Staying Motivated

Dear Diary

I haven’t had a chance to make it to the Twitter #fitblog chat in ages. I used to be there every week on Tuesdays and I loved having the opportunity to make connections with like-minded people. Twitter may be a clique and often a time-suck, but I’ve met so many great people on there that I’d consider friends. I enjoy talking to them, I get advice from them and learn new things. Then it was no more. ๐Ÿ™ Goodbye Fitblog…

The last few months I’ve been so busy in the gym on Tuesdays lifting weights that I’ve missed the chats. In the past I was usually on the elliptical Tuesday nights so I could easily participate in the chat. It’s impossible now that I’m focusing on strength training. ย There was a recent chat that I was sorry I missed. It sounded right up my alley. So why don’t we discuss it here?

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How has self-journaling helped you achieve your health and fitness goals?ย 
I didn’t keep a journal of my weight loss journey and I REALLY wish I had. I would have liked to look back at what my specific struggles were, how I felt when I hit landmarks and goals, and what my thoughts were. The things I kept track of were my calories and my weight.

I tracked my weigh-ins on an Excel spreadsheet (which you can see the numbers here) and I wrote down all of my calories each day in a little notebook. This was obviously long before I got an iPhone and used an app to track my calories! It worked well and I did it diligently for two years.

Now, I track my calories on my iPhone in either MyFitnessPal or Cronometer. I track my biking and running mileage on DailyMileย and that’s about it!

What is the most difficult part of tracking your fitness journey?
I’m not sure that I have a difficult part of tracking. I’d say the most difficult part of the journey in general is dealing with injury. Me + injury does not = good mental health. Exercise is definitely my source of dealing with stress and anxiety. Exercise has alleviated a lot of the seasonal depression I deal with each winter. When I can’t exercise? I find myself slipping back into the old habits–the stress eating, getting sucked into that “black hole” mentality where I can’t see the silver lining on anything. It’s really hard.

Injuries that sideline me from doing things I love (run, bike, etc) make me feelย despondentย and stressed out. It also makes me start to over-analyze my food intake. I try REALLY hard not to let myself get super restrictive with my calories when I’m injured. Not only do I need calories to heal my body, but lack of exercise should NOT equal severe food restriction! Ever! I just have to be more mindful. Maybe I don’t eat dessert every night. Or I skip the beer with dinner. Little things like that save the calories and aren’t over-restrictive.

Do you think social media can help motivate people to create better habits?ย 
I think it does both, or rather it has the potential for both positive and negative things. Sometimes it’s easy to get sucked into disordered thinking when you’re surrounded by people who are also struggling. While support is great, if someone’s disordered eating or overexercising is starting to rub off on you–social media is NOT a healthy resource.

There have been several times over the years where I found myself getting a little disordered. It’s happened with running — where I compared myself to more experienced and conditioned runners — and pushed myself too far. I’ve definitely compared myself to other bloggers — why are they so popular when all they do is post photos of oatmeal every day? What helps me is to step away and remind myself that I am NOT them. My journey is different, my body is different, my story is different. Maybe my body type isn’t meant to run marathons or do crossfit every single day. I need my rest days! I also remind myself to celebrate the non-scale victories.

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How do you build an online community around your health goals?ย 

In terms of community, this happened naturally for me. When I decided it was time to lose 100 pounds most of my friends and family were super supportive. In my trek to finding a healthy lifestyle I started meeting new people who were interested in exercise and healthy living like I was.

As for the online community, that came later, after I lost the weight. I really wish I had known there was such a vast resource for weight loss online. The chat groups, twitter, Facebook groups, SparkPeople…the list goes on and on! So while I’m not trying to lose weight, I do use my online community for support and common interests.

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I love Twitter for this. The majority of people I follow are into healthy living. When I was running a lot, I participated in the #runchat running chat and I met so many cool runners. It’s a great place to get advice or learn new things about running. When I wanted to get serious about strength training I turned to my friend Suzanne.

Twitter is what you make it. Fill it will people who will inspire and support you!

Okay, your turn to weigh in!

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:ย 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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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, ย 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 reasonsย cross-fitย 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:ย Mistakes Youโ€™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 theย Pixie Projectย 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 Eatย  * ย Maintenance 101: Challengesย  * ย Five Truths of Maintenanceย  * ย Maintenance 101: ย Self- Loveย ย * Maintenance 101: Beware of Food Creep *