As I mentioned yesterday, I wanted to tell you a little about some of the changes I’ve been making to bring my eating and my life into balance.
I’ve been going to spin class twice a week since the beginning of the year. This is a big improvement over the end of last year. Even so, I kept thinking: Isn’t exercise supposed to make you feel better? Aren’t you supposed to lose weight? Why am I not seeing progress?
Then I’d sit on the couch for 5 days moping. The closest thing to a vegetable I ate during the mope-fest was lemon-blueberry yogurt cake which is seriously good stuff but sadly does not qualify as a vegetable or even fruit in the real world.
Reality check, part 2:
- You are what you eat. It’s old news but is worth repeating. How can I lose weight when I keep eating more than my body burns in a day? How can I be physically lean unless what I eat is lean? I’m not talking fat-free, just leaner. As in vegetables, for example. Butter is not a vegetable it turns out. Carrots, yes. Chocolate cake, no. Isn’t that sad? Imagine how much healthier we’d all be if the reverse were true. Studies show that Americans are eating fewer fruits and vegetables than ever. No matter how many campaigns the government sponsors to teach kids and the rest of us the right things to eat, many of us still won’t. It is so easy to eat the wrong things that it can feel difficult to eat well. But I realized that while I can’t change the world, I can change what’s on my plate. I’ve been focusing more on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and good fats. It’s nothing new or revolutionary. I’m still making adjustments and learning new ways to eat, but my diet for the last few weeks is infinitely better than it was even just a month ago.
- Sugar is a drug.I am happy when I am eating a chocolate chip cookie or 3, but then I’m tired and grouchy half an hour later. Eating the way I was, I felt tired all the time. I was moody. Some studies have shown that eating sugar releases dopamine in the brain which is what gives us that sugar high. And why we crash and have withdrawal symptoms when we stop eating sugar. It isn’t that sugar is all bad. But refined sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels, with peaks and crashes. I’ve been working hard to choose complex carbohydrates for slow release of sugar into my system. I have enjoyed a dessert or two in the last few weeks, but managed to keep it to a minimum. I have more energy and feel so much better now.
- Apply Newton’s first law to your butt. To paraphrase: A body in motion stays in motion, while a butt on the sofa stays on the sofa. 2 days of spin class is a great base and I have seen some improvements just from that little bit. But to really make progress, 2 days is not enough. So I started to add in a some running (in fact, I am training for a 10K). And most recently I started working out with a trainer a couple times per week. I don’t generally like working out in the gym or weight lifting, but have found it’s easier if I join a class or work with a trainer until I reach “cruising altitude”… you know, the point at which the habits are set and I show up to exercise even if no one else is pushing me. I’ve been there before… let’s see how long it takes to get there again.
- Patience, grasshopper. It takes time. In an age when I can download movies in an instant and pay my bills online in minutes, it is hard to wait for results. I have had good eating and work out days only to wake up the next morning hoping to see some change in the mirror or on the scale. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. When making healthy changes, it takes time to see progress. I can’t expect to run a 10K if I’ve only trained one day. And I shouldn’t expect to lose weight overnight. I am not a 400 pound contestant on The Biggest Loser. I am not working out with Jillian Michaels for 6 hours a day. So I will not lose 7-15 pounds in 1 week. And that’s okay.
Trying to eat well and exercise isn’t a new thing. I have been around this block a few times before, but this time feels different. I can’t claim to have any magic formula, but I have found my motivation… what’s important to me. When I am confronted with milk chocolate covered peanut butter eggs at Trader Joe’s, I am now able to walk away by remembering why I want to be healthy. To me, being healthy means living a long life with my loved ones, setting a good example for the kids in my life so they know what it means to eat well, and to be happy inside and out. As a bonus I’m finding delicious ways to eat healthy… recipes to come.
What does healthy mean to you?