For me, right now, I feel like I’m starting over. I’ve spent the entire past year learning a new city, learning how to cook, learning how to deal with my baby starting school for the first time… and I’ve basically spent just enough time to really sit down and accept that I’m changing the trajectory of my entire life. I’m going into personal training. Nutrition counseling. I have a lot that I want to do in the future. I said, two years ago, that I wanted to consider competing in a figure competition, and I meant it. I took it seriously! However, considering everything that I’ve done, and all the major milestones I’ve experienced – facing, head on, my fears of big city living; going on Dr. Oz; planning a wedding; training for and running my first major race – it just… I won’t even lie. I completely forgot about it.
There’s just… a lot going on around here, and it’s finally starting to sink in. I’ve got to start getting serious about this…
…which means, I’ve got to train differently. It’s one thing to have an active life. That’s key for maintenance. It’s another thing, entirely, to have to train for physique. I need a plan. (I do nothing without a plan. I learned the hard way. I know better.)
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my experiences and realized from my studies, it’s that successful training and weight loss has to come from five key components. To me, if you don’t address each of these in any goal to lose weight and live an overall healthier lifestyle that allows for you to maintain that loss, you’re not gonna last. Plain and simple.
That being said, here are what I think are the first most important components of a successful weight loss plan:
1) What you eat. I’m a huge believer in clean eating. Like I’ve said elsewhere in one of the other 1,100 posts on this blog, I believe that clean eating saved my life. Had I not given up on cheap, hyper-processed convenience foods, I would’ve eaten myself into a coma, diabetes, amputations, and eventually a heart attack or a stroke. For crying out loud, I was over 300lbs. Clean eating gave me the opportunity to develop my self-control, understand my own satiety signals, and get to know my body and mind in a new way. Eating fruits and vegetables instead of heat-n-eat convenience crap has me looking and feeling younger than ever. Eating healthy sources of protein has me feeling stronger than ever, and fuller for longer. Eating the right fats has my hair, skin and nails looking awesome and my energy levels through the roof. I look fantastic, but most importantly, I feel fantastic.
2) You must pay close attention to when you eat. And, no, I’m not particularly referring to the “eat more often to rev up your metabolism!” argument, which has its flaws. What I am referring to, is being a mindful eater. Habits like incessant snacking, bored eating, poorly timing your meals and your workouts can easily derail anyone’s goals of losing weight and keeping it off. Bad habits suck because, of course, they’re counter productive to our goals, but also because they’re habits, which means they’re things that we do on auto pilot. We don’t even give them a second thought. Challenging that is difficult.
3) Activity levels. The closer you get towards your goals, the more important exercise becomes. You can’t work out too much, and you can’t skip working out at all. It’s the Goldilocks syndrome – it can’t be too hot, it can’t be too cold. It has to be just right for you, and that includes the method of activity, too. Do you enjoy running? What about yoga? Maybe tennis is your thing? How about soccer? Volleyball? Find something that you enjoy doing, and do it. Often. Commit to it beyond the simple weight loss goal, and boom – there’s your weight loss maintenance method.
4) Sleeping patterns. If you’re going to put your body through all that activity, you need to give it adequate time to heal and rest. Trust me – putting a body through that kind of work consistently and repeatedly for days without rest becomes a quality of life issue rather quickly and, quite frankly, it can result in the opposite of what you want, which is weight gain. Think of a car. We often talk about food being fuel, but we rarely talk about ‘rest’ and the need to “turn off the engine.” As someone who has driven cross-country several times (What can I say? We love a good road trip!), I can tell you one thing: you don’t want to see what happens to an overworked car. Furthermore, as someone who has actually worked a 72 hour shift before (blame college, man), I can also tell you that you don’t want to be the overworked body who is forced to operate on inadequate rest. You start imagining that people are out to kill you. I just… just trust me. Don’t be that person.
5) Stress reduction. As I think many of the blog posts here may demonstrate, I am a recovering emotional eater. When I become overly stressed, I once would simply turn to the euphoric-yet-ephemeral feeling I got from snaking on junk food. It never solved my problems, but it made me feel better about life, only for the problems to remain unsolved… which resulted in me running back to food again once I realized I had to face said problem again, eventually. Sure, we can talk cortisol and visceral fat – and don’t get me wrong, we will – but the habit of solving negative emotions with food cannot go unchecked. It not only poses health risks, but also rendered me completely ineffective and unable to be the problem solver I need to be in daily life. While yoga is my personal method of stress management, I’m considering taking it up a notch and shooting for a full hour of yoga, coupled with reincorporating my ten minutes challenge back into the fold.
And, much like I blogged through the first 160lbs I’ve lost… I’ll blog through these, too, using these five key components as my guide. I figure, there’s no better time to train for a competition of this nature than when I have to prepare for my certification, anyway. Sharing what I’m thinking, feeling and learning should help me get to my goals even faster, much like how writing about emotional eating saved me.
Won’t you join me?