Until about two years ago, what I knew about being “healthy” was basically just eat less. move more, count calories, eat more fruits and veggies, and go running. There was a lot of fuzzy facts in my head–if you eat at a deficit (intake less than you’re expending) you’ll lose weight. Running is great cardio and will help you drop weight. It was all about counting calories, paying attention to macros, and following a running plan.
Now for a disclaimer–there is nothing inherently wrong with anything in the above paragraph. I love running. You do need to pay attention to how much you eat. You do need to be active. Some people find a lot of success with counting/tracking calories and macros. But for me personally, most of this didn’t work. It was too vague, too fuzzy and broad. I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted with this kind of plan and mindset.
I’ve learned that it’s not just about being active. It’s about being active with a plan, and a plan made by someone who knows what they’re doing so I work different muscle groups in a strategic way to get the best results possible. It’s about pushing myself–which for me means I need to have someone else telling me how long to go and when to stop. If it’s up to me, I’ll quit after 10 seconds!
It’s not just about the calories for me–it’s way more about where those calories come from. I can eat 1200 calories a day and not see results because they are calories from sugar, carbs, and unhealthy fats in processed foods. Eating more calories from whole, nutrient-dense foods gives me better results. In the past I would “make room” in my calories one day because I wanted ice cream or a candy bar, and then be frustrated that I wasn’t seeing results because I was following the “rules”. Now I know how those different foods affect my body and my results, and I can plan to indulge without unrealistic expectations for my progress.
I’ve also learned that different things work for different people. Some people thrive off of a small indulgence every day (like a small piece of dark chocolate); some people do really well with one off-plan meal a week; some people do best with strict plan that doesn’t allow for many off-plan indulgences. I am one of those people who needs a lot of structure, so a stricter plan works well for me. If I allow too many off-plan meals or foods, it tends to open the floodgates, so to speak and it’s hard for me to get back on track.
I’ve learned that I need accountability, so I have learned to be honest and vulnerable on my social media as accountability, and to open up to the ladies in my accountability groups and use those groups the way they are designed–to help me through my celebrations and struggles.
I’ve learned that working out at home with a streaming workout system is best for me; being able to walk downstairs to my basement, have over 7,000 workouts to choose from (different equipment requirements, different world-class trainers, different time commitments), and be able to get my workouts done with little fuss is the best equation for me to be consistent and successful.
I’ve learned that having a nutrient-dense shake that I can make in 5 minutes for a fast and portable breakfast is the best way for me to start my day. It sets me up for success and helps my mornings go more smoothly. I used to go through a drive-thru or get donuts at a gas station in the mornings, which started my days off poorly and didn’t give me the momentum I needed to make good choices. Now, I have a healthy choice in just a few minutes that propels my day toward healthy choices instead of making me feel lethargic and bloated.
I’ve learned that I have a very deep, very strong emotional connection to food. That makes it tougher for me to be consistent at times (and is also why I do better with stricter plans). This is something that I deal with every day, and am still learning how to deal with to keep my body fueled properly and have a healthy mental/emotional relationship with food. I can’t recommend the book Made to Crave enough to help with this issue!
The biggest lesson I’ve learned with being healthy is that healthy living is a journey, not a destination. It’s not a place you arrive to one day and then you suddenly don’t have to worry about making good choices anymore. It’s not a set test you either pass or fail. It’s not a checklist that you can easily click off each day. It’s individual for all of us, and it requires patience, grace toward yourself, experimenting with what works for you, and a willingness to be flexible as you learn about yourself.
Sometimes you need help with this process and guidance to learn some of these things about yourself. I am so thankful for the fit family I have found in my accountability groups, and I know that you’d find the same support! If you need some extra help with this part of your life, let’s chat. I’d love to take you under my wing! firstname.lastname@example.org.