By: Suzi Farley
Twenty four weeks and 3 days. That is the amount of time I’ve been working out. Six days a week, like clockwork.
In my 44 years on earth, I’ve never stuck to anything as long as this. I have attempted to get healthy more times than I can count. I’ve attempted to do a lot of things. But I’ve lacked any type of consistency or discipline to ever finish what I set out to do.
In 2015, I suffered the most unimaginable tragedy–the worst pain a parent can ever experience. I then spent the next 3 years hiding from the world, eating every one of my feelings.
For over a decade, I suffered from terrible sleep apnea and would wake up with pounding headaches that would last most of the day. I have a job that requires me to be on my feet. The extra weight I carried around at work, caused my knees and ankles to ache and swell.
I spent a lot of time isolated and alone. That was by design. Food was my only comfort and friend, or so I thought. It was a bad friend that was slowly killing me.
You would never guess that my background was fitness, with the lifestyle I was leading.
- A 4-year collegiate athlete
- Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Physiology
- Coach of youth sports and adult softball
- Rsn recreation departments
- Taught exercise classes to people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia
All the while, I lived a life that was opposite my experience. I couldn’t possibly have been taken seriously.
I was good at making lots of goals, but never good at following through. A goal without action is just a dream, in my opinion. So instead of trying to meet a dozen different goals, I decided to be realistic and keep the list small. Super small, like one goal: Drink one gallon of water, every single day.
I started to track my calories, and oh my goodness, what was I putting in my body? The most alarming number was the amount of calories I was drinking. One specialty coffee drink in the morning, a couple wild cherry Pepsi’s during the day, and an energy drink at night during work. I was drinking 1,250+ calories a day...A DAY!!!
So, I replaced those horrible empty calories with a gallon of water, plus coffee without creamer and sugars. I ended up losing 25 pounds in about 3 weeks. No exercise, just changing what I drank.
Another change I made was what I ate. Again, I wasn’t mentally prepared to start a diet or regimen. But I was ready to reduce my portion size. I was only eating maybe two times a day before; high calorie, high fat, huge portion meals. I started measuring my portions. I gave myself a bigger serving of vegetables and had the rule that I had to eat all of them before eating my protein and my carb. My carb portion used to be the largest food group on my plate. Then a huge serving of meat, and a tiny bit of veggies. Eating the veggies first and still drinking the gallon of water a day, I began to feel fuller faster. The fiber from the veggies was allowing me to feel satisfied. I ended up eating most of my protein and then being too full to eat my carbs or very little of my carbs.
I’m not afraid of carbs, but I know I was eating the wrong carbs and a lot of them.
I had this belief in my mind that a meal wasn’t complete without a large serving of protein and carbs. I quickly learned how wrong I was.
I ended up losing about 30 pounds just by eating smaller portions of what I already ate and not drinking my calories. I was starting to feel better, people were starting to notice the weight loss, and I was ready to return to the gym after an almost 20 year hiatus.
I hit the ground running in the gym. The plan was 6 days a week, one rest day. I have stuck to that goal and the weight has come off, and I am beginning to see some real muscle growth and definition.
What keeps me coming back to the gym day after day?
A planned workout and great music!! I always have a plan. I go into the gym with a workout ready to go. Many people have their workout on their phone, but I’m old school and prefer my cute little spiral notebook, with pretty pastel colored pages that I decorate with cute motivational stickers! I use my $12 wireless headphones, jam out on my Spotify workout playlists, and leave the phone in my cubby. Having the phone on me causes me to lose focus and intensity.
The living legend and former Mr. Olympia said it best, “People who are on their phones at the gym aren’t serious about working out. That’s Mickey Mouse stuff”!
It’s also so important to know what workout you are going to do that day and stick to it!
We are all so busy, your time in the gym is valuable. Don’t waste it wandering around not training, or re-working muscles that are supposed to be resting. Follow the plan, give it 100%, and get in and out of the gym.
With my nutrition and exercise finally routine and under control, it could be easy to become complacent..to start sneaking unhealthy food and drinks back into my diet, to start skipping workouts.
At the beginning it is so easy to be motivated. You are losing weight and seeing visible results. Friends, family, and co-workers are showering you with compliments about how great you look. You also feel great, so you keep on going. But then, week after week, month after month, the excitement of this fitness journey and healthy lifestyle starts to lose its newness. You’ve gotten used to how you look and feel, and the compliments aren’t heard as frequently.
How do we muster the effort to continue?
Here’s the deal, you won’t always be excited to go to the gym or sit down to your dinner plate: chicken breast with broccoli and spinach...for the seventh time this week.
You are not always going to be motivated.
You are not always going to be inspired.
I always think of the quote I see on social media: “Motivation gets you started, habit keeps you going”. I wholeheartedly believe in this!
Everyone goes through this:
- an author gets writer’s block;
- an artist doesn’t know how to begin his next painting.
Our career can become stale, you can get stuck and feel like quitting. BUT DO YOU QUIT YOUR JOB? No, you still show up, no matter what. Some days are great and some days, not so much. Any day you get into the gym and workout is a great day!!! “The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen.” -Author Unknown.
Treat working out like a “have to”, not a “get to”.
It has to be a priority in your life, just like going to work. Schedule it and stick to it. Pick a time and show up! You can workout 3 times a week for 30 minutes and still see amazing results. You get yourself to work, you get your kids to practice, you can get yourself a good workout in. A daily habit or routine does not require motivation or inspiration.
That being said, it never hurts to be motivated and inspired!! Whatever your goals are, be diligent about accomplishing them and do or be whatever you need to motivate and inspire yourself. When that isn’t enough, seek outside motivation. Hire a personal trainer for a few weeks, recruit your husband or best friend to be your workout partner. Hold each other accountable.
I personally find my motivation from YouTube videos! I follow certain fitness influencers and after watching them crush a workout, I can’t wait to! So when I lack the desire, I spend 5-10 minutes watching someone do what I want to do and I’m practically running out the door!
You want inspiration? Look to Instagram. A quick search will have you watching a paraplegic working out, or an amputee, or a pregnant woman in her last trimester. If those people don’t inspire you to be better, or realize you have no excuses, I don’t know what will.
Remove any and all obstacles that prevent you from taking care of yourself.
- Have your workout written the day or week before.
- Have your wireless headphones charged.
- Have your gym bag packed.
- Have your workout clothes laid out (I put mine on as soon as I wake-up).
- Have your living room cleared out and your DVD in the machine ready to hit play or streaming on your TV.
- Have your meals ready to go.
- Eliminate anything that will hinder your chance to workout.
Eventually it will be part of your daily life. Just like brushing your teeth. You’d never skip brushing your teeth, because you know how harmful it is. How awful you’d feel for skipping it. Brushing your teeth is often something you do on “auto-pilot”. You do it without question. That is how working out and eating healthy will become for you. You’ll find yourself going without questioning it.
*Key things that helped me achieve my goals:
- Have your workout written and ready to take with you.
- Schedule workouts as a priority. Put it on the calendar and go.
- Drink a gallon of water or more a day.
- Stop drinking your calories.
- Smaller portions, made up of largely veggies, then protein, and a small serving of carbs. Eat the veggies first.
- Realize that you are not always going to be motivated and inspired. Workout anyways.
- Set yourself up for success. Eliminate all obstacles. Have workout written, bag packed, food made. Plan ahead.
- Find outside sources of motivation. Hire a personal trainer, recruit someone to be you workout partner. Watch fitness influencers workout videos. Read motivational texts and quotes.