I’ve been told so many times “You should look into being a personal trainer” and every time I laugh a little bit harder. People are saying that to me now because I’ve lost so much weight, and because obviously I know a little bit about getting in shape. My body has changed, yes, but my personality hasn’t changed at all. I’m not (suddenly) this kind person with soft edges who has the power to encourage you to do anything you set your mind to. In fact, I’ve got even more of a no bullshit attitude NOW than I had when I started.
Two years ago, a few months after my first attempt to get healthy (which mostly failed), I found a girl named Mary on Instagram. She was from the northeast, she was a former soldier who was now a trainer. I started following her and so many times I talked with her about getting healthy and working out and eating right. You don’t really need to know about my friend Mary. But if she were here, she would tell you about all the excuses I gave her for YEARS before I decided to start taking my health seriously.
If I were to ever become a trainer, which I won’t, I would absolutely HATE to have a client like me. Someone with a never ending stream of excuses about how they couldn’t (or WOULDN’T) compromise for their results. I’m getting angry just thinking about it.
I posted a status on Facebook the other day and I’ll re-post it here. It said –
This is why I can’t be a trainer. This shit right here. Excuse me as I rant: If you come to me for advice or suggestions, I’ll stop what I’m doing to help you – all day, any day, no problem. However. If your immediate response to my two cents is to tell me how that’s not something you can work into your life, I’m not gonna try to argue with you. I physically cannot. I just say “okay” and go along with my life. That, to me, says “I’ve already decided to continue what I’m doing and hope things work out in my favor.” That says “I’m unwilling to compromise my lifestyle to get the results I want.” And I simply cannot argue with that level of ignorance. Sorry if this is offensive to anyone. I’m ignorant intolerant.
I was that person with all the excuses. I was that person who would get hype about “changing my life”, just to give up when I didn’t drop 60 pounds overnight. I was that person who didn’t like vegetables or most fruits, so I thought I would never be able to diet or eat clean. I was all of these people, and more. I’ve overcome that. Now I know, that all of those excuses were just that – excuses. Now I know that results don’t happen overnight. I know how to eat clean in a way that my body responds well to. I can’t fight those demons in someone else because I’ve just figured out how to fight them in myself.
That’s why they call this a Fitness JOURNEY. Because it’s a long road! And because you learn new things all along the way; about yourself, about your body, about your emotional attachment to food, about your limits… And once you learn those things, they change! Limits change, attachments change, and bodies definitely change. At the end of the day, I’m still on my own fitness journey and right now I don’t ever think I’ll ever know this road well enough to give directions.
However, there is one area where I’m completely confident giving advice, planning, and helping people to understand - and that’s meal prep. I’m so good at it, in fact, that I offer it as a service. I started doing this a while ago, and I have clients all over the United States that come to me for their completely customized meal plans. I don’t do this as a way to make money, but the fact of that matter is that there’s a lot of work and calculation that goes into creating a meal plan for someone. Everyone is different. Everyone needs a certain number of calories to keep their bodies going. Every eats at different times throughout the day. Sometimes people need more calories during certain times of the month (looking at the ladies). Some people need to eat 5 meals a day, others only need 1 meal and several snacks.
The point is, meal plans are not 'one size fits all'. Everyone likes different foods, different textures. These are all things I take into consideration when creating one of my meal plans. I’m still accepting clients, so if you’re interested in what you’ve read about today, click here to create an email. I’ll get back to you within the hour. If you want more information, click here to check out my Meal Plan FAQs.
So life happened, and I’ve decided to temporarily suspend my gym sessions in favor of sleep. Since last Monday, I’ve been working 12 hour days at my company in Houston, Texas. My daily 2 hour commute, in addition to12 hour work days, is already proving to be stressful on my mind and body. I feel like the continued daily hour-long gym sessions would be more harmful than helpful at this point.
I firmly believe that sleep is just as important as diet, exercise, and hydration when trying to lose weight. I won’t try to go into the scientific details because truthfully, I have no idea why that is so. But in my own weight loss journey, I’ve seen that the amount of weight I lose is directly relative to how much sleep I get.
Yes, diet and exercise are important, along with staying hydrated. But unfortunately, when you start having to sacrifice your body’s natural recovery time (aka sleep) for these things, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Last week, I existed in a state of guilt all because I wasn’t going to the gym. I was still sticking to my diet and drinking water, but in my mind I felt like I was doing something wrong. This week, I’m much more at peace with my decision to skip the gym. I know that I’m doing the best thing for my mental and physical state.
I don’t know about you, but I look forward to eating. Every meal is 15-30 minutes of pure heaven where I’m clocked out from life and all that matters is me and my fork. With that in mind, I only prepare food that I can be excited about eating! After my struggles with consistent and sustainable dieting in the past, I live by the concept of “eat more good stuff and less bad stuff”. Dieting is a balancing act inside your head. I don’t believe you can eat 100% good stuff and be truely satisfied, and I know from experience that eating 100% bad stuff will leave you bloated, sick, and unhappy. I had my work cut out for me when I started my diet, because growing up “vegetables” meant either canned green beans or buttered corn. As a child, I had never been exposed to healthy foods except for the few times when my Uncle David came to town and gave me grammar lessons at the dinner table over a steaming plate of asparagus and artichokes (which I still hate, sorry Uncle David).
When I started my diet, I knew I needed to prepare nutritious meals that would not only fill me up, but also discourage my long-standing affair with drive-through restaurants. With visions of Pinterest meals dancing in my head, I drove to Starbucks with a notepad, a pen, and a 100% charge on my iPhone. I got to work, Frappuccino in hand, scrolling through various sights writing down ONLY the things that actually looked appetizing to me. When I got done, I looked at my list and was shocked. It was foods I already liked eating, but prepared in a healthy way! I made my way to HEB late that night to ensure I would be one of the only people in the store and could take my sweet time looking at the labels on the food I was considering. It took me several hours, but I made what I thought were healthy selections and went home to prepare the meals for my first week on my diet.
Starting out, I prepared a lot of steamed vegetables and granola bars. Not joking. That’s what I saw heathy people eating, so that’s what I prepped. However, I realized that as the week went on and I grew tired of the bland meals in my lunch box, I was more vulnerable to cheating and ultimately falling off the diet wagon for good. I noticed my body craving carbs, sugar, and meat on a daily basis, even when my belly was full from a recent meal. I know that when pregnant women crave weird things, it’s because their body is lacking a mineral found in that food. So with that concept in mind, I altered my very strict diet to include food I’m eating today, like whole wheat tortillas, high fiber blueberry muffins and sourdough pretzels.
Imagine a smoker whose been smoking for years. They are without a doubt addicted to the nicotine in their cigarettes. Now imagine that person stopping cold turkey. The nicotine cravings would be horrible (which is why most people start smoking and never stop). New studies support the idea that a body can become addicted to refined sugars and caffeine just like it can become addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. My body was taking in between 3000 and 5000 calories a day, most of that being carbs and sugars. To try to stop that intake cold turkey and go to fruits and vegetables wasn’t healthy for my body and it was downright destructive to my mindset. Looking back, I realized I could not have made a better executive decision. For me, the choice was easy. It was a choice between eating vegetables and granola bars and inevitably cheating several times a week, or making meals I enjoyed with a healthy serving of carbs and lean meats.
This won’t be my diet forever. I’m slowly adjusting my carb and sugar intake, such as a smoker might adjust their cigarette consumption when trying to quit. My mother always taught me to listen to my body – and that principle has truly shaped the way I diet today. My body tells me it needs carbs, I give it carbs. My body tells me it needs caffeine, I give it caffeine. And since I have started allowing my body small, healthy portions of carbs and caffeine, my cravings for fast food and processed drinks have decreased almost to the point where I don’t have any at all (maybe one a week).
Allowing my body to have healthy amounts of carbs has played a monumental role in my weight loss. I truly cannot hype this enough. I no longer cheat during the week and when I go out to restaurants on the weekends, it’s second nature for me to choose a healthy option whereas before I might have overindulged and ordered the worst thing on the menu without a second thought. Dieting does not have to be a death sentence to you happiness. I guess sometimes you CAN have your cake and eat it, too.
I’m very blessed to have a job I love, that just so happens to make it easier for me to lose weight. I am on my feet all day, overseeing jobs and monitoring the actions of other employees. I work long shifts, which not only increases the amount of physical activity I do throughout the day, but it also enables me to take short breaks which I use to eat.
My typical day looks like this. Wake up at 4:45, leave the house at 5:15. Drink a cold bottle of water on my way to work, and clock in at 6:00. I normally drink 32 oz of water between 6:00 and 9:00. At 9:00 I eat my breakfast, which is normally 2 high-fiber muffins or a Special K Protein Shake. Between 9:00 and noon I normally down another 32 oz of water. At noon I eat my biggest meal of the day, always. No matter what I have prepped to eat for the week, I always eat the meal that takes up the most room in my lunch box at noon. Between noon and 2:00 I drink about 16 oz of water, and at 2:00 I have my snack. My favorite snack is either cubed cheese and gluten free pretzel sticks, or 2 hardboiled eggs. Between 2:00 and 3:30 I drink another 16 oz of water. I normally go to the gym right after I leave work, putting me there around 3:45 of 4:00. I drink at least another 32 oz of water while I’m at the gym, sometimes more. When I leave the gym I either drink my protein shake or a small Gatorade, depending on what I did in the gym that day. I normally get home between 5 and 6, shower, and go to bed shortly after.
**disclaimer: I really really really like sleeping**
So that’s my daily routine. Water all day long, as much as I can drink. 3 small meals, and 1 workout. Any given day I take between 5,000 steps (just a light work day) to 15,000 steps (heavy workload and cardio after work).
My biggest challenge on a daily basis is drinking water. I hate water. But water is ESSENTIAL to weight loss. My smallest challenge on a daily basis is cheating. When I’m at work, I only have the food I brought with me that day. I don’t keep snacks in my filing cabinet and I don’t keep candy on my desk. Cheating is literally the last thing on my mind.
On the weekend, though… That’s a totally different story. They might as well slap a sign on my forehead that says “Caution: Struggle bus coming through” because I struggle with everything. I struggle to get exercise, because I normally have plans all weekend long and my gym is 25 miles from my house. I struggle with the temptation of food, because it’s all around me. I struggle to get enough sleep, because somehow my weekends are busier than my weekdays (really don’t know how that happened because I love sleeping). I struggle with water intake, because I’m normally running around a shopping mall or getting my nails done. Weekends are really hard for me. I try to choose healthy options at restaurants. I try to eat smaller portions of home cooked meals. I go for a walk around the block if I can fit it in. But weekends aren’t typically good for me.
Yet somehow, through the cheat-induced weekends with little to no exercise and little to no water, I’ve still managed to lose almost 30 pounds in less than three months. I credit my success largely to the strict schedule that I maintain throughout the week. I give my body the nutrients and calories it needs to keep going – no more. I don’t indulge. I eat small, prepared meals throughout the day. I track my calories eaten vs. calories burned with the apps Lose It! and Fitbit. And I try to get a workout in at the very least three out of the five days of the week. I sleep as much as I can, but at the very least I get 7 hours a night.
I'm not saying life doesn't happen, because that would be a lie. If I have to come to work at 4:00am, I still eat my breakfast at 9:00. If I have to stay late, I will have a shorter gym session and not as much sleep. If I have a headache, I might down a Coke Zero. If I have a bad day, I might go out to eat with a friend. Life happens. And the main difference between my current weight loss journey and journeys I've taken in the past, is that NO MATTER WHAT I get back on my schedule the very next day. So I broke down and went to McDonalds. Okay! I'll just try not to do that tomorrow. So I was craving Starbucks and went and got myself a Venti Caramel Frappuccino with no whipped cream. Cool! Don't do that again for a while. Forgiveness is important. I forgive myself for cheating the same way I forgave myself for being fat. I accept it, and try every single day to change it.
I already know what happens when I give up. I want to see what will happen if I don't.