It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It

I’ve decided to pull away from my normal bookish content for this post, and talk about the struggle a lot of us, including myself, face to get healthy, and stay healthy. In October 2014, after 5 months of working on a healthier lifestyle, I shared this post with you about my weight loss journey. I went on to lose another 25 lbs by January 2015 (losing a total of 75 lbs), and then in February my love of running began. It was almost a year exactly from my first major weight loss milestone that I ran my first ever 5K (November 2015).

But folks, it hasn’t been easy. And sometimes the motivation just isn’t there. Or the scale creeps up and panic ensues. Staying healthy is definitely one of the most challenging things I have ever faced, and continue to face every single day. It’s not something that just goes away once you meet a certain goal and lose some weight. It’s a constant battle – always in the forefront of my mind. I struggle daily with eating the correct number of calories, not overindulging, making healthy food decisions, saying ‘no’ to sweets. And although I love running, and would do it every single day if my knees didn’t hate me, there are definitely days where I am not feeling it. Where the laziness takes over, and I feel like that girl I was a year and a half ago.

There’s also the struggle internally. Just because I have lost weight doesn’t mean I feel skinny. I still carry that overweight perception of myself, although I continue to work hard at changing my mindset every day. This article about ‘Phantom Fat’ makes some excellent points about the struggles people like myself face after a big weight loss. Yes, I can tell by my clothes and the scale that I’m significantly smaller. But there are days when I look in the mirror, and I don’t see it. Days when I feel like a busted can of biscuits. And I can’t even begin to tell you how bad my fear is of gaining the weight back.

These are all battles I fight with myself on a daily basis. Allowing myself to eat a piece of cake without the fear of gaining back 75 lbs. Being okay with taking a rest day and telling myself that I don’t have to hit my 10,000 step goal every.single.day. Accepting that my metabolism has improved, and that it’s okay to indulge once in awhile, as long as it’s not an every day occurrence. Finding new, healthy foods to break up the boring routine. Staying motivated to run by signing up for a new race every month. Finding a balance so that I’m not totally consumed by counting calories and being healthy, but still making it a priority so I don’t fall back into old habits. Learning to live a new lifestyle, while still learning to live a little. Being aware of my choices and how they’ll affect me, but also not beating myself up when I’ve had a bad week and gain a couple of lbs. Being able to look in the mirror and be proud of how far I’ve come, and that I worked my ass off to be a better version of myself – and using that motivation to not give up.

48542a09930cc42cc33b23085a8f91fc

 

So, What are some ways to be healthy and keep your sanity? How do you live a healthier lifestyle and stick to it? These are just a few things that have worked for me.

Find some fun, low calorie foods you enjoy

I used to be the queen of fast food and sweets. And although I have given up fast food (and don’t even miss it), I still love sweets a little too much, and have had to find alternative foods to feed that sweet tooth. Yasso Sea Salt Caramel Bars, Chobani yogurt with granola, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites, Quaker Chocolate Crunch Rice Cakes w/peanut butter, Dove Dark Chocolate, Nature Valley Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Protein Bars. These are just a few of my favorite low calorie snacks that give me the sweet fix I need. And that’s just snack food – I’ve also found a new love for veggie burgers, salads, low calorie breads, egg whites, almond milk, oatmeal. There are so many healthier foods that I never ate before, but have grown to love and crave now. I’ve learned to make substitutions here and there and now they’ve become a part of my diet. I still love me a cheeseburger and fries once in awhile, don’t get me wrong. I’ve just learned how to balance my love of food by working healthier options into my daily diet, and not having to give up all the foods that I love, like pizza. Because life just simply isn’t worth living without pizza.

Get moving

I used to be the laziest person in the world. No joke. The thought of any kind of exercise was revolting. I would come home from work and plant my ass on the couch, only moving for important things like using the bathroom or getting a bowl of ice cream. But clearly that wasn’t working for me. And even though I lost weight solely by eating better and dieting, I didn’t want to be on a diet the rest of my life. I knew that in order to eat more and get to enjoy food (because let’s face it, I love food), I had to become more active. I started out by downloading the Sworkit app on my phone and working out 30 minutes a few days a week. After about a month of doing that, I got the bug to try running. And it was then that my love of running was born, and it is my sole form of exercise now. The point, though, is finding what works for YOU. Some people love walking, and walking is a GREAT way to lose weight. Some people like the elliptical, and I do too once in awhile. I have friends who love yoga or spinning class. Some people are into CROSSFIT and weight training. That’s great, and more power to those people because it works for them. What works for one person may not for someone else, but the key is just finding that one thing you love to do and then making it an important part of your weekly or daily routine. Start out slowly so that you can learn to enjoy it, and once you build it into your routine, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll NEED it. The body is a powerful thing, and once it starts to get used to something, it will crave it regularly. I never imagined I would love running as much as I do, but when I don’t get to run for one reason or another, I get anxious. My body needs that outlet. It clears my mind, but it also makes me feel good about myself. It is MY therapy, and now that I am used to it, I need it to survive.

Find a routine that works for you and then stick to it. The recommended amount of activity every week varies by person. Start small and build your way up to what you’re happy with. It’s not always easy making time around working, taking care of your family, kids activities, etc. I totally get that. Some people can only work it into their schedule a few days a week, and that’s okay! You do what works for you. If you’re a morning person, get up a little earlier and get in a 30 minute workout. More of a night owl? Fit in 30 minutes after the kids go to bed. I have friends who workout over their lunch breaks a few days a week. Whatever works. I personally prefer to get up a little earlier every morning to run. For me it’s the best way to start my day. But I know that’s not ideal for every situation, and there are days where I say ‘screw it’ and decide to sleep in instead. Because I’m human and we’re all going to have days like that once in awhile. The point is to keep moving forward and keep trying.

If you’re interested in running, this is the Couch to 5K app that I used. It starts you off running only a few days a week, and only very short periods of time. For a girl who used to pretend illness to get out of running in gym class, this app worked for me. It says it’s an 8 week program, but it honestly took me about 4 months to be comfortable running for 30 minutes. You go at the pace that works for you.

The other thing that has really helped me be active on a daily basis is getting an activity tracker. But beware, it becomes an addiction. I find that I’m very competitive with myself to meet or surpass my step goals every day. That can be a good and a bad thing. Good because I am getting the much needed activity that is recommended (10,000 steps minimum), but bad when I need a break and the guilt sets in. It’s important not to let it consume you, but I feel having a tracker has been instrumental in my journey to becoming more active. It’s made me more aware of how little activity I used to get in a normal day and has helped get me up and moving. It has made exercise more fun and keeps it constantly at the forefront of my mind. I have a Fitbit, which I definitely recommend. I’ve used both the Charge and now I have the Surge, and I’ve loved them both. Wearing a tracker has been an eye opening experience for me, and I highly recommend getting one if you’re looking to be more active and need a good motivator.

Sleep

Studies have proven that a good night’s sleep is key to losing weight and feeling good. 7-9 hours is recommended. This is where I struggle a bit. My body requires at least 7 hours of sleep every night to function at my full potential. But do you think I get that much sleep? No. Because I like staying up later with my husband, reading my book, drinking a glass of wine in front of the fire, basically refusing to cave to fatigue. That time after my daughter goes to bed is my down time, and I don’t like cutting it short just to get more sleep. I know it’s bad, and I’m working on it. I can usually stay up later for a few nights, but then it will catch up to me, and I’ll have to go to bed earlier for a few days to make up for it. When I DO get a full night’s sleep, it’s amazing how good I will feel the next morning, how good my run will be. You would think that would motivate me to go to bed at a decent time every night, right? I’m still working on it.

Do it for YOU

It’s very important to make time for yourself. We all need an outlet for the everyday stresses of life. I have several outlets – running, reading, and wine. Without these things, I’d lose my damn mind. With the daily struggles to be healthy, make sure you’re doing something for yourself. Set goals with some sort of reward in mind. My reward for losing my first 50 lbs was a new tattoo. I set that goal knowing how bad I wanted a new tattoo, and it was such a great feeling walking into that tattoo shop, knowing this was my reward for working my ass off. I have set small goals for myself along the way because it’s important to reward yourself for working so hard. Buy a new purse, buy some books, get a new pair of running shoes, some new clothes. Do it for YOU.

Go Easy On Yourself

You’re going to have bad days. You’re going to slip up. You’ll hit a plateau and get frustrated. You’ll get bored and need to change up your routine. And you’re going to want to give up over and over again. This is all normal and it’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up, and cut yourself some slack. What’s important is that you maintain your focus and get back at it. Remember why you started and be proud of how far you’ve come. Use that as motivation to keep moving forward and push yourself just a little harder, because there is nothing as satisfying as meeting that goal. There really is no greater feeling than finding a strength you didn’t know you had, and exceeding goals you never imagined possible.

Live a Little

I love that I’m a healthier person now. I don’t miss fast food. I don’t miss drinking pop. I gave up a lot of unhealthy foods, and I don’t miss them one bit, because I’ve learned how it affected me. I’ve become so much more knowledgeable about what goes into my mouth and how many calories are in everything I eat. It was eye opening, let me tell you. I couldn’t have done it without MyFitnessPal. And it was KEY to my success. I never cared or even looked at the back of a box of food to see what I was eating or what a portion size was. And now I’m more aware of everything I eat and how to measure out the proper portions, which has helped make me a healthier eater. I want to eat better, because I have a better understanding of calories and how different foods affect me. But I also know that it is EXTREMELY important to live a little. Indulge. Have that Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Drink that red wine (I drank a glass of red wine every night during my weight loss journey – it was my daily reward for sticking to my calories). Eat that chocolate chip cookie. You can not go through this process without living a little. You are only human. It’s okay to have pizza for dinner. Just find a balance. I still love pizza and have it at least once a week. But I eat a salad for lunch that day so I don’t feel guilty about it. I love ice cream in the summer and refuse to give it up. You can live a healthier lifestyle without giving up everything you love. It’s all about moderation and finding that balance. Use portion control, set a routine of healthier eating throughout the week by cutting out some extra calories or substituting healthier foods, and then have that Molten Lava cake from Applebee’s on Saturday night – guilt free! Remember that this is a process, but to be successful you will have to find ways to enjoy it.

And it’s all worth it

It’s amazing to me that once I got into a routine and started eating better, it became my norm. I still eat foods I love, but I am more aware. I still have lazy days, but I have more active days to offset them. I’m still struggling with the fat girl on the inside, but I’m beating her one day at a time. I’m proving to myself that I have the strength to fight for a healthier life, to be better for my husband and daughter, but most of all for myself. I have energy and confidence that I never had before.  I can go shopping for clothes and actually enjoy it. I can look in the mirror and see how far I’ve come and be proud of how hard I worked to get here. This post has helped remind me that I’m going to screw up, and I’m going to have bad days or even weeks. What’s important is that I remember how I felt before I started this journey, and to use that to fuel my motivation and get back on track. I will continue to work on my self image, I will continue to struggle every day to eat healthy, and I will continue to fight that overwhelming feeling of laziness that gets me once in awhile. I will fight and I will win.

I started this post to talk about the daily struggles of being healthy and wanting to share the things that have worked for me over the past year and a half. I would love to hear what things keep YOU motivated and helps you stay on track.

Here are some fun ways to burn some quick calories!

chobani_100cal (2)

Advertisements

27 thoughts on “It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It

  1. Hannah T. says:

    You should be so proud of yourself & how you’ve come with your journey. I loved reading this & I think we all have our “struggle” days. Nobody is perfect. 🙂 When I fall off the wagon of motivation and haven’t worked out in a while or am eating unhealthy stuff, I’m shocked at how much different I feel….sluggish, unmotivated, irritable. As soon as I get back into my routine again, I feel so much better instantly and my body stops aching. I still have to enjoy pizza & have “off” days too. 🙂 Drinking a tall glass of water before eating really helps with making me full faster. Also, oatmeal & big breakfasts in general get me through the day and I end up eating less later. The quote you posted by C. Larson is one of my favorites. It has been on my mirror through nursing school & has really helped to motivate me on my tough days. Thank you for sharing this & keep looking forward, girl! You’ve got this!

    • Brandie says:

      Thanks so much, Hannah!! I appreciate your kind words and encouragement. Water is my biggest downfall. I need to drink more of it throughout the day. I know it would help me feel better. I have to work harder on that! 🙂

  2. Sara@LibraryHuntress says:

    Such a great post! I’m almost 3 years into maintenance, having lost over 50lbs. Back in 2012 I was creeping up into the 180s for the first time in my life and then I found out I had glucose numbers in the pre-diabetic range (several of my relatives have died from complications to T2). That was the wake up call I needed and over a few months I lost the extra weight with IF (intermittent fasting). Having been through that, and now being on the other side of things in maintenance, has really been a learning experience for me, and it’s really made me a stronger, better person. I know I can do amazing things with this body God gave me, and I’m determined to be part of the small percent that succeeds at this whole thing long term (3 years down 40+ to go, lol). Some days are more challenging than others, but it’s so worth it! (my glucose numbers have been in the 80s since 2013 woot!). Congrats on your weight loss and I wish you continued success!

    • Brandie says:

      That is awesome Sara, and something to be really proud of!! I hope to be able to say I’m still maintaining in a few years. It is a constant struggle, but I know it’s worth it. And I am amazed by how much more I can do.
      Thanks so much!

  3. Felicia S (The Geeky Blogger) says:

    That phantom fat thing is real. My initial weight loss from 325 to 205 (where I am now and have been for awhile) is still something at times I don’t see. I did more at the beginning but now not so much. I maintained that for years so that I knew I could (you nailed it when you said it is a fight every day). Now working towards the last 30 that I want to lose but that will be super slow. It will also be harder to keep off because that will take a different change in life than the initial loss did. I love that you shared your story! I think it is important to realize that little changes can make a HUGE difference. Also to realize that it isn’t just a goal to do it but to work at it once you get there.

    • Brandie says:

      That is such a huge accomplishment- you’re very inspiring!! Small changes do really amount to a big difference! And it will be something I work on every day for the rest of my life.

  4. stephaniesbookreviews says:

    You have done such an amazing job and you look fantastic! Staying motivated has always been my problem. Then I went probably 2 years where I couldn’t even GET motivated. But I’m trying now. I love those YASSO bars! I used to have a bag of potato chips always on hand and I haven’t bought any so far this year and have been surprised that I don’t really crave them anymore. (Though if I had them I’m sure I’d eat them, so I’m avoiding them at all costs now.) Great post!

    • Brandie says:

      Thank you so much! It’s hard to stay motivated especially in the winter. Getting into a routine of running in the mornings has helped force me to stick with it. I could eat those Yasso bars everyday. I practically do. lol.

  5. Kathryn says:

    You have done such an amazing turn around and found some really healthy options, while being cognizant of the pit falls. I can no longer run, but I get out there and walk most days, thanks to my fitbit and fitreaders support. Once I did go pretty much off sweet stuff, but now just eat it in moderation. I am probably slightly overweight for my height but not much and it doesn’t worry me as still in healthy range. I have just been listening to Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes and she struggled with weight issues too, she doesn’t share her tips but she was inspiring!
    Totally agree with you on the point of needing to indulge as not to do so only makes you think about food all day! Fantastic post.

  6. Kathy says:

    This is such an enlightening post, and your story is very motivational. I think I can rival you in the lazy, jump on the couch to read after work until bedtime, binge on sweets and fast food department. Those foods along with Southern comfort foods are my downfall. I’m stuck in the dreaming of getting back to where I was just two years ago (50 pounds lighter) instead of taking action to get back to where I was two years ago. It seems that I’ve bloomed without the blossoming over the past two years, partly due to stress, which is the hardest fat to rid myself of.

    Those apps and websites, with exception of fitbit (which I have tucked away in a drawer), are all new to me but worth my checking them out. I definitely need something to get me motivated and on track before I become so sedentary that I take root. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Brandie says:

      Thank you, Kathy! I was struggling with anxiety, terrible adult acne, feeling horrible all the time, and then was in a bad car accident. It was the stress of all of that that finally got to me and one day I just decided I needed to make some changes. I honestly never imagined I’d lose all the weight and become a runner. It’s been a life changing experience for sure. Myfitnesspal really helped me!

  7. Lori Palmer (@palmerspageturn) says:

    Fantastic post! Though I don’t need to lose weight, I do struggle with making healthy choices! Choosing healthy food over junk food, getting exercise when I want to stay on the couch, etc. I know that when I make these healthy choices, I feel SO MUCH BETTER. But yet, those healthy choices are so HARD sometimes! You’re points about “living a little” and “going easy on yourself” are so important. Everything in moderation! For me the problem was soda. I had a Pepsi every single day. I knew it was horrible for me. But I loved it. Lats summer I TOTALLY quit drinking it. And I was miserable. But rather than being hard on myself, I allowed myself to have a Pepsi 1-2 times a week. That way, I wasn’t completely depriving myself but it was still a vast reduction in the amount of soda I consumed. I’ve been really working on not being hard on myself!

    • Brandie says:

      Thanks! Yes, it’s so important to indulge once in awhile and not be too hard on ourselves. Being healthy is worth it, but not if you’re miserable! I gave up pop almost 2 years ago and I honestly don’t miss it. It was the sweets I missed the most and after giving it up for 5 months, I realized it wasn’t worth it. I could still eat them in moderation and be healthy. I love chocolate way too much!! Lol.

  8. jillian says:

    Fantastic post, Brandie! Health is crucial and I think a lot of people fail their weight loss journey because they focus too much on the scale. I know for me that was my biggest challenge. I had to keep reminding myself that I was doing it for the long run and not just to lose weight for a bit. Health takes time. I found also that mentally, I had to let myself catch a break – not too give myself a hard time if I eat badly one day.

    • Brandie says:

      Thank you, Jillian! I do have to focus on the long run and not just the here and now. I want to stay healthy for the rest of my life. I think running is helping me keep a good routine and keeping me focused. It takes a lot of effort to be healthy! Lol.

  9. the Bibliophile Babe says:

    You should be so, so proud of yourself! Way to go! Great post, and awesome tips.

    I decided to get healthy last January. While I’ve always had an absurdly fast metabolism and didn’t need to lose weight, I didn’t like the way I looked or felt. I have anxiety, and bad food and no exercise jacks it up to terrible levels.
    I started yoga 5-7 times a week, and quit sugar (save for peanut butter and yogurt), and ate fairly healthy. My anxiety was cut in half, and I started liking my body. I went from 135lbs to 122lbs.
    Then over the summer I finally had a gluten sensitivity discovered, and boy, did I feel better. I started walking every single day, and running as my ankle allowed, while staying with yoga. I started eating 100% healthy, and my anxiety almost disappeared. With enough exercise, good food, sleep and doing things that make me happy, my anxiety is pretty much nonexistent. I’m now at 114lbs and feel great.

    It’s definitely a battle when the lazy days creep in, or when I really just want something crappy for me. I totally agree with the tracker being my best friend and worst enemy!

    Loved this!

    • Brandie says:

      Thank you! You have inspired me with your posts about yoga and staying in shape. I think it’s awesome that you found what works for you and that it helped you to feel better! I range from 117 to 120 depending on the week and my monthly ‘friend’, and it’s the best I’ve ever felt. As long as I can maintain that range, I’ll be happy. I definitely feel my best when I’m eating healthier and staying on track with my running. I just have to accept those lazy days once in awhile and enjoy them when they happen without feeling the guilt. 🙂

  10. Nadia says:

    Brandie I love this post! Its honest and shares so much about what you’ve gone through and are going through regarding losing weight and staying fit. I think you are an inspiration. You’ve worked so hard and still do. Staying healthy is not easy and you are doing it. Lazy days will happen and you just need to embrace them. After all, you will get up the next day and run hard. I love all of your tips – they are practical and helpful. I love this post! You are awesome 🙂

    • Brandie says:

      Thank you so much, Nadia – that means so much to me! I appreciate your kind words. It means a lot to me to inspire others and share my story, in case it can help someone else. It’s never going to be easy, but if I can do it, I know anyone can!

  11. Michelle says:

    I love this post so very, very much. You are my inspiration daily, even though I am really good at ignoring my own mind telling me I need to make wise decisions. Now that I think I have the mental health aspect figured out, I am starting the physical. Honestly, it is the part that worries me the most. Little comments from my husband only serve to sabotage my efforts, like “Do you need dessert?” to “Why don’t you go do sit-ups or something instead of just sitting there?” I know he thinks he is helping, but really all he is doing is making me want that dessert even more or to just sit on my rear-end to prove that he is not the boss of me. I struggle with these mental games so much. I even stopped wearing my Fitbit because I was so obsessed with what numbers I was not hitting. I need to do this. I want to do this. I know it won’t be easy, and I don’t trust myself to not give up when it gets difficult. Heck, this first week is proving difficult, so I am already wondering how I am going to handle this in three months or six months.

    • Brandie says:

      Michelle, I completely understand and sympathize with your struggle. There were so many times I wanted to give up or was discouraged. You can do this!! I know you can, because you’re strong and determined.
      The comments are definitely not helping, and I’d react the same way if it were me.
      You’re going to have slip ups because you’re human. It’s okay to enjoy dessert, because what is life without enjoying food! If you’re only treating yourself to dessert once in awhile, you’re already doing great.
      I can really relate to how you’re feeling, and for me I just had to keep telling myself how bad I wanted this. I wanted to be able to walk into Target and buy a size small shirt for the first time in my life. I wanted to feel sexy for the first time in my life. I wanted to go to my annual doctor’s appointment and hear them tell me I was in the normal BMI range for the first time in my life. I refused to give up on myself – and I know you have it in you and want it just as badly as I did/still do. Once you get into a routine, I promise you it becomes so much easier. The working out part will be something you need to feel good – you’ll miss it on the days you don’t get to do it. It’s crazy, but so true! And I never would’ve imagined I’d feel that way – I was the laziest woman in the world who hated any kind of physical activity.
      I get frustrated sometimes when I haven’t met a step goal – so what I’ve been doing, crazy as it sounds, is walk in place in my living room at night. I will read my Kindle or play on my phone and walk in place until I get to a number I want to see. I’m already sitting there reading, may as well stand up and walk instead.
      My husband wants to lose some weight and started running this week, and eating a bit better. Today he texted me that he got a salad at the grocery store, ate the whole thing without looking at the calories and didn’t realize it was 4 servings. He’s pissed that he went so far over his calories. I had to laugh because now he understands my struggle every single day. It is constantly on my mind, a constant battle. He is just now seeing a small piece of it, and how hard it is to stay on track. I know how hard it is, but it’s doable – I know you want this and I’m here to cheer you on!!

  12. Rachel @The Readers Den says:

    I didn’t comment on your post when you originally published it, but I read it, Brandie, and found it so very inspirational! I love that you’re sticking with your health goals even though it is hard! Being healthy isn’t something you just do on occasion, it’s a way of life, but it can be a pleasurable way of life. I love that you had your glass of red wine each night for a treat! I’m a big wine person so that treat speaks to me!

    Exercise has been the hardest thing for me lately. I just (tonight) registered a Fitbit and I hope that will help motivate me to do a little more. I’m wondering how it will register my time on a spin bike, though. Not that I’ve been doing that much lately, but I have plans for tomorrow after work.

    Keep these health updates coming! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s