Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dear Frustrated: Part 3 (Revised)

*In case you missed them, follow these links to read Dear Frustrated: Part 1 and Dear Frustrated: Part 2*

 Again, I am revising this as much for my own motivation as for yours.  It is hard to see your previous hard work fly out the window for whatever reason.  It's frustrating and can be disheartening to not see the results you want.  But you can do it.  And so can I.

Dear Frustrated: Part 3,
I cannot stress enough to you the importance of exercise in conjunction with healthy eating.  It is frustrating to hear people confuse a lowered body weight with increased health, and being thin with being in shape.  I do a mental eye roll when someone focuses solely on his/her Body Mass Index (BMI).  Even at my thinnest and fittest, had I focused only on my BMI, I would have still been considered overweight.  What actually matters is Body Composition (what your body is made of).  Find out your body fat percentage (a credentialed and trustworthy personal trainer at your gym should be able to administer your caliper test), and pay attention to how it changes as you get stronger.

Source: Google Search
Which would you rather have?

I get it, kids get sick, holidays hit, you get sick, kids gets sick again – finding time at the gym can seem nearly impossible.  And there are times when logistically you can’t make it – which is why clean eating is so important in conjunction with your exercise routine.  But exercise is a vital piece of the healthy living puzzle.

You can’t just change your food intake and expect results.  Just as you can’t expect to be “fit” by becoming a cardio-junky.  I understand that much of this mindset has been bred into our generation and the generation before us.  I watched my mom and her friends try to reach the magic weight of 130 pounds with diet after diet and endless speed-walking.  We are a product of the fad-diet, quick-fix, diet pill era.  You cannot out-diet a sedentary lifestyle (just as you cannot out-exercise a crappy diet).  You have to exercise your body – and I don’t mean slowly pedaling a stationary bike while reading a romance novel.  You have to work hard to make your body healthy.

Source: Google Search

I understand that you may work long hours and you feel guilty for taking an extra hour away from your family to go to the gym.  It can feel selfish.  Believe me, there is nothing quite like the feeling of mom guilt.  My opinion is this, if you have time to stare at your iPhone and check Facebook, and drool over home projects you have no intention of ever completing on Pinterest, then you have time to go to the gym.  If you have time to watch every episode of The Kardashians on TV, you have time to go to the gym.  If you really want to make a change in your life, you have got to make sacrifices.  Cut out a few minutes of another activity that isn't doing you any good, and substitute it with the gym.  You don't have to spend a ridiculous amount of time at the gym – plan on 45-60 minutes, three to five days a week.  Believe me, you won't miss Khloe and Kim as much as you might think. 

Obviously my preferred form of seeking fitness is CrossFit.  CrossFit can be easily modified to suit your abilities and limitations.  If you have great coaches (like the ones I am blessed to have) then you will see some amazing results.

I mentioned before about a gym friend who decided to quit CrossFit due to weight gain.  It still saddens me that she wasn't able to understand the importance of gaining muscle in order to burn fat.  She was so upset by the number on the scale that she stepped away from a program that could have changed her life.  I believe if she had given it more time, she would have seen results that she would have been really proud of.

Source: Google Search
"Weight Gain"

But hasn't this idea of "fit" been spoon-fed into us?  This "Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days" bullshit?  We have had starving female bodies shoved down our throats and into our magazines, television shows, onto our dolls, and via our role models for so long, that we have no real idea of what fit and healthy actually is.

You have to stop worrying about what the scale says, stop trying to be skinny, and start getting healthy.

Skinny is sick.  Skinny is scrawny.  Skinny is unhealthy.  Skinny makes you look like a 13 year old boy.  Strong gives you beautiful curves.  Strong is sexy.  Strong is beautiful.  Strong is healthy.  Strong lets you play tirelessly with your children.  Strong gives you endurance to get through a tough day.  Strong gives you the ability to productively work through stress in a healthy way at the gym.

Thin, as we all know, does not healthy make.  One can look thin on the outside and be very unhealthy on the inside.  This phenomenon is called "Skinny Fat" (I highly recommend clicking on that link, it has fantastic fitness information for women, as well as more information about being skinny fat).

I know that many of you are runners (and many of you, like me, would rather have an eyeball removed with a rusty fork than run a mile), and you may not like what I am about to say... but, running alone isn't going to do much for your physique.  I think that cardio is great for your heart, lungs, and endurance; but if you focus too heavily on cardio, you will begin burning muscle, when what you really want to burn is fat.  Throw some weight around.  Building muscle will make your body constantly burn calories and fat, even at rest.  Strong muscles equal strong bones.

I am a huge proponent of weight lifting (heavy weights, not three-pound hand weights).  Weight training is the key to making changes in your body.  I have achieved the best, quickest, and longest lasting results from weight lifting.  Don't be afraid to walk into the weight area.  The muscly men may seem intimidating at first, but they are generally really nice and happy to help.  Prove to them that you can grunt just as loud as they can (and maybe even lift more).  If it's not the people, but the weights that intimidate you.  Schedule an appointment with a trainer at your gym so you can learn proper lifting form, and technique.  You will be glad you did.

Many women avoid weights because they are afraid of "bulking up" – insert eye roll here.  Hear me now, lifting weights will not make you look bulky.  Most generally, if you see a woman who looks like The Incredible Hulk, she is taking steroids, has trained specifically for a body competition, or has a hormone imbalance.  We, as women, are not generally wired to look like male professional wrestlers.  God did not design our bodies that way.  What really happens when you lift weights is that you, in addition to building muscle, is that you burn fat at a much faster rate.  When the fat begins to melt away, you will get the toned look you are seeking, not a bulky one.

Source: Google Search

I was asked recently, what I did to kick start my workout routine.  What I did was this:  I began.  I stopped sitting at home making myself sick with my sedentary lifestyle.  I got off the couch, I walked through the doors of the gym and worked hard.  And then, the next day, I went back.  Then I started treating my workouts as if they were vitally important appointments that I could not miss.  And now, I feel in my heart that my workouts are vitally important appointments that I cannot miss.  It really is that simple.  Find a time that works for your schedule, and go.

I would love for everyone I have ever met in my whole entire life to try CrossFit so they can love it too; but I understand that it maybe isn’t available in your area or maybe it isn’t in your budget.  If group training isn't your thing, set a schedule for yourself.  Maybe plan on working your upper body on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and your lower body on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Try following up your weight session with body-weight movements appropriate to whichever part of your body you are working that day (focusing particularly on form and technique).  Make sure, when you are lifting weights, that you are using enough weight that you are challenging yourself, but no so much that you aren't able to handle it safely.  I would start with 4-5 sets of 10-12 reps on each machine or lift.  Gradually up your weights as your body gets stronger.

I would also suggest you add in a Yoga class a few times a week, particularly if you struggle with mobility.  This will help you tremendously in areas of strength, flexibility, and breathing.  You must understand, that unless your muscles are properly stretched, they will not reach their full strength potential.  Lack of mobility can lead to injury.

Source: Google Search

I have had a few people confess to me that they aren't sure what to do because they hate exercising, and have no desire to start a workout plan.  My suggestion (just like with vegetables), is to suck it up.  Try a variety of different exercises and classes until you find something you like, then expand upon it.  Take friends with you; real friends that will become accountability partners for you; real friends that won't let you slack off and eat cookies instead of working out; real friends that will encourage and support you.

I understand that cost can be an issue.  Not everyone can afford a gym membership, or a CrossFit fee (try checking with your gym management to see if they offer income-based scholarships).  But, almost everyone has access to heavy objects that can be lifted.  Take a couple of empty milk cartons and fill them with sand.  Bench press your toddler (he will love it).  When I was a kid, my mom would use soup cans for weights, and in the summer, we would go to the pool every day so that she could "water-walk."  Be creative, use your imagination – just do something.

It is important to set small goals, and reward yourself when you achieve them.  Had I started out with the daunting goal of losing 107 lbs, I would have never started.  But, each time I achieve a small goal, I felt encouraged to keep going.  Remember that you won't hit your goals over night, but be proud of yourself each time you do something to help yourself achieve your goals.  After each workout, pat yourself on the back.  Say, "Self, you did a great job and I'm proud of you!”  If you feel it necessary to actually pat yourself on the back and talk to yourself out lout, maybe wait until you get home – just so no one calls your therapist.

Don’t let your goals be scale-focused.  What I mean is, when you focus on weight, focus on the weight you are picking up at the gym, not on the weight of your body.  Work to increase your loads and your work capacity.

Most importantly, keep a positive attitude.  Your attitude in this journey will either make you or break you.  You cannot accomplish anything if you are constantly at war with yourself.  For a long time, I had convinced myself that I would never be able to be healthy, that I would always be fat, that I was trapped as a prisoner to PCOS.  But I finally decided to quit feeling sorry for myself, and start fighting.  You are not going to get your dream body overnight.  You are not going to lose 50 pounds this month.  But, if you keep a smile on your face, and make yourself keep going, then you will see positive changes in your body, your mood, your attitude, your ability to sleep restfully, your energy levels, etc.  You are going to have people try to entice you with the promise of a quick fix with magic pills and wraps and fad diets (oh my!), but keep your eye on the prize.  I know that you want to look great, but don't you also want to be able to say that you are healthy and that you feel great?

In the book 'Made to Crave' by Lisa Tyrkeurst, she says that getting healthy is like a flower garden. You can want it to be beautiful and you can try to will the weeds away all you want, but you are not going to get a beautiful flower garden unless you plant the seeds, pull the weeds, and do the work.

I have been skinny before.  And when I was skinny, I was terribly unhealthy.  I have taken diet pills, I have starved myself, and I have abused my body.  And you know what?  Even though I was skinny, I felt like shit all the time.  But I have worked hard, and have become strong.  I honestly have felt better than I have ever felt in my entire life.  And that, my friend, is worth all of this hard work.  And that is my motivation for working hard once again.

So, my dear frustrated friend, know that you can get healthy.  You can feel fantastic; you can be a more energetic, more vibrant version of you.  You are already amazing, don't you want to feel that way?
Source: Google Search
Read this hilarious article .

Get off the couch.  Love yourself.  And thank you for keeping me In Good Company.

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