In asking that question, I am trying to get to the bottom of why I have been able to make a meaningful lifestyle change that has enabled me to reach my health and fitness goals this time around when all the other times I previously attempted it, I failed quickly and spectacularly? Why am I so motivated to stick with it this time? Why have I been able to commit to and complete 5 different but equally challenging workout programs over the last two years? Why am I able to continue to pick that steamed vegetable side over the side of fries (most of the time 😊) that I used to order or to choose to take the stairs over the elevator every time that is possible? And most of all, why am I enjoying the process so, so much these days that I can’t even imagine ever going back to the way I was living?
In order to answer those questions properly, we need to back it up. I mean wayyyy up. Like back to the beginning of my story when smart phones weren’t a thing, we had to look at paper maps to figure out how to get somewhere new, and the closest thing to Google we had was the card catalog at our local library. Man, those were the days. Also, yes I am that old. But anyway, having put some thought into this whole question of why this time has been different, I realized that back when I was growing up is really the last time up until now that I can remember genuinely enjoying being active and healthy. I played sports from day one pretty much. I learned to swim before I could walk and was in the pool on a swim team my entire childhood. On top of that, I played basketball, softball, ran cross country, and even played a bit of soccer all throughout elementary, middle and high school. And I loved every minute of it. I loved getting up at 4am to get in the pool for practice before school. I loved the 7am swim meets on Saturday’s even though a lot of the time the water was absolutely freezing. I loved practicing every day after school. I loved practicing on the weekends with my dad. I loved competing, not only as part of a team but against myself.
While I am no longer competing to win a blue ribbon at a swim meet, or practicing my little ass off to get that starting point guard post on the varsity team, I am competing against myself every single day to be better than I was the day before. That competitive spark is back in me and more than anything these days I don’t want to let myself down. Even back when I was growing up, it’s not that I liked to beat other people so much as I like to prove things to myself. I like to work as hard as I possibly can and see the fruits of my labor being realized. I like to push myself further than I thought I could go to prove to I am capable of doing hard things. But that competitive spark didn’t just randomly decide to reignite because let me tell you before this last time, I tried and failed many, many times to get and stay healthy and in shape.
After my teenage years when I went off to college and beyond there were suddenly no more teams to join. No more teammates relying on me to get up early and get my ass in the pool. No more medals to win or PR’s to break. This is when the struggle became real. This is when the fun stopped. My weight fluctuated. I tried starvation diets. I tried endless hours of cardio. Then I would get frustrated, swing the other way, and eat anything I wanted without setting foot inside a gym for months at a time. There were times I was so thin it was scary and there were times I was much heavier than I wanted to be, and let me tell you, neither one of those versions of myself were healthy. Two years ago, that all changed. I finally had enough of the yo-yoing. I wanted to lose ten pounds, get my mental health under control and make a real, lasting lifestyle change. I knew it would be different this time because I wasn’t giving myself the option of failing. I even remember exactly where I was when I made this commitment to myself. Crazy the things we remember in life, huh?
That day started about a 6-month long process of doing exactly what I had done in my previous attempts to lose weight which was pretty much not eating a lot and finding the closest treadmill and making it my best friend. Can anyone guess what happened next? If you said I almost threw in the towel because the process was tedious and not sustainable you would be 100% correct. But this time I had real motivation on my side so instead of giving up I doubled down. I knew I needed to shift the way I was eating and working out to find a long-term solution, not a short-term fix. So what did I do? Well, it was a combination of a few things that I want to share below just in case someone out there is reading this and is on the verge of giving up and/or debating if it’s even worth starting again. Just keep reading a few minutes longer and maybe some of the mindset shifts I made this time around will help you as well:
I found the fun again!
Like I talked about above, wayyy back in the day, exercising and being healthy was fun for me. I knew I needed to find that enjoyment again if I had any chance of achieving my goals for long term success. I found that fun in the at-home workout programs that have changed my life! I credit these programs with a large part of the success that I have had over the past two years because they are challenging in way that I can’t even describe but also so much fun to do! There is also a ton of variety….everything from yoga, to Pilates, weightlifting, HIIT, tai chi, cardio, boxing, Plyo, you name it and I would be willing to bet you can find it on this workout platform. I was the biggest skeptic going into this you guys. I thought no way am I going to be able to achieve my goals, let alone enjoy working out from my living room! I also knew, however, that what I had been doing wasn’t working and I was rapidly headed for yet another failed attempt so really, what did I have to lose? Not to mention several of my friends, family members and even two co-workers of mine swore by these programs, so I signed up, pressed play, and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself! These programs are also keeping me sane right now in the midst of all the craziness going on around us! I have not missed a beat with my health and fitness goals because I am able to do these workouts at home. In case you are interested, I will link my top three favorite programs I have done so far as well as where you can you find the free trial of ten of the latest workouts below:
I realized it was a combination of eating right and exercising.
You really can’t have one without the other when you are trying to get healthy. You can read a little more about this in a post I wrote a while back called, It Takes Two…, but the gist is nutrition and fitness go hand in hand. If you are looking to create a meaningful lifestyle change you have to be consistent with your workouts and on top of what you are eating. My genius idea in my previous attempts to get skinny was to eat as little as possible. Like I am talking a handful of crackers a day, which most days would be just enough to keep me from passing out. I literally cringe when I think how dumb, and not to mention, reckless I was back then. I realized this time around it wasn’t at all about getting skinny. It was about getting healthy. Now every meal I eat I try to do so with intention and the purpose of fueling body with the nutrients it needs not only to be healthy but to maximize the efforts I am putting in with my workouts. The more I move, the more I need to eat. I see food as an ally now. I use it to help me feel and look my best and most importantly I finally have a healthy relationship with food these days. I don’t weigh myself at all. I eat when I am hungry and I stop when I’m full. My energy levels are up, my sleep quality is a ton better, my anxiety is all but gone and as a bonus my pants fit well which goes a long way in assuring me that my fitness and nutrition are both on point!
I educated myself.
And still am! I put away the mentality that I knew everything I needed to know about how to get my butt in shape and I started researching. And I continue to do it to this day. There is so much information out there about living a healthy lifestyle I will probably never be able to absorb even a fraction of it but I try to learn something new every day. These days I am mostly working on learning about nutrition because that is my weaker point. The workout programs I follow take the guesswork out of how to get in shape, how to lift properly, how to maximize your efforts, etc. so my focus is now on learning how to fuel my body properly. Currently, I am trying to educate myself about macros because I don’t think I am eating enough protein to achieve the next goals on my list. The point is I humbled myself enough to ask questions and most importantly to challenge my assumptions. A perfect example of this is I swore by endless hours of cardio for weight loss until I discovered from listening to other people and doing my own research how amazing weightlifting is to shed those unwanted pounds and get leaner. Take your health into your own hands you guys and invest time into learning how to properly manage it. Read articles, study what other people who have been successful are doing, get to know your body and body type, have clear goals and make a plan about how to achieve them in a smart, safe and healthy manner.
I was patient.
I stuck with it long enough this time that I got over that hurdle of wanting to quit and started to see change happening. I quickly realized that a fatal flaw of mine in the last several go arounds was I was looking for a quick fix, not a long-term solution. This lesson was probably the hardest one on this for me to get through my thick skull as I am not a patient person by nature, but I knew from all my failure before that I had to become one. I finally recognized that meaningful change was not going to happen overnight, but it would happen if I showed up every day for myself and put the effort in. I continued to work on my goals even on the days and sometimes weeks that I didn’t see any progress being made because even though I couldn’t see the changes happening, I could feel them. I actually think I noticed the change in my mental and emotional health long before I saw any weight fall off or muscles start to form. Just feeling better, happier, and more calm gave me all the incentive I needed to keep going. Eventually the weight started to come off and I could see the outward changes as well. While it feels like I woke up one day and suddenly saw all my hard work starting to pay off, in reality it was happening from day one. You guys, this is a slow process, especially in the beginning but quitting won’t make it happen any faster! Stick with it, find enjoyment in the process and just know changes are happening each and every day.
All of that being said, I don’t what you to think that I wake up every single day feeling like I want to go run a marathon or lift weights until I can’t move anymore. And I sure as heck don’t wake up every morning being thankful that I am going to walk into my kitchen and find my superfood protein powder instead of donuts, but the majority of the time I really enjoy the process of living a healthy lifestyle these days. I have found the fun again and my competitive nature is back in full effect. I am motivated to keep going so as not to let myself down. And what’s more, is even on the days my motivation isn’t there, my dedication still is. I am dedicated to maintaining the results I have gotten thus far and building on them to achieve bigger and better goals. I have put in a lot of hard work to get where I have over the last several years and I have no plans on letting up. And my experiences in getting to this point are also why I am here today, and why I started this blog. I think so many other people out there have been where I have been. Where we start, stop, start, stop and start and stop workouts or diets or a combination of both over and over and over again until we are so frustrated we end up not even starting anymore. Break that cycle and stick with it you guys please!! Write out your goals, post them somewhere you have to look at them every day and make a conscious decision that nothing will get in your way of achieving them! And guys, make it fun because life is entirely too serious otherwise!
Hope you all are staying safe and healthy!!!