An Apple a Day Keeps the Crazy Away

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When I launched this website I felt some level of pressure to have the site visually appealing, up to date content, and tie in to some brand I had created – of which I did not know.  I had a couple years of blogging on Gals with Goals prior to the launch of my own site, so the only brand I really had was writing about goals with the occasional person telling me my writing was funny. . . so. . . goals and humor?  Okay.  I decided not to paralyze myself with worrying about all this when it came to a domain name and everything else involved in launching a site and thought ‘I’ll just get content out there with an added focus on using beautiful photos, and we’ll see where this goes.’

So, Chris built my site for me and when it came time to determine what drop downs I would use under the blog section, he suggested “life, health, and love.”  I felt like he summed me up in three words.  “Perfect, let’s go with it.”

Over the course of the last few months of having this site, I noticed the only empty tab on my site was “health.”  I would’ve formerly defined myself as a health advocate, having been a former gymnast, figure competitor, etc. but when it came to blogging about health-related topics I was like “ugh, yeah, no.”  So it sat blank for a few months until one day I realized that in spite of my lack of visits to the gym and lack of desire to eat vegetables, I am good at drinking water – so I threw a post out there about the benefits of drinking lemon water and called it a day.

Well, as I type this, I am on the 21st day of a 21-day fitness plan I have been following.  I kept it somewhat low key, only sharing with the private Facebook group I’m a part of for it, and telling my family and few coworkers.  I just didn’t want a big “read my blog about my diet but if I fail later forget about all that nonsense and go back to reading my goal blogs or humorous posts” type of thing.

But I’ll sum up what I have done and how I feel about it. . .

I was coming off post-book launch/I’ve been in my current role at work for a few years so I can’t claim that to be new anymore type of mental place.  So I made the decision that while I’m in this in-between place in life I would take a quick pause and take care of myself.  I was at my heaviest weight (150lbs) a week out from my 35th birthday and it was just high-time to get my act together.  So I landed on doing Beachbody’s 21-day fix program since my mom had the containers that went with the program, I had the all access membership to stream the videos on my phone, and a friend was a Beachbody coach and had a private Facebook group I was already a part of.  Plus, 21 days indicated there was an end if I wanted there to be.

I won’t go into the details of the plan because you can find it on YouTube just as easy.  The short version is it’s eating healthy + working out.  It’s not rocket science.  There’s an app to help you track what you’ve eaten and the containers explicitly tell you how much of each food group you should have.  What I do want to share are things that helped me or things I’ve (re)realized about health and fitness that have nothing to do with workouts and meal prep tips. . .

My mood is directly tied to how I feel physically – I ended up losing 7lbs over the course of the 21 days and with every pound lost, you would’ve thought I had taken a magic pill to boost my mood.  I feel my most authentic self when I’m operating in that mode – and my ability to use humor, laugh, or feel in control of things that would otherwise stress me out is through the roof.

I had to take responsibility – I had recently come across a video on YouTube that shows a ton of clips of gymnasts with a voiceover of motivational talk (imagine the harsh yet motivating talks a football coach gives in a locker room before a big game type of thing).  I had been listening to it while on the treadmill (prior to the 21-day plan) trying to get myself motivated.  Every time I would hear a new phrase in the video I hadn’t noticed before — one of the last times I listened I heard him say we need to take responsibility for where we’re at.  I really hated to hear that.  I hated it because I think that is my problem, your problem, everyone’s problem.  We so desperately don’t want to take responsibility for the fact that the way we feel is a result of the choices we’ve made.  I was balancing this idea with Brene Brown’s talks on blame. . . and I realized that’s pretty much our problem.  Blame!  I mean, if I’m out of shape it’s really my job’s fault, right?  Because I have to do all this work for my job in a short period of time.  Or if you’re out of shape, it’s really your husband or kid’s faults, right?  Because they don’t like healthy food.  Or if we’re all out of shape, it’s really because none of us have time to make it work?  Because we’re all scrolling on Facebook or watching Netflix.  Or my favorite of all time which is the one I’m so guilty of it’s embarrassing and shaming and all those fun feelings – I shouldn’t have to diet or work so hard at this, it’s not fair.  I stirred around on that one for awhile and ultimately I started the 21-day plan because I took responsibility for my own actions that have led me to feel “blah” as I like to describe it.

Make a video or write about it every day – I’m clearly an advocate of writing in a journal every day (if you haven’t caught that drift already).  But what I did differently on this plan was do a 1 minute video every day around 5 p.m. on how I was feeling that day and how the plan was going.  Seems pretty straight forward.  I looked terrible in the videos and they were mostly done in my car and I was just holding my phone (you gotta lose the vanity in it or you’ll never do it).  So I recorded a brief video and posted it on the private Facebook page mentioned above.  You think you’ll remember how you were feeling at the beginning and the end, but ain’t nothin’ more truthful than watching yourself speak into a camera about it.  Yup.  I realized in these quick sound bites of myself speaking things like:  how good feedback at work made me drive straight to the gym, or how 5 p.m. is the devil and a time when I want to eat 5 million carbs + 2 burritos + chips and queso, or how I can magically find the time to go to the gym now when I oddly couldn’t before?  These videos were golden for me, and the fact that I chose to share them I’d like to believe helped motivate someone else too.

This is so hard, and will always be – I wrote a chapter in my book called “Diet Starts Monday” and the gist was about how freaking hard dieting is, or call it a healthy lifestyle, or whatever you want to call it.  Eating broccoli and exercising sometimes is so not your gig, and other times you’ll be up at 5 a.m. at the gym training for a marathon.  I fought for SO long to not admit that it’s hard, because, well, pride.  But I have to give myself grace on the days that are imperfect, but kick myself in the butt over and over and over and over to keep moving in the right direction because it is so worth it on so many levels.

Figure out your relationship with food – I have a theory that we all have relationships with food and we all have relationships with money.  The way we were raised largely influences how we see those two things.  In short, what is your relationship with food?  Is it comfort?  Is it a nuance?  Is it a social thing?  Is it calming?  Is it in abundance?  Is it scary?  What is your true relationship with food, what do you expect from it, what and why do you have the thoughts you have about it?  Until you know this, every 21-day plan or cleanse or infomercial or whatever you’re getting yourself into may be short lived.

That is what I know as of today.  I just got done downing a pastry as a “reward” for my recent weight loss (even though my former trainer would tell me not to reward myself with food because I’m not a dog – hey Natalie!).  I plan to start the 21-day plan over again in a few days.  I’m sure it’ll continue to challenge me in the ways I’ve listed above, and I’m not even going to end with a “you can do it” sort of phrase here.  Because I’m convinced that sometimes that “you can do it” cheerleader mode has the opposite reaction to motivating someone.  But what I’ll do is just ask you to consider the things above for your own life.

And, drink more water.