Tag Archives: Goals

I AM BACK

IM THE WORST.

 

THE WORST, I TELL YOU.

 

OK, let me explain.

 

Last time I posted, I was living as an au pair in a suburb outside of Paris. I had way too much free time (apparently) and way too many boring meals to take pictures of. I fell off the face of the earth at the beginning of July and I have pretty much been MIA ever since… until now.

What happened?

Well, in just a few words: I got a job really suddenly back in California, had to switch my flights to come home 2 weeks early, packed up my entire life, said goodbye to friends and host family, and took the worst trip ever to get back to the U-S-of-A. I had layovers in Newark and Dallas, only to reach Washington DC to meet up with my boyfriend so we could move him from there to California with me in his Jeep. We drove across the country and made it just in time to start my new job, where I have now been working for almost 2 weeks…

Phew. Wrap your mind around that.

So, needless to say, among the airport food in traveling, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and lack of sincerely healthy options (or efforts) on the road back to California… lets just say, I let myself go a little bit. Now that I’m at my new job (actually at the company I worked for before France), all our food is provided for us, for free, all day every day, and it’s delicious. Time spent adjusting to my new life back home (yes, living with my parents again… for now), being with my boyfriend again after all this time apart, bonding with my new team over free lunch, and nights out drinking or eating while catching up with friends from home…. needless to say, it has taken a toll.

But I haven’t disappeared. Not at all! I was just on a forced hiatus, and I’m determined to be back now, with struggles that started in France as an au pair, and now continue in California as an employed and functional member of society. I naively thought it would be easy back in America to be healthy, given all the options and access to fresh produce (at least in California, the agricultural paradise), but I’ve already started to remember my struggles from being in this place last year – its not that easy. Being at this company is fabulous and I’m so lucky to be so well fed every day, but staying fit, healthy, and slim is now an entirely new challenge that I’m relearning how to deal with. Here’s to hoping that I can reach my goals… once and for all.

 

It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to keep on trying!

 

Thanks for staying tuned. You’ll be hearing from me on the regular once again.

Feels so good to be home!

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All Talk

All Talk

A conversation last night with a friend led me to think about something that has been vaguely on my mind the past several weeks, which led her to send me an article which helped me understand what I have been feeling.

The article from Nerd Fitness is about taking action on your goals, not just talking about them and expecting results. Read it!

I am so much like the underpants gnomes he references from South Park. I collect underpants (knowledge) and I even make underpants (I write this blog), but I so often forget about Phase 2 and I eagerly jump to expect Phase 3, “profit” to happen automatically. Confused about what I’m talking about? I told you to read the article!!

I have spent years reading health blogs, books, watching documentaries and TED talks, and in every other way absolutely inundating my brain with knowledge about health and fitness. I should get an honorary fitness and nutritionist certification with all the research I’ve done. So you’d think, you know… I would have reached my goals by now. But the reality is, I’ve looked and felt mostly the same pretty much my entire life. I’ve had little moments of brilliance, where I really stepped it up and lost weight and felt amazing, but I quickly fall back into my old habits and my changes fail to stick.

I talk a lot and think a lot about health, but I’ve been feeling lately like I don’t actually DO anything about it. I mean, I’ve made changes that I shouldn’t ignore, like my slow progression to a mostly vegan diet which has been a great accomplishment for me so far, but if I’ve lost weight, it has been maybe a pound or two. Nothing noticeable. And while I do feel a lot better eating a clean, plant-based diet, I’m feeling impatient and I’m feeling disappointed that my progress has been so slow and mostly invisible. I don’t want to just talk about making changes… I want to actually make them!

My question is, how do I make these changes really stick this time? I’ve done this before. I’ve been right here many times, and I’ve temporarily succeeded. I’ve lost 10-15 pounds several times (gained them back, of course) and I’ve felt accomplished and proud, but why do I struggle with sticking to my lifestyle changes? I’m determined to get to the root of the problem, in one way or another.

Perhaps the key for me (and anyone else struggling with this feeling) is to make a list of tangible, quantifiable, achievable, realistic goals (or assignments/homework), write them down, and stick them on your wall so you remember them every day. Maybe if I try to think of this as a game, or as an assignment for work, maybe I’ll feel the same sense of urgency or desire to accomplish them. I don’t know. Just a thought. I’m a lists-person. I feel great when I can check things off of my list, and often I can’t accomplish much without one because I’ll just simply forget, so maybe I can work with my goals and see them as “errands” that I can check off today, and perhaps that will help me just get it done, and thus slowly start building patterns and habits, maybe without all the emotional baggage that I tend to tie into “changing my life.” That feels too heavy. Do I have to think so hard about it? Can’t I just… do it?

Anyway, my point is… I feel like I talk too much and don’t take enough action. I still give in to my snacking cravings every time they come and I still eat the same sized portions as I normally do and I still stay up late and miss my morning workouts and I still eat crap if its in front of me and I still overdose on my addictive favorites like granola and almond butter. I suppose, as I mentioned, my biggest accomplishment is sticking to a mostly vegan diet, with exceptions whenever I don’t have a choice (like occasional dinners with my host family or social gatherings, etc).

I can’t tackle all of these at the same time, but I can start by what I can control today.

– I will try really hard to eat at the designated eating times, the way French people do. In following the Tone It Up  lifestyle suggestions (as well as the suggestions by most other nutrition experts out there), I will eat 5 small meals today, and if I get hungry in between, I will drink water or green tea and remind myself that my next meal is not too far off. I need to learn patience and I need to learn not to be afraid of hunger. Now DO NOT misinterpret that, please. All I mean is… I live in this perpetual fear of hunger and at the slightest grumble in my stomach, I immediately feel the need to binge on something to avoid starvation. It’s irrational, and I end up not even being that hungry when I actually do eat a meal. I just want to not feel so controlled by the hungry animal impulse, and usually drinking a glass of water does the trick for a while. So without further ado, here is my plan for the day:

Meal 1: 8am, breakfast quinoa – DONE

Meal 2: 11am, soy yogurt with banana – DONE

Meal 3: 1pm, lentils + sautéed veggies + apple – planned

Meal 4:  5pm, half sweet potato + spinach + almonds – planned 

Meal 5: 9pm, something healthy-ish at the restaurant + red wine – planned

– Even though its Wednesday (long day as an au pair), I will try to find time to squeeze in 50 squats and 20 pushups. Like, maybe right after posting this.

– I will take a moment to reflect on my accomplishments thus far, and I will try to be proud of myself for them.

Those are my small goals for today. I will let you know how it goes. I have plans to meet a friend for dinner and drinks tonight, but I will try to order something healthy and I will stick to a glass or two of red wine. No day is perfect, but I can still be strong.

Enough with collecting underpants. I want to be ready for Phase 2.

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Accomplishments

This is a quickie because I’m eager to get to sleep, but I just wanted to post a quick reminder to myself about all of my small accomplishments from today, because everything counts and it’s all worth celebrating, right?

– Slept 8 hours
– Woke up on time
– Ran 4 miles
– Controlled my portions at all meals
– Ate mostly (about 90%) vegan
– Practiced 20 minutes of yoga at night
– Cleaned my room before bed
– Replied to a few (though not all) lingering emails
– Caught up with several friends
– Worked from home, successfully (!)

When I list it all out like that, it looks pretty good!! I should do this more often. It’s nice to see what I’ve accomplished in one 24-hour period, and it’s important to recognize all the goals that were reached, even if they were small ones.

This feels good. Maybe I’ll do this again tomorrow.

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Confession

Okay, I confess. I’ve been bad the past few days.

I’ve been shy to post anything because I am far too aware of my poor choices and its easier to just keep it a secret and pretend like I’m still being inspirational or whatever the fuck, but I can’t look at my blog and act like all is well because I’ve been cheating, hard core. To be fair (can this count as fairness?), I have a friend in town and of course half of the experience of being in Paris revolves around eating, so it’s rather difficult to stay on track. Also, I may (don’t want to jinx it yet) have a new pseudo-internship/volunteer thing which will take over pretty much all of my extra time each day (aside from my job as an au pair), so I’ve been busy, and only going to get busier. BUT I realize I’m contradicting my last post, about excuses, so I’m going to try not to go there.

Wednesday was warm and sunny and though I went a little heavy on the almond butter throughout the day, all of my meals were healthy and I felt successful for the most part. Exercise was minimal, but I convinced the little one to walk with me to the “big park” which is about 20 minutes away, so that was nice to get out of the house and move my skeleton at least just a little. For dinner, since I was babysitting, I was able to assert a bit more control over what I ate. The parents had left a cauliflower gratin thing (aka ham, cheese, and cream and a little bit of cauliflower) for us to eat for dinner, but since I don’t like cauliflower and I want to avoid cheese, ham, and cream, I explained to the girls that I shouldn’t eat that because of my cholesterol (tried explaining that in French to them…) and I made myself an egg white veggie scramble. Success!

But yesterday… oh dear. Between 3 of us girls, we ate 2 whole baguettes and basically a whole thing of brie cheese, salami and cured meats, and gummi bears. My mouth was happy but my body hated me later. After that, I seemed to lose all my motivation to get my day back on track (its that “fuck it, I already fucked up anyway, may as well continue to do so” mentality) so somehow cookies and almond butter and too many dried apricots and lots of bread made it into my system, and I felt pretty shitty about that. I told myself, “Tomorrow, you will be good. You’ll wake up early and go for a run before meeting your friends, and you’ll make healthy choices all day.” And guess what…

Stayed up until 2:30am, woke up late, didn’t run, ate a huge falafel pita sandwich, and some baklava, and kind of hate my life now.

This is the whole struggle with being social and being healthy. The two more often than not tend to oppose each other dramatically and it’s really hard to find a good middle ground. You can try to surround yourself only by people that share your exact same goals and mentalities about health and fitness, but that’s not very flexible and realistic. So, what do you do? For those of you out there that have reached your health goals, how have you managed to do that while maintaining a normal social life?

This weekend I have two parties and a couple of events and visitors, which means little time for exercise and lots of food and drinking. I would love to get some advice from people out there who have been in this same position… how do you stay strong given social constraints?

This is one of my biggest hurdles to overcome. Help!

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Awareness

I have started to learn lately that in the search for personal change and improvement, whether it is for health, for greater levels of fitness, for work, for school, personal life… whatever it may be, one of the most important steps to achieving lasting change is to have a true and honest sense of personal awareness. Change does not happen over night, and even if it does, it cannot last without a deep internalization of where you’ve been, and where you strive to go. Being aware means coming to terms with every part of yourself, not just the apparent ones that you hope to improve. If it’s a lifestyle change you are after, then it’s an entire life that you need to come to terms with.

This is something I am realizing lately, as I write this blog and examine my methods and motives for improvement. I have fluctuated with my weight, my dedication to my health, and my body image for years, never quite reaching a stable and lasting change, and I’m starting to see why. Each time I become incredibly motivated to change, I jump on it immediately and within a week, or even a day, all my habits are different. I am strict with myself, I follow all the rules, I am excited, and admittedly overzealous, and it started to dawn on me this week that perhaps this was the reason for my continued “failure”. I just simply changed things too quickly and I didn’t properly examine what I wanted and what it would take within me to really make that happen. I certainly achieved some results in a short-ish period of time, like losing 10 pounds in a few months, but the weight always comes back with a vengance and I could never understand why. Not to say that I suddenly do understand, but I think I’m starting to look at things differently and to be more honest with myself, and perhaps that is a better place to start. Losing 10 pounds isn’t really hard as it is… losing the insecurities, negative self talk, anxiety, stress, and confusion about your relationship to food and exercise, that really represent the true challenge. That’s the part that requires introspection, awareness, honesty, bravery, and quite a bit of humility. Without that, change won’t stick and old habits will sneak back eventually, because what is at the core of those habits hasn’t undergone the necessary therapy in order to truly change.

A friend recently told me (that day that I was dealing with intense anxiety) that things will get worse before they get better. I see that as a process in which you come face-to-face with your personal “demons”… insecurities, fears, anxieties, traumas, histories, etc, and accept them into your life not as enemies, but as very real, honest parts of the person that you are. Coming to terms with one’s weaknesses is the first of a long set of steps that need to occur before change can take place. Before jumping ahead of ourselves (like what I have always done), we need to take time to simply become aware.

What this translates to for me in my quest to find my own personal strength in food, exercise, and health is that before I can expect to see any improvements, even before I start making huge changes in my lifestyle, I need to simply reflect and become aware of my habits and of the emotions associated with them. What am I feeling before, during, and after an intense battle with food? What motivated me to get up and exercise today, and how did I feel immediately after? 12 hours later? What is going through my head at dinner time with my host family?

And in a deeper way, what was my relationship with food and exercise like as a child? As a teen? What is my parents’ relationship like with food and exercise and how has that shaped me? Have I had any traumatic or memorable experiences relating to food or exercise?

And moving beyond just food and exercise, because I know these are ultimately just superficial expressions of a deeper state of being, I need to ask myself things like: What is at the root of my anxiety? How does my ADD affect my ability to finish a task? How have my parents positively and negatively affected my sense of self? Which of my parents’ insecurities or personal struggles has been passed on to me? Which insecurities are entirely my own? What am I afraid of? What do I hope to achieve as a person in my life?

These are my own questions to ponder, though I encourage anyone (even if you’ve already achieved your goals and you’ve got alllllll the answers) to take a moment to reflect on similar, but personalized, questions about your own state of being. It doesn’t matter what change you are hoping to achieve… I am starting to realize that it all starts here. Awareness.

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