Let’s Be Honest…
Everyone goes through a period in their life where they feel defeated – either you’ve gained weight or you’re simply unhappy with the way things are going. I am no different. In fact, I had both happen to me. After meeting my boyfriend (now fiancé) in 2011-2012, I was introduced to the wonderful world of junk food! Coming from a family that ate organic hippie crap, my body definitely did not respond well to the drastic change in nutrients. After about three years, I ended up packing on an extra 40 pounds. A year after that, my weight was up a total of 50 pounds. I did “everything” I thought was right with little to no results. Around 2019, I was completely fed up with how I felt and looked. The stress and trauma of a bad childhood was hitting me all at once. My unresolved issues were coming to a head, and the only form of salvation I had was food. It was time for a change, but I had no idea where to start. I tried counting calories and lost 20 pounds, but slowly gained back 10 of those pounds when I realized how tiring and restricting counting calories became for me.
Then came 2020. The year that seemed promising, the year I was graduating college. The stress of COVID slowly weighed on me. I was going to the gym, but my stress levels were high. I was eating on the weekends to cope with my emotions. My weight was not budging and my mental health was at a low. Something started to click towards the end of the year though, and everything started feeling right again. This journey is a struggle I face day by day, but slow and steady wins the race.
I want to preface this with a couple points, the first being that just because something works for me doesn’t mean it is going to work for you! Everyone has a different physical makeup, different stressors, and different health concerns. Keep that in mind. Second, I am nowhere near my goals, but I feel it’s important to share all parts of a journey in order to stay on track and possibly inspire others to join in! Okay, let’s get started!
A Little Background
I did not have a great childhood. I won’t bore you with the details, but there was abuse, toxicity, bullying, you get the idea. I saw therapists on and off until I was 16, and again in November of 2020, but that kind of therapy just isn’t for me. I am a do-it-yourself type of person (more like I just feel like I can do a better job than most professionals, oh well). So now that you know a little about what I face, I’ll talk about what I am currently doing to heal myself mentally and physically.
How I Started (For Real)
Let’s start with exercise. Not all of us are wired to just start running a marathon right away, including myself. I also have the burden of being a night owl – seriously, I need at least two hours after I wake up before I can talk to anyone. When I started this journey, I decided walking was my best bet. I started with a short walk (maybe half a mile) after work 4-5 times per week. That was it. Once I got comfortable with moving my body straight after work, I slowly added in other moves, like resistance bands and kettle bell work.
My first tip is to ensure your equipment is decent quality. This doesn’t mean it has to be the most expensive item, but for example, make sure your resistance bands aren’t the kind that will roll and be a pain. Here are the products I currently use that have been tried and tested by me:
- Hurdilen Resistance Bands, $14.99 for a set of 3 (these don’t roll or move at ALL)
- At-Home Pilates Bar, $29.99 (I love this for squats)
- 15 lb Kettlebell, $21.97 (lighter bells are cheaper!)
- Exercise sliding discs, $7.49 for a set of two discs (great for abs and cardio)
I am conditioned now to enjoy working out, so I decided I can push myself a little more. Starting mid-January, I made the decision to wake up a half-hour earlier each morning to either walk my dog or hop on the treadmill for a quick incline walk. For me, it wasn’t worth sleeping that little bit more when I knew I would feel super awake and rejuvinated if I could squeeze in some quick cardio. In total, I try to walk my dog 1-2 miles at least 3 times a week, and I try to walk on the treadmill at least 2 miles per week.
My next tip is to keep exercise fun! Remember, you’re doing this for your health, not to punish your body. I like to keep some YouTube workout videos on hand for days I don’t feel like walking. My favorite channel is Body Project. They focus a LOT on low-impact cardio, which is great for me since I live in an apartment. I also like to play fitness games on my Switch! My two favorite are:
- Ring Fit Adventure, an action game where you control the character by “running”. Your goal is to defeat various monsters by performing basic exercises like squats, arm presses, etc. This game leaves me super sore, but you definitely get what you put into it.
- Fitness Boxing 2. I LOVE this game! The only complaints I have are one, the music is not the actual full song, it’s more like when we used to put ringtones on our phones in the early 2000s. Second, the calibration is off no matter how much you try and fix it. I like to ignore the scoring and just put my all into each round. This game is definitely worth it in my opinion. My back muscles and arm muscles are always sore after!
Now, I am someone who is very motivated by completing things. I get a rush when I finish a to-do list (I know, but I am a Virgo). With that being said, my extrinsic motivation comes from tracking my fitness throughout the day. I used to use a Fitbit, but it just wasn’t working very well for me. In January, I decided to jump in and purchase the Garmin Vivoactive 4s. I wear it everyday and love all of the tracking features. Here’s what my January looked like:
I highly suggest this fitness tracker if you are like me and need to see various stats! I also love this because it tracks my stress levels throughout the day, along with body battery, sleep, steps, heart rate, exercise, calories, and so much more!
What About Food?
Ah, the dreaded topic of food. Honestly, tracking calories was one of the worst things I’ve ever done. I became obsessive. I started eating in a way that made me absolutely miserable and restricted certain items because they had too many calories, instead of indulging in them for their nutrient profile. While I do believe calories in vs. calories out is a large part of weight loss, a healthy relationship with food is more important, especially at the start of the journey.
For me, I try to focus on what kind of foods I am eating. I look for things that have extremely minimal ingredients, and I have to know what each ingredient is or I won’t buy it. Further, I eat as much fresh produce as I can throughout the day. I personally only eat meat once a week, if that, as I do not enjoy meat. A tip I have is not to eat things that make you miserable. Chicken made me miserable, but I forced myself to eat it because I thought it was healthy to have animal proteins. I’ve changed my outlook and feel so much better!
Which brings me to my next tip, listen to your body! If you are still hungry, eat. If you are full, stop. If your body is exhausted, don’t push it just to fit in your workout. Anyway. On the topic of food, I will be posting some meal inspirations for you very soon! The biggest help I’ve found is planning ahead. Make grocery lists a couple days before you go to the store and research recipes that fit your budget and time constraints! I make my meals as simple as possible so I don’t have to think about them during the week (such as mason jar make-ahead soup). My favorite meal-prep containers are made of glass, and you can find them here:
- Storage Containers with Lids, $49.99 for 24 pieces
- Wide Mouth Mason Jars, $14.99 for a set of 6 16-oz jars
Your mental health matters! I’ve found some awesome self-help books I am still reading which have helped a LOT. I’ll list them below. I’ve also started journaling multiple times a week. It really helps to get all of my random feelings and thoughts onto paper and out of my head. Take time for yourself! Meditate, do yoga, read, write, whatever relaxes you.
- Law of Attraction Planner
- The Confidence Coach
- Let Forgiveness Set You Free
- Overwhelmed & Over It
- Recovery of Your Inner Child
- Zen as F*ck
I hope you’ll join me on this new lifestyle, and follow along as I try out new workouts, recipes, and self-care practices! We can live the lives we want to, we just have to take care of ourselves first!
*some links are affiliate links, and I may be compensated for purchases. I will never endorse products I do not personally use!