As most of you know, I began a little bitty journey to getting in shape near the start of the summer. I only recently started blogging about it though. You can look through my gradual process here if you want to know more about it!
I understand that I'm not overweight, or anywhere near obesity. I'm a pretty fair size for a young working, married, college student, and I LOOK like I'm probably in alright shape as it is. I probably LOOK like it wouldn't take much to get myself in shape, if I wasn't. So some of you may be wondering why it's such a big deal to do what I'm doing or to even blog about it. However, while I'm starting off much smaller than the typical Biggest Loser contestant, it's still just as much a struggle for me to keep going and sometimes to even start this process of making my body healthier. Even for me, it's really hard to avoid foods that truly are not good for anyone - especially if I like them, it's really hard to tell myself that running isn't as hard as I'm making it out to be to myself, it's hard to not want to stop, or to skip a day, and it's hard to want to do anything sometimes.
Some things I've learned throughout my life are resurfacing now that I'm really trying to do something good for myself again. For those of you who are struggling with some of these things - wanting to start, wanting to keep going, wanting to fill your belly with good foods, and so on - I have a few encouraging tips to share with you and I really hope they help you.
One of the first things you can do to simply get your mind motivated for getting in shape:
- Start small. If you want to lose some body fat weight, make a small goal of 5 or 10 pounds in a period of time. Naturally, our bodies do not lose weight quickly, so maybe plan for 5 pounds lost in a month - that is really a terrific start! If you feel ambitious, make that goal 8 or 10 pounds in a month, but don't make unrealistic goals. Unrealistic goals lead to disappointment and frustration which leads to discouragement which leads to stopping.
- In the same way, start small: If you can only walk half-way around a track without stopping, aim for walking one full length around a track. If you can only run one time around a track without stopping, aim for running twice around a track without stopping, and so on. Don't try to push yourself after only one or two workouts or tries. Let your body work up to a certain point of fitness before you ask it to do something it can't handle.
- One of the best goals to work for is through finding races around the area. Again, start small. Find a local 5K walk/run and start planning towards it. If you want to walk 3.1 miles - train to walk for 3.1 miles. If you want to run 3.1 miles, train towards 3.1 miles. If you want to go in between, train to run for a mile, and fill the rest with walking. I promise, though, you will want to work harder as you know a date is coming for you to give everything you've got and use what you've been training towards!
- Do you have a friend or close co-worker who really wants to help you, or really wants to improve themselves, too? Talk to them about working out regularly or running/walking once or twice a week. It's best if you ask someone whom you have always known to be persistent, someone you can rely on to not give up. Try finding at least one person, but as the saying goes: the more the merrier! This way you can keep each accountable, and because there's someone there to "make" you do it, to encourage you, and for you to encourage, you will want to make yourself push it!
- One more thing I have found to be easily encouraged by is blogging! By blogging, I feel that everyone who reads my updates expects me to fulfill my goals and not let myself down. This motivation gives me encouragement to never miss a day. Try starting a blog! I recommend Blogger ;) But i you already have a blog, start posting your own journey and things you go through so that the rest of the world can support you!
- This one should be a no-brainer. Except for the fact that it is! Your body is made up of roughly 70% water, while your brain is made up of roughly 90% water. The more water you have in your body, the more toxins are flushed out and replaced by good energizing water that refreshing your body, restores your muscles, and keeps your brain content. Water is very important especially if you're working out regularly.
- You've probably heard of all sorts of amounts of water you should in-take. Listen to what you want, but consider this: if 90% of the liquids you put into your body is not water, there's a problem that you need to fix. I don't think it's wrong to drink things like tea, soda and coffee, but drink them as treats and don't drink them every day.
- Drink water even when you're not thirsty. Drink water even when you don't plan on working out that day. Even though you don't think you need it, your muscles are still working 24/7 to repair and rejuvenate for next time. Don't let your muscles down and they won't let you down.
- All of these crash diets, and diets in general are ways the world are trying to manipulate you. Think back to a time (when we weren't alive) and there were healthy people all over the place. They had fresh farm-grown foods from down the road, not all this processed junk. They drank water or milk, not soda and sugar water. Their sweets were fruits and a little sugar to sweeten, not candy and ice cream and junk like that. And they were just fine. When you go shopping, keep that image in mind. Shop for fruits and vegetables, but not the ones in the can - shop through the real produce. Don't look for beans in a can either - bagged beans are much better for you! Eat rice and whole grains. Whole grains are better for you than whole wheat! Eat foods you like, but in better condition! Some of these things may be cents more expensive than the easy stuff, but momma always said, "the health of your body is worth the price of good food."
- Look online for recipes that are fresh and good for you. Make sure they don't ask for loads of butter, sugar, oil, or salt, but instead explain how the foods in it are what gives the great flavor. Buy vegetarian cookbooks. Yes, I know not all of you are vegetarians like me, in fact most of you probably aren't. However, in the real vegetarian world, our cookbooks are recipes that are really very good for you. Most vegetarian/vegan cookbooks don't only focus on meat-free plates, but they focus on health and how good the food is that you are eating. Simple way to add meat to these recipes: add a little bit of meat to these recipes. Real meat. Not that packaged stuff. Find the good things that will keep your body working well, and don't eat too much of it at once. I promise, the more delectable recipes you find, the more excited you will be as you're checking out at the register with tons of good food! You will be so excited that you'll go home and put your culinary skills to the test - even if you don't have any of those skills! I personally recommend a cookbook that was given to me by a dear cousin: Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr. What she makes is amazing!
- An hour before your workout, eat a good portion of carbohydrates - this will give you good energy to burn off while you are exercising. Within the hour after you finish, eat or drink a good amount of protein to help your muscles restore from your workout. Don't over-do it on either of these things; too much of a good thing is bad for you. Use Google (or another search engine) to learn more about portion control.
- Do not avoid calories!! Eat roughly 2,000 a day (more or less, depending on your body weight and level of activity). Your brain cells restore on calories. If your brain cells are lacking energy, they will send signals to your brain saying that you need more calories. Your brain, in-turn, makes you feel hungry and you will be tempted to eat more. Just be sure that whatever you eat with calories isn't bad for your body. Make sure it's fresh, organic, unprocessed, and good for you. That way, your brain gets the energy it needs and you aren't hungry as often!
Rest & Stretch
- Can't be stressed enough! Resting is terrific after a few days of hard physical activity. Every two or three days, take a day off and let those sores muscles take a break. This is okay to do! I recommend, however, not taking a that lasts more than one day. Give your body time to recover, but don't let it become stagnant - if you get used to resting for too long, you won't have much motivation to continue. For me, I take rest days on Friday and Sunday. That works best for me - find out what works best for you!
- Stretch before and after a workout. Some people say it avoids injuries, some people say that's irrelevant. Regardless the case, it's good for your muscles to be flexible and agile. The best way to make them this way is to stretch. When you stretch, you're allowing your muscles to let go of toxins that may be stuck in some deep muscle tissue. Your body will thank you :)
The one thing I have noticed repeatedly about myself as I've been trying to get back in shape is that I have a hard time not letting become a chore. Making myself healthy should be exciting! It should be fun! And no one wants to do something that isn't fun! Make the best of the time you have while you are exercising, working out, running, dancing, etc. Don't let it be the same dull thing every time - mix it up! Keep it interesting for your mind and body. Every day you plan to work out, tell yourself (best in a mirror!) that you are really looking forward to running and getting into better shape, and you can't wait to start! There was a psychologist of the 20th century, Carl Rogers (I hope I remembered the right name!) who made himself feel better after coming close to death because he told himself every day that he was going to heal (psychotherapy!). So if you tell yourself that you are doing a great job, that you are looking better, that you are excited about running - all of those things will be more and more true. God designed our bodies to have great potential; but the enemy knows our weaknesses and he will do what he can to manipulate us into thinking we will fail. Praise God for the way He designed us!