This was originally published back in 2011 … I’ve updated it and guess what? It’s still true!
It’s a roller coaster many of us have ridden …
You’ve been spot-on with your clean eating. Your workouts have been pretty stellar. Basically, you’re killing pretty much every area of your program.
And then … pizza happens. Or maybe an extra glass (or two) of wine. And then you miss a workout or two.
Suddenly, you are a failure. You suck. You can’t stick with anything. So, you do the only thing that makes sense. You throw up your hands and give up.
DON’T DO IT!
That’s an example of black-or-white thinking, and it never works. I’m gonna help you stop that, now.
How To Stick With Your Fitness Program
A while ago at a wellness class at my gym, we talked a lot about food and what/when to eat.
One thing that struck me is how we think that there are mythical humans – human who are NOT us – who always eat “perfectly” and who never indulge and/or are rarely tempted.
That person doesn’t exist. That’s a robot. Everyone slips up now and then, and it’s the way that we THINK about those slip-ups and manage them that makes all the difference.
Sometimes there’s pizza at work, and it shows up at the exact wrong moment – when you’re hungry or tired (key times when we are at risk), or when you least expect it.
Let’s not forget about the times you’re at your wits end: stressed, emotional, too busy, and just plain “over” everything. Or your friends/family are pestering you to JUST GIVE IN this ONE TIME.
These are not the result of any intrinsic weaknesses in YOU. They are problems/hurdles/obstacles that we all face.
And the way to solve them isn’t to point the finger at yourself … instead, look at the situation and try to figure out how to fix THAT.
I’m going to outline a few real problems/situations from my own life, and how I (mostly) work around them now.
Riding The Struggle Bus
First of all, it’s hard for me to talk about being on the struggle bus because I am afraid I’m letting people down. They always seem so disappointed to know that there’s not going to be a day when they magically wake up and poof! all of these little struggles disappear.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was hope for this? Yes, it would.
The good news is that avoiding struggles gets easier the more you practice certain habits. But even then I find myself circling back around to a few key problems.
I get up really early because I go to work really early. But I don’t want to get up any earlier than I have to. I really, really, really don’t.
Even though we’re hearing all about the powers of intermittent fasting, studies continue to show the importance of eating breakfast, and I know if I don’t eat a good meal early in the day, I’m gonna be hungry later.
Well, I don’t want to prepare a full meal in the morning. And I won’t. I know this, because several times I planned to cook breakfast and it didn’t happen and I ended up grabbing something in a rush, which wasn’t the best way to start the day.
So now I cook my breakfast the night before.
Some nights (like last night) when I get home after 7 p.m. and then the phone rings and the dog starts barking and I have a gazillion things to do, I don’t want to precook my breakfast.
But I cook it anyway (last night I scrambled 3 egg whites, 1 egg, and a cup of broccoli, adding in some goat cheese). It’s in the fridge waiting for me, and will be microwaved and eaten with a slice of Ezekial bread as soon as I press the “publish” button this post. (Note: I’m on a med that requires me to take it first thing in the morning and to wait an hour before eating, which is why I didn’t eat it as soon as I woke up. 🙂 )
Running Out of Food Mid-Week
This is embarrassing to admit, but every Thursday night I found myself going through the drive-through for supper.
And I was doing this while still sweaty after teaching a high-intensity group exercise class. My stomach would be grumbling and I’d be mad at myself for putting crap into my body, even if it was from the “healthy” and “low cal” menu.
Sometimes when voice on the drive-thru speaker asked, “Would you like some nachos with that?” I would answer, “yes.”
Driving home, I’d be hating on myself. I would be all, “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THIS? WHYYYY?”
And then I realized: hmm. I always do this. Why?
Duh. I was out of food at home. I was hungry. I needed to eat something immediately after class. Why didn’t I already have something on-hand?
There was a reason.
See, I tend to rock my lunches and dinners all week long … until Thursday. I work late both Wednesday and Thursday nights, and by Thursday all the proteins I precooked for the week on Sunday are gone.
And I am HUNGRY when I leave work Thursday night because I cap the day off by teaching a group ex class. Here’s a formula that will also apply to you.
Hungry Wendy + No Food In The House = Danger
Planning = Winning
What I do now is plan ahead for this. I find time during the day on Wednesday or at lunch Thursday to make sure I have food for later. Nothing that requires much prep but is more than a salad-bar salad. Yes, it’s a pain to find that time, but that little bit of pain is worth it in the long run.
Perhaps that’s a big “duh!” but it’s that kind of silly little problem that often derails our plans and makes us think we’re failures with no willpower and that we should just give up.
Look closely at the times you tend to slip up on your eating plan, and see if there’s a pattern. And if there is one, come up with a strategy that helps you work around that problem.
Maybe you eat on Friday nights because you’re lonely or it’s become a form of entertainment for you. Entertain yourself with something else!
Donuts at the office on Tuesdays? Bring something else, something healthier and lower calorie, to eat instead. And avoid being them around them, if at all possible.
Weekends – always an issue. Have a plan in mind.
Eating out. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about eating out that makes it feel like an “occasion.” But if you do it a lot, it actually is just another meal. Think about what you’re going to eat and how you’re going to ask for it to be prepared before you get to the restaurant.
It’s not so much about willpower as it is about identifying the problems, and then solving them.
The other day I realized I need to figure out what to do with this blog. It’s been lying dormant here on the internet, giving me website shame. Things have changed, a lot, since my last post. So much.
And I’ve been listening for far too long to the experts who told me what I had to do in order to have a blog … even though it’s likely I’ve had a blog for longer than most of them have been old enough to own laptops. Plus, there’s been a great deal of business and personal betrayal, which has made me pull back on sharing basically anything. I’ve been figuring all that out and what it meant and means.
For my entire life I’ve tried really hard to color inside the lines because on a survival level I want to fit in and be a good girl. But the truth is, that’s probably not me … I get bored, I check out, I slip out the side door. So I am going to do an experiment, replicating what I did back in the days when I enjoyed blogging. Because as I’ve been musing on this blog’s future, I realized the officialization of blogging (the rules, the must-haves, the systems) is part of what killed it for me.
For a while, I’m just going to write about stuff that interests me. Stuff I find fun or helpful or “aha.” If it sticks, I’ll keep the blog. If it doesn’t, cya later gator.
If you followed my old forever-archived blog, you know I love lists.
5 Things for Tuesday, May 8
1. Bingeing on The Next Step on Hulu. How did this happen? And why?
2. Life is better when you have a goal or something to look forward to.
3. Sitting all day at work sucks. Fastest way to effortlessly gain weight ever.
4. Trying to turn that above thought around, into how efficient my body has become at storing energy. It’s built to survive.
5. Being able to “borrow” e-books from the library is pretty awesome.
When was the last time you took a break from working out?
I’m talking about taking a real break … not just a day or two off from your usual routine.
If you spend at least 45 minutes a day getting sweaty, most days of the year … probably for years on end … I’m talking to you.
You might go to the gym, run, or take group ex classes, or maybe you do exercise videos at home. And most of the time when you work out, you push yourself.
Maybe you need a vacation from your workouts.
BEFORE YOU THINK “STOP BEING WEAK” AND QUIT READING ….
Don’t Be Me
First, just so you don’t think I’m being Judge Judy: I am you.
Well, at least I was until a few years ago, when shit happened and I suddenly couldn’t work out every day. (Ironically, that “shit” was a bunch of random health issues and injuries I thought I was protected from because I worked out and ate a clean, balanced, and healthy diet, took my vitamins, and did all the “right” things.)
When I had to cut back on my workouts, I thought I would balloon up in weight, or suddenly lose my fitness base, or I don’t know. It just seemed like something bad would happen, or maybe I just wouldn’t feel like myself any more.
For sure, I would lose that odd virtuous feeling I had after a good workout. (See? I know you.)
Not working out every day sucked, big-time, until I noticed something.
On the days those random health issues weren’t nagging at me, I actually felt pretty great.
Fewer Workouts = More Energy
I had energy I didn’t know I was lacking before. It took me a while to realize this, but little things started to change.
One night I noticed that I wasn’t stressed about getting to bed at a certain time. Seriously, I used to be obsessive about getting enough sleep, so that I could make it through the following day.
But the realization totally hit home when, on a weeknight (OMG!) I found myself getting ahead on my weekend chores. There I was, standing at the kitchen sink, thinking, “Who am I? How did this happen? I’m like a normal person, but I didn’t even know I wasn’t normal till now.”
Because usually, I would have collapsed on the couch, nodding off till bedtime.
Are You Part of the <5 percent?
Now, remember: I’m a personal trainer, so fitness is my pretty much my life. I work out, I have taught (easily) hundreds of group ex classes over the years (which require hours of practice), plus it’s not unusual for me to demonstrate exercises for clients several times during training sessions.
Meanwhile, most of us struggle to find time to work out a few times a week – due to our schedules, interest, or motivation. Truth: according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, only about 5 percent of Americans get 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Even though I was so active, according to the medical literature, I also wasn’t in the overtrained crowd, or even in the overreached crowd.
Mostly, I was in the over-worked-out crowd, as are many of us who include “fitness enthusiast,” “gym rat,” “exercise nut,” “athlete,” or other exercise-activity descriptor in our identity.
I Dare You
If any of this is you, I’m throwing down a dare. I dare you to unleash the beast. How about you take a week off?
And THEN, after that week, try working out only every other day. Do that for a month.
You won’t fall apart. You won’t even lose strength or fitness. And you also won’t gain weight, unless you start eating extra.
I promise. Like 100 percent promise.
Seriously. Be a real beast and be brave. Be human. Just try it.
About 3 weeks ago, I started a “30-day get-back-into-shape” plan. I’d just come off a bad spell – including a weekend in the hospital. That’s a long story all on its own, which I’ll write about soon (when I’m feeling brave).
Basically, though, I was sick of feeling sick.
My plan was going great. I was working out every day (just right, not too much), making headway on some business and personal stuff, and I was happy with the progress I was making.
Seriously, even though I was concentrating mostly on cardio exercises during the first week (part of that long story), I was getting stronger. One night I had my group training session clients do some sun salutations, and I was surprised at how easily I could lower into chaturanga without going to the floor, and push into full upward-facing dog.
It felt amazing.
In fact, that’s when I started thinking about putting together a real 30-day plan for this blog, that I could do in real-time with my readers. How awesome would that be? (Awesome!)
And then that let me to think:
“Slow down, speed racer. You know how it’s gone these past few years. If you make this a ‘thing,’ you’re gonna jinx yourself. Instead, write about it offline as you go, get the 30 days done, and THEN publish it for readers to follow along with.”
‘Ha, Ha, Ha!’ Saith The Universe
The next morning I woke up at my usual time and walked the dog. I noticed I felt colder than usual and generally “off.” I couldn’t seem to warm up when we came inside, so I took my temp.
It was 94 degrees … on two different thermometers.
Now, on the one hand having a low temp wasn’t shocking, as I was just coming out of a significant thyroid “crisis,” caused by a medical snafu (that long story I referred to above). And I always run a low temp anyway (again, thyroid).
But on the other hand, that’s ridiculous. I bundled up, drank some hot tea, and kept moving, and eventually my temp came up a little bit, so I went to work.
By nighttime, I was downright sick, with a real fever this time, and for the next three days all I did was sleep.
That meant I missed a major exam I was supposed to take for an advanced qualification I was working toward. Plus, I’m self-employed, so my income took yet another hit (part of the long story).
Mostly though, I basically 1) felt like shit and 2) was beyond embarrassed by this nonstop barrage of problems. Plus, I was exhausted and I looked like a stoner because I was so tired.
Not very fit-spirational!
To top it all off, I developed shingles … and out of the blue my knee started hurting, which made me walk with a limp.
Did you ever see the old Mary Tyler Moore show, where she goes through a bad spell? It’s considered one of the top 100 sitcom episodes of all time – it’s called Put on a Happy Face. It’s a classic because we can all relate to it.
When I went to see my doc, a few more things came up (part of that long story, having to do with thyroid issues).
We agreed: I was in the midst of a bonafide “spell.” Like, all I could do was laugh. But … also not laugh.
Because how would I turn things around?
How to Get Out of a Rut
… or stop getting your ass kicked, and start kicking ass instead.
I already knew the answer, and I sure wish it was sexier. There’s only one real way to move forward, even if you’re in the middle of a “spell.”
The bad news: It’s the opposite of following a 30-day plan.
Now, I already knew all this based on my numerous (ha!) years of experience both living my life and coaching others. But the thing is, like everyone else on the planet, I wanted a plan that took me from A to B to C … preferably as fast as possible.
The good news: The key to moving forward is simple, whether or not you’re in a spell.
You just have to keep moving ahead, probably more slowly than you like, at least to start.
The bad news part two: You have to be patient, do stuff you might not always want to do, and get a little uncomfortable from time to time.
Seriously, I’ve used the whole “be patient, take your time, do a little bit of something every single day” routine numerous times. It’s how I got into fitness in the first place, after a partially misspent youth. It’s also how I achieved my goal of writing for major newsstand magazines, got a publishing deal on a book, trained for and finished a triathlon, prepared for a bodybuilding show, and more.
Chances are you won’t move toward your end goal in a straight line, and you might even back up/move sideways a little. You might even move at a snail’s pace.
Also, chances are you are gonna have to make some trade-offs along the way.
We’ve all seen the meme:
It’s pretty accurate.
And none of this means you can’t follow a 30-day plan. But what it does mean is that it might take 45 (or more) days. You might change vehicles mid-trip. You might decide you actually enjoy the scenery on a particular detour, and you could even change your ultimate destination.
The thing is, you just can’t stop.
Here’s my plan. Do a little working out every day. Load up my diet with nutrient-dense foods (I have a great recipe tomorrow). If I’m tired, rest.
Reevaluate in a week.
Are you ready to start with me? I have a feeling that the trip is gonna be worth it.
There’s nothing like a good motivational video to get you fired up for your day.
I know that when I’m feeling a little off (or lazy, uninspired, or like chucking all my goals), it can be hard to pull myself back on track. I have lots of little tricks – journaling, getting outside, working out – but sometimes even those tricks don’t work.
That’s when I go in search of motivational videos.
If you’re having one of those days, at least one (and maybe all) of these videos will help pull you back on-course.
1. Make The Choice For Toughness
Lesson: when it comes right down to it, success is a matter of heart, and if you have the heart, you have the will to succeed.
Duncan Keith definitely exemplifies this. He trains hard (mind, body, and spirit), eats clean … and he shows that he definitely pushes past the pain/discomfort to get the job done.
It’s all about making good choices, whether or not things are going your way.
2. Change Your Thoughts to Change Your Life
Do you lack motivation? Or find it hard to stay motivated?
What if motivation isn’t the real issue? Our brains are not wired to like change – in fact, change might even go against our survival instincts.
Here’s how to make a mindset shift and retrain your brain for success.
3. Define Your Strengths, Define Your Life
Misty Copeland is the first African-American female principal dancer for the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, after overcoming early rejection.
Her story is always so compelling!
4. A Single Choice Can Change Your Life
How Henry Rollins went from being an assistant manager at a Haagen-Dazs shop to becoming the lead singer of Black Flag.
“I don’t have talent, I have tenacity,” he says, adding that he knows he has to “watch, shut up, and learn” to succeed.
5. Be The Hero(ine)
There are so many great Joe Rogan motivational videos it was hard to pick just one, but this is a classic.
Your life is a movie … be the hero, not just a supporting character.
6. Be Good, Treat Others Well, and Treat Yourself Well Too
You already know what you need to do.There’s no magic involved.
Just do it.
Still not sure? Joe breaks it down for you in simple, easy-to-follow steps.
7. Destiny Is Calling You: Are You Gonna Answer?
This compilation from Oprah teaches that “failure” isn’t really failure. Instead, it’s an opportunity to correct your course so you can move closer to your best life.
She says each feeling of failure, loss, or unease is a cue to move in another direction.
8. Here’s Where You Find Your Motivation
Most of us wait for motivation to strike, but here’s the thing: it rarely just shows up for us.
Retired Navy SEAL and podcaster Jocko Willink says you can’t just “turn on” motivation, drive, or passion.
Instead, he says it boils down to your reason why, and he outlines how to discover that.
9. Find Your Greatness
What is greatness, and who can achieve it?
Where does greatness live, and what does it look like?
Here’s a series of playful videos from Nike. (Don’t try the pogo stick trick. Ever!)
10. Still I Rise
In this video, tennis great Serena Williams reads the powerful poem “Still I Rise,” by Maya Angelou.
11. Be Unconventional
Uncommon habits, unpredictable results.
Skiing legend Bode Miller talks about how he pushes his limits through unorthodox means.
12. Celebrate Your Life
In this compilation video, women from across the world talk about finding pride and self-confidence in the face of adversity – often when their cultures didn’t encourage it.
They share inspirational stories of overcoming amazing odds.
13. The Power of the Solitary Traveler
This video talks about the challenges of solo endeavors, of overcoming and achieving goals on one’s own.
Using inspirational quotes, it outlines how the hardest walks lead to the highest destinations – and if you work hard, the right people will show up in your life, and you won’t always be a lone wolf.
What are YOU going to achieve?
How do you stay motivated? Do you have any favorite videos? I’d love to see them.
If this post pumped you up, I’d appreciate a like or a share. 🙂 Thanks!
Ever wanted to write a book? Or wondered how to get a book deal?
The other day I did a Facebook Live stream about how my own book deal came about, along with my thoughts about the process.
It’s below, raw, casual, and live as can be!
My opportunity to write an Idiot’s Guide book came about organically – I really didn’t seek it out. Basically, I saw an opportunity that seemed like a no-brainer, and I went for it.
Book Deals are Fun, But Don’t Expect $$$
In the live stream, I tried to answer some questions people have asked me over the years … like the random guy who sent me a series of interrogating private messages trying to get me to tell him how much I got paid.
Or, the secret you need to know to get started writing for major newsstand publications. Once I learned this secret, I had two accepted queries within two weeks.
And, most importantly, will you really lose 20 pounds in 2 months if you follow the plan I outline in the book?
What I Would Do Different Next Time
There was little incentive for me to market this book very hard because I had already gotten paid for it, which was a good thing/bad thing, given the state of publishing these days.
Plus, I didn’t even know HOW to market it, really.
Now, I definitely would be more proactive about marketing, although I’m still pretty clueless about all that – but now I have a better idea of what to do and where to go. I’d definitely get over myself and let the world know about the book’s benefits.
And if I were to do it again, I’d likely pursue another book contract immediately following the publication of the first book. Although at the time I wrote the Idiot’s Guide, I was really busy with personal training and the gym, so I didn’t have the time for it. Or the support.
Because here’s the thing with writing: It’s a solitary pursuit. I know for me, personally, I end up in my head too much if all I do is write. And I’m old enough and wise enough to know now that’s not always the healthiest way for me to spend my days.
In fact, it’s one of the reasons I am so passionate about fitness and helping others love it too: It clears my head.
I’m smarter now about creating that solitary–social balance that many of us struggle with. Plus, being around other people opens your mind to new ideas – and improves the writing.
Would I write another book? Heck yes! How about you? Do you have a book in you, just waiting to be unleashed?