Setting Realistic Fitness Goals

When I kicked started my little blog a few short weeks ago, it was to hopefully, share, encourage and motivate those who stumbled across me in the vast cyber world of blogville.

It’s a big place out there boys and girls. And wow, ya’ll have been so…. nice……

I wanted to take my voice into the world to do what I’ve been doing in real life and through my Facebook page, motivating and encouraging people to pursue a lifestyle of health and fitness.

As you know, and as I’ve shared in other posts, I’m a runner and love running and will talk a lot about it ( as in, I have a half marathon this weekend, so spoiler alert, you know what’s coming 😉 however, there’s a lot more to me,  a person, and much more to our lives we deal with so I will also venture into other topics and ideas to share with you as we move along.

I think when people are setting out to do something as (big) as get on their health and fitness journey, they really need a cheerleader, a mentor, and someone who’s plowed the road in front of them to say “hey, I got through this, you can too!”

It can be hard…. frustrating… overwhelming. As one reader commented to me the other day on my post, they hadn’t “thrown in the towel yet”…..

That means a lot … if you can press on taking one day at a time and just focusing on it…. and not the rest of your life….or that you feel like you’ll be fat/out of shape/ unmotivated whatever… you WILL make progress.

Trust me.

There will be days you’ll look at yourself in the mirror in that self-loathing way (don’t… do … that… or I will…come beat you) and you think there’s no progress going on… but there is…. you must give your body time to adapt and adjust to what you are doing. Remember part of the process is knowing that there’s a lot of changes going on…. not just physically inside and out ……but mentally and emotionally as well….

Our bodies really are this cool science experiment.  Work them, feed them good foods, be consistent in that process and in this slow steady way…. stuff happens….

Honestly, I’ve been at this for 7 years now. I’ve kept my weight off, built muscle, gotten stronger, leaner,  have more energy and can physically do more than I did half my age ago. I realllllyy l that 😉

Did you notice something ?

 7….. years…..

I’ve made forward progress by being consistent and letting changes happen in the way they need to……over time.

Are my fitness goals different now, than when I started this process? You bet they are ( and that, boys and girls will be another post)

The important thing is this. I just lived my life each day…. purposefully and intentionally  with forward progress. This is not something you can manhandle out quickly. You’re living your life, settle back and enjoy  the journey.

I still have people who will see me and say “when did you get like that??” and my response is “I’ve just been working at it for awhile”.

May I offer some suggestions if you are thinking of starting your journey or maybe you’re on it and need encouragement.

Ready ? Take notes 😉

Be kind to yourself when you start the process. Firm, but kind.

Don’t tolerate excuses from yourself (you can read more on that in my “No Excuses” post)

Set reasonable goals.

Make a vision board of ideas or goals you want to achieve. My closet door is littered with ideas/quotes/goals.

If you’re serious… tell people! My Facebook page has been a place where I post what I will be doing and I know at least one person is going to ask about what I’m doing and if I did it. Not only that, you are also going to motivate someone else… win/win!

Educate yourself in what you are doing… read and learn.

Finally, make it fun! You are doing this as a “lifestyle” enjoy what you’re doing!

With consistent daily progress you will hit your goals.

But no matter what….. don’t you give up and throw in the towel. You will never reach your goals by doing that!

Have you thrown in the towel before? How many times before it “stuck”? What things  helped you ? Share =)

2007/2014 7 years into my journey
2007/2014 7 years into my journey

That Nutrition Thing

What came first? The chicken or the egg ?

I think it’s like asking in the health and fitness world, what came first?

The knowledge  your body needed movement and exercise for better health? Or that you needed to eat better and make intelligent food choices for better health ?

We all arrive in different ways. If you are gonna get out there and kick your butt in some hard physical activities , do you really wanna come back in and feed it garbage ?

Oh, in the beginning it might be like that. “I worked out today! I deserve this!” as the cheeseburger and fries go down… or the fancy sugary coffee drink or whatever your poison is. There’s a sense of entitlement.

It might take awhile, or not so long, for the shift to occur. To realize if you’re doing this hard work you don’t want to undermine your efforts. You start looking at things in a different light.

If your physical activities are really hard and demanding it doesn’t take long to understand that what you put in you IS fuel and you need a) enough fuel and b) the right kind of fuel to sustain your activity level.

Last year I picked up a sports nutrition book for endurance athletes to read and teach myself more of what I needed to do. Training for that 50K I knew I needed to really eat…. intentionally.

Let’s just say, there were a lot of days I wasn’t eating enough for what I was physically doing. It takes planning and forethought to consume foods to not only support your daily living and activities but also your purposeful exercise.

I’m learning. I’ve learned a lot and don’t think I’ve arrived at getting it right. It’s a constant work in progress.

Anyway on my journey of the foods I eat, salad has always been a standard for me. Not as a “diet” food. Not because I “had to”… I’m a weirdo… I just enjoy them.

Before I became somewhat knowledgeable of foods and nutritional content one of the food groups I enjoyed in my salad was…… Ranch… yes, Ranch dressing.

It is a food group, isn’t it ? 😉

Then I started getting smarter and realized I was killing and totally negating any positive effects of salad by the dressing on it. Now I was horrible about it, not like some salads I’ve seen where the lettuce is buried under a sea of white dressing, almost no longer visible….

Over time, I slowly weaned myself away from it. Oh, I have it occasionally ( I like it with my salad and pizza 😉 but this is rare for me.

Let me say this. I often eat salads. Most days of the week they are my lunch staple, because I really, honesty, enjoy them. And, you can seriously get all your daily servings of veggies in with it….. double win.

My salads are not just the standard lettuce, tomato, cucumber kind of salads. I throw all kinds of colorful veggies in, sometimes a fruit of some type, some nuts, seeds or other crunch along with some protein. I’ve learned to use spinach as my “lettuce”. It’s a creative venture for me each time 😛

Seriously, spinach is like a powerhouse of amazing, good for your nutrient rich stuff for almost zero calories. You wanna eat that stuff. Our store has been carrying locally grown and it’s spoiling me!

So I learned, if you add enough texture and variety of tastes and flavors to your salads, dressings are only needed in very minimal amounts.

But, as mentioned, when you are on a health and fitness journey, you do begin to look critically at how and what you eat to support and sustain those goals.

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A sample of a lunch salad…lots of fresh spinach!

One of the main “suggestions” I offer to people who are wanting to lose weight, is to keep a record of what you eat for about a week, and really consider all the little “extras” you might consume but don’t consider empty calories piling into your days.

Things like an over abundance of salad dressing, mayo, and other creamy sauces and the like really do add up. When you can see from your food journal what your consumption of certain items are, you can then begin to examine what you don’t need or could eliminate to help you on your journey to shed weight and get healthier.

Small steps can lead to big, long term changes!

No, I’m Not Eating My Emotions

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Food. I like that stuff.

Now days, my food choices are vastly different than those pictured above.

I’ll freely admit that I’ve had to get it in it’s proper perspective over the last few years. Growing up food was the “thing” that you celebrated with, gathered on Sundays for, had extra helpings of, and most importantly, you always, always cleaned your plate. It didn’t really matter you weren’t hungry anymore…  just ignore your bodies natural signals of being full and clean your plate.

Happy, sad, angry, depressed, bored, restless, frustrated, holidays, bad weather, stressed, whatever……. all opportunities to eat.

My grandmother and mom were great cooks, and it needs to be mentioned, bakers too. I freely admit to being a baked good snob and can often pass on  store bought goodies and cake mix cakes and bagged cookies. I mean, no offense, but when you’ve had a made from scratch 3 layer German Chocolate cake, anything else is simply an imposter.

They ruined me.

I mean, not totally, ’cause I’m a pretty good baker myself and can make cakes that grown men offer marriage 😉 and my sons friends immediately sought to raid my cookie jar because ( according to them) I was the “only” mom who baked real cookies haha

So yeah, food, it was a big deal…. used on many levels in a completely improper way.  I hadn’t come to the knowledge (yet)  that food was to primarily be fuel for my body.  Not a sporting event.

As I got older, I realized that my family definitely was a family of “emotional eaters”. My grandmother was very over weight as was my mom.  Actually, if I’m being honest with you, they were considered obese. My brother struggled with his weight most of his life. I had steadily gained weight for a few years when I finally got the kick in the butt to make some changes before I might too have to deal with health issues that plagued my mom, grandmother and brother.  I had watched my family use food for comfort and a distraction from boredom for years but was fortunate to have my eyes opened to that.

I often referred to it as mindless eating.

It might look like this: constant grazing while cooking, continuing to eat and pick food from bowls after the meal was long over (and large seconds had been had) eating during the clean up process, basically just consuming food without any thought of what was being done…. or an awareness you’re eating when you aren’t even hungry.

I knew I needed to make myself intentionally mindful of this process to avoid the downfall of a lifetime of emotional eating.

It wasn’t easy. I became aware of the weak part of my days/nights where I’d look for food and not be hungry or when I thought about grabbing something ’cause I might feel stressed, angry, or bored.

Over the past few years I’ll say I think I’m pretty on top of it now…. and I’m very conscious when I let myself do it.

I remember one night after a rather stressful day my husband walked into the kitchen… I had a bag of BBQ chips out on the counter (for the record… I LOVE BBQ chips… but I’m pretty sure they have crack in them) and I was standing there just munching them down… I looked at him and said….

“I want you to know that I’m fully aware I’m totally emotionally eating right now”

I was being kinda silly about it but I was serious too. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t need to eat them.

It’s a huge step to identify things in your life that are a stumbling block to your health and fitness goals. Once you know your triggers you can make those slow steady changes to freedom.

To break free you must first:

Be real with yourself. Stop making excuses for eating what you don’t need.

Call it what it is… emotional, mindless eating. An unnecessary and unhealthy habit.

Remove yourself from temptation. And that means…get outta the kitchen.

When it was evening and I had eaten and wasn’t hungry, I just brushed my teeth. I knew I wouldn’t get anything after going through that process.

Write down times you feel most vulnerable, or things that drive you to eat when you aren’t truly hungry. Doing this for a week or two will show you patterns that you can then use as a defense strategy.

You love your family… but look at ways you may be influenced to participate in doing this just because it’s always “what you’ve known”. You can still be a part of the fam without engaging in this 😉

Finally, be kind to yourself as you move through this. Awareness is the first huge step to success. Press on and use each day to move forward to freedom =)