experiences you’ve had, likes/dislikes, circumstances, exposure, resources, opportunities etc. It does not make you a better person, even if it makes you feel better ABOUT yourself. Hey, I’m down with you making decisions for yourself that make you feel good. And shouting them from the rooftops (holla!). But there’s no need to put anyone down for THEIR choices while doing so. By all means, promote what you love. Putting others down = not necessary (and helps no one).
There’s a lot of subtle shaming & missed opportunities to INSPIRE that can be avoided by focusing on the positive, being more supportive of others, trying to understand and remembering we’re all on the same SIDE.
If you want healthier people…
1. Encourage rather than taunt.
2. Inspire rather than intimidate.
3. Show compassion, not disdain.
Let’s play nice(r).
While some people are able to keep up with their training over the holidays, others might find themselves ‘missing’ more workouts than normal. Life happens, stress happens, we get tired and before we know it, we’re fallen off the fitness wagon.
One thing few people talk about is how hard it is to get BACK on the wagon after we take a break. Especially, if we’ve felt very fit before. It can be de-motivating to learn that we’re not at our ‘best’.
Tip: Expect the HARD.
So… you fell off the fitness wagon.
Life got busy. You got lazy. You lost motivation. You took a day off and it turned into 2 weeks. Or a month. Or two months. It happens. To far more of us than you might think.
Your goal: ask yourself why. Make changes. Hop back on.
Don’t beat yourself up, or let it reinforce feelings of ‘failure’. Don’t assume that it means you’ll have to start from scratch (nothing is further than the truth). Don’t believe that none of your hard work was worth it - it was, even just as learning.
Look at the practical, non-judgmental, aspects to WHY you fell off the wagon. Was getting up every morning for your workout just NOT happening? Maybe there’s a better time of day to fit it in. Was it hard to drag yourself to the gym? Maybe it’s time to get a gym buddy OR incorporate more home workouts (like DVD’s). Did you get exhausted and burn out? Maybe you need to re-evaluate how often and how hard your workouts are and start a little more slowly. If you were bored with THAT workout, anything else you could be doing?
Some of the biggest reasons why people fall off the wagon are…
Ever feel like you’re just waiting for a spark? Waiting to FEEL like working out, but that feeling never comes?
Re-framing “motivation” may be necessary to get to your goals.
When people think of “motivation” they usually think of it as a FEELING. A desire TO do something. A push. Fire. A light. When I’m asked what motivates me, people want to know what lights my spark. What gets me to “feel” like working out.
The truth is, passion and fire go a LONG way. 50% of the time, it is easier for me to workout because I love it. I like to move. But the other 50% of my motivation comes from elsewhere. It’s not driven by passion, desire or a “spark”. It’s something else entirely.
ASK YOURSELF: “What WILL get me moving right now” instead of “What will make me FEEL like moving right now”.
Two very different things.
Feel like you deserve a treat after a long, hard workout?
Not a nice, healthy, well-balanced snack. A TREAT. Something “earned” by the effort you put in.
At some gyms, it’s called Starbucks Syndrome. A nice treat after a long workout. You see it all the time: people walk into Starbucks, wearing their workout gear, get a big tall yum yum, and walk out SUPER pleased with themselves, lol. Ecstatic even. A “Deserved” yum-yum tastes better, right? If you are currently at or near your goal, GO ‘HEAD GIRL! Treat away, within reason.
BUT…. if you’re wondering why your results have slowed or stopped, or why you’re not getting anywhere despite all the HARD work you’re putting in? THIS kind of thinking MAY be the reason. You’re running so you can eat cake and eating cake because you run, so to speak. Basically, you’re cancelling out your workout in one huge, caloric, swoop, under the guise of “I deserve it”.
Solution: stop rewarding your workouts with a treat. Bring a snack WITH you (you gotta eat), and take the long way home to avoid the temptation. I AM A FIRM BELIEVER IN TREATS, don’t get me wrong! But if what you are doing is NOT working for you, you need to change what you’re doing. Imagine if ALL those workouts suddenly COUNTED for more…. yay, right?