Far too true…
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.
These ladies are fierce. Enviable. Strong. I always forget that people like them had to WORK for it. They were not born looking like that. So if they can do it, why can’t anyone else?
My goal is to be like this woman when I’m her age. What an inspiration!
Such a terribly common misconception. Lifting weights will NOT make women bulky! Neither will protein powder. More on this to come on an upcoming post.
I mean really… thats kind of all its about, right?
This resonated with me while scrolling through pictures of extremely fit girls on Pinterest. I fluctuate so often, but this reminds me that its OKAY. I’ve fought this battle before, and I’m fighting it again, this time a little stronger and a little wiser than before. A good friend reminds me time and time again that its not a cycle, because that implies that I’m not improving and not going anywhere new. Its an upward-trending line… sure, it has its ups and downs, but in general, I’m moving up, getting stronger with every failure and learning so much along the way.
I am stronger than I think I am. And stronger than yesterday.
Another accidental vegan day, and it feels oh so good. I know I had a shitty day yesterday, but I refused to let it haunt me today, so this morning I reminded myself of how crappy it felt to lose myself, and I set my intentions for the day: stronger than yesterday.
I didn’t do much in the way of exercise (I rationalized it as being my rest day before my race tomorrow), but I did stay on track of my food, and it wasn’t even hard and didn’t require too much thought or effort at all! Its amazing how being vegan for a day feels so effortless, and the days when I do consume animal products, at least in this past week, have been the days when I’ve felt most out of control. Not eating animals or animal products and thus having a whole foods, plant-based diet is amazingly liberating. It fits in with this post about being “free” from certain foods/behaviors, or saying “I don’t” instead of “I cant”. Once I tell myself “I’m free from consuming animals” or “I don’t eat dairy”, I don’t feel the same urge to cave in, give up, and eat a piece of ham or a yogurt. Instead I just use what I have and get a little creative, and it ends up tasting SO much more gourmet than a nasty ham sandwich or plain yogurt with sugar.
I didn’t plan on being vegan today. I haven’t really been trying to be vegan at all over the past few days/weeks. But it just ends up happening rather accidentally, because I don’t eat red meat (unless my host mom makes it) and I don’t drink milk (gives me a stomach ache) and rarely eat cheese (amazingly, I’ve never really liked it), and my host family never seems to have chicken or fish stocked up and ready to cook (only pork products, like lardons or ham), so I almost have no choice but to be vegan, or mostly vegan plus the occasional yogurt (which I still love). So really, it hasn’t been all that hard to have entirely vegan days – if I happen to make my own dinner that night, its really quite easy!
And like I said on Wednesday, I feel absolutely liberated by my food. I don’t feel out of control, I feel happy, I feel clean and healthy and light, I have energy, and I feel well fed. I’ve gotten all my nutrients, all of my protein, all of my vitamins and minerals… and no cholesterol, no saturated fat, and no guilt (of any kind). Its kind of amazing. I’m all about this!
Also… Um, yeah, I got Instagram. For this blog. I don’t have a personal one yet and I’ve been resisting for ages (this is a matter of pride, as a photographer)… but I did it. I caved. So, follow me on Instagram… “strongfitswell“. Duh. Also I have no idea how to use it so give me some time before I figure out how to follow you back.
So without further ado…my Instagrammed meals:
Lunch was chickpeas, white beans, avocado, tomatoes, pine nuts, sesame seeds, olive oil. So good!
Dinner consisted of quinoa with sautéed zucchini and onions, along with,
… an open-faced “sandwich” – toasted whole wheat bread, spread avocados, tomatoes.
Breakfast was my usual oatmeal with protein powder, and snacks throughout the day were mixed nuts, prunes, and lots of fruit. I drank a TON of water (to be hydrated for my race tomorrow) and I got plenty of rest last night. I hope tonight I can get some good rest too.
I’m feeling so good right now. I hope tomorrow’s race goes well (though its supposed to rain!) and I hope the rest of this weekend can be somewhat as good as today and wednesday. I feel fabulous.
Oh also, I watched this informational video today (its about an hour long) about eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, and though it was a little cheesy at times, I actually really loved it and gained a lot of useful information and tips about developing a cleaner, healthier lifestyle. You should watch this!
I’m posting part 1 here, but there are 9 parts total, all easily available one after the other on YouTube.
I hope everyone has had a great day!
I want to try to really, honestly internalize my motivations. This is a reminder that my quest for strength is not temporary and it is not for anyone else but for myself.
I have to admit, I thought this was pretty cute. And relevant. So here you go. Strengthen your core, inside and out. Inside first though… duh.
I’m posting this not because I want anyone to think or feel that either of these two physiques is right or wrong, or more or less beautiful than the other, because all of that is a matter of opinion and entirely subjective. However, I’m posting this as a reminder that anyone has the power to make changes to their life when they see that change is needed… whether that change means losing weight, gaining weight, getting healthy, having better grades in school, being more productive at work, finding self confidence, becoming more organized – whatever it is you are trying to achieve and trying to become stronger in, this is a reminder that you CAN. As I posted recently from Jillian Michaels, “why not you?!”
This girl decided to lose weight and get extremely fit, and though it took her two years to reach a place where she felt ready to share her success with others, she achieved her goal and that sense of dedication and willpower is what is most inspiring here to me.
She is beautiful no matter what, but now she’s healthier, stronger, and has so much more energy and clarity of mind to live her life as best as she can. If she can do it, why not you, and why not me?
Exercise and grow your willpower muscle!
Jillian Michaels is such an inspiration to me. She used to be overweight (click here to see a picture) and she found discipline and motivation through martial arts, and decided to change her life for good. She reminds me every day that any of us are capable of greatness, whether it is physical or otherwise… it is just a matter of believing that you can. No one is excluded from health, wellness, success, or happiness… not you, and not me.
This is your one and only life. How do you want to live it?
Whenever given the chance, always take the stairs. Don’t be a lazy fucker! If I could do it while carrying 3 heavy bags and my laptop, IN HEELS, then you can do it too. Even if it takes you twice as long, make a habit out of always taking the route of most exercise. Everyone’s day provides them with ample opportunities to move a little bit more, so take those opportunities to do right by your body and soul. Take the stairs.
I kind of liked this…