Happy Tuesday! I hope you’ve all had an wonderful start to your week! It seems spring is finally here, and I can’t lie, I giddy every time I see a flower or feel a warm, springy breeze. I have come to adore fall and all the things associated with it, but I don’t think it will ever replace my love for spring! There’s something about seeing everything come to life, nature turning into something like what I imagine garden from “The Secret Garden” looked like, and being able to step outside without the need for a coat. Something that puts a spring in our step and a smile on our face.
Spring finally being here means summer, shorts, swimsuits and tank tops are not far away, which can be a bit daunting for some of us. I’ve struggled (and often still do) with being truly happy with how I look, as I’m sure many women do. (Some of that, I’m sure, stems from being a perfectionist…) And while I’ve come to accept my body more than I used to for being flawed and imperfect, I think there is a balance that needs to be achieved, in all areas of life, not just physical, between accepting yourself for who you are but also always striving to grow and be better. The best you can be. While I don’t always have that mastered and still am far from where I want be in terms of getting lean and building muscle, I have learned quite a lot about achieving a balance that is healthy, both mentally and physically, and has helped me get in and stay in shape for the long-term. Today I’m going to share a bit of that with you:
1) Set Goals
Know where you want to be and when you want to be there. That could be a certain distance you want to run, amount you want to lift, program you want to finish, dress you want to fit in, or even number of times per week you want to work out. Having something you’re working towards will keep you on track and motivate you to get out there and work out.
After you’ve figured out your long-term goals, set smaller short-term goals to help you get there. Aim to challenge yourself and increase your short-term goals every 3 weeks or so.
2) Be Realistic and Tactful in How you Set your Goals
Right now, my goal is to hit the gym 6-7 days a week for 1 an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half. To some, that might seem crazy! But I’ve been active, working out around 4-7 times a week, for several years now. Over just the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve ran many races, including a half-marathon, and went through a few intense 16 week workout programs. All that to say, working out (almost) every day is normal for me. If I hadn’t worked out in a few months, my goals would look very different.
When tactful setting a goal, I would recommend figuring out what would be doable for you, and stepping it up just a bit. If you set your goal for exactly what you want to get in each week, you will probable fall short. My goals are higher than what I will likely do, or feel I need to do. If I get to the gym 5-6 days a week and am there for an hour, I’ll be pretty satisfied with that. But if I set that as my goal, I’d likely end up doing less. Settling slightly higher goals sets you up for success. You will usually get in what you should be, even if you come up a bit short from your goal, but if you do actually hit your goal, you’ll feel great about it!
3) Don’t do Just Cardio
I did only cardio for years, and constantly wondered why my body never seemed to change. My weight might have dropped if I was eating cleaner or less, but my stomach didn’t get get much flatter, I didn’t look toned or in shape, and my butt stayed unattractively flat. Then about a year and a half ago I found Kayla Itsines BBG (bikini body guide) and was blown away by the transformation pictures shown on her Instagram and website. I decided to give it a try, and was blown away by the results! Not only did I loose inches, but I started to have muscle definition and much more endurance. I went from running 4 to 5 days a week to walking 3 days week and doing a BBG workout 3 days a week. Yet after not running for months, I was able to effortlessly go on a 5 mile run because of how in shape I was from her workouts. I still try to do a strength training workout 2 to 3 times a week, and either go for a walk or a run on the others, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back!
4) Eat Clean
“You are what you eat” and “abs are made in the kitchen” are probably two of the least fun but most true quotes out there. I’m still working on this area, as I have quite a weakness for cheese, prosecco, and pasta… (can you tell I was raised by some very Italian parents? 😉 ) But I can vouch for how important diet is! I try to eat mostly plant based, with the exception of fish, and often try to eliminate sugar and dairy as much as possible. When my diet is high in protein and natural/unprocessed foods, I see much better results than when it’s filled with processed food and carbs. You really can’t out-run or out-workout a bad diet.
5) Don’t go to Extremes
This is probably good advice for all areas of life, but especially when trying to get in shape. Any kind of extreme diet or workout program is probably going to do more hard than good. I did a lot of extreme dieting in my late teen and early college years, and there are few things I regret more. My metabolism is still not what it was before.
Not only can it be damaging, but it is discouraging. You’re likely setting yourself up for failure by trying to take on an intense training regimen or committing to an intense diet, or anything that’s very different from your current lifestyle. Big changes don’t happen overnight. Change takes time. Trying to rush it usually leads to failure and the loss of motivation. I like to try to go by the 80-20 rule, which is that I try to eat well 80% of the time, and allow myself to live a little the other 20%! This leads me to my next point…
6) Accept this is a Lifestyle and will Take Time
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a a healthy, fit, and strong body. It can be hard; patience itself is a tough virtue to develop. But understanding that and working on building patience is one of the best things you can do for your future self. We’re so used to everything being instantaneous in this fast-food and digital age, that often times we self-sabotage because we forget that almost anything worth-while and valuable takes time.
Getting in shape really is a lifestyle It involves commitment and building good habits. It’s hard at first, but it is rewarding. I now love going to the gym, and find running & working out great stress-relievers and ways escape from the busyness and stress of world, but it definitely didn’t used to be like that. It takes time, and one of the best things you can do is commit to working out regularly as a life style, and be patient as you grow to excel at and enjoy it more.
Thank you @kittygains for the adorable workout gear!