secrets to weight loss

Maintenance 101: Fitness Should Be Fun

Maintenance 101: Fitness Should Be Fun

I think one of the reasons a lot of people struggle with keep the weight off long term is because they didn’t change their mentality. Perhaps they thought they didn’t need to continue doing what worked to lose the weight. Perhaps they went back to their old habits that put the weight on to begin with. And perhaps they stopped working out.

There are a lot of reasons why people quit working out: injury, illness, boredom, drudgery….the list can go on and on. The truth is: it’s easy to burn out. Recently I wrote about taking a few extra rest days one week because I was just burned out mentally and physically. The reset did wonders for me. But it also reminded me that working out shouldn’t be a CHORE. When it becomes a chore, it’s time to change something.

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The only way we’re going to stick to exercising on a regular basis is if it’s enjoyable. Sure, in the beginning on your weight loss journey it’s going to be a struggle. I went from being a couch potato to a gym rat but that didn’t happen overnight. It took time. I got used to it. My body adapted. I got better at swimming and I was losing weight, which obviously made fitness so much easier. I wasn’t lugging around 100 extra pounds, my joints didn’t hurt, my back didn’t hurt, I wasn’t out of breathe. So give it some time!

I chose swimming as the activity to help me lose 100 pounds because it was something I always loved. I knew I didn’t like tennis, or (at the time) running, so I picked an activity I liked. That’s so important!

The trick to sticking to your workouts is to make them fun. When it becomes routine and boring, you’re gonna want to quit. So don’t set yourself up for failure, set yourself up for a long term success. (And check out this post: Too Busy to Exercise.)

Keep Fitness Fun

There have been a bunch of things I’ve discovered along the path to health that have helped me stick with it. I found that I really loved hiking and biking and snowshoeing. I never thought I’d be the type of person that was way into sports and fitness because I spent most of my life hating it. Being picked last for a team sucked. Being embarrassed because I was uncoordinated wasn’t fun.

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Hiking is a great workout and it’s a lot more fun than staring at a wall on a treadmill in the gym. Plus, hiking is something you can do anywhere. Snowshoeing is basically hiking, just in snow. 🙂

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If you’re on vacation somewhere warm, trying canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling or scuba diving. When we went to Hawaii, one of my favorite memories is swimming in the ocean. I’d never done it before and it was magical. I loved it. It made working out a joy, not a chore.

Signing up for a race of some kind is a great way to stay motivated, the change things up, and to experience something exciting–especially if you sign up to race with a group. If you’re not a runner, what about walking? Or biking? Biking the Portland Century with Michael was such a fun experience and a happy memory. Also, having a specific goal in mind helped me stay on track with training.

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Make your workout a social event. My suggestions: join a hiking club like Mazamas,  check your local running store for a free running group to join, check websites like MeetIn and Meetup for other fitness related groups. At the very least, find a friend. Maybe a neighbor who will go on walks with you after dinner a few times a week. Having a partner do an activity with you makes it more enjoyable and more likely you’ll stick to it.

Change It Often

This is somewhere I fall short. I tend to get stuck in routines and habits and don’t deviate and this leads to burnout and boredom. Getting stuck in a fitness rut is the quickest way to STOP seeing results. I know this. And yet I still commit this sin! I’m “married to my workout.”

The way to change things up is to simply CHANGE. Try a new machine at the gym. If you lift weights on machines, try the free weights. If you run on the treadmill, try climbing the stairmaster. Do HIIT workouts.

I think one of the reasons cross-fit is so popular and so successful for weight loss is because the workouts are different each time. The body never gets used to it and therefore it’s easier to get ripped quickly. Seeing fast results is intoxicating and motivating.

Another way to change things up is to take a class. I’ve mentioned many times I’m not a fan of classes, for a lot of reasons, but they do offer something positive: motivation and change. If you go to spin class every week, the routines are usually different each time but to change things up even more, try switching to another instructor once in awhile. A minor change like that can refresh your outlook and routine.

I recently started going to Body Pump at my gym. Even though the classes are always really full and I’m not a fan of classes, I really like Body Pump. It’s different than anything I’ve done. I felt the benefits of the class after only a few sessions. I also found that I was looking forward to it!

Challenge Yourself

Maybe you’re burned out on your routine because it’s too easy. Too easy = boring. I need a challenge. The Body Pump classes have been a challenge for me and I am enjoying that. It was a nice change from lifting weights on my own at my own pace.

Take a class you’ve always wanted to try but thought it might be too hard. Just listen to your body and don’t injure yourself. (And check out this old post: Mistakes You’re Making in Fitness Classes.)

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Fun Fun Fun!

One thing I’m willing to admit: I am terrified of the idea of getting a dog. I’m a cat person. Cats are easy. Dogs seem hard, especially since I’ve never had one. They are a much bigger responsibility. But the volunteering I’ve been doing walking dogs at the Pixie Project has opened my eyes. It was SO MUCH FUN walking the dogs! I had a blast. It opened my eyes to things around me instead of being so focused on what was going on in my brain. I want a dog that I can take hiking and running with me. That sounds like such a fun way to spend time with a pet and get exercise in.

So that’s what I think about this whole topic of fitness and fun.

What do you think?

Maintenance 101: How to Eat  *  Maintenance 101: Challenges  *  Five Truths of Maintenance  *  Maintenance 101:  Self- Love  * Maintenance 101: Beware of Food Creep *

Five Truths of Maintenance

Note: This is a guest post I originally wrote for Sarah over at Run Sqrl, Run!

My name is Lisa and I blog at 110 Pounds and Counting about how I lost over 100 pounds on my own. At my peak, I weighed 255 pounds. By the time I was 25 years old I was developing diabetes, I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I had to make some changes and I knew my life depended on it.

I decided I had to choose an exercise that I would enjoy and stick with. I always loved swimming as a kid and was even on the swim team as a teen. I knew it was something I’d love. I did what I could and built up my stamina.

I also started counting my calories. I went from eating over 5,000 calories a day to eating less than 2,000 calories a day. I wrote it down the old-fashioned way—pen and paper—for two years. Eventually I upgraded to using an iPhone app (which I love and use every day).

It took me just under 2 years to lose the weight. There were a lot of plateaus and struggles. I had a few setbacks, but eventually I reached my goal and continued to lose even more. I’ve now maintained my weight loss for nearly 4 years.

My life has changed in so many amazing ways with my weight loss. I ran the Hood to Coast Relay Race, I biked 55 miles in Reach the Beach, and I biked 72 miles in the Portland Century. I love trying new things and challenging myself in ways I never thought I would at 250 pounds.

Five Truths of Maintenance

1. It Will Be Hard. But it’s worth it. Maintenance is almost harder than the weight loss. With the weight loss I was motivated by the numbers on the scale and the size of my jeans shrinking. The attention I received from friends, family and coworkers was motivating. I even got attention from complete strangers on the street!

It felt good to suddenly have positive reinforcement about my body and its changes. Unfortunately, after you keep the weight off for a few years that becomes the norm. I now meet people that never knew me as the 250+ pound girl. Not having that positive feedback anymore can sometimes make you wonder things like “Have I gained some weight?” and “Do I not look as good as I used to?” Somehow you have to find peace with your body and not NEED that outside reinforcement to feel good about yourself. It’s hard work and something I work on all the time.

2. This Is Not A Diet: It’s A Lifestyle. A lot of people look at weight loss as a short-term thing. Unfortunately, most of us are not blessed with magical genes that let us eat whatever we want and not gain weight. I never looked at my journey as a diet, it was a lifestyle change. I was once a complete couch potato that could eat an entire pizza in one sitting. After losing the weight and becoming athletic, my lifestyle was no longer conducive to spending entire weekends on the couch. My healthy lifestyle stuck around AFTER I lost the weight.

It’s crucial to look at the changes as permanent, life choices and not fads or diets or short term fixes. Keep that lifestyle fresh by trying new things—yoga, pilates, Body Pump, etc.

3. We Must Continue What Worked. Counting calories worked for me. I exercised and counted all of my calories in order to lose the weight and I STILL do that now! I swim 2 days a week and I exercise 3 days a week (weight lifting, cardio and biking). My hobbies are now things like hiking and snowshoeing in the winter.

The cold, hard truth about maintenance is that I will always have to count my calories. I took a short break from it after reaching my goal and tried “intuitive eating.” This did not work for me because “intuitively” I wanted to overeat! I quickly learned my lesson and went back to counting my calories. Now, I don’t even think about it—I just do it.

4. It’s Not Always About A Number. When I was losing the weight it was all about the calories. I was eating numbers instead of food. I ate a lot of processed, diet foods because they were portion controlled and I knew how many calories I was eating. Eventually I realized that I needed to eat REAL FOOD instead of numbers. I had to learn how to eat healthy, unprocessed foods and stay within my portions and calories. It worked and my body feels a million times better now. Food should be fuel, not numbers.

Sometimes the gauge of our health is not solely what the scale says. I care less about that number and more about how my jeans fit. Am I still fitting into my size 4 jeans, or are they a little tight? Can I still swim a mile without stopping for a rest, or have I slowed down? When I go hiking, am I out of breath or is it easy for me? When I lift weights, can I lift MORE? Is my blood sugar stable? All of these are tests of fitness. I keep tabs on my endurance levels, my blood pressure and cholesterol. These are all signs of fitness and health!

5. It Can Be Fun. Weight loss maintenance is all about MODERATION. That is my key word and my secret to how I’ve kept the weight off. I do not deny myself the things I want. I don’t believe in “Cheat Days” or binge days. That implies that I’m dieting, and I’m not. I do not deny myself the foods I want; I just eat them in portion-controlled servings. If I want dessert, I eat some ice cream. If I want a cold, frothy beer, I drink it. But I don’t eat a huge bowl of ice cream, or drink a dozen beers. Enjoying two slices of pizza once in awhile keeps me sane and keeps me from going crazy and eating the whole pie!

The bottom line is that maintenance takes just as much work as the losing took, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Choosing activities that are fun and eating foods that taste good makes it easy to do!

QUESTION: What is your secret to maintaining your weight loss?