I have a long and tumultuous history with health and fitness. Growing up, I didn’t like athletics, I liked books. Later, I learned that I looked, and felt, stronger, healthier and happier when I incorporated healthy eating and exercise into my lifestyle. Over time I became a fit size zero who could pump out twenty full-body push-ups without losing my breath and who got excited about doing burpees. Today I’m a buoyant size six who can barely make it through ten half-assed knee push-ups without glaring at the fitness instructor. I have posts going back to the middle of 2013 saying, “I’m committed to getting back into shape.” But here I am, at the beginning of 2015, and I’ve still only got a few pairs of pants that fit (compared to many that don’t). What happened?
Well, the short answer is that I prioritized other things, I had a bad attitude, and I had nothing to motivate me. As I’ve complained about many times before I both work and study full-time. I’ve also recently joined the board of a non-profit. Those took up time and energy, sure. But I think more importantly, those became mental hurdles that I just couldn’t jump over. The simple thought of all of the work I had to do was too much. I slowly stopped making time for the gym and I gradually increased the amount of food I was eating. I never reached full-blown gluttony, but I definitely indulged because “with everything I’m doing, I deserve it… and really, it’s not that much.”
This winter I finished my last graduate-level class, in the months ahead I have only two responsibilities: complete my thesis and create an exit portfolio documenting my journey through this program. Around the time I finish this work, my term at the non-profit will come to a close and I will decline to run for board again should I be nominated. Suddenly, the future feels like it’s mine again. And last month I realized that I don’t want to spend my future being anything less than the best me possible.
So, a few days before January 1st, I decided to make some changes. I didn’t wait until January 1st… why bother, when I was ready to go then? I didn’t need to take for a new year to make some resolutions. I started by cleaning out my fridge and pantry. Not just throwing away old stuff, but giving it a thorough scrubbing! Then, I went shopping and filled it with healthy things. In the past I have followed “detox” diet plans. While I don’t believe that detox diets actually remove toxins, I do believe that they tend to include foods that are easy to digest and that tend to be high in nutritional value. I decided to buy a lot of foods that I’ve eaten while detoxing, but also picked up some very detox-unfriendly foods like nightshades (you’ll never take my eggplants and bell peppers!) and even cheese (sheep feta is supposedly easier to digest than cheese from cows… or so they say). I also decided to cut out liquid calories and coffee for a while (except for breakfast smoothies, which are a proper meal).
I spent two or three days just focusing on making better eating choices. As I kicked my five-a-day coffee habit I did go through a day of withdrawal, and I gave myself full permission to just sleep it off. I woke up late the next morning feeling like my head was clear, and I was ready to incorporate some more motion in my life. I have gone through a few gym memberships in the last year as there has always been something that made each gym not the right fit for me. In the fall I found a new gym that isn’t exactly perfect, but that is so cheap it makes the flaws very easy to overlook. I’ve got a new plan in place where I will only work on my thesis after I’ve exercised; this motivates me to go directly from work to the gym so that I can then return home for dinner and to do my coursework. I started out by easing back into things with gentle free weights and some time on the treadmill (I walk on an incline rather than run) but I’m now attending classes like bootcamp, tabata and HIIT to keep it interesting.
So what’s my goal? Well, like I said in 2013 I would really like to fit back into my pants. I do own some very nice pants. I’ve also got a beach holiday coming up at the end of March, and I would like to feel happy and comfortable in a bikini. Since I might be doing some scuba diving on that trip it’s important that my weight loss be fat, not muscle, because fat is buoyant and fat divers have to carry extra weight on their bodies while they dive (and more importantly for me, to and from the dive shop and the dive boat, which is a huge pain in the butt).
You know how they talk about SMART goals? People say that when you make your goal “specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely” then you’re more likely to achieve them. Personally, I have actually found that SMART goals don’t work well for me. I want my “timely” to be forever. I don’t want to “measure” the numbers on the scale and worry if I’ve gained 100 grams of water weight. I just want to
be Gwyneth Paltrow treat myself with the respect I deserve. This way of thinking is how I initially came to live healthy, and this way of thinking is how I plan to return to living healthy.
If you’re read this far it’s probably because my situation resonates with you. So I want you to look at your calendar, and then look at your clock. It’s January 15th, midway through the first month of 2015. Did you make a new year’s resolution? How is it working out for you? If it’s going well, great! Come back and read this again on February 15th. If it’s not going as well as you’d hoped, maybe it’s time to take a different approach. Look at your clock and think about three healthy choices you can make by the end of the day: one related to what you eat, one related to how you move your body, and one related to your mental wellness. For example, you could swap your evening glass of wine for hot water with lemon juice, take the stairs from the parkade to your apartment instead of riding on the elevator, and hang up all the clothes you’ve tossed on top of your loveseat. Or you could make an open-faced sandwich for dinner (instead of using two slices of bread), go to a Zumba class and stop at the library on the way home to grab a book you’ve been meaning to read. Keep up the good choices tomorrow, and the day after, and once they’ve become second nature then you can take them even further.
Did you make any new year’s resolutions? We’re only two weeks into 2015… have you kept them? Or are you thinking that a different approach might be better for you? Tell me in the comments!