The 5 Pillars of Diet-and-Exercise Success
Everywhere we look, we are surrounded by temptation. The temptation to binge watch Netflix instead of going to bed, to snack on Doritos instead of eating carrots, to scroll Instagram instead of folding laundry. Why do we constantly sabotage ourselves, our productivity, and our well-being with time-wasting, unhealthy habits?
Because it’s easy. Taking the path of least resistance is easy. But it’s not necessarily the best way to go through daily life. Our bodies are, legit, our temples. They house all that we are and carry us through life without even having a say in the matter – until, of course, we’ve pushed them to a breaking point, at either one end of the spectrum or the other.
Things like lack of sleep, improper nourishment, being too sedentary, and overtraining take a toll day after day. Staying up too late, drinking or eating too much, gluing your ass to the couch, or forcing a workout when you know it’s a bad idea might not seem like a big deal now and then (and now and then, it’s really not), but if it’s the norm eventually your body is gonna start fighting back. Either through injuries, exhaustion, illness, or even chronic disease in some cases.
Taking the easy road all the time, day after day, won’t do you, your body, or your mind any favors. Every seemingly little choice and decision you make throughout the day and week adds up to your overall outcome as the weeks, months, and years go by. The math can either work out in your favor with positive changes, or result in undesirable situations and behaviors.
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I’ve been the consistency queen in the fitness arena for over two and a half years now. I’ve been more or less steadily maintaining a 30-lb loss for the better part of a year. Has it been easy? Not exactly. Has it been hard? In a lot of ways, yes. But I’m about to get all motivational-quote-y on you and say it has all been 100% worth the effort.
How have I managed to maintain a healthy lifestyle while also raising two small children, tending to all the household chores, running all the errands, and managing the schedules of a family of four?
Here are lessons I’ve learned and practices I’ve developed over the months, as I’ve continued on my path to physical fitness and mental health.
- Moderation and Balance
They’re called “extremes” for a reason, people. Extreme is defined as the “furthest from the center or given point.” You, and how you currently live, is the center. You don’t need to do the absolute opposite of everything you’ve ever known, done, or loved to see progress. You don’t need to become the absolute opposite of who you are right now to find results. You don’t have to implement radical methods to radically change your life.
Do you like to eat Chipotle every Friday? Or every day? No judgement here. Chipotle is delicious. If so, don’t ban yourself from Chipotle for the rest of your life in the name of weight loss. Instead, find a way to enjoy your burrito and still reach your goals. Maybe this means skipping the chips and guac, getting a “burrito bowl” instead of a tortilla, or 86ing the sour cream and/or cheese from time to time. Trust me, you can make Chipotle – and so many other restaurants, meals, and recipes – work for you instead of against you, without changing your routine or depriving yourself of the things you love.
Can’t imagine an evening without dessert? Find ways to satisfy your sweet tooth that support your fitness and weight loss goals. And I’m not talking about having a bowl of plain fruit, because that’s BS. Sorry, not sorry. Perhaps this means less ice cream in your bowl with fewer toppings, or one small cookie or candy instead of multiple. It’s this kind of small, mindful sacrifice that allows you to realize your goals while also enjoying the process.
- Grace and Patience
So many of us seem to be programmed to be so goddamn hard on ourselves. I’m guilty of it, too, and it’s something I continue to work on through therapy and conscious ownership and recognition of my accomplishments and positive qualities. It’s not easy, and I still falter in this arena – a lot. But regardless of how bad we are at showing ourselves grace when we feel like we’ve fucked everything up or things don’t go as planned, grace is one of the most important practices we can possibly gift ourselves.
Life happens, shit happens, COVID happens, sickness happens, work happens, kids happen, injuries happen, relationships happen, stress happens, loss happens. It happens! Things. Happen. Is it just me, or is the word ‘happen’ starting to look really really weird? Anyway, the sooner you accept that perfection is impossible, the sooner you’ll be able to move on from what you “think” are monumental set-backs, and finally see results. Spoiler alert: your ability to succeed is alive and well, no matter what. The week you didn’t step foot in the gym, or the food and drink free-for-all you had last weekend? Yeah, doesn’t matter. Move the fuck on.
All you can do is move forward, no matter what happened last week, last weekend, or last night. Be patient with yourself and your methods, and good things will come. Good things take time, as they say, and a healthy, balanced lifestyle is no exception.
- Habit and Routine
At the start of my fitness journey, it was hard to get my ass to the workout room when I was able to achieve the overlapped naptimes between my 2 little monsters. Sitting on my ass in silence with coffee sounded gooooood. But I also knew that if I didn’t take advantage of that time and do my workout my mental health and ability to “mom” in a way I could be somewhat proud of would suffer. So, I got down to business.
Now, over 2 years later, I don’t even have to think about it. I get my daughter down, and go straight to the workout room before my ass has a chance to hit the recliner. It’s what I do. My habits, routines, and priorities have only continued to grow stronger over time. I’ve solidified what’s important, andwhen it’s most feasible to get what’s important done. And I don’t alter the plan unless it’s a rest day or there are extenuating circumstances like doctor appointments.
I’m habitual about my nutrition, as well. I routinely meal prep weekly lunches, prepare enough servings of dinners to have leftovers multiple times per week, and enjoy breakfasts from the same pool of recipes most days. I make delicious food, so I have no problem eating the same thing multiple times per week. I know what foods fuel my body, satisfy my hunger and taste buds, and how to prepare them in ways that support my goals.
- Accountability and Support
I wouldn’t still be here, showing up day after day, if it wasn’t for the “fitfam” I’ve found through my fitness Instagram account, and the support I receive from my husband at home. Each day I see my friends in the fitness community created by Kayla Itsines, Kelsey Wells, and the other SWEAT app trainers doing the damn thing, and it inspires me to do the damn thing, too. Complete strangers have become dear friends with whom I share my ups and downs in fitness and life in general. The power of connecting with like-minded women is absolutely incredible, and if you don’t have that opportunity in “real life”, find yourself an online community or support group. It’s imperative to your success.
Not only do I love my Fitsta friends, but I am forever grateful for a supportive husband who is also a very involved, hands-on father to our now 6-year old and almost 3-year old. We take turns on the weekends watching and playing with the kids while the other squeezes in a workout. He puts up with my constant weighing of foods without complaint, even when I can tell he may be slightly annoyed. Haha
Getting support from within your home and from family helps a fitness journey take off and prosper. If you don’t have that, however, know that you are still very much capable of making things happen for yourself without it. You never know, perhaps your drive and commitment to your health will inspire those around you, and eventually create a mutually supportive atmosphere, even if it’s not there from the start. Start your journey and OWN IT.
- Progress and The Thrill of Results
They say you won’t always be motivated, so you must learn to be disciplined. And that is very much true. Motivation gets you started, discipline keeps you going. But you know what is motivating as hell? Results. Stay disciplined and consistent long enough, and you will not only see, but feel progress being made. Feeling like a million bucks, making yourself proud, and enjoying the fruits of your labor is the best motivation there is. Doing the damn thing is what keeps you doing the damn thing.
Take progress pictures, track the weights you lift, and keep a journal of your emotions along the way. These are all great ways to gauge how a healthy lifestyle affects you both mentally and physically. In time you’ll have no doubt that the positives of prioritizing your health and fitness in the long run far outweigh any short term negative – which is simply change disguised as a negative thing. The process of change can be challenging, but the rewards are great.
These 5 pillars of fitness success have taken me time to fully develop and realize, and there are days, weeks, and months when I still struggle with certain things. It’s all a part of the process – we wouldn’t be human without our emotional and physical struggles, so embrace them, allow them to run their course, and focus on what you can control in any given situation. Keep your eyes on the prize, and fall back on your support system as well as the healthy habits you’ve worked hard to implement. Never lose sight of your greatness and never downplay your value, even during down times. You’ll come back stronger than ever.
And your fitness journey will certainly not be all “down” times, though I understand the idea of starting and changing can be daunting. Hopefully I can comfort and encourage you a bit in saying that I genuinely enjoy my fitness journey and everything I have done and learned in the past 2.5 years. I eat delicious foods, honor my body through movement and rest, and have figured out how to enjoyably live, train, and eat in order to look and feel my best.
It’s conscious effort that gets easier with time, practice, and learning more so than it is a constant struggle. So don’t be frightened to get started. You’re in for a real treat once you discover what works for you while living your life, feeling great, and achieving your goals. And you’ll ride that high through anything life throws your way, whether by sticking to your routine despite tough times or having the desire to get back to your routine once the tough times pass.
Follow me on Instagram to watch my fitness journey, included how I train and what I eat to maintain my 30-pound weight loss and feel healthy, happy, and strong both mentally and physically.
Check my out on Pinterest, as well! I keep links to blog posts and yummy recipes there, too!
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