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Friday, June 14, 2013

9 Tips For "Fitspiration"

I've seen the term Fitspiration (fit + inspiration) floating around Pinterest in regards to fitness, and while I don't know who coined the phrase, I have to say love it. I love it over "thinspiration" because I feel it sends a better message: that health is better than size. As you can probably tell, today I'm going to write about my fitness journey (in-progress), to hopefully motivate and “fitspire”!

I've been struggling with my weight, body image, and energy/motivation for years, like most Americans. Like many, I've done the research about nutrition and weight loss. I know the many physical/emotional benefits of exercise and fitness. And what I've concluded, from my extensive readings is that the messages of all the research boil down to two things: eat healthy and exercise.

That's it! It's that simple! So why do I need to constantly remind myself of this?! There's no pill that you can take, no crazy contraption that you need to buy, no magic food that you can eat that can do the trick; just plain ol' greens and sweat! In fact, the further you are removed from nature (like whole natural foods), the worse off you will be. While I've known this for years, starting a regular regime seemed impossible, let alone sticking to it for longer than three consecutive days.

Now, I'm not perfect, I have fallen off the proverbial bandwagon for a few years (try 10?) and haven't exercised (social obligations, life, the heat, other excuses), and I used to let that defeat me, but I'm not going to let it get me down anymore, I'm just going to keep on pluggin' away at it because I want to feel good in a bikini, darnit!

What finally changed? I started a cleanse that I wrote about in-depth here and I feel so good that I want to tell everyone! But that's just phase one of my health journey. My husband and I also got a gym membership, which motivates us to get out of the house and actually move.

I used to think the gym was a scary place where everyone judges "fat" people, but since I've been going, it's obvious no gives a crap about what you're doing since they are so focused on what they are doing.

I realized I didn't need to compare myself to these people (or anyone) since all that would do is suck my joy and self-confidence. The worst thing you can do is compare yourself to others. And I'd like to share with you a quote I recently read on a Disney shirt featuring my favorite plus-size villainess, Ursula, that hit home for me - "You can't weigh beauty!"

Let that sink in. 
since my cleanse and the increasing regularity of exercise, I now look forward to plugging in my headphones and losing myself to music while I walk on the elliptical. I barely notice the time. Also, during my walks I've noticed that my creativity increases and I'm filled with ideas!
So, here's some friendly advice that's currently working for me and what I did to prepare before-hand:

1. Visit your doctor to discuss an exercise plan and cleanse. I visited my doctor to discuss my weight loss goals and options and how to go about it safely. Previously I had absolutely no exercise routine and the most strenuous thing I did was deep clean the house. She wanted me to start slowly by walking at least one mile a day and eventually increasing to three miles (or one hour of exercise) a day over time. She also approved yoga.

2. Do a parasite cleanse, mucoid plaque cleanse, and liver cleanse, but not all at once.

3. Ditch the diet. Change your lifestyle. You've probably tried a bunch of different diets that never seemed to work in the long run, like I have in the past. There's scientific reason for that and I will probably write a post on it later, but in the meantime do the research for yourself. It's because most diets tell you NOT to eat certain kinds of food that you love, so when you finish the diet you might think, “Phew, now I can eat chocolate again!” But you can't just stop at one piece, or two, or three – I know I can't! Suddenly, all your hard work of refraining from those yummies has failed and you fall back into old habits! Diets don't work, especially when you're selectively starving yourself. Period. Instead, try starting by a) portion-controlling what you already eat, then b) add in more fiber (anything natural, grown from the earth), c) increasing fiber incrementally 'til the majority of what you're eating is natural (a great source for learning more about this is The Whole Foods Diet), and d) don't deny yourself treats, otherwise you'll crave them more. Instead just cut back on them or have a smaller portion. For example, I try really hard to make some of our meals from scratch, using fresh produce and lots of greens, but I LOVE sweets and I LOVE to have a little dessert everyday, so what I've been doing is I'll have a miniature size of my favorite candy (Snickers) so I can have a taste of it and be satisfied. Now there are days when I backslide, but I just have less junk the next day.

4. Read the labels. As a general rule, man-made products aren't healthy for you since they are loaded with chemicals. The further a food gets from Mother Nature, the more toxic it becomes. But that doesn't necessarily mean all boxed or packed products are created equal. Luckily, there are more health-conscious companies popping up lately that take a stand to make a quality, healthy alternative. You just gotta hunt for them! In general, avoid anything with HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) or anything with a huge list of chemicals. The smaller the ingredients list, the better, meaning it's closer to its natural state. For example, peanut-butter should only have an ingredients list containing peanuts, some kind of oil (not canola or vegetable oil!), and maybe a little salt. Once manufacturers start throwing in dyes, additives, preservatives, or words you can't pronounce, it's best to put it back.

5. Drink water instead and drink it all the time. Water goes with everything and you should have it at every meal (by doing this it can also keep you from overeating). Replace your usual soda or juice with water (they're just empty calories and sugar anyway). If you want to get fancy, add a slice of lemon, or buy flavored water (be wary though of added sugar/sodium. Remember, the further from nature it is, the more unhealthy it is). As an added bonus, water is free, which makes a difference if you eat at restaurants a lot since sodas and drinks can add up quickly. To encourage your new and healthy drinking habit, buy a nice reusable (24oz or higher) water bottle as you'll be filling it constantly.

6. Set aside workout clothes. I have several workout outfits that I alternate for laundry. Knowing that I have special clothes that I don't have to worry about getting sweaty takes my mind off of the negative of added laundry. Plus, it's a no-brainer because I already know what I'll be wearing, I don't have to dig through my closet trying to find something appropriate. I fold them and leave them on my bed console so I don't have to hunt for them and they're among the first things I see when I wake up, another reminder of my goals. I've read that some people sleep in their clean workout clothes the night before to eliminate hassle and to remove any excuse, and that might be another option for you to think about. 

7. Don't let it get you down. If the scale hasn't budged, if you didn't exercise for a couple days, if you had a binge session the night before, don't let yourself think you failed! You didn't! You're human! None of us are perfect! I have to tell myself this often! Just pick yourself up and start again! The best mindset for weight loss (or everyday life) is a positive one, so what I like to do to help hype myself up again is to look for inspirational weight loss quotes (my favorite place to go for that is Pinterest). Having a mantra to cling to during difficult times can be empowering.

8. Don't get on the scale. I know this sounds contradictory, but it's probably the most important thing you can do, at least it is for me. Take your measurements instead, it'll give you a more accurate depiction of your weight loss. I get discouraged easily, especially when the scale and I don't agree, so if I've been literally working my butt off and the scale hasn't gone down, I get depressed. BUT, that doesn't mean I'm not losing weight, or, more precisely, fat! We should all know that muscle weighs more than fat, and if you're exercising, you're shedding fat AND building muscle, and because of this, it's not uncommon for the scale to say you've gained weight! It's healthy weight! So you might be tempted to get on the scale to check your progress, and if you do I caution you to remember that muscle weighs more. Here's a picture that illustrates my point perfectly! Keep this picture as a reminder of weight versus health!

Used from Pinterest.

A lower number on the scale doesn't always mean a fitter, healthier body.

9. Keep track. If you can. Any way you can do it, write it down, mark it, check it off, cross it out. Keep a written journal, make a list, or get an app for your phone. I personally suck at keeping journals, so I just write a tiny snippet about my workout in my Notes on my iPhone. Super simple, which is why I love it!

What tips or tricks have helped you stay on track?

~Nicole A

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