One day as I glanced at myself in the mirror before showering I grimaced. Who was that person looking back at me? That wasn’t the person I remembered. I was the heaviest I had been in my life, and it was showing. It was something I had been aware of for a while now. Let’s be honest, years. I knew it ever since those jeans I got while my husband was deployed stopped fitting me. Now here I was, breaking the overweight BMI category. What was going on with me? I’d always been active. I’d never had to try to manage my weight. Ever. I played team sports my entire life. What happened? I like to think 30 happened, but it was a combination of things (like sitting on my butt all day and eating everything I wanted). None of which really mattered now anyway. The thing that did matter, was what was I going to do about it?
I wasn’t happy. Not at all. Not about me, my body, or anything in my life at that time. I had to make a change. I knew this. A real change, a change that would last. That meant going for it 100%. No more excuses. No more trying to take the easy way out. No fad diets, no lazy exercises that promised unbelievable results with only minutes of work a day. I knew I had to change, not just my eating but my activity level and fitness levels as well. No more “well I’ll just walk more”, or I’ll just do yoga a few times a week, or I’ll just do 21 day fix. None of that.
I tried that.
I spent 2 months trying that. I did the exercise videos, I tried the portion control containers. I ran a bit at the gym. I screwed around with dumbbells. I looked for the easy way out. You know what though? There is no easy way out. Ultimately there are really only 2 things you need if you want to make this change in your life, to become a healthier person, both inside and out (because yes, working on the outside does help the inside too!).
What are the two things you need for a successful fitness journey?
It’s that simple and that hard. I decided to make a change, a real change at the end of February. It’s now nearly August. I have continued that trend in spite of vacations, the unexpected, injuries, and my own personal struggles. No, it’s not easy, but it is so worth it. Determination gets you started and helps you through the hard times, Discipline keeps you going. Together, you are unstoppable.
When I started at the end of last year I was 136 (or more depending on scale, up to 140 at the gym scale!) which is a lot for someone who is all of 5’2″! To put it in perspective most of my adult life I was around 115lbs, until I hit 30. Over the past weeks and months, I’ve lost over 10lbs, as of the time of writing this I’m hovering around 125-124lbs. I’ve steadily lost around half a pound a week, slow but steady progress! Healthy progress. I’ve logged into myFitnessPal for well over 150 days. Every meal, every snack, every mouthful logged.
Have I gone over my calories for the day?
Do I beat myself up over it?
No way. Because that day doesn’t break all of the work I’ve done before or after it. One day won’t break my progress.
My Fitness Routine: Diet
I decided to go big or go home. So I wanted to make sure I was doing things right. That meant hitting up the knowledgeable people over at r/fitness and r/xxfitness. Trust me, even if you aren’t a Redditor you need to check out these resources! Read their sidebars, there is so much great information! I used the links in their sidebar to discover my TDEE, that is the amount of calories my body needs to maintain its weight at it’s current activity level, then I ate less than that. That’s what losing weight is. That’s ALL losing weight is. Eating less than your body needs to maintain. It’s just that simple.
Yet it’s also that hard. The thing is, that doesn’t work if you aren’t accurate when you keep track. You have to account for everything, from oils that you use for cooking, to that bite of cookie you sneaked. I got a food scale, so now I weigh anything that doesn’t come in it’s own serving sized package. I also have to be selective about what I eat. Yes, I could eat that cookie, but if it means sacrificing an entire meal so I can stay in my calories for the day. So is it worth it to me?
My Fitness Routine: Fitness
I wanted to be strong, like I used to be in college when I played hockey. I wanted to be in shape, to not get winded so easily, and I wanted to look good (and fit in those ball dresses I could no longer wear…which was like all except for one). I decided I would start weight lifting, with a dash of cardio throw in.
Oh noes! You’ll get huge! The audience cries!
No. Ladies. It doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t. And if you do accidentally become She-hulk, sell that knowledge and become instantly rich because a lot of people want to know how! The thing that actually happens from lifting weights is that you become stronger, and when do you lose weight you discover you have these things called muscles that make you look great!
I settled on a nice starter program called StrongLifts 5×5. It’s short, simple, it works, and has a super useful app because I apparently can’t count when I lift let alone figure out how much to put on the bar. Everything I like in a program. I have no desire to spend all my free time at the gym. 45min to an hour or so three times a week. That’s it. It’s completely doable.
I started not even being able to lift the bar. I had to work up my strength first, using dumbbells. Now I’m squatting over 100lbs! It’s great. My body looks so much better, and I am so much stronger, and I even enjoy it. I feel accomplished. I feel like I am worth something again. Fitness has been as good for my mind as it has my body.
I discovered that while there is so much in my life I have absolutely no control over, I can control myself and my own level of fitness. That was empowering.
February 28 2016
July 21 2016
How I Fuel My Progress
If I want to continue to progress, I have to continually fuel my body right. That means always trying to give my body what it needs. Since one of my goals is to build muscle, I try to get around 100g of protein every day. This is harder than you might think, especially if you are like me, trying to stay within your meager calorie goals. I only have between 1200-1300 calories a day to play with, so I have to be careful about my food choices or I simply end up hungry. To me it’s a game. The “what can I eat” game. I could have the delicious handmade chocopies my husband got me, but they are 470 calories. I’d have to sacrifice a hefty meal for just one. I’d be hungry all day. Is that worth it to me right now? No. Hungry Kara is, hangry, headachey Kara. No one wants that. Least of all me.
Greek yogurt is my jam. I eat it nearly daily. It’s low calorie and high in protein, and most importantly keeps me full for hours. I also use protein powder to help me reach my protein macro goal and make delicious, healthy smoothies! When I can’t eat those I turn to protein bars. If I need a snack while out running errands or I’m other wise on the go, they are my go to snack. There are lots of choices available, but it’s so hard to find one that is lower in calories, isn’t full of random stuff, and still gives me the protein I need to hit my macro goals, and taste great!
Fortunately such a thing does exist, and you can even try them out for free! I’m partnering with Thrive Market to bring you FREE Primal Kitchen Dark Chocolate Almond Energy Bars! They are filled with healthy fats, no refined sugars, are Gluten, Grain, Dairy and Soy Free, fiber and collagen! Plus they at 230 calories and 15g of protein you can fit them into your diet easily, even if you have to play food-tetris like me, to stay within your calorie limit. As an added bonus they are also GMO Free!
If you’d like to get your free 6-pack of Primal Kitchen Dark Chocolate Almond Energy Bars all you have to do is sign up for Thrive Market! Thrive Market is one of the best ways to get all of your favorite organic brands no matter where you are currently stationed! Sign up, and order your favorite natural and organic products, then get them sent right to your door! Plus, since they sell to you at wholesale prices, you’ll be saving money!
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July 27th 2016 August 1st – This deal has been extended!!
You can achieve your fitness goals. You already have everything you need to get started right now. Determination and Discipline are the only two keys you need. You don’t need to sign up for any programs, you don’t need wraps or supplements, or cleanses or to spend any money at all. All you need is to make a commitment to yourself and stick to it. Trust me. I never thought in a million years I’d be a gym person. I hate the gym! I hate working out. Well, I thought I did. That’s what happens when you stick to it. When you push through all of the barriers you put up to yourself. You do have time in your day to take care of yourself and your own fitness.
I went through all those excuses. No time. Too much effort. It will never work for me. NO! Ignore those voices! Just try it. Do it once. Then the next day, do it again. Then again. Before you know it you’ll have created a new habit, a new and healthier routine. Just think about how far you will have come 6 months from now. A happier, healthier, stronger you.