We just passed Halloween and now have bags of candy tempting us by saying it’s okay to eat 1 or 10 pieces for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. Without missing a beat, I’ve seen close to 20 (so far) images with workout guides and the horrors of gaining weight over the last two months of the year. The incentive is to lose your holiday weight now and not wait (weight lol) until the New Year to declare your new super awesome fitness goals. I think it’s a bit presumptuous of anyone to start shoving protein shakes or whatever weight loss thing down anyone’s throat or assume we are all planning to go into a food coma by sitting at the dining table shoveling mashed potatoes in our mouths in a last ditch effort to have one more bite in the name of Thanksgiving or other holiday meals.
We always hear about how Suzie Sunshine found an extra 1000 hours in her day to run 50 miles a week and has it all tracked in her app – but what about the rest of us? How exactly are we supposed to find time to fit in a productive workout in our already busy lives? Yes, it is possible to wake up early and hit the gym or morning run before work, but most of us want that hour of sleep or we are using that hour to get our family ready for their day. What are some realistic ways to fit in proper fitness through our days?
I am tired of all the gimic-y fitness things going around lately. Currently, there seems to be a market for owning your own fitness company, selling shakes, and promoting a “clean” lifestyle. It’s all well and good but let’s look at the reality of the fitness movement – some of these folks use crash diets or various forms of starvation to achieve such results. Where is the emphasis on being healthy? Why is there so much judgement on those who don’t “look” healthy? I think it’s disgusting and disturbing that such hate is spewed out on women and men who don’t fit into a certain ideal or size. It’s time to take back your voice, power, and your health. It’s time to take back your time in the sun. I think the first step is realizing the reality of your health and fitness level. I will break down each section to open up the dialogue on what it means to have a realistic fitness plan.
Your mindset: It is time to get real. Put away the magazines, stop coveting those pins you helplessly pin on Pinterest, and stand in front of the mirror. Accept who you are, your body, your beauty, and where you are right at this very moment. Take stock of every line, curve, and ripple. It is vital to love that person you see starring back at you. Having a healthy and positive mentality will go a lot further than busting out another 35 minutes on a treadmill three times a week. It is what will get you to your goals faster and trickle down through the rest of your life, creating greater change.
What is going in your mouth: Counting calories, eating “diet food” and generally trying to eat less/starving yourself in an effort to slim down is the worst thing for your body. I avoid buying any diet version of anything or low fat dairy products. It usually means there is more crap that you don’t need to ingest versus healthy fat that your body does need. The best guide to live by is eat smaller healthier, fresher meals more often through the day, and drink more water! Avoid adding any extra salt, sugar or fat. There are a lot of ways to add flavor without the other additives. Bake or grill instead of fry, utilize garlic and peppers instead of salt – the list is endless. I also throw in eating some avocado each day. Of course the big one is limiting those yummy carbs. That was my biggest sacrifice. For some people it’s soda, but for me it’s pasta. It was *so* hard at first but now I have taught myself how to have a healthier relationship with it. This goes for bread and pizza too. The other cutback was booze. There is nothing wrong in having a drink or two every so often if you enjoy it. Just be mindful of having too many. Beer bloat is a bitch! Love fast food? Who doesn’t! Sometimes all I want to devour is a cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake. (Okay, maybe all the time.) Moderation is key – remember it and live by it. Even if you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. In time, you will be making healthy choices regularly and wonder how you got along before.
What is coming out of your mouth: No, I’m not talking about tossing your cookies. I am talking about what you say about yourself, your goals, judging others, or judging yourself so harshly. There used to be a SNL sketch with the guy talking to himself in the mirror before and after each show he did. It was a hilarious sketch but we should stop to check ourselves out in the mirror and tell ourselves how awesome we are on a regular basis. Even if it’s once a day, remind yourself how powerful you are. This will help set the tone in your day and help keep your mind focused on your goals. It also will help others around you who may have a terse word about someone else. Planting that seed of positivity may help them second guess their accusation that is about to fly from their mouth.
Your health professional: If you don’t presently have a health professional or see one regularly, you need to take care of that. Women especially need to take their health seriously from a young age. You need to see your primary care physician each year to make sure from top to bottom you are healthy. This is more than just stepping on the scale. They should run routine blood tests to rule out any other issues going on so you are ahead of the game. Furthermore, it is most important that this person actually listens to you and respects you as a human being. If you feel they are being condescending, find someone else. Talk to your friends and loved ones who can suggest someone great. They should be there encouraging you, not making you feel bad because you don’t fit in their textbook ideals. The other doctor a woman should have is a gynecologist you can trust. Your sexual health plays a key role in your overall health. Even if you aren’t sexually active, they will help keep you aware of what’s going on if anything changes or they find a lump in your breast. Prevention is your best friend.
Your physical activity: It really is as simple as that. What are you doing to get active and stay active? Realistic weight loss, as in losing inches and body fat takes time. Pace yourself, work smart, and remember to have fun. If it’s not fun you will not stick with it. It’s that simple. Take the stairs, park farther from the store, do squats at your desk, keep free weights at your desk – whatever you can fit in your life. Don’t forget to add weight lifting to your routine. A lot of people leave it out because they are scared to gain muscle mass. You can’t get toned through cardio alone, or diet and cardio alone. I’m sure Michelle Obama lifts free weights to maintain her awesome arms. Start small and stay motivated. Get some friends together to stay accountable for each other. If you do decide to join a gym, make an action plan to be there 2-3 times a week. You can do this.
Fitness can be a hard thing to navigate through, especially with the clique’ish fads, juicers, and the F word (fat) being thrown around like a weapon. What is most important is how you feel about yourself, your health and your happiness. Anyone can poke and prod their bodies just to appear thinner but at what cost? Your health is most important. Safe guard it, and prosper.
My general workout attire. It’s from my, “I could care less about expensive fitness clothing” collection.
I try to hit the gym 5 times a week for at least 45 minutes. I am determined to not only get in better shape but maintain a healthy weight and figure since I am now in my 30s. It is no joke that everything starts to sag, slow down, and down right go soft around this age and later on. Yesterday I was on the treadmill partially watching some crappy TV show they have one until something caught my eye. At first I didn’t think much of it because people will wear just about anything to the gym. I have seen a woman working out in white linen pants. No joke. White.linen.pants. *sigh* Anyway. There was a person on a bike in the row in front of me working hard until I noticed that toward the end of the work-out he was wearing a trash bag under his shirt. I was very tempted to ask the person if they were okay because it was noticeable that their body was very overworked after 20 minutes on the bike. This is so unhealthy and dangerous, and I hope no one else is trying this at home!
I understand that there is a current fitness obsession that a lot of people are undergoing in the US. Look at the sudden surge of all these fitness employees who work from home selling workout DVDs, shakes, and wraps. I see it all over facebook and beyond. There is a healthy way to achieve weight loss and health and there are some very unhealthy ways that can do more harm than good, if not kill you.
- Clothing matters: You do not have to own the latest and greatest fitness clothing but it has to be able to move and grove with you comfortably as you are having fun sweating it out. Invest in good sneakers and socks. Your feet need to be properly supported since they absorb some of the shock from all that moving and grooving. Also, all that sweat need to be wicked away from your foot to avoid athletes foot. Anyone can get this – from football players to grandma power walking in the park.
- Hydrate your heart out: No matter who you are, how big or small you are, you need to stay hydrated. Bring a water-bottle that’s huge, take adequate breaks and drinks. I don’t advocate drinking any of those smoothies or whatever people do before or after a workout. Your body is made of water, not a protein shake. If you are into juicing, you should be juicing through your day, not around a workout. Gatoraid is an okay substitute but only if you are doing a serious run or weight lifting session. I’m talking those who run 2-3 miles a day or are weight training. The rest of us just need to replenish with water and healthy foods.
- Leave the old school ways in the past: Yes, there used to be a time where some would sit in a steam room or sauna in sweat pants, sweatshirt with a few layers underneath just to drop 10 pounds over the course of a few days. I know of women who still do this too but with shape=wear as well as men who practice various athletics. It’s not healthy and your body does not deserve the punishment!
- Maintain Positivity: This is the most important aspect. Love yourself through the entire process, respect the skin you are in and that will help in reaching your desired goals. The moment you go negative, you are headed toward a plateau that is hard to break.
Whether you are working in a group, with a buddy or going it alone, make sure you are taking the proper steps to stay safe as to not get discouraged. Trust the process, give it time and you will see results. Love yourself & drink up!