One time my Fitbit congratulated me on reaching my daily fitness goal…while I was in the movies eating a bucket of popcorn. I am not going to say I am proud that I ate a mile of popcorn that day, but I am also not going to say that I regret it.
To start a “Fitness Journey” as all the cool kids on Instagram are saying these days, really is a great way to motivate yourself to get in shape and get healthy. It doesn’t seem that hard, take a few before pictures, log your progress, and scroll through a zillion #transformation pictures. But that’s where the pressure hits, you see all of these strangers with their amazing transformations and you want that, they are #bodygoals. But you don’t see the dedication and years of clean eating and exercise that went into their transformation. When I see a picture of a 6-year transformation, in my head they did that in a couple of months. Or I see their meal prep that I tell myself I need to follow if I want to look like them and starve myself for the next week. I disappoint myself with huge unrealistic expectations, and after stepping on the scale to see minimal results for the week, I am back to my bad habits. And by bad habits I mean that I am back at the movies, but this time I remember to take my Fitbit off.
A few months ago, I decided that I needed to change my perception of a fitness journey, I needed to scale it back and make it work for my busy lifestyle. I would be lying if I said that this decision was some grand epiphany; really it came on the heels of my recently acquired 6-year old, and the fact that I just couldn’t keep up with him. If I am going to be the best step-mom I can be, I need to get my butt in shape and form good habits for myself and for him. This is where I realized, that if I don’t take a step back and stop comparing myself to every hashtag on Instagram, I am never going to reach my goals. So, I am here to remind you that your weight loss transformation or fitness transformation is exactly that, it is YOURS. It’s time to stop comparing yourself to everyone around you, and start small, with easy steps that you can handle.
The gym can be incredibly intimidating if you are not a regular. What body parts are you supposed to work out together? What is your gym schedule? What are all of the machines in the gym used for? Do I have to use them all in one day? If you know the answer to these questions, great! If not, that’s no problem at all, because every gym has a treadmill and that is a great place to start. If you are currently not getting your daily dose of exercise walking is a fantastic jumping off point, you don’t even need a gym membership to do it! Find yourself a park, walk on your street if it’s safe, head to the beach or a reservoir trail, and just walk. You can start with 20 minutes a day and work yourself up to longer and longer, you might even find you enjoy it. Once the weather warmed up, I started walking the reservoir near my home, it’s an easy 5-mile trail, but I set myself a goal, lets walk 20 miles a week. That sounds intimidating, but I can fit it in my schedule to get there 4 days a week, and the 1.5-2 hours it takes me to finish is a great time to catch up on my favorite podcasts and clear my head. I have actually grown to miss it on the days that I can’t make it. It was that little change in my day-to-day that made all the difference, sure my progress isn’t crazy fast, but it is progress and building good habits.
Now for me, adding a morning walk was easy, but fixing my eating habits is a whole different story. You hear it all the time, that abs are made in the kitchen. Well my kitchen is very Italian, so my abs are currently made of pasta. I have never been on a diet, because I cannot stick to one, at all! I will dive off the deep end for three days trying to survive on air and ¼ sticks of celery, only to binge myself on lasagna and cookies the following day. So, what do you do? You head back to the internet to see what is working for everyone else. The current trend in fitness is counting your macros, or the macronutrients in your food (carbs, fats, proteins). It seems simple enough, there are free tools online to help you find what macros are best for your current goals, or you can go see a nutritionist or dietician to help you create your macro goals. Apps like MyFitnessPal are great tools to help you log the food you are eating and keep yourself accountable. It is brilliant, and fool proof, right? Not if you’re me and you decide to save 67% of your weeks’ worth of macros for one giant coma inducing meal. (No, that is not at all how macros work, and you will not see the results you’re looking for, trust me.) It also doesn’t work if you’re me the second time and decide that if Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t believe in counting macros, then neither do I. (Fair, but remember that you are not one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, nor the previous governor of California, so that’s really not a valid argument.) So the counting part never went in my favor, but the logging did. It helped me to stay accountable, every time I considered lying to myself and not logging something I was about to eat, I decided to just not eat it instead.
When it comes down to it, you just have to take it step by step and find what works for you. I found it much easier to prepare my meals ahead of time, it was less work, and I didn’t want to waste the food I had already spent time preparing. Eat Clean Bro can be a huge asset because there is absolutely no work involved. Just healthy, prepared meals delivered to your door. No cooking, no cleaning, and they make sure your putting something healthy and tasty in your mouth. They even have a bunch of Italian favorites (helloo eggplant meatballs with penne and vodka sauce) so you don’t need to feel like you are restricting yourself or ignoring your favorites. It saves a ton of time and effort, and they can all be logged into your fitness app. All of the macros are included on the website, so if you find that counting works for you, they have you covered.
In the end I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t call my goals a “fitness journey” because it’s never going to follow the flow of your typical transformation, and that’s okay. I have been focusing on walking my 20 miles, and eating healthier for about 3 months now, and I am down about 25 pounds. And that’s okay! I am proud of my slow progress, because I am feeling better on my own terms and enjoying the process. And that is what it is all about, I am not restricting myself or killing myself at the gym, because I needed to tailor my plan to fit me, excuses and love of snacks included.
So I challenge you to start your own Fitness Journey 2.0, we’re going to take it slow, tailor our plans to ourselves, and stop being so judgmental. Slow progress is still progress, and you can fit popcorn into your meal plan. You can eat healthy and still enjoy a slice of pizza. We are just going to try to keep the popcorn consumption to under a mile and start moving our bodies.