Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thinking About: Fitness Rules That Fit

Trying to figure out some fitness rules that will fit as well and make me as happy as my new blue rain boots. :)

Thanks for all of your comments on the last post. I'm always (delightfully) surprised how excited we all get to share advice about things that work for us. And since fitness is one of those things that can be so tricky, it's great to get such a variety of good advice. I've been thinking a lot about all of your comments and making mental notes to check out some of those books.

I've also been thinking (a little more realistically) about trying the whole only-eating-fruits-and-veggies thing and I've decided to first try it out just for a day and see how it goes. I definitely don't think it's a great idea for any kind of long-term application and, really, it was just an idea I had. So I'm not married to the idea of doing it for a week. I just wanted to try something new and different and full of fruits and veggies. So, while a whole week of it sounds a little overwhelming (and expensive) to me right now, a day of it is sounding fun and yummy. So I'll give that a try. I think on Tuesday. Maybe if I like it I'll do it for longer or more often. We'll see.

But back to fitness and health-related goals in general. I've been thinking about your comments, about what I've done in the past that has and hasn't worked for me, and about what rules I can make for myself to follow that will be both realistic and helpful. My ultimate goal is to be fit, thin(ner), and healthy--and to avoid another major burn-out.

I think for a long time I've been so worried about another burn-out that I've been hesitant to commit to a lot of health-related goals all at once. I've focused on exercise and a little on eating, but not on strength. Or I've given a lot of emphasis to one of those areas and ignored the rest. I guess I keep hoping I'll stumble across some really easy, simple way to keep my body in shape without having to put in too much time or effort. I mean, that's what we all wish for, right? But tonight as Bry and I were out on a walk, I was talking to him about some of what's been in my head lately (about all this health/fitness stuff) and I came to realize something that I had been denying for a long time.

I think I need to do a lot of things at once for it to be effective and support my overall health.

I think I need to be way more picky about desserts, eat healthy foods, not eat as much food in general, get in a regular dose of cardio, and do some strength training too. And, by the way, that is a lot of work! It's hard to think, "Hmm... I could spend 30 minutes this evening getting all sweaty and tired and then have to spend another 10-15 minutes in the shower and then another 10 minutes getting dressed and dried off and then feel too wiped out to get anything done OR I could spend that hour on sewing and at the end of the hour I'll feel like I've actually accomplished something!" I try not to think that way, but I do. And sewing usually beats out sweating every time. Hence the high tally of sewing projects I've completed for my book lately and the lack of movement in the belly-fat area.  Hmm.

Sewing is important to me too, but to have it replace exercise is just not a good long-term situation. I don't want to ever be heavier than I am now. It wouldn't be good for my body or for my head. And it's just so preventable. So I'm trying to do something about it. Or at least, I'm trying to think through how I can do something about it.

The only time in my life when I've been super successful at losing weight and toning my body, I was doing all of the following things:

  • counting calories
  • going on long, long walks every day
  • lifting weights 2-3 times a week
  • not eating any desserts (period) for 3 months straight
  • going running occasionally 

Doing all of those things simultaneously was a lot of work and it was not only physically exhausting, but mentally and emotionally exhausting too. It's hard (and not really healthy) to be focused on any one thing too much. Your happiness starts to hang in the balance and that's an emotionally tricky place to be. So even though it was super effective physically, I've been hesitant to revisit that life of fitness because I didn't like where I ended up emotionally. I wasn't anorexic or bulimic or anything like that, but I didn't have a good relationship with food and fitness back then. It reached a point where something had to give, and suddenly all of my good habits were replaced with cupcakes.

So, I'm trying again. But I'm not just flipping the switch and jumping back into another routine that I know will leave me feeling burned out in a month or two. I'm putting a lot of thought into my new rules. Because I definitely need some new rules, but I want them to be rules that will fit my life and that can work for me long enough to help me truly be a healthier person than I am now.

Right now I'm focusing on getting through the holidays. I think I typically try and crack down after the holidays (oh New Years resolutions--haha), but by then I'm 5-10 pounds heavier from all the junk I ate for two months straight. So this year I'm trying to get real and focus on having healthy holidays. So far I've only decided on one rule and it is this:

Rule #1: NO TREATS except on holidays and birthdays (i.e. the actual day of the holiday, not all the celebrations surrounding it).

My plan is to keep this rule in effect at least until after New Year's Day and then reevaluate and see where I'm at.

Holidays are a tricky time for me when it comes to healthy eating, because we're usually not at our house. Which means we're also not the ones planning our meals. Not that we eat super mega healthy at home, but we usually don't make a ton of food since it's just the three of us, and I don't feel that social pressure to eat just to prove that I like the food or something.

Christmas is especially tricky because we usually spend it at Bryan's parents' house. This is a problem for several reasons. First of all, my mother-in-law is an amazing cook. She makes this amazing food all the time and I just want to eat it all. Even when I know I'm not hungry. I just want to keep enjoying the delicious food. Second of all, Bryan's dad is currently a bishop in our church (like being a pastor, but it's not a paid position), which means that Christmas time at their house means a never-ending flow of goodies from all the nice people at church looking to share with the bishop. Third of all, Bryan never has any homework over the holidays and I rarely bring projects to work on (since I try and have all the gifts done ahead of time), so we spend a lot of time hanging out on their super-comfy couches and talking about what sounds good to eat.  All of these things are good, but hard on my waistline.

So. No treats except on holidays and birthdays. And for those days I'm not going to give myself specific limits. Because eating a bunch of random junk food on one day is not the same thing as eating a bunch of random junk food for several days (months) in a row.

I'm also planning on making rules for 

  • doing strength training so many times a week 
  • doing another kind of exercise (walks or running or something) so many times a week, 
  • eating healthy foods in place of not-so-healthy foods
but I'm not ready to make specific goals about those things yet.

I've had a good at-home strength training/abs DVD recommended to me by some good local friends (who are going to let me borrow it--yay!) and I want to get a feel for that and see if I like it before I make specific goals regarding that. Because if there's one thing I've learned about myself when it comes to fitness stuff, it's that I hate having to drive all the way over to a gym just to work out for 30 minutes. Even if the gym is only 5 minutes away and it's free, I hate the drive. I need things I can do at home whenever I happen to have time for it that day.

And while I'm all for going on walks and going running, those things get trickier to do when the winter weather and cold temperatures hit. So I'm kind of waiting to figure out what will work for me now and how I can be flexible and continue to make it work when it gets cold out. 

Last Christmas I thought it would be a great idea to go running a few times a week, but then the cold was just so biting at my in-laws' that it hurt to breath while we ran. I think we only did that once. Fitness fail. I'm trying to think around how to exercise consistently in a busy house full of lots of people on lots of different schedules. They have a treadmill, but it's in the basement and people actually sleep down there when we're all together over the holidays, so that may not be the best option. And, anyway, I kind of hate running on treadmills. So we'll see. The exercise DVD might be a good option, but I'm also not totally nuts about the idea of having people around to watch me while I do it. Of course, if some of us did it together it could be fun I guess. Lisa? Alison? Trish? Anybody up for some daily exercise time over Christmas break?

Anyway, sorry this post has been so long and rambly, but I wanted to pop in and update you all on where I'm trying to go with these fitness goals/rules of mine since you were all so helpful when I mentioned it the other day. Hopefully soon I'll have more to report.  In the mean time, hope your week starts happy! :)


Aleatha Shannon said...

a friend of mine watches tv shows on her laptop while running on her treadmil during the winter. if you got hooked on a super long tv series it might help you look forward to running. there are lots on hulu for free. or, you could pay $8/month just during winter for netfilx. cheaper than a gym, and you get to stay home. maybe you can find a treadmil used.

haha, how do you like getting running advice from someone who never, ever, EVER runs?

Allynara said...

Hey Katie

Perhaps somebody sugested this one already, but this is my fitness/health routine:

I go to the gym twice a week (sometimes thrice) and do 20 minutes on the cross country (or 15 minutes on the step, wichever I'm into). After that, I go to the power training section and work on my muscles. I've learned that it isn't enough to just workout on the cardio stuff without getting those muscles some much needed attention if I want to lose some inches (unfortunatly no weightloss so far). I'm focussing on my arms, legs and belly for those excercises.

They seem to work, because, Even though I only lost 1kg in weight, I lost 2cm (almost an inch) around my hips and 1cm (3/8 inch) around the waist. Just remember: muscles weigh more than fat.

Hope this will help you a bit. So far, your 'scedule' seems good :)

The Jessee Journal said...

I hate giving advice -- because I'm not an expert! So instead of advice, this is just me, sharing my own experience :) I've found that I develop unhealthy relationships about food when it's all about "can't" for me, it really has to be about replacing things. So I used to buy myself something chocolate for surviving grocery day with the kids. Now I buy a Naked drink instead -- it's still a treat, it does cost more, but it's so much better for me that the extra buck or two is totally worth it, and the best part is, I still feel "treated." So I still eat dessert -- BUT I make the dessert from scratch and I use healthified recipes. SO sure, there might be a little butter or some sugar, but I always make whole wheat, I always cut back the sugar the recipe calls for and use natural sugars like honey or sucanat and then add healthy ingredients like nuts or raisins to boost the health factor. Not all desserts have to be evil :) We had an unhealthy addicition to ice cream awhile back, and having a constant stream of frozen grapes in the freezer solved that. Turns out I just wanted to be able to snack on something cold and sweet late at night. Anyway, those are my two cents. I think restricting ourself = burnout and frustration. Replacements are delicious, we don't have guilt, and we are still satisfying our need to snack or enjoy "dessert" :)

Holly Mayer said...

Maybe you should come visit us for Christmas instead. I won't make super delish food and I will exercise with you every day too. Plus we would love to have you!