Tag Archives: Calorie

Loving Myself and Conquering The Brain

No external change can happen without a true internal change, and as most of us know, that is the biggest challenge. It’s not really a matter of whether or not you can run a mile (trust me, you can) or 10 miles (you will, if you train) or if you can lift 5 pounds or 50, or if you can finish a 5k or a marathon or an Iron Man. It’s not even if your body is capable of losing 5 pounds or having abs or having a firm butt. All of that is possible. All of our bodies, more or less are built quite the same. If all those people filling up your Pinterest “Fitness” board have achieved those incredible bodies, honestly there isn’t any reason why our bodies aren’t capable of our own versions of the same. After all, we all do have a six pack somewhere in there and glutes and biceps and thighs and all the same muscles as all of those people. So, really, why not me? Why not you?

[Anecdote/afterthought: You may know I like running. I recently ran a 10k, and I’ve run several before. I’m hoping to run a half marathon this year, and maybe a marathon next year. Running has become a huge part of my life. But, fun fact: I used to hate, hate, HATE running. I couldn’t run a mile 3 years ago. Couldn’t and wouldn’t. I’d rather die. But I had a personal trainer for a while in college and she forced me to run a mile with her once or twice a week, and slowly but surely, running became a part of my life. IT IS POSSIBLE. The end. Back to regularly scheduled programming.]

Thats the easy part. Getting your body to look like that is easy when you look at it factually: Eat lean, clean, natural foods, lower your calorie intake, and exercise. Its a simple equation. To lose one pound of fat in one week, you must lower your calorie intake by 3,500 calories in that week. That means that you need to lessen your calorie intake by 500 calories a day through a combination of exercise and healthy eating (perhaps you burn 200 calories in exercise and you cut out 100 calories from breakfast, 100 from lunch, and 100 from dinner). Honestly, that doesn’t sound too bad, right? All of us are capable of achieving the body and the health that we desire. It is in our genetic makeup to be able to achieve that.

So… why in the hell is it so goddamn hard??!

If I really try hard, I can do enough bicep curls to have killer lady guns. No biggie, right? My body is capable of doing exactly what I want it to do. But my brain is the hardest muscle to reshape. The struggle for self control and stronger willpower seems to be so much more challenging than the 80 burpees I did on Monday (more on that later). And even doing the burpees isn’t even the real issue… I know my body will do them. My legs can jump and my arms can do push ups and my lungs can breathe and my heart can pump blood. I’ll be exhausted, but I can do it, eventually. But why is it that after doing 5 of those burpees, my brain says, “No, don’t do it, don’t do it! Noooo!” It requires turning off those thoughts (so hard to do) and forcing your body to do things that your brain doesn’t want to adjust to. Whether its burpees, 10 miles of running, weight lifting, or not eating the tempting food or choosing to eat salad instead of whatever you normally eat, it’s entirely a mental choice and our brains are so, so resistant to change.

Not only that, but I feel my brain being swarmed daily with conflicting ideas and advice about how to achieve the change I really want, and I’m constantly torn between different ways in which to get started. Should I focus on building healthy habits outside of health and exercise, and maybe I’ll get fit along the way? Should I focus on becoming vegan and then it’ll just be so much easier to lose weight? Should I focus on just exercising more, that way I’ll be happier and have more energy and be more motivated to make changes? Should I focus on writing more about how I feel about my current state so I can start to analyze my thoughts and behaviors from a basic, psychological level? Should I focus on doing more yoga and meditation to be centered and strong at my core? Should I focus on self love before changing anything about my lifestyle so that my heart is in the right place? Should I maybe just start with one thing and not overwhelm myself, and let everything else in my life stay the same for a bit so the change isn’t so striking?… AM I OVER THINKING THIS?

These are the things that go through my head constantly. And I haven’t quite found a balance between any of these thoughts, but the best answer to myself is… maybe its just a little bit of everything? I’m too distracted and ADD to be able to just do one thing. I need variety. Or at least variety is what has sustained me up until now, and I think it would be foolish of me to try to change that part of my personality. I need to learn to work within my own personal “constraints” in order to find the answers that are right for me. So taking a little from each of those thoughts and I suppose just patching it all together and “making it work” is the best, maybe the only way for me.

BUT ANYWAYS… what I was getting at was this: The body is easy. The mind is the real struggle. And even if I don’t always believe or truly internalize all the things I want to believe, as a friend (who happens to be a therapist) has said to me many times, “In order to achieve those deep-rooted cognitive changes and mental reframing, the trick really is just to fake it until you make it. Ultimately the subconscious doesn’t know the difference.” So, I suppose thats a great place to start. Similarly, a friend recently sent me this intriguing article explaining the effects of positive self affirmation, and how phrases like “I’m awesome” don’t really do much but something like “I am a great runner” are much more effective because they are direct, tangible, and easy to believe and internalize.

So, I want to focus on reminding myself of things that I know I’m good at and things I already like about myself, and I encourage you (whether you prefer privately or better yet, share it in the comments!) to do the same.

A few things I love about me:

I am an excellent dancer. It’s my greatest love, my greatest talent, and my greatest source of joy.

I am a great swimmer. 12 years of competitive swimming has made me a strong little fish, for life.

Thanks to swimming and waterpolo, I have strong shoulders and killer legs. My legs might be my favorite body part.

Hourglass figure! I’ve learned to love it as my love for fashion grew and I realized I could wear so many sexy, feminine pieces, like high-waisted skirts and belted dresses. I have a womanly body, and I like that.

I’ve always loved my hair. Though I have been caught complaining about the frizz (probably because every girl needs to find some aspect of their hair that they hate because its taboo to like your hair), it has always been a lie. I love my hair. Always have. Always will.

I like my eye color. Hazel.

I’m assertive and a natural leader. I love dealing with people, helping people, and teaching people and I love that about my personality.

I’m optimistic.

I speak 3 languages and I’m proud of my ability to learn languages with relative ease.

So there… a few things that I love about myself. I may make another one of these lists later, along with another list of accomplishments from the day. I found that to be a nice reminder to myself that things really are going well, even if I’m inclined to find the reasons for why they are not. Ultimately, things are GOOD. Things are great. I am healthy and strong, even when I have moments of weakness. Must learn to remind myself of this daily. Things really are just fine.

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I Hate Magazines and Fitness Blogs… kinda

You know, one thing that puts me off about a lot of fitness/health blogs or magazines is when they give you step-by-step instructions, how-to’s, or perfectly crafted lists, laying out all the answers to all the issues you’ve been trying to deal with on your own. “10 tips for better abs now”, “How to control your cravings”, “Follow these steps to have your best body by summer.”  Sorry but, I call major bullshit on all of you (meaning them).

Perhaps part of my problem with posts or articles like these is that it gives me a lot of hidden anxiety to read about how truly easy it is to reach my goals. Its like… so, all I need to do is follow those steps, and… I’ll have abs? I’ll be sexy? I’ll love myself? Perfect! Its like baking. And I love baking. Why don’t I just bake myself some self respect, or how about I whip up some confidence by mixing these 4 simple ingredients. No. It’s not that easy. It’s not easy at all. For some of us, we’ve been battling our demons our entire lives, and to simplify all of our trials and tribulations into “10 easy steps” just makes me (I don’t know about you) feel pretty worthless. Like, if its so easy, then why doesn’t everyone have abs? Maybe I’m just incompetent. Doomed. Destined for failure. These simplified articles, magazines and blogs all just walk around all day strutting their toned ass, waving it like a giant piece of berry cobbler in my face, like, “La la la, you can’t have this, la la la. It was easy for me, but it’s not for you. Enjoy your jiggle forever. La la la.”

I recently unsubscribed from the SELF drop a million pounds by summer email thing (I don’t remember what it was called and I don’t care) because I realized, first of all, sorry but your recipes and diet plan are whack (you are not going to lose 10 pounds by summer by eating 1600-1700 calories a day, unless you’re a 6’5 football player) and they all sound nasty and they endorse fast food as a decent option (no, you can’t eat McDonalds and lose weight. You just can’t, and even if you can, you shouldn’t unless you wanna die). In my entirely uneducated opinion, their dietary advice is completely un-sound (is that a word? Welp, now it is) and misleading, plus it just looks gross. I tried one of their recepies once. It sucked. (Okay, maybe my kitchen skills should take part of the blame for that, but still…).

But the real reason why I unsubscribed was because it was making me self-conscious. Sure, SELF Magazine is great, or whatever, and I’m sure they really want you to love yourself and all that jazz, but I just feel like any plan that promises to get you fit by summer is just missing the mark entirely. At least for me. Because yes, I’d love to leave this wretched French weather and go home to California and wear a swimsuit all summer long and actually be excited about it, but it’s not the most important thing to me, and setting a set deadline is both terrifying and entirely destructive to the internalization of my goals. Do I want a hot body for summer? Sure. Do I want a hot body and strong soul for life? Absolutely. And getting reminders every day that there are only X number of weeks before summer only makes me feel like more of a failure than I already care to admit. I feel like I’ve been wasting my time, like I haven’t been making progress fast enough, that I haven’t had the dedication to hop on board this temporary, short-lived nasty diet plan to lose some of this jiggle, only to gain it back again come October. So, I broke up with SELF Magazine, and my mind and my inbox are just a little bit less bothered now.

As for the rest of the blogging world… My relationship is harder to define. I have a blog. I love blogging. (I have 2 other blogs, entirely different). And literally all I do when I’m not on Facebook, eating, or sleeping is reading other peoples blogs, and generally they’re about fitness and health. If reading blogs gave you calories, I’d surely be obese by now. But its this constant back and forth, between feeling inspired and motivated, and feeling inadequate and unworthy. Whenever I read stories about inspiring people who have changed their lives and now have the abs to prove it, that conflict becomes very salient. “Wow, that’s amazing. It just goes to show, anyone can do it! I’m so ready to get my life going and be one of them!“… this very quickly turns into, “… except probably not. Because I like cookies and pie and calories too much. I’ll never be like them. God, I suck! Look at how many times I failed today! I bet this person would have never done what I did. I can’t believe I ate so much almond butter. Fuck.”

Yeah yeah, I know. But I’m just being honest. And surely I can’t be the only one out there who struggles with such poisonous self-talk. But its hard to break out of that cycle when, on top of all the challenges I already feel like I’m facing, I’m confronted with articles on a daily basis, simplifying all of my struggles into some stupid bullshit sentence like “It’s easier than you think!” (Literally taken verbatim from SELF.com)

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This is actually related I swear. I was reminded of this hilarious article making fun of Cosmo Magazine’s ridiculous sex tips because after switching out a few words here and there, these tips for impossible sex acts are about as ridiculous as the seemingly helpful, easy tips for changing your entire life.

NSFW, mostly, unless you work where I used to work, where my coworkers and I would read this out loud to each other in our open-layout workspace, 10 feet from our boss. Cuz thats how we roll(ed).

http://jezebel.com/5919206/cosmos-44-most-ridiculous-sex-tips

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So, my point is… I don’t have one. I’m torn. I love and often need the inspiration of looking at people’s insane bodies because it gives me a glimmer of hope, something to strive for. But never in my life have I ever come close to looking like them, and I hate feeling like my struggle really shouldn’t have been so hard. I get most pleasure out of reading “real” people’s blogs, where they talk about their daily lives, their ups and downs, their frustrations and fears, and they don’t pretend to have all the answers, easy steps, or quick fixes. They are human, and they make me feel less alone. This is partially why I connected so much with Tone It Up. I like Karena and Katrina, (especially Katrina, because she underwent quite an inspiring transformation), they’re friendly and normal, but more than them, I like the community. I like knowing there are others out there that are slipping and getting back up on their feet, and pushing themselves and each other every day to succeed. Maybe none of us will ever look like the people we see in big-name blogs or magazines, but thats okay. Those people live for their bodies. It’s their career. Some of us don’t have that luxury. But I find comfort in talking to strangers, people who I’ve never met but who seem to understand my struggles so deeply and who take time and effort to reach out to other strangers in need. Its like we can share each others’ load, make it a little bit easier for each other, remind each other that we are worthy, beautiful, and despite all odds, we are all stronger than we think.

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Welp, There I Go Again…

So I guess this is how things work out for me… I have one fabulous day (yesterday) and, as if to maintain the natural order of things, I find myself today way too full and way too unhappy about it. Snack time consisted of a some nuts and an all-natural granola bar… not bad, right? Then I thought, “Hmm, maybe my body needs fiber…” so I ate a bunch of prunes, because “my body might need it.” Then, since I thought I was still hungry (I probably was just thirsty) or because I thought I hadn’t had enough vitamins for the day, I ate an orange. Still, healthy choices at least. And then, as I seem to do quite often, I started worrying that dinner tonight with my host family would not have enough protein or whatever other nutrients I thought I might need (this is all just my own rationalization to reduce my guilt about eating more more more before dinner) so I convinced myself that a yogurt, apricot preserves, and some granola would be just the thing. So I ate that too.

Now, I realize that all my choices have been fine as far as quality goes (oatmeal for breakfast, quinoa, veggies and avocado for lunch, fruits all day long, etc), but its the quantity that has me feeling full and embarrassed. To be honest, I wasn’t even hungry any more after the granola bar, but something inside of me just kept rationalizing more snacks, and “since they’re healthy, its okay to overeat, right?” I don’t know why I always find little excuses to do what I always do, but these habits need to stop. These little snack binges, no matter how healthy they are, ultimately are getting in the way of me seeing actual changes in my body. Like, for example, my pants not being tight. Why is it so easy to slip up from one day to the next? Did I (without realizing) exhaust all my willpower yesterday and am I in a deficit today? Is it because I lazied my way out of exercising this morning that I caved in a moment of weakness in the afternoon?

I need to figure out how to break these habits. I’m thankful that I have learned to at least eat mostly pretty healthy, even when I am “binging”, but its not just what I eat – its the lack of self control that really affects how I feel about myself. Or, perhaps, is it how I feel about myself that prompts these far-too-frequent snack binges?

TOO MANY QUESTIONS.

At the end of the day, losing weight is a numbers game. Calories in, calories out. Surely it’s not so simple – 500 calories of spinach is not the same thing as 500 calories of chips. And in that regard, I’d rather be binging on fruits and nuts than on chips and cookies (don’t worry, I do that too), but in the end, I need to learn self-control, so that food does not consume or define me. I want to remember days like yesterday, when food liberated me and I felt strong. And I want to minimize days like today, when I forget everything I have ever learned and lose myself along the way.

BUT HOW?

Does anyone out there have any CONCRETE tips or experiences to share? Encouragement is great. I love hearing “You got this!” “You’re strong and beautiful!” “Oh man, I know, I’ve been there. But every day is a new day!”… All of that is lovely. But days like today, all I want is practical advice. Like “don’t buy granola” (I wouldn’t if I had that freedom but I live in a kitchen that is not my own and the temptations of French indulgent eating are around me at all times) or “brush your teeth after eating” (I’ve tried this, with mixed results. If the binge is coming, the flavor of mint in my mouth won’t stop it).

So, I ask, in mild desperation… what can I do to gain more self control??

If you have the magic answer, please don’t be shy to share. I need it.

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