Category Archives: getting out of your own way
If you have been anywhere around a TV set, a radio, or a computer, you have noticed the great abundance of “get fit now”. It is that time of the year again. The time when supplement companies and larger than though trainers are pushing their miracle cure all product on the unsuspecting consumers with low self-esteem. Do these products work? Some of them. Do they work safely and for a prolonged period of time? No.
We live in a society that is largely driven by instant gratification and impulse. No one wants to work to be fit, but everyone wants to have a fit body of a fitness model. After all, it is much easier to pop a pill and eat a pizza while watching football, than working out and eating clean. Does anyone think about the consequences of taking these drugs? Does anyone stop to ask why they work so quickly and so effectively? No. Why? Because blissful ignorance with a skinny fat body is significantly safer than a challenging and at times difficult reality in which one has to find information, process it, and work to get the results that they want. In short, half-baked approaches breed half-baked results and a lot of disappointed, misinformed consumers. So, what can you do to get lasting weight loss results? Read on.
What I have to say right now may not be what you want to hear, but I am not in the business of cuddling and propagating fitness myths. I am here to give you the hard truth and save you the time you’ll spend doing research on your own. Here’s the deal. Most “magic” weight loss pills, shakes, and powders are unsafe. If you have to order your food premade, you’ll gain all of your weight back after you stop eating “out of the box”. There is no such thing as getting “toned and fit” without changing your daily lives.
The only way to get true and lasting results is by keeping a clean and sustainable diet, maintaining a healthy attitude, and exercising daily.
Keeping a Clean and Sustainable Diet:
Let’s face it, if you drastically cut calories, completely cut out certain food groups or expect perfect rigid compliance to a dietary plan, you will eventually slip. In fact, when you slip you will binge, feel guilty, get down on yourself, and try to maintain the same diet with even more restrictions than before to make up for your pitfall. Does that sound like a healthy relationship with food? No. To me, that sounds more like an eating disorder and we all know that eating disorders are very unhealthy.
A sustainable diet should revolve around a lifestyle. When you decide to get in shape, you have to realize that you are on a journey and just like any journey, this one will have peaks and valleys. The secret to sustainable, healthy weight loss is realizing that a valley isn’t going to undo everything you worked for. So, if you make it a priority to eat healthy 90% of the time, that one piece of cake on your birthday, a plate full of delicious food on Thanksgiving, and a bowl of macaroni and cheese every other month aren’t going to send you on an express train to fat town.
A clean sustainable diet should involve all of the major food groups (unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from eating certain things) in moderation. Eating for weight loss is an art form that will take time to master fully, there is no diet that perfectly fits all, and there are no shortcuts. A clean, healthy diet with proper caloric intake (you can’t starve yourself!!!) takes time to develop and perfect.
I encourage you to do your research, look at various food plans, study strategic eating, and custom design your own eating plan. It will take time, but in the end you will be rewarded with energy, better health, and a lean, strong body.
We briefly touched on this subject in the previous section when we discussed a healthy relationship with food. You can’t punish yourself for slip-ups and deviations of off the plan, but you also have to hold yourself accountable for what you do in daily basis. Having a support group helps, but at the end of the day it is between you and your refrigerator, or between you and your bed.
You have to make a plan and stick to it regardless of what the world around you wants. If you know that what you are doing is right for you, then no one else has the right to keep you away from your goals and your dreams. Not even you. You have to push yourself every day. I wish I could tell you that it gets to a point where going to the gym or out on a run is automatic. No. I still have days when I question why I am up at 5 am on a cold winter morning. There are days when the last thing that I want to do is drive to the gym and lift a bunch of weights when the laundry is piled up, dinner needs to be cooked, and I still have a mound of paperwork to get through. However, I don’t make excuses. I put on my big girl pants, lace up my shoes, and I tell myself that it is better that way. I can say with full confidence, I am yet to regret a workout that I did.
However, healthy attitude goes far beyond building a healthy relationship with food and regular, hard workouts. A healthy attitude also encompasses how you view the world. It is easy to be mad and sad about your circumstances, but when you make a decision to take control and change, you become empowered. Feeling strong and in control is what gets people in the gym initially, but most quickly get discouraged because the results didn’t come fast enough. Here’s the hard part: you have to remain positive and have faith in the fact that the results will come if you actually follow a program that you set for yourself. You have to force yourself to become an optimist on those days when you just want to quit because the pudgy feeling isn’t going away fast enough.
Again, I wish I could tell you that feeling discouraged goes away with time – it doesn’t. But if you keep at it long enough, you will learn that the voice inside your head that tells you “it’s not working”, “you don’t have the body for this”, “you are too old” etc. is a total liar. With time, you learn to ignore your own little critic and you learn that when the voice rears its ugly head, you are closer than you ever were before to achieving that one goal that you set for yourself.
A good diet and a great attitude aren’t going to get you far without exercise. Consistent, challenging, daily exercise paired with a great diet is a sure recipe for a fabulous body. Now, let me clarify, I am not telling you to go out and do Zumba (although it is a fun way to initially lose some extra weight). The exercise that I am talking about involves 3-4 heavy weight training sessions and 3 cardio sessions a week. You can’t be a cardio queen and expect a toned body of a fitness model. You have to lift HEAVY weights. Let me say this right now: there is no way that you are going to end up looking like a she Hulk unless you are SPECIFICALLY working to attain that aesthetic. So, no, don’t tell me that lifting heavy turns women into men. It is a total myths that is propagated by men who are scared of strong women, women who are scared of hard work, and skinny fat models who would be out of a job if the rest of us woke up and realized that having the ability to pick up more than 5 lbs at a time makes you more attractive and gives you the lean, toned look you actually want. Yes, I’m talking to you ladies.
Gentlemen, I have to caution you against trying to show off. Heavy training means lifting the weight you can ACTUALLY lift with PROPER form. Allow me to elaborate: that means that you shouldn’t be squirming under a barbell during your bench press like a deranged worm because you loaded the bar too heavy. You are not a hero if you get hurt, so why set yourself up for failure? Take it easy, maintain proper tension throughout your exercises and watch your body bulge with awesome rippliness faster than the guy who has been trying to “out lift” you all alone and has been doing it wrong.
I don’t know about you, but for me, a fit strong body is a status symbol. You can’t buy it, you can pay someone to surgically make it. You have to invest the time, the sweat, the tears and the doubts to achieve it. There are challenges to achieving your perfect physique at any age and in any circumstance, so don’t discount the efforts of the younger crowd just because of their age or the older crowd just because of their experience. We all face different struggles, have different body types, and respond to different things better than others. Building a body you want takes time, it takes trial and error and you have to be willing to invest in your journey fully in order to rip the perfect results.
Earlier this week I was at the store and picked up Women’s Health Magazine. I was astonished by what was in it. First and foremost what blew my mind were advertisements of soft, none developed, skinny women. Second, headlines such as “Flat abs in 15 minutes!” and “healthy cocktails” all but had me up in arms. I bought the magazine just because I could get at least 6 blog posts out of it just on the subjects of fitness and nutrition myths!
Ok, ok, I am better now, but let’s face it, how can we battle the obesity epidemic when women are being fed conflicting and, at times, damaging information? You will be surprised how many women out there go to Cosmo for advice on fitness and nutrition. I did have higher hopes for Women’s Health Magazine, though. After all, the word “health” is in the title. It was extremely disappointing to see hundreds of glossy pictures filled images of women that were so retouched, they looked disproportionate. I am sure that I am not the only one that finds “skinny fat” absolutely unattractive.
When did we lose touch with a healthy look? Why are we still holding on to an almost Victorian notion of a weak, helpless, anemic woman? Why can’t a girl have muscles? Why are we, women, allowing the society to continually define us as weak? Ladies, remember, you have the capacity to bare children! That alone propels you to a category of strength and resilience. Yu don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, but wouldn’t it be nice if they were developed enough to hold it in case you did? Ladies, go to the gym and lift. Lean and strong is the new skinny and fragile!
We have all heard time and time again about the importance of not giving up. Every motivational picture and quote out there tells you to push through the pain, discomfort, bite down, and follow through. There are entire Facebook pages out there that are specifically dedicated to motivating people and dissuading them from loosing sight of their goals when “the going gets tough”.
Regardless of how often you look at the copious amounts of fantastic motivational material on the internet, it all means absolutely nothing when you are staring blankly at the loaded barbell, dripping with sweat, with your hands and arms numb from the weight, your hamstrings burning, unsure if you can squeeze out another rep and being absolutely positive that you are pretty much about to die if you try. Normally, during those times, I dig deep. I find that tiny, hard grain of rock solid “truth” that remains constant regardless of the circumstance and I latch onto it like a hungry gator and refuse to let go until I am through with whatever it is that caused me to go looking for “god” to begin with.
Moments like that are rare, but not so rare that I can easily forget the incredible feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when I am done. After the “dust” settles and the feeling comes back to whatever body part I was training at the time, I begin to understand how incredibly strong and capable I really am! I believe that, you can walk into training having your “beast mode” on, but you do not earn your beast status until you leave drenched in sweat, unsure if you can drive straight or if you can remember how to get home. That is the true finish to the “beast mode”.
This Wednesday I was all about the “beast mode”. I walked into my gym ready to do some serious damage, train dirty, walk out covered in sweat, and later “strut my stuff” like an overconfident peacock (yes, it happens and I am proud of it. You have to celebrate small wins otherwise you spend your life waiting for something “big” and missing all the awesome, little details).
I got to the gym, set up my circuits, warmed up, stretched, rolled, stretched again, and got to work. It was all going well until I noticed that I started getting in my own way. I noticed negative thoughts creeping up: “You can’t breath, this must be too hard of a workout. Why did you plan for 3 circuits with this weight? You’ll never last! You should drop the weight, take a longer break. You can’t breath!!! Stop!!!” Then the guilt chimed in: “You are ruining the whole point of the exercise by stopping. It is suppose to keep your heart rate up. Look at you freaking out, your heart rate isn’t even that high!”
I tried stopping and resetting mind and body. I told myself that I need to cut out the negativity and dig deep and just get through it. I told myself that I’ll be glad I finished. When that didn’t work, I promised myself a new pair of running pants if I finish (you know, reward system, you have to have one), that got me through the first circuit 3 times. Go figure, new running attire would get my butt going! I am such a girl sometimes.
After a minute of rest I moved on to my second circuit and that was when things got really ugly. My body refused to function. I was stuck in a squat for 10 seconds before I finally decided to put the weight down. I gave into my inner voice and lowered the weight. It did nothing to ease my pain. Now, before you start telling me that I was probably fatigued from the previous circuit, I wasn’t. I was just in my own way. It was not the muscle that I couldn’t get to work, it was my head. I got through my second circuit one time and by the end I was almost crying. I packed my stuff and snuck out of the gym with my “tail between my legs” being mad at myself and embarrassed that I didn’t finish.
I got home, put ice on my shins (I am not taking any chances this close to Peachtree) and posted on the Fierce Miles Facebook page about my embarrassing failure. Within minutes I had a text from one of my wonderful friends telling me to go back and finish my workout. The more I thought about it, the more angry I became. Me, not finish a workout? What kind of […] is that?! So, I got up, put my clothes back on and went to go finish. I am proud to say that I finished all of the circuits with marginally higher rest times than initially planned. I had to dig deep, very deep, to make it through. This time I did not allow any of the scary, negative thoughts to crawl into my head and ruin my performance. I did it. I finished, I walked back to my car, I crawled back to my house (I am not ashamed, it was a tough workout).
Today I am very sore. I haven’t been this sore in a long time. It was worth the extra time, and all the extra effort. The best part about it is that the farther I push through my limits during my training the more I realize that I can effectively push through difficult times in my day to day life. I heard from other athletes that one doesn’t simply just train their body, mind and soul need training as well and I see it now. I noticed that since I began my journey of “no excuses” I developed an ability to effectivley deal with some of the things that use to send me into a tailspin of depression. But I am getting ahead of myself, more on that in my upcoming post.
How’s that for a mid week check-in?