Because I am still in the trial and error phase of figuring out what works best for me, this post focuses on what I have been doing lately to help with stress and anxiety, as well as what I’ve been doing to reach my fitness goals. It’s also hard because I have to admit that my lifestyle is not as perky and pretty as I hoped it would be at this point in time; it feels like I’ve spent years trying to achieve these mundane fitness goals, but recently I’ve decided to let go of all my past hopes and dreams and come up with new ones that better match my aspirations today.
Reevaluating my health and fitness goals at a different stage of my life is what has launched me into this headstrong and almost frantic search to find what makes me feel the best. I gave up the desire to look “skinny”, to fit into certain clothes, to fit in with everyone else. Those were all delusions I had in middle school when all I cared about was looking like the other girls (not a great goal since no one in middle/high school actually looks that great). For a long time, I was trying to reach goals that were damn near impossible. Just at the end of last year, I was able to come to the conclusion that I was working toward goals I didn’t want to achieve any more and I needed to be redirected.
I’m fortunate enough to be very healthy. I might carry extra weight but I’ve never in my life had health problems due to body weight. The desire to lose weight is driven by a desire to stay fit, have fun, and create a healthy lifestyle. Those are things I care about as a young adult. I don’t care about what other people think about me; I just focus on being a good, kind, and loving person who loves herself and also gives love to others freely.
My new health goals focus on healing, gaining confidence, and clearing my mind. Over a short period of time, I have been able to try small, new things (foods, workouts, practices) that have completely changed how I feel inside and out.
Note: Pinterest is going to be a huge help to you if you try any of these tips!
Routine. I’ve always been the type of person to gravitate toward routine and organization (I think that’s why I love working in an office so much). While I was in college, it was easy yet difficult to keep a steady routine because classes were always changing or being canceled, some days I would have to study harder, others not so much. Sometimes I got really sick and couldn’t workout or even go to class. It’s definitely possible to keep a steady routine during any phase in life; now that I’m settling into a full time job, I’m figuring out what my new day to day lifestyle is going to look like. By working on a new routine that focuses on the important things in my life, I’ve been able to start and end my days on a happier note.
Below is an example of what my morning routine usually looks like! This schedule is super helpful because if I feel like sleeping in, I can skip to my shower and know that I’m still going to be on time for breakfast and/or leaving for work. Sometimes I get a little obsessed with planning everything out, but this is one habit that really helps me not be distracted or overwhelmed in the mornings.
Portioning. Just last week I took a hard look at why I thought I wasn’t losing weight. I was working pretty hard in the gym or at least working out for 30 minutes a day. I was reaching my step goals. I was tracking calories. I was drinking water. Not much was changing. I felt good, sure but I wanted to see the physical changes and it just wasn’t happening.
For reasons I can’t remember, I questioned how much food I was eating rather than what I was eating. A bit of looking around on Pinterest inspired me to purchase a bamboo portion plate that I absolutely love. Just a couple days of using the plate had me feeling satisfied after my meals, rather than grossly full. The bottom line is, even if you eat healthy foods, you can still be at risk for overindulging, therefore adding to your weight gain.
Snacks. Now that I’ve started a new job and am building a new daily routine, I have been collecting recipes and ideas for work meals. A huge part of being satisfied at work is making sure I have snacks, so I don’t go on a hunger rampage and eat everyone’s sandwiches and yogurts in the fridge. I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to work meal ideas; they range from 400 calories lunches to 200 calories snack packs.
Because I wake up so early and eat breakfast an hour or two before I go to work, I bring a little snack with me to eat mid-morning, around nine or ten. I’ll pack baggies of fruit, pretzels, or Wheat Thins with me and start munching not long after I sit down for work. This keeps me full enough lunch time so I’m not completely starving.
Walking. My new obsession is Leslie Sansone. She’s a spunky, fit little woman who has been recording indoor walking workout videos since my mom was a teenager (my mom had all of Leslie’s DVDs). Now she’s on Youtube and her videos are accessible to everyone! Dancing is one of my favorite ways to have fun getting fit, and Leslie’s videos are basically choreographed walks with a variety of moves to get your heart rate up. I burn up to 500 calories during a 45-minute walk!
So, what I’m saying is find something that you really look forward to doing, and it will be easier to fit working out into your schedule; if it’s going to dance class, a yoga class, spending alone time or meeting a friend at the gym, do that! You are more likely to quit going after your goals if you do something you hate day in and day out.
Hobbies. I have a plethora of hobbies from hiking, back packing, kayaking, and rock climbing to knitting, cross stitching, writing, and baking. I’m constantly on the up and down with reading but I am in a season of reading currently and I love it. I wake up a little earlier in the morning so I can read for at least twenty minutes and sometimes read in the evenings before bed. Being able to sit down, relax, and really enjoy something to myself has created more positivity and happiness in my day to day life.
Water. With the help of a water tracker app, I’ve been reaching my water goals left and right. I go through spells where it’s really hard for me to reach my water goal. I’d forget my water bottle places or just be too busy to remember to drink.
So, I started carrying my water bottle around where ever I went and took a big sip every half hour or so. It’s easier now that I’m at a desk most of the day and I can reach for the jug any time I need to, but overall, I feel more energized and honestly accomplished for hitting my water goal every day.
Compassion. Self-compassion is the biggest sigh of relief. Being kind to myself has given me the motivation, strength, and assurance to keep moving forward and to keep working to figure out ways to feel better physically and mentally. If you’re a reader, Kristin Neff’s The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself is a great book mixed with philosophy, science, and personal experience. The most wonderful and beautiful thing I could do for myself is be kind. As if the world isn’t harsh enough, everyone has some war going on in their own minds they are forever getting tangled up in.
When I start to feel overwhelmed, sad, or am going through something difficult or uncomfortable, I tell myself “I know this is really difficult” or “I’m sorry you’re feeling that way, it must be hard”. Rather than stewing on the negative feelings so much that they grow out of control, I douse the fire with kindness.
Here’s a little exercise (the kind where you don’t have to lift heavy things). Take a piece of paper and on one side, list all the things that make you super happy. On the other half, list the things you do daily. Now compare the lists. I did this little writing prompt and had an eye opening moment. I’m not trying to make you feel bad for not having time or the energy to do the things you love, but how do those lists make you feel? Seeing mine made me feel like I could do more to incorporate the things I love more into my daily routine and I have made an active effort to do those things.
The small changes will add up to much bigger things. The small changes I listed above have contributed to me feeling more like myself again, having a clearer mind, feeling happier, feeling more able to communicate my feelings, and experiencing less pain throughout the day. Those are super important outcomes! What are some things you could change today that would make you feel your best tomorrow?
~ Shelby B.
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