Back to Basics – For Real This Time

Pardon my lack of posting – I’ve been trying to figure out what I want 2015 to look like. And I think I finally have it figured out.

I want it to be pretty much exactly like most of 2010 &  the beginning of 2011. Except I want it to be more refined and way more awesome. And I have all the tools I need to make that happen.

It’s not as if I’ve forgotten how to make healthy choices, but it’s been painfully obvious over the last 3.5 years that I need a system. I need a whole-life system, not one I just use when it feels right. And that’s difficult to accept. It really is. I felt almost obsessive in the beginning – my life largely revolved around being healthy. But it worked. I was super aware of everything I put in my mouth and every time I moved my body. And I think it was really really good until the second completely overtook the first and my body started suffering because of that. I began to black out after standing, and I got burned out quickly. I had a hard time transitioning from losing weight to maintaining it. I’m not alone – most of us struggle with this very thing.

But all of that is nothing new. I’ve talked about it too many times. I’m bored of it.

It’s 2015 now. The past is the past, and this is the year to get it all right. While counting calories and focusing so much on health may seem obsessive – eating mindlessly and having consecutive lazy days does not bring me more joy. And that’s the point right? Living life with joy? Consistently gaining weight does not bring me joy. Feeling bloated and lethargic does not bring me joy. And it seems as if that’s my alternative to incredibly mindful living. Life’s a bitch.

So 2015 will be my year. I’m going to learn how to live healthy and happily. I like challenges, and this is going to be one. I feel pretty excited about it actually.  I have to be all in. There’s no other choice for me. I’ve tried everything in between. Just take a few minutes months to review this blog, and you’ll see that I’ve made a ridiculous amount of attempts. But the only thing that’s lasted and really made a difference was being all in.

What does that mean? It means I count calories. I’m not entering every piece of food into my Fitbit app. I’m too lazy for that business. I simply add up my meal in my head and throw it in as one number. It’s easy, and I don’t much care about looking back on the specifics. I know myself. When I’m eating this way, I eat very well. Why? Because if I eat three servings of chips, that will waste my calorie budget and I’ll end up super hungry. It’s not worth it.

What else is happening? Activity, and lots of it. In 2010 & 2011, I was still fairly sedentary except for my daily workouts. And sometimes (a lot of times), I skipped those too. But I had a trainer, so I was building muscle consistently even if I wasn’t always doing cardio. I can’t say that I’m always moving now, because here I sit on my couch. But I walk daily, and I rarely miss my 10k step goal. In addition to that, I love to hike. And neither of those have anything to do with calories or weight loss. I have just learned that I really love to move. On my own terms of course.

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So in addition to my walks and hikes, we’ve settled on both a running and weight lifting routine. We had a good weight routine going late last year, but we (stupidly) doubled it, which of course made us quit altogether. One of these days we’ll learn not to screw up a good thing because of impatience. As far as running, it’s been beautiful remembering how easy 3 miles really is. Compared to 26.2? It’s like a damn walk (jog?) in the park.

It’s only been a week, and I’m the first one to admit that I suck at consistency. But much like the first time, this feels different. Two of my friends started doing the Whole30 plan, and although thats not my jam, it flipped that switch in my head again. I felt supported, and I was reminded that I can make a choice for myself. Even when the choice seems scary, and it feels like I have to go against the grain of society (where bad choices are seemingly encouraged), I can do this.  I’ve spent the past few years beating myself up because I can’t do moderation. I just can’t. I am a binge eater, and that’s not something you just stop doing because it doesn’t fit in with your desired lifestyle. You have to work at it. You have to be mindful. And I don’t have to be apologetic about doing this in whatever way feels right and natural.

Before I get to the specifics, I want to mention that we need to stop seeing calorie counting as some awful thing. It doesn’t mean we’re restricting ourselves beyond a healthy level. It means we’re paying attention to what we eat. That’s all. It also means we’re making sure we’re eating enough. Because for some, that can even be an issue. Not for me generally of course. 😉 But if you don’t need to count calories to eat mindfully, that’s fantastic! But please stop making statements that it’s universally bad. It’s not. And I really think these generalizations make it harder for others to make the right choices for them. When we feel shamed into trying to live in a way that doesn’t work for us, we often give up altogether. That’s not fair.

So what am I doing? Well, the number may change, but for now, I’ve settled on eating 1600 calories a day. I got a bit optimistic in the beginning, and I thought I would try to lose 2 pounds a week by eating 1200 calories a day. Ha! I felt like I was starving to death two days in. That’s just unrealistic these days. I simply move too much to sustain that low level of eating. And honestly, I simply want to eat more food than that. I love food!

For weights, we’re going back to doing 2 body parts per day, and our routine takes 20-30 minutes. We do chest & triceps on day one, back & biceps on day two, and shoulders & legs on day three. We do planks each of those days as well because I’m determined to get back up to my 4 minute plank! We then skip a day and start all over. It’s not a big time investment, so it isn’t hard to talk ourselves into doing it. But only time will tell how effective it is for muscle gain. My fingers are crossed!

For cardio, we don’t have an exact plan. We just try to run at least every other day for 3 miles. Simple, and again, not a huge time investment. I would like to maybe incorporate some classes (yoga/BodyCombat) back into my schedule, but that can happen later. It’s not a priority right now. The point now is to do things that are simple and easy to maintain.

And beyond the daily things, I want to hike every week or at least every other week. The times and distances vary, so I just have to account for them as they come. I’m wearing my Polar HR monitor so I can accurately gauge how hard I’m working. That way I can effectively increase my calories for that given day (and the next day, if needed). Yesterday, we hiked over 8 miles in 5 hours, and my FT7 said I burned nearly 1900 calories. Because of this, I added another 500 calories to my diet for the day. I would have eaten more, but I felt full because I made good choices instead of having a free-for-all. That’s what I’ve been doing – eating everything in sight because I earned it. Duh. But that’s not been effective. Clearly.

The thing about calorie counting is that it causes you to evaluate everything you eat. No food is off limits, but they all have different values. Is it worth the dent in my “budget”? If I have a soda, will it make me want another tomorrow? Can I even truly estimate the amount of calories in this dish? Ohh, if I skip this and have that, I can eat twice as much food! And maybe that’s an unhealthy train of thought to have. But after trying so hard to avoid it for the last few years, I can tell you that I really think it beats the alternative.

So, a week in, things are going well. I’m already feeling less bloated, and that’s saying something because I’m on my period. I’m down almost 3 pounds, but that’s obviously mostly water. I estimate that I should lose about a pound a week, but that could vary as well. We all know this is a huge mind game, so I just have to take it day by day. Progress is the name of the game – not necessarily fast progress.

I hesitate to publish this post because since the beginning, I’ve started fifty billion new plans, and I’ve quit them all. But this time, I’m really and truly going back to the basics. I know it will work because it did before. And I no longer have this insane need to fit anyone else’s version of healthy living. I’ve learned a lot in the past 5 years, and of course I will make adjustments this time. Like butter. It’s not the enemy. Neither is sugar really. But being aware of both is important.

And that’s it. Nothing fancy. Nothing extreme. Consistently burn more calories than I eat and do it while enjoying my life.

Comments

    • Nicole says

      I think we resist because it seems like the thing chronic dieters do. And who wants to be seen as one of those? But mindful eating is not the same as dieting!

  1. Lisa says

    I found your blog from Katie’s Motivational Mondays and wow, I am so glad I did. While I am just starting my weight loss, this post is exactly what I needed to read today. Why do I let other peoples version of health stand in my way! Why not just do what I know works for me, regardless of any stigma around it! Counting calories/tracking/logging can be a healthy endeavor and satisfies my ocd urges, lol! So thanks, you’ve definitely got a new fan in me! Wish me luck, sw at 220, hoping to lose 1lbs a week. We can do it!

    • Nicole says

      Lisa,
      Thanks for checking out my blog! It’s so hard not to let others’ ideas and perceptions stand in our way, but we can definitely do it. You’re right! Please keep me updated on your progress – I’m wishing you all the best!
      Nicole

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