“Double down and focus”

As many friends know, I have been actively working on getting back into shape since early July. It’s been a painful but rewarding process so far, and I’m down about eight pounds. My goal is to be 120-ish by late January. And I have hit a plateau.

For anyone who has worried about their weight or appearance at some point in their lives (aka everyone), usually by around my age you realize that if you want weight loss, if you want to look good, you have to work for it. My biggest problem over the years has been accepting that it won’t happen overnight and, since college, that I’m not as in shape as I was in high school and won’t be able to just go out and run five miles.

I’ve also come to the realization (and maybe I’m five years behind everyone else but bear with me) that I would have to change my eating habits as well. Since I began this blog, what two weeks ago, I’ve touted all of these healthy recipes and “yay exercise!” but this is me being honest: it’s been exhausting. And difficult. I don’t like eating healthy every day, I really don’t feel like exercising every day, but I’m trying to change my lifestyle.

The first time I remember being called fat was when I was a pre-teen, maybe ten or eleven, and my older brother told me that I looked fat in shorts I was wearing when we were headed into Branhaven, a pool club we were members of in Ohio. I’ve always been a pretty thin-skinned person, ask anyone from Journalism, so that stuck with me. I’ve never found myself to be an attractive person all around. Ever. Now, I don’t at all blame that on my older brother, he was probably twelve and didn’t mean a word of it (or didn’t realize what a statement like that could mean), but it did stick with me. Naturally, I’m a curvy person and as much as I would love to be a B-cup, that will never happen without anesthesia and a scalpel. In a very cliche way, I’ve always admired a body type that I could never attain: that 90lb. waif ballerina look. Maybe it was years of ballet telling me that curves were bad for business but I’ve always wanted to look like that. And obviously, I never will. It hasn’t been until recently that I finally accepted that. How silly is that? Perhaps not too crazy, because there are a lot of other women that feel similarly.

For ages, I believed that somehow I would magically lose the weight that I wanted to without really committing to any changes. I actually hoped with such vindication that it would happen. Some nights I would motivate myself enough to haphazardly run a few laps (well, mostly walk) or go to the gym and make myself sick. I’ve told myself that I would get back into shape every time and make so-and-so jealous, or look good and have what’s-his-face hitting me up, or…

See what I did there? I wanted to look good for other people. I didn’t want to be healthy or look good for myself or be strong. Somewhere along the lines (See ‘Coping with Adult-ism’ for more freaking out about my age), that changed and I really wanted to do it for me. Don’t get me wrong, some of the motivation I feel is certainly a visual of walking into a bar or somewhere and my ex or old hook up being there and his jaw dropping. Who doesn’t love a little of that? But for the most part, I started changing my eating and fitness habits because I wanted to. Because for the first time since I was fourteen I was completely single and had nobody to impress but myself. Sad as that is, it’s what got me started. But it’s not what keeps me going.

At work, we talk about internal and external motivators for keeping people clean and sober. This is kind of like that but for keeping me on track with a healthy lifestyle. Of course, that lifestyle doesn’t include drugs for me anymore but specifically deals with exercise and diet. Sometimes my motivators are external: things outside of me that keep me going. My parents’ approval, compliments from friends, attention from men, etc. But most of the time, they’re internal: motivation from and to myself. I want to be healthy, I want to feel good when I wake up and go to sleep, I want to be strong, etc. A combination of the two are what keep me going.

That’s where the title of this post comes in: I’ve hit a plateau. For the past week or so, I haven’t been recording my calories or exercise, I’ve been snacking like crazy, I had drinks last night with friends when I told myself I was saving alcohol calories for the weekend (it feels more like a treat that way – delayed gratification or whatnot). This morning, after weighing myself and seeing that it hadn’t changed in almost two weeks, I slapped myself and said aloud, “No. You’re done now. Get your shit straight.”

Smitty probably thinks he lives with a crazy person.

But today I did jerk back onto track. I recorded all of my calories to a T, went for a 2.5 mile hike, ate healthy meals and only ate when I was hungry, did cardio, drank a lot of water, etc. And at the end of the day, I’m really satisfied again. Under 1000 calories (which, for me, is a very normal caloric number), exercise that I enjoyed that didn’t hurt my poor shins, and I feel good. That’s the kicker. I do this because at the end of the day I actually feel good. I’m tired, don’t get me wrong, but I feel good. Healthy, accomplished.

And that’s why I started all of this in the first place.

But other than that, I’ve been dealing with shin splint pain since I started. I realized I had to slow down, take my running to every other day, stop when it hurt, ice my shins, stretch, etc., but even so I’m still dealing with pain. So, I have to cut running out for a while and cross-train. And if there is anyone reading this who really enjoys running like I do (no really, I do), that sucks. So tonight, itching for a workout to complete my day, stumbled upon a forum at SparkPeople.com, which is the website I use/love/covet for all my healthy lifestyle wants and needs.

“What do you do to blast through a plateau?”

Apparently a lot of people find themselves slipping, struggling with such a life change. I used to help my man eat a 20 piece chicken nugget box from McDonalds and my size 6’s were starting to feel tight before I started focusing on my shit. Even last semester, post-chicken nugget man and heavy drinking, my weight was the same. The best piece of advice I read, and it was posted multiple times, was just this: “Double down and focus.”

That goes for so much more than just weight loss! That goes for everything: my student loans, my career search, my personal life, everything! I need to stop beating around the bush and focus. Because when I do, when I actually get all of the gigantic piles of crap done, I feel a sense of harmony that even yogis would be a bit jealous of. As a perpetual procrastinator, fighting that nature and focusing on finishing what I need to finish feels better than a cold beer on a hot summer’s day or heavy blankets on a cold night.

And I realize, so what if the scale hasn’t changed in a week or two? I’ve lost eight pounds, most of it in about a month. That’s more than I’ve lost in I don’t even know how long. And even if I don’t end up at my goal weight exactly in January, as long as I’m still following a lifestyle change that makes me happy, healthy, and strong, who cares? Who am I trying to impress? I already have family and friends that love me, I’m finally loving myself, and if god forbid I find myself a guy to hold on to, he better never mention the word ‘weight’ unless “have you lost” precedes it.

I’m 150 pounds (WOMP THERE’S MY WEIGHT). I have thirty pounds that I would like to lose. I want to be able to bench press…anything really. But more than that, I want biceps like my friend Liane sports, I want the leg strength my co-worker Kandy had in our restraint training course. I want abs, man. I want to stand in front of a mirror and think, “Oh…hell yes.” Even if I don’t feel that every day, I want to feel it regularly. That’s my goal. Not the actual weight loss, the health gain.

I’d also like to shoot out a huge kudos to my many friends who have gotten in shape before me, always been in shape, or are working on their health too. You are certainly a part of my daily motivation. You deserve this, I deserve this. Let’s all get sexy.

– a.

here’s a list of websites/apps I use and love because I’m a poor college graduate that can’t afford the gym/weight watchers:

SparkPeople

This website is a healthy living online UNIVERSE. For free! They have countless articles, recipes, workouts, forums, etc. I track my food, exercise, weight, water intake, everything. You’ll find so much motivation and information – I suggest it to everyone. As someone for whom tracking calories/meals is the best way for me to keep track of my weight, I love it.

Dashing Dish

This girl is awesome! Queen of protein shake recipes, she also has countless other healthy recipes, meal plans, work outs, and more. She does have a membership fee for those who want full access to the website, but you choose how much you pay. I pay $1.00 a month. Clearly, it pays for itself.

LiveStrong

You know when you google random work out/health stuff this website is usually one of the first to pop up? Well, if you didn’t know that, it is. Great information, really helpful articles.

Pink Pistachio

Missy is an a-dor-able woman and this is her blog. She’s extremely upbeat and fun to read, plus, her recipes are absolutely fantastic. She’s a huge health fan too – and usually chooses organic! She has great links for beauty and health as well.

NikeRunning – an App that I use every time I run. It’s free and you don’t need the chip in your shoe for it because it GPS tracks your phone. I have an iPhone 4S, so I’m not sure how it works on other iPhone models but it’s fabulous on mine. It tracks speed, average speed, calories burned, mileage, routes, changes between runs, and more. It even shows you where you sped up and slowed down. You can connect it to your facebook for cheers from friends. It tells you when you beat your own records and has different options for pushing yourself further. Plus, famous people talk to you and tell you how awesome you are.

NikeTrainingClub – an App suggested by my very fit friend Liane that I’m falling in love with as well. Also free, this app has similar tracking qualities like NikeRunning, but offers strength and cardio workouts. It also has rewards and bonuses that you can attain by working different workouts or achieving more minutes. You choose a goal (get lean, toned, strong, or focused) and then choose a workout from that category. Some require equipment, like a medicine ball or an 8lb. dumbbell, but not all.

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3 thoughts on ““Double down and focus”

  1. I’m happy you’re trying to live a healthier life style and that you’re doing it for you (not anyone else!) I didn’t see any mention of smoking – i know that had been working on quitting when I lived with you! Maybe mention that in your next post? I’d like to hear how that’s going 🙂 🙂 Keep at it gurlfran!!

  2. ‘Lets all get sexy.’

    DARN TOOTIN’! About effin time, for me anyway. That’s what its all about….feeling confident in my daily life.

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