So New Year’s has come and gone, and with it, your fleeting ambitions of being the healthier, fitter you, “you but better.” Let’s face it- resolutions are kind of pointless. And who wants to be better, anyways? You just need to be consistent.
Now that spring is well under way, and as we hear the first whispers of summer sliding on through, it’s easy to feel discouraged, even easier to put off pursuing health for another day, another month, another season. I know this because for most of my young adult life, that was me.
The last six months have been a revelation for me, but only in the last 3 months have I actively noticed a shift in my daily behavior. After years of running on the endless hamster wheel of no-follow through, self-disgust, apathy, and ultimately, self-pity, I was able to break the chain and live a healthier, happier lifestyle. There was no magic bullet, no miracle diet or even a fitness coach in my life. I simply made small, everyday choices like the ones below that ended up transforming the way I saw my daily routines and behaviors.
Set Clear, Achievable Goals
Want to achieve x by y timeframe? Write it down. For me, I wanted to release myself from the endless obsession with my weight- which has been constantly fluctuating throughout my life. So instead, I decided to focus on lowering my body fat percentage. I did a lot of research, and figured out where I wanted to be by September of this year (2018). From there, I wrote out what my eating habits would need to look like, how much more water I would need to drink, and how often I should work out. And bam! A defined, realistic goal that makes me feel good when I hit milestones, not defeated when I inevitably fail to achieve the humanly impossible.
So, while I weigh in around twice a month, I’m not focused on whether or not the weight is falling off of me. In fact, since I really started my fitness journey in February, I haven’t lost more than three pounds at a time. But I have lost 2.5 percent body fat, and from what I hear, that’s amazing! I cannot express in words the way it makes me feel to look at a scale and not have that ugly thought of you idiot, how hard is losing 10 pounds? Instead I think, yasss babe you go, building that muscle, putting in that WORK! That feels like a true miracle to me.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
This section’s header comes from the title of a book written by one of my mom’s favorite motivational speakers, Richard Carlson. Over 20 years after its original publication, the book still reminds me not to allow every little thing control over my life. If you look at it through the lens of health, it’s like this: if you spiral out of control every time you ate something you weren’t supposed to, or missed a day at the gym, would you ever succeed at living the life you want?
That said, even the most goal-oriented among us fall short. But like I mentioned above, a good goal is one you feel good about all the way through. If you’re ever standing on the scale after a night out or a cheat day that turned into a long cheat weekend (guilty as charged)- don’t worry about it.
Make a Meal Plan
I don’t know about everyone else, but this was the hardest part to incorporate into my life. 1) because I am poor and 2) because I am lazy. For real though, every meal prep I looked at online had way too many ingredients, took too long, or had something in it I couldn’t pronounce that was $12.99 for a 8oz bag at Trader Joe’s. I knew that prepping was unavoidable, especially with my full-time job, and the fact that I commute, so I had to find something that was quick, easy, and replicable.
Enter the one sheet chicken bake. On Sundays after the gym, I hit up Walmart and buy mostly the same thing each week: fruit (usually apples or oranges), an assortment of fresh veggies (bell pepper, onion, asparagus, carrots), chicken, and one of those family variety packs of chips (the healthier baked versions).
When I get home, I’ll dice up the veggies and cube the chicken, throw them on a baking tray with salt, pepper, and whatever dressing I have in the pantry (Balsamic or Italian usually), and bake it all together in the oven on 400 for about 45 minutes, letting it rest for 5. From there, I portion it all out into meal prep containers, bag up the rest of the carrots into baggies to take for snacks, and load up the fruit, chips, carrots and meal container into my lunch bag. The whole thing takes me about an hour and a half, and I have food for most of the week. Mike and I normally make salads or stir fry for dinner, which I take if I run out of meals for the week, but that’s pretty much how I do it!
Schedule Your Fitness Time
This also sounds like no fun at all. But for people like me, who push things off until the last minute (or until I can convince myself that I didn’t actually need to do them after all), blocking off designated time each day to work out makes a ton of sense because it helps you stay accountable.
I usually get home from work around 4:30 each day. Since I have to be up early, I’m in bed most nights by 10. That means, I hit the gym Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday with Mike from 5:00-6:00, and do home workouts on Tuesday and Thursday while he’s working, with Saturday being our joint rest days. And let me tell you, rain, sleet or shine, I’m lacing up my sneaks at 4:45 ready to GO.
Remember to Reward Yourself
Because at the end of the day, you earned it, bb. Whatever your goals are, self-deprivation is never the best path. I’ve learned through many different trial-and-error iterations that I can do everything right and STILL fall way the heck off the bandwagon if I’m not checking, and rewarding myself for, my progress.
A “win” doesn’t have to be huge for you to celebrate it. The first time I went a week without skipping my set gym time, I rented Pretty Woman on Amazon and fired up the oven for a pan of homemade brownies (yes, I shared them with Mike, although I could just as easily not have). I also try to reward myself a little bit every day just for being in this for the long haul- I set aside time every day to reflect and relax, read a chapter of a book and just thank myself for learning to love the me that exists right now, instead of always wanting her to be someone else.
At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about- self love not tomorrow or next week, but self love in this moment. If the goals you’re setting aren’t reflective of that, it’s probably time to switch up the path you’re on. Remember that the small habits you make today will influence your unconscious choices later on, so don’t sweat the small stuff- and it’s all small stuff 😉
Keep it real,