In my thirties, as the parent of young children, I walked everywhere—pushing a stroller to the grocery story, the community centre, the park. I got a lot of accidental exercise. Plus as a teacher I was on my feet all day. More accidental exercise.
And now here I am in my forties.
I drive everywhere because the ‘burbs are spread out. Speaking of which, I work from home now, which results in a lot of ass time. As in, sitting on. The days of accidental exercise have vanished into thin air like that Costco-size bag of Chicago Mix I bought to share with the family, but ate all by myself.
But recently when I looked down at my unbuttoned pants (I had to undo them for safety reasons) I took note of the alarming numbers on my blood pressure monitor. And knew things had to change. I took an honest look at my diet and I joined a gym.
I have thoughts about both coming up…
So, fitness. It ain’t easy. I don’t love intentional exercise. I can think of 100 things I’d rather do before running or lifting anything heavy. Hence me falling way out of shape.
I have a good friend who has a personal trainer she adores. He’s transformed her body and her life.
I have another friend who treats TRX like a religion. She prays at the altar of giant elastic bands suspended from the ceiling.
I also have a friend who gets fidgety (and dare I say alarmingly bitchy) when she can’t run, because running is her jam.
And, I have a whole crew of friends who are beach-bodying like a boss. They “just press play” (on their DVD players) every day and their thing is making them look and feel amazing.
I’ve discovered that Orangetheory Fitness is my thing. I crave it now. Which is astounding to me, because I’ve never actually craved exercise before. Who am I?
It’s the simplicity of it. Show up, do what the coach shows you, sweat, leave. It’s a no-brainer. I just have to get myself there. And I do. Three-to-four times a week.
It’s also about the energy. I step into the studio and it’s buzzing. The coaches make me feel like I can do anything—run faster, row harder, lift heavier. And because they tell me I can, I do. And as a result, I’m stronger than I’ve been in decades.
My body is healthier, but let’s not gloss over the vanity part, because we all want to look good. I’ve gone from size 12 to an 8 and have lost inches all over. I can see the beginnings of wee muscles budding underneath my Ruffles rolls.
But let’s talk about weight for a second, shall we?
That’s the tricky bit. In the first three months, I lost a skimpy five pounds.
How could this be?? I worked my ass off. Sure, my body looked different and my clothes were loose, but that didn’t seem to be reflected on the scale.
So I signed up to do a fun “Diet Challenge” at OTF. I thought I was doing it to support a friend. I was all, “Pfffft, I eat just fine. My portions are good (wrong), I don’t binge on junk (denial) and I eat a well balanced diet (no, no you don’t idiot).”
After listening to an AMAZING nutritionist brought in by the gym, a light bulb went off for me. Exercise is essential for strength and firming up the flabby bits and revving up my metabolism, but to really see changes in my body and on the scale, it has a lot… A LOT… to do with what I put in my mouth.
This is something I stuck to (mostly) for six weeks. It’s not forever, so it’s doable. Maybe try it out for yourself and see how you feel? I’ve continued to eat this way during the week, but I cut myself some slack (and a slice of my mom’s lemon loaf!) on the weekends. This is a conscious, simplistic style of eating – not a “fad diet.”
Not like “The Military Diet.”
You may have seen that ridiculous diet fad marching its way around Facebook? The Military Diet claimed to be a fast and easy way to drop 7-10 pounds in three days. People with any common sense saw the red flags. I, however, saw a quick fix and thought, “Yes sir! Sign me up, sir!”
Don’t bother looking it up. It’s DUMB.
But I tried it as a silly experiment. The funniest part was when I was dropping my daughter off at school on the last day of the diet, I saw a mom friend in the parking lot and told her all about it. After I finished explaining about the hotdog and apple requirements, she laughed and said, “Wow. Looks like you’re REALLY into it.” She was referring to the khaki military-style flack jacket I had on. Oh, how I laughed, and lost four pounds, and put it right back on again in 48 hours.
It wasn’t until I ate properly that the weight started coming off. Not fast, but steady. I’m down a sensible fifteen pounds and though I have a few more to go, I’m feeling confident that I’m heading in the right direction.
Boiled down, the plan is simply to eat the right things, at the right time.
Plus, lots of water and making sure to EAT ENOUGH!!! Less is not more when trying to lose weight. Small snacks throughout the day keep your blood sugar levels on track and keep you in fat burning mode.
Have a protein and veggies with every meal or snack and try to choose the healthiest options. As they say in the diet industry, “You can’t exercise your way out of poor nutrition.”
Ghrelin… “the feed me now!” hormone, is produced when your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs and it can cause you to lose control. Think, Cookie Monster, crumbs flying everywhere.
You don’t have to seek out fancy ingredients or even switch up your meals much. I rotate between the same 2-3 breakfasts every week. This easy veggie omelette is a favourite!
A few simple tips…
- Keep it as simple as possible. Found something easy, tasty, and healthy? Eat it over and over again. Complicated recipes? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
- Allow yourself a cheat day once a week. Indulge in a treat or enjoy a glass of wine on a Friday night. Life is short people. Let’s not take this too seriously.
- Ask a friend to do this with you so you can cheer each other on.
- Lay off the bananas (holy cow, people at the nutrition seminar went bananas when they heard that!). I would never want to be accused of “fruit shaming” but bananas are high in sugar, low in fiber. So if you want to loose weight, squash the bananas. At least during the six week diet challenge.
- Carbs are comforting and delish, obviously, but for this 6 week plan you have to EARN your carbs. Harsh reality. If you exercise (briskly… get that heart pumping and burn some calories) you may enjoy 2-3 servings of your favourite carbs. No sweat? No carbs. How’s that for incentive to hit the gym or take the dog for a power walk.
- The more often you exercise, the less likely you’ll be to compromise your tight abs for a five minute fling with a hot fudge sundae. (Save that for cheat day!)
- You don’t have to download an app or weigh your food— you can use your fist (which I always have “on hand” with me… ha!) as a convenient measuring tool.
- 1 serving of protein is roughly the size and thickness of your palm (without your fingers)
- 1 serving of carbs (yes, fruit is a carb!) is the amount you can cup in your hand
- 1 serving of veggies is your balled up fist
- 1 serving of fat is the length and girth (I love that word) of your thumb
Just follow the guidelines (ratios listed in the Weekly Food Calendar PDF linked below) for how many servings of each you need daily, and simply eat according to that.
If you mess up and make some questionable choices (which I did more than once), don’t beat yourself up. Just start fresh the next day.
I made this Weekly Food Calendar to track meals. I’ve used digital food apps, but I find I do better writing it down “old school.”