This weekend I ran a 5k, and did a little dance afterward. I didn’t care at all how silly I looked. Two years ago, I had to mostly walk my first 5k. I was excited to finish at all. This time I crushed it. I only run sporadically and I was able to finish with a respectable 11 minute mile average. I’m not going to win any races, but I can run said races easily, and… for FUN. What?! How did I get here?
March 2016: I’m feeling pretty miserable about myself. I’ve spent years trying to diet/start working out, only to go back to binge eating.
September 2017: I’m PROUD of what my body can do. I can lift heavy shit. I can run a mile in 10 minutes. I actually look forward to trying new things like parkour and rock climbing.
What finally made the difference after years of yo-yo dieting and barely-touched gym memberships? Mostly, I adjusted my attitude. I’d just signed up for Classpass, and after trying a few different group classes, made an interesting discovery. I was having… fun. I actually enjoyed seeing the progress I made between classes, and it had nothing to do with my weight, it was instead the strength that I was gaining.
I didn’t have to be a certain size to be proud of what my body can do. So I kept plugging along. Sometimes I ate well, other days I didn’t. But I didn’t throw my hands up in the air and quit, because I wasn’t giving myself an arbitrary “lose X by Y date ” goal. One day didn’t derail everything. I just stuck with my fun classes and… over time, the weight just started to come off. I wanted to eat better because it helped my performance. I wanted to keep working out because I felt stronger.
I still have a ways to go, but if you’re looking to get healthier, I do have a few suggestions:
Weight isn’t a good indicator of your progress. Focus on how you FEEL.
Sure, if you’re overweight like me, you want to see that number go down. But that number isn’t everything. I finally started losing weight when I said “eff it” after eating too few calories/working out and not seeing much progress. After a few months, you know what? I lost weight. Funny how that works.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t track calories or weight or anything else you please – but focus more on how your body feels. When I started being able to finish a spin class without feeling like I’d fall over gasping for a breath, that felt pretty darn good. Heck, being able to clip in cycle shoes properly without falling over felt pretty cool too, and that has nothing do with cardio 😀
Don’t get caught up in what other people are doing. Find what you like doing and stick with it.
Like everyone, I’ve heard a lot of “tips” for losing weight over the years. Some of them are good. Some of them are bad. Some of them are downright contradictory. The fact is, everyones’ lifestyles, let alone their bodies, are different. Getting healthy isn’t one size fits all. Sure, you should eat more whole foods. You should be active. But…
After that, you just need to find what works for you. You’re going to stick to what makes you feel good. For me, that’s finding fun ways to work out that change every day. Currently I’m working out at Madabolic, which focuses on interval training for strength and endurance. Every workout is different, which for me, is key.
Stop setting a goal date and take it day by day.
While having a goal is really great for most things, I think saying “I want to be X weight by X date is really counterproductive when it comes to making a lifestyle change/getting healthier. It focuses too heavily on numbers, and it makes it too easy to feel like a failure when you “mess up”, or as I like to say, when you’re human.
Working out is now something I do because I like how it makes me feel, and how it changes my body – not because it moves the scale. This change in thinking is what finally made all the difference for me.
1200 calories a day is not the be all end all. We’re all different.
This isn’t a doctor’s advice, obviously, but… if you’re dreaming about your next meal or binging after eating at 1200 for a week, you might want to try upping your intake. On the topic of numbers, the “2 pounds a week” guideline is also just that – a guideline. Of course we all want to make progress ASAP, but sometimes slower is better because you can actually stick to it without feeling deprived.
You’re awesome, treat yourself that way.
How are you taking care of yourself lately? Are you focusing on the changes you’re making, or the mistakes you’ve made in the past?
We often talk about fitness in terms of weight, size, and strength, but your mental health is important too. If you constantly feed yourself negative thoughts, you’re going to weigh yourself down in more ways than one.
Take it day by day – you got this!