I have a lot of healthy friends. I know, it seems strange right? I have friends that are runners, mountain bikers, rock climbers, swimmers, tri-athletes…super fit and super healthy. So, in typical *Samantha* fashion – I decided I needed to poll them. I had to collect the details of their good habits in one place that I can reference when I’m feeling shaky on this whole new healthy lifestyle. I hope their advice can motivate you too! 🙂
The question posed by moi:
I’m wondering if you could share your personal mantras // coping strategies for days when you want to eat like a crazy person and never go to the gym again.
I’ve been toying with ways of tricking myself into staying on point w/ my eating (that bread basket on the table tastes like cardboard – thanks Shannon!) and on the treadmill at the gym (just finish this song….if you don’t die you can do one more song’s worth of walking). But, I’d love to hear how my fit friends deal with these challenges. Is it via pep talk? Musical motivation? Knowing if you’re good all week you can have a treat on the weekend?
The responses (some names have been changed):
“When I was actively losing weight and I’d find myself wanting to say, “Fuck it, I want that chocolate,” I’d make myself stop and say, “What do I want more — to eat a piece of chocolate right now, or to be thinner?” Usually, “thinner” won. Sometimes, chocolate did. But in the aggregate, I ate less junk than I would have had I not stopped to ask myself that question, so it worked.
Also, realistic goals are helpful. I will never be as thin as Rachel Brice, no matter how much I wish I could have that body (along with all its attendant grace and flexibility). When I find myself thinking that way, it’s easy to get discouraged and reach for a piece of “fuck it” chocolate. So I try to remind myself of the gently rounded bellies of some of my favorite local dancers, with their abdominal muscles protected from public view by a small layer of healthy fat, and remember that they’re beloved by audiences, jiggly bellies and all. And then I look at my own belly, give it a pat, try to love it as it is, and remind myself that the bigger it gets, the harder it is for me to love it.
And on days when I just can’t t resist the “fuck it” chocolate and I don’t have the available calories to eat an entire serving, I’ll have half of the single-serving treat, eating it nice and slowly, and tuck the other half away for when I need it next. Eating it slowly is key. I make sure to taste every delicious bit of chocolatey goodness. When I do that, I’ll often feel sated after only half a serving. Not always, alas, but often.”
– Jen; bellydance friend and weight loss success story
”Set real goals. There is no point setting a goal of “I will run a marathon before Christmas” if you’ve never run before. But, “I will run a marathon” is fine. Personally, I want to run a 1/2 marathon before the year is out, which was where I was before I injured my knee.
Ask yourself “Is it worth it?” – Sure, bread baskets are nice and all – but really, how much are they worth it? if I’m going to have a treat, it’s going to be at a nice restaurant when I’m out with my wife, son and my friends – not at fricking “Not Your Average Joes” with my workmates!”
– Paul; weight-loss success story, bellydancer husband and friend
“Well, I do a few things to keep myself eating healthy. When offered any kind of treat, I evaluate if it is something store-bought or homemade. If it’s store-bought, then I know I can have it anytime and probably have had it in the past, and moreover, it probably doesn’t taste that great. I argue myself out of eating. If it’s home-made, I usually let myself have one but I’ll take half of a piece or something.
I think it’s good to let yourself have treats, just cut them in half or a quarter. For example, I eat ice cream, but I really give myself only one scoop, or a kiddie-cone size. If you deny yourself everything, then it will just spill over eventually and you’ll end up overeating again. However, I do try to avoid situations that might cause me to overeat. I don’t let myself have any treats in the house because that makes it too easy. I never buy something in more than a single-serving size because I know that it’s too much temptation and I’ll overeat. And I never bake at home unless I have plans to take it to a party (because I will eat an entire tray of brownies and I know it). For Halloween candy, I always buy a kind that I don’t like, so I won’t eat it.
Go to the gym – remind myself that it will give me energy and make me happy. For me, I’ve found that working out actually has a mood-lifting effect and the longer I go without it, the sadder I’ll get. So that’s an easy way to motivate myself – especially if I’m feeling sad. The old mantra – do at least 10 minutes and then you’ll get into it. Have some home workout videos for days when you can’t make it out of the house – I even like to have some videos where I can do the whole workout lying down (usually it’s an abs workout – I have some of those 10 minute solution abs videos). It is pretty easy to motivate myself to exercise these days, but back in the day…. I know that I learned somewhere that you have to do something for two weeks to make it a habit, and I kept pushing myself to do tae bo every day for 2 weeks until it became second nature. Then I would just be militant about my workouts – if I had to, I was working out at 11pm to fit it in before bed. I would make plans around my workouts rather than the other way around.”
–Shannon; bellydance friend, new mom and weight loss success story!
(from a list of 11 things to do to stay motivated + to stay in shape other than a round shape – ha!)
* Get a calendar and mark the days you work out or you eat well or both. I do work out days and I buy happy face stickers. Then when I look at the month and see it full of happy faces, I feel somewhat accomplished. I also have a running schedule that I hang at home and at work and put a big fat X when I’ve done my training for the day.
* Always prepare your food beforehand! You’re more likely to eat your healthily prepared food than eat out. I still eat out every now and then but always come back to the prepared food.
*Forgive, forgive, forgive yourself. I don’t know how many times I had a bad day and gave it up altogether and gained all the weight back plus 10 pounds more. If I just forgave myself the next day, instead of gaining all the weight back, I would’ve gained like 5 pounds back and gotten back on the horse. I find this is one of the hardest things to do. To get back on track and forgive yourself.
–Sharon; former-co-worker, good friend and future marathon runner (she’s up to 12 miles!)
“As for mantras, I stick with one: One Day at a Time. Sometimes though, a day is too long. Sometimes it needs to be One Step at a Time or One Minute at a Time. I can do anything for 30 minutes that if I thought I had to do it for a lifetime, it would be unbearable.”
–Nate; good friend, husband of Ashley and advice giver
“I have more problems when it comes to getting motivated to exercise. A few months ago I joined the gym at work. I go every weekday on my lunch break. I bring breakfast and lunch with me to work, so that being hungry doesn’t give me an excuse to not go to the gym. Remember high school gym class? It was horrible, but it was also NOT OPTIONAL. I’ve made my lunch workouts NON-OPTIONAL. If I don’t feel like working out very hard, then I don’t, but I still get my ass walking a bit maybe halfheartedly lift a few weights. However, 3 of the 5 days I usually feel great and really get in a good run, etc. I am blessed with being low-maintenance (read no make-up or blow-drying of hair), so going to the gym and showering mid-day works for me. I find that 45 minutes is plenty of time for me to burn some calories and get pumped up for the 2nd half of the day. Did I mention that this really helps my mood? Cause it does. I guess my workout mantra boils down to: Don’t feel like going to the gym? Too damn bad – it’s NOT OPTIONAL. “
–LA Rachel; good friend, former co-worker, birthday twin!
“When you can, try exercising outside, preferably in a forest preserve with lots of trees/lakes/etc — rather than at the gym. It’s so much nicer to get out and be among nature by yourself… than at a stale gym with tons of other people. There are TONS of great trails in MA that you can find. The time goes by faster, the fresh air is divine, and you can’t beat the scenery!
When you’re hungry, suck on an ice cube (whatever flavor you want – fruit, coffee, etc). It takes forever to suck down ice cubes, and when there’s something in your mouth, you can’t eat, and your mouth stays busy. When you’re finished with one, pop another one in your mouth. I have no idea if anyone else in the world does this, but it has worked for me in the past. (I think this is the same basic principle as “drink a lot of water,” but it just adds a different element to it.)”
–Ashley; lovely wife of Nate, good friend and also an excellent advice giver
“Doing exercise is more enjoyable than being at stuck at work, on the phone with a difficult customer, sitting in a boring meeting, standing in line, paying bills, going thru airport security or fighting traffic.
Don’t want to go to the gym- who does? I hate treadmills, I feel like a hamster! Get your buns outside, even if the weather sucks! (That’s what hats and raincoats are for) Fresh air is better than breathing in recycled air conditioning!
Reward yourself after a week of dieting and not drinking with a martini or some ice cream on the weekend. All in moderation! Alcohol goes a long way if you only have it once or twice a week- you may not even need to ‘have another’ since your body will tolerate less. If you want to go all out and indulge make sure you pay for it the next day by adding something extra to your workout.”
–Kelly; coworker and good friend