It has been 6 months since I started this new "lifestyle". I call it that because, well, that's what people say that you need to adopt, rather than thinking you are on a "diet". I certainly know what being on a diet was like because I can tell you that I've tried every diet in the books. Weight Watchers worked for a little while, but I don't think it is sustainable. (Relatively) clean eating and working out (or what I considered good enough workouts) during the week and then drinking and eating whatever I want on the weekends definitely didn't work. You can erase a weeks' worth of progress in two days. I just never wanted it. Like REALLY wanted it...
One of my best friends is a huge fitness nut. She runs marathons, she does 2 intense workouts a day, she is in amazing shape and she knows the secret. She has lived it and lives it everyday. She always used to tell me that one day, you will wake up and just want it bad enough to actually do it the right way. I never understood what she was talking about, because I've always thought that I wanted it, and thought that I was doing enough to get it.
I was never really seeing results. Never really quite doing enough. You know how they say that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity? Well, that was me for about 2 years.
I don't even remember the actual day that I woke up and wanted it bad enough, but one day it happened. I changed everything. I found Erin's program online and reached out to her to figure out how I was going to do this. We talked about my goals, what I wasn't happy with and what I was currently doing. She turned my world upside down.
I remember the first few days of eating the foods that she had on my nutrition plan. It was pretty miserable. An egg white omelet with no cheese, just veggies? Yeah, no thanks. And the workouts... oh man. I thought that my 20 minutes of cardio and little bit of weights that I was doing was enough. Throw in yoga here and there and I was set. Wrong. I was doing an hour of cardio everyday on top of 30-40 minutes of HEAVY lifting. I started with 10lb weights and worked up to 25 pound dumbbells. I felt silly in the weight section at the gym, with off the guys, probably looking like I had no idea what I was doing. Then week by week, the pounds just started to fall off.
I also stopped drinking. Let me just tell you that alcohol is probably the number one reason why people get fat in their mid-late twenties. Your body can't process the 15 bud lights that you used to drink in college. Let's say in a night you go out and have 4 mixed drinks (margaritas, cosmos, etc.). That is about 1,500 to 2,000 calories in JUST DRINKS. That is more than a WHOLE DAY'S worth of calories. When I drink now, I stick to one glass of red wine.
6 weeks went by and I was starting to see some results from the pictures that I'd send to Erin every week. As time went on, I got used to the meals. I learned what "eating clean" meant and I learned how hard I had to be working out to lose the weight and tone up. There were ALWAYS temptations around. There was always a party, or a dinner or a holiday. I didn't drink, I didn't eat the crap. I just kept going. We went on a 10 day cruise in November and I worked out on the ship at least once a day. I didn't eat a bunch of crap. I stuck to my plan.
It has been 6 months now and I will admit that I took a little bit of a break over the holidays, but have been back on track now for about a month and a half and I'm still going. There are days when I just really want dessert or pasta, but I don't give in because the 15 seconds of eating that cookie is NOT worth the 2 miles I'll have to run to burn it off. I just keep thinking about the end goal. I think about how amazing it will feel to be in Hawaii this summer in a bikini and feel good. I think about how strong I'm getting and seeing the tone in my arms and legs. I think about how awesome it is that I'm doing this now, before I'm 30 and not after 2 kids, when the struggle will be 5x as hard.
People have asked me how I did it, like I have some secret to the universe or something. I can tell you that there aren't any secrets. It is just about making the choice and being accountable to yourself. I eat clean 90% of the time, even on the weekends. I workout everyday but Sunday (and even on some Sundays I still do spin). Seeing results has definitely made it easier and more motivating for me to keep going. I just think of all of this as my routine everyday.
I still have a long way to go and I'm not done losing weight or toning up. It is a struggle everyday to keep myself accountable and make the right choices. Everyone has different fitness goals and all I can do is focus on mine and not let myself get off track.
Taking before and after pictures along the way, every single week, has been a huge help in this whole process. It makes me realize that it takes more than a week to see change. It takes several weeks, even months. I know that I'll reach my goals and I can't wait for that day, but I have gotten to the point where I'm SO much more comfortable now and happier and that is the best feeling and best reward of all of this.
Here are some tips to make things easier:
++ Meal prep is so important. I cook chicken breasts, quinoa, brown rice and sweet potatoes on Sundays. I put them all in glass containers and keep them in the fridge for use for lunch and dinners throughout the week. It makes things so much easier when you aren't spending the time everyday.
++ I get so sick of drinking so much water, so I use the Mio drops to flavor it. The drops are 0 calories and it makes the water a little more interesting.
++Don't weigh yourself everyday, try to stick to once a week. The scale might not change but your body will be changing (gaining muscle, reducing fat, etc.)
++ Take progress pictures once a week. Compare them after about 6 weeks. You will start seeing a change.
++ Keep all of your carbs to completely whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, etc.) I've stopped eating any type of bread (except for Ezekiel bread).
++ Reward yourself. I have one cheat meal (read: MEAL, not day) per week. You have to be able to maintain this lifestyle and no one can go forever without a treat. That is how you end up binging.
++ Cardio + Lifting. Not one or the other. Both. You have to be lifting, cardio won't solve all of the problems. This is when people plateau and wonder why they look fat skinny. Toning is everything.
++ Make this fun. Look up new recipes, try new veggies, try a new restaurant with farm to table, clean foods. It doesn't have to mean grilled chicken and broccoli everyday.
++ Don't feel like you HAVE to run on the treadmill. Find workouts that are fun and engaging and something that you genuinely enjoy doing. Try spin, Crossfit, Bootcamp, TRX classes, etc. The local gyms, like 24 Hour, offer a lot of great group classes as well.
++ Keep workout videos at home for the days that you just don't feel like going to a gym (or don't have time). I have about 5-6 DVDs that I like and I have a pair of 10lb dumbells and a kettlebell at home to use with these DVDs. It is better than nothing on those days where I don't feel like it.
++ If you slip up, just move on. Don't beat yourself up and don't think just because you ate that one cookie that you need to finish the bag to "start over". That is like dropping your phone then smashing it until its broken instead of picking it up and walking away.
++ Remember that this is going to take time. Months. You are going to get frustrated and want to quit but you just have to keep going. My favorite quote regarding fitness is this: "Start now. Just do it. The time will pass anyway". In 2 months from now, you could either be 2 months into your goal or in the same spot you were 2 months ago. Regardless, the 2 months will have gone by.