First it was Coke Wars, now Curls is pretty much hogging the blog. Fine with me, I'll go grab a bucket of mint chip ice cream and contemplate how to tweak that fireplace.
Why hello…Curls here!
A handful of posts ago, Beard shared my desire to get on the fitness bandwagon. Time to share.
Rewind to roughly a decade ago. I was a very disciplined runner back in the day. I hit my mid-20’s and thought, “I gotta do something.” A desk job wasn’t helping, so one day I just started running and watching what I ate. I refused to call it a diet, instead focusing exclusively on portion control and working the four primary food groups into daily eating. Both nutrition and exercise pistons were firing at precisely the same time. I felt wonderful! I exercised 6-days a week and got hooked on races. I bit the marathon bug and on my second try qualified for the Boston Marathon and ran it the following spring. I really surprised myself during that time and still look back at it as a pivotal moment for never, ever underestimating what is possible. This running went on for years until injury started catching up with me. I scaled back on mileage and decided I needed a break. When I tried to aggressively get on board again, I ran into injury after injury that had me side-lined for 6-8 weeks each. It was frustrating, not to mention very discouraging. The running became more sporadic, less meaningful and fell off the radar altogether. The end. Or is it?
Fitness ails and alludes, yet a surprisingly high percentage of people will fully acknowledge that nutrition and exercise are integral to overall health (among a host of other factors which we shall explore at some later point). Lots of us KNOW this, myself included. So why is traction such a difficult thing to get a hold of?
Fast forward to now. Coinciding with the break into the New Year, I decided to give it another go. This wasn’t about resolutions. It was about redemption. What made this time different was my approach. Reprogramming was in order. The objective was rather basic - get fit! And by “fit”, I mean more than losing weight. This was to be a plan meant to stick for life. I wanted to feel it in every sense – strength, endurance, and energy – to rediscover what I once loved.
Today, let’s focus on nutrition or, to put it quite literally, food. If I had to pin-point, let the bold letters speak for themselves:
Eat food. Duh. Seriously though. Real foods. As in, those that existed well over 100 years ago. Back to basics. Cut the processed junk. Read labels. If you don’t recognize the ingredients listed, this should be a cue to cause for pause. I’d be doing a disservice to us all if I didn’t mention that water is nature’s fruit juice – so, drink up!
Food is fuel. Eating for pleasure is fun (and encouraged). However, the human body is a complex machine. It has needs. You give it what it requires and watch the magic unfold. This is as much physical as it is mental. The pounds will drop. The mind will be sharp as a tack.
Colorful plate. I’ve always been a fruit girl. The veggies were hit or miss. The advice that so many experts push on striving for a multi-color meal is a very good idea. Not only will you introduce a variety of vital nutrients into your body, but this will help reinforce the practice of well-balanced meals. It’s a great visual self-check too.
Portion Power. Know what a portion looks like. This is easier said than done. Again, read labels. Strive to get to a point where you can start to “eyeball” and estimate what a true serving should look like. The freedom and flexibility that arises out of this practice is priceless.
Train the mind and the body will follow. This is key. If your mind is not in it, your body will not follow. Both pistons need to be firing, for this is as much about state of mind as it is body transformation.
The scale doesn’t lie. You have to be honest with yourself and the best way to measure progress is to hop on that scale. I like to get the news first thing in the morning. It’s a reality check. It’s also the most awesome “high five, pat on the back and virtual hug” in the world when you see your efforts paying off.
Treat yourself. This isn’t just a courtesy point. I mean it. Just do so in moderation. As in, not every day. You deserve it. You’ll appreciate those treats. Pick your poison selectively. My vice, as we well know, is my beloved Coca-Cola (regular, not the icky diet kind).
Eat. You gotta eat to lose weight. Not eating enough will send your body into “starvation mode” and desperately clinging to whatever reserves you have. You don’t want that. Give your body what it needs (ahem, fuel).
Make it a priority. Old habits are difficult to break. New habits don’t always stick. One month in and I still have to make a conscious effort each day to make the right decisions. Is it getting easier? You bet. Is it easy? Not necessarily. But I made a promise to myself where commitment and discipline must coincide to achieve the results I want. So far that strategy is working.
So, how am I measuring up on the food front?
By nature, I’m a planner.
What has worked extremely well for me is to plan my meals in advance. My goal is to hit those four primary food groups each day. So, when I head out for my weekly grocery runs, I have a list in hand. I spend the most time in the produce section, grabbing a variety of fruits and veggies. I’m mostly influenced by what’s in season, what’s on sale or what I haven’t had in a while. I tend to grace the perimeter of the store – think produce, meat/cheese counter, and dairy refrigeration. I dart into the aisles for the occasional spice, baking item or condiment to round out the load. Some canned stuff makes it into my cart too – think black beans, tuna, and my beloved Coca-Cola (my treat!). This practice is easy to follow and actually makes my entire week far easier in terms of deciding what to eat for breakfast, pack for lunches and make for dinners. Believe it or not, this sets the pace for all the points I’ve listed above. It really does start with what foods are brought into your home.
I also wash, pre-cut and pack away any fruit and/or veggies, usually upon return from the grocery store. The thought here is convenience. If its “ready to eat”, guess what? I’m more inclined to eat it. Funny how that works.
I make a concerted effort to work in protein. In all seriousness that is my biggest weakness. I believe the root of my problem resides in over-carbing it. Not in the greasy, grimy, fatty carby kind of way. But in the “not getting enough protein, so body still hungry, so eating too many carbs to try to compensate” kind of way. So, keeping that in mind, I keep proteins a priority. And this doesn’t mean just meat. As a matter of fact, I only have meat maybe 2-3 times a week, tops. So things like Greek yogurt, eggs and peanut butter are making more frequent appearances on my plate these days.
And I feel great. I’ll get into how all this effects my exercise patterns in a future post, but I can tell you that I definitely feel different, more lively somehow. My pants are also very loose, as in I’m gonna need a belt pretty darn soon. The progress that I’ve seen in roughly a month’s time has surpassed what I had previously predicted. That’s a nice surprise!
So, B&Per’s, what foodie advice do you have to offer? Tales to tell? Lessons learned to share? Let’s discuss. And, as always, thanks for reading. You guys are the best!