It’s that time again! It’s Fitness Friday – the time every two weeks when I report back to y’all about my fitness journey (as promised). And… I didn’t do so well last week. In fact, I did SO poorly that I almost undid all the good that I’ve done up until now. See, I had a terrible, terrible week of just bad news after bad news after bad news (luckily, none of it relating to my dad [for those of you worrying]). I’m a pretty resilient person and I can handle most crap with a shrug and a mental shake but last week's pile o’ crap news was just a bit too much for me. So, I ate. And ate. And ate. And didn’t workout at all.
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But! Thanks to tons of support from The Boy (I have to tell you – it is the awesomest thing ever being married to your biggest fan) and Team Tulle – I got back up, dusted myself off, and moved on. Which brings me to this week’s Fitness Friday report. Many of your who have been supporting me through this journey have asked me how I stay motivated. Let me tell you a secret….
It’s not easy and it’s just as much work as actually working out.
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But here’s my suggestions (Please note: I am not a doctor, I am not a nutritionist, I am not a personal trainer. I am just a chick who was obese and decided to start a fitness regime from scratch.):
- Believe you can do it. Some athletes actually tell themselves out loud during a difficult game or workout “I am strong. I can do this.” I’m not suggesting that you begin talking to yourself but I have noticed during some of my more difficult workouts that when I tell myself “I’m doing great” or “I can do this last rep” – my mind somehow overrides my body and I manage to finish.
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- Educate yourself. Read a fitness magazine (I recommend Oxygen – it’s a bit condescending and some of the ladies are super scary-looking but the research and information you will find in just one issue is beyond excellent), talk to a personal trainer (most gyms give you a free session with a personal trainer when you sign up – use it to ask questions!), and ask questions (I have a couple of random people at my gym that are really nice and always help me out if I need to figure out how to use a machine or have someone check my form). If you know how your body works then you will understand what exercises you need to do to see results.
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- Track your food. I know, I know – you've heard this a million times. And do you know why? Because it friggin’ works. If you write down every single that goes in your mouth – you’ll start being more motivated to make sure that its good food choices. I use My Fitness Pal (a FREE online resource + a smartphone app) to automatically track my food, workouts, and calories. There really is nothing more motivating that plugging in a cardio workout and finding out that you just “earned” 400 more food calories!
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- Reward yourself responsibly. Remember, you are not a dog – you do not need a treat after every good choice you make. Find other ways to reward yourself for your goals – and not just the big ones. Sure, it’s easy to buy new clothes or get a manicure after you drop another 5 pounds (and you should ABSOLUTELY do this) but remember that motivating yourself is a daily thing. So, find little ways to get yourself going by using rewards. For example, when I was very first trying to exercise I used to reward myself with an 8 ounce glass of low-fat chocolate milk after every session on the elliptical. It worked because I only let myself have that treat if I actually worked out. I no longer use food as a reward after workouts but now I DVR my favorite shows (“Psych”, anyone?) and only let myself watch them if I do a cardio session. Works for me.
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- Find positive reinforcements. I’m not talking about the old “picture of a pig, a fat you, or a super skinny chick on the fridge” trick (I actually find that to be demoralizing and against everything you are trying to accomplish). I’m referring to surrounding yourself with things that will make you want to be healthier. Start a fitness inspiration board and vow to only include positive and manageable images, find someone at the gym whose physique you admire and (subtly) stalk them, look at old pictures of yourself and see how far you’ve some. Women respond to positive support and images and people – surround yourself with them and you’ll always want to work harder to be like them.
Image Courtesy of: Strong Is The New Sexy
- Look at yourself. Really look at yourself. Make a muscle. Look at your thighs. Watch your legs as you move. In order to truly understand how far you’ve come – you must see were you have been. Find the most unflattering picture of you at your heaviest and compare it to a photo of you right now. Look for the differences – the big ones (down 10 pounds) and the small ones (that newly emerging bicep muscle). Rejoice in both the small changes and the big ones – I do this a lot. Just the other day I was noticing how my triceps are starting to develop and it really did push me the next day while I was doing triceps extensions (which I totally hate).
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- Start sweating. If you’re not sweating then you’re not working hard enough to allow your body to progress. It should be dripping off your body in rivers and you should be damn proud of it. When your body stops sweating – it stops changing. And when our bodies stop changing – we stop being motivated to try and make them change. Don’t be embarrassed about sweating either – remember that sweat is fat crying. So, change up your routine every 4 weeks, up the speed on the elliptical, or add another 1% to the treadmill’s incline – but keep sweating.
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- Begin strength training. Hear me now – YOU WILL NOT LOOK LIKE A GUY IF YOU START LIFTING WEIGHTS (this was my excuse for so many years). In order to have that happen, you’d have to lift huge amounts (like 80+ pounds) of weight and take a testosterone hormone supplement (yes, that’s what those scary bodybuilder chicks are doing). You will not be truly healthy unless your body has muscle (plus, strength training burns more calories post-workout than cardio [which stops burning calories the second you’re done]). So, pick up some weights and do something (if you’re truly nervous about having a dude body then use low weights and high reps [this is what defines muscles] instead of heavy weights and lower reps [which build muscles]). Try doing 3 sets of 15 reps and really concentrate on your form. If you’re looking for some good starter routines – email me, I have quite a few that I’m happy to share.
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- Track your progress. I keep a plain drugstore spiral notebook (but I used this journal when I started) in my gym bag and use it to write down every minute of cardio I do and every exercise, set, rep, and weight from my strength training routines. Every single time. This helps me not only keep track of which routines I do each day but it also allows me to look back and see how far I’ve come. Maybe I only managed to lift 2.5 pounds more on one exercise or run an extra 30 seconds on the treadmill but seeing it in black-and-white helps me keep my progress in perspective.
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- Make small and manageable goals. It is great to have long-term goals but it’s even better to have small ones that you can accomplish in less time. This helps you track your progress and makes you feel like you’ve done something. Need to lose 50 pounds in 12 months for a Hawaii vacation? Make monthly goals and work toward losing 4-5 pounds a month (or, 1-2 pounds a week). I do this and it’s much less overwhelming plus you really do feel like you’re doing something instead of just constantly slogging onward.
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- Cry. It’s going to happen so accept it. You will have bad weeks, you will hit plateaus, you will get injured, you will overeat. Just allow yourself one good cry about it and move on. Woman up.
Image Courtesy of: Muddling Through The Grays
And once again, I’m putting it out there and asking Team Tulle for your support (which totally motivates me!). Bug me on Twitter, Facebook, check out my Fitness board on Pinterest, and be my friend on My Fitness Pal (I’m akbuilt – invite me to be your friend and I’ll add you to my group!). Are you in? Do you want to publicly declare a Fitness Journey of your own? Did you join me in September and now you want to share your progress with Tulle Nation? You know how it goes, y’all… share your thoughts in the comments!