body love

Find Joy in Fitness Not Food

I read an article recently,  If You Find Joy in Exercise, You’re Less Likely to Look for Joy in Food, and the title really stuck out for me. There was quote that I found really spot on and I wanted to share it here:

It concluded that those who perceived exercise as a fun activity (and not just a ton of effort) were less inclined to compensate with junk food after their workouts.

These findings appear to support something that Precision Nutrition refers to as “hedonic compensation,” wherein if people feel like they’ve been deprived of pleasure in one place they will compensate by seeking it elsewhere (i.e. “I had a tough week, I deserve to relax and have a beer.”)

I agree! I found that once I started eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis, I didn’t want to “ruin” it with junk food. My taste buds changed. My cravings changed. Instead of wanting a king-sized candy bar, I was leaning towards fruits and vegetables. It was a slow shift in my brain, it surely did not happen overnight, but once I started to FEEL BETTER, I started to make BETTER CHOICES. (Body Love Week: Structure, Perfectionism, and Authentic Living)

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Then I came to a point where I looked at junk food as what it was: junk. It wasn’t fuel for my body. It didn’t help me in the gym. It didn’t make my body feel good. (Read this post: Healing Your Body.) And the more candy I ate, the more I craved it. But when I cut it out, those cravings went away. Is there anything better than fresh fruit in season? Yum, I want those raspberries!

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The above quote talks about “hedonic compensation” — if you deprive yourself something you seek it elsewhere, you want it more. While I was cutting out junk food from diet, I wasn’t DENYING myself treats entirely. Like I’ve written about many times before, living a life in moderation is what helped me STAY SANE while I lost 110 pounds. I never felt like I was denying myself things I wanted because I ate certain things in moderation. After I lost the weight I continued with that method and it worked. For 7 years I kept the weight off.

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Now let’s talk about exercise. So many people have told me that they wished they could lose weight but they hate exercising. (5% of Americans Exercise Daily) I think if you rename it and not look at exercise as a punishment you won’t dread it. Here are a few posts I wrote awhile ago about this topic:

I Hate Going to the Gym

How to Exercise Regularly

Learn To Love It

Overcoming Exercise Obstacles

Too Busy to Exercise

I think the biggest mistake people make when starting to work out is this: they pick something they don’t inherently enjoy. If you pick an activity you don’t enjoy, force yourself to do it, hate every minute of the activity, you start to think “I’ll reward myself for this workout with ____!” Pizza, ice cream, whatever! Fill in the blank. It’s easy to sabotage your efforts with a “I deserve this! I worked out!”

If you hate running, don’t run. Start with walking. If you hate the treadmill, join a running group at a local running store–they are usually free and super fun! And running outside is so much better than being stuck running in place.

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Try the elliptical. If you have aches and pains in your body and it hurts to work out, try swimming. Trust me, when you are overweight or obese and your body hurts, swimming is AMAZING.

If you hate the gym–don’t join one! There are SO many options out there. Get a bike trainer and ride your bike in front of your TV in the comfort of your home. Read this post by Michael: How to Watch More TV! 🙂

Try hiking. There are hiking groups you can join. Meetup is a great place to find new friends, join activity groups and I know in my area there are TONS of hiking groups!

Do you have a dog? Join a local dog training group that includes fitness! A friend of mine posted about a group here in Portland that I’d love to try someday. A quick google search has shown that there are a ton of groups like this all over the country. See if there’s one in your area.

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This is not to say that you CAN’T find joy in food. There is so much joy in food. I love baking and am learning to love to cook. There is nothing more rewarding than trying a new recipe and it’s a success. I love cooking for other people and throwing dinner parties. I like creating appetizers. Don’t we all love going to a nice, new restaurant with a group of friends and sharing good food and a bottle of wine? But is it really JUST about the food? Isn’t more about the process? The people? The socializing? For me, the joy in food is sharing it.

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What do you think? How do you balance the joy in food with healthy eating? Have you figured out a fitness method that brings you joy?

Maintenance 101: Self-Love

Maintenance 101: Self- Love

“Self-love seems so often unrequited.” – Anthony Powell

I’m resuming the series of posts entitled “Maintenance 101.” In this series, I’ll be addressing some of the issues I’ve found in my four+ years of weight loss maintenance. My goal for this series is to be uplifting, supportive and honest. Maintenance isn’t always easy as many of you guys know from experience, but maintenance is a crucial part of the weight loss journey. Our work doesn’t stop when we step on the scale and see our “magic number.”

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This edition is honestly the hardest part for me. While the physical stuff of weight loss is a little be easier to deal with, the emotional and mental aspects are a little harder. It’s difficult change your mindset from “I’m trying to lose weight” to “I’m living a healthy lifestyle.” You don’t want to slip into old habits, so it’s normal to be hyper-vigilant and strict, at least in the beginning. As the years go by, you might get a little more comfortable and not stress about it as much, maybe weight loss is not in the forefront of your thoughts at all times (good job!). But what about the underlying emotion things?

Are you still talking down to yourself? Are you looking into the mirror and saying “I feel so fat“? This kind of negative talk is detrimental because after awhile we start to believe of what we’re telling ourselves. I know I do. I get in that cycle of negative thinking and then something snaps me out of that funk and it’s like a breathe of fresh air! Oh yeah! I don’t have to focus on the negatives and what I DON’T have! I can focus on the positive things and how far I’ve come!

You have to learn to love your body as is—no more “when I lose 5 more pounds I’ll love myself” and actually LOVE who you are right now!

Stop obsessing about the numbers. I wrote a post “It’s a Numbers Game”  where I talked about the pros and cons of focusing entirely on numbers: the number on the scale, the number of miles run, etc etc. It sometimes does more harm than good. This is especially true in maintenance mode because the tiny fluctuations can totally make you crazy. Oh my god I gained a pound! Two weeks later…Oh my god I lost 1.5 pounds! YAY! This rollercoaster ride is ridiculous and stressful!

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My tip: have a number that you definitely don’t want to go over, and then have a number that is that “danger zone.” For example: my number I don’t want to go over is 150 pounds because that was my initial goal weight when I was trying to lose 100 pounds. My “danger zone” weight is 146-148. It’s just creeping a little too closely to 150 for my liking. I try not to obsess on the number on the scale unless it’s reaching the danger zone. Then that’s cause for me to tighten the reigns and make sure I’m doing what I need to do to keep the weight off.

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Comparisons are not constructive. There will always be someone faster, stronger, skinnier, richer, smarter than you and me. Always. Getting stuck in the comparison game doesn’t get us anywhere. Avoid it!

Make a list. Write down everything that you love about your body. I struggle with this. It’s hard to give yourself praise! But MAKE THAT LIST and post it somewhere you can see it, perhaps the bathroom mirror.

Have a mantra you repeat every day. “I love myself, I love my strong legs, I have beautiful arms, I have a nice smile” etc. Fake it til you make it!

How Am I Doing?

It’s easy to give advice, it’s harder to take it. I compare myself to others. I compare my body, my athletic abilities…everything. I’m trying to curb that by reminding myself what I am thankful for in my life. I am trying hard not to obsess about the number on the scale, but I don’t always succeed in that department.

Where I am definitely excelling is thinking positive thoughts about my body and abilities. The “positive self-talk” has never been my strength. But when I have a particularly good workout or successful event, or I catch my reflection in the mirror and think “Wow, my legs look really great today!” and then I feel pretty good about myself! I need to harness that so I feel it every day!

QUESTION: How do you change your mind-frame to thinking positively about yourself and your body?

Five Truths of Maintenance  *  Maintenance 101: How to Eat  *  Maintenance 101: Challenges  *