You know what’s hard? Not quitting.

I’ve become pretty good at starting new endeavors. Especially health and fitness. I do a lot of research, I pre-plan, I follow others who have gone before me, and by the time I start, I feel motivated and confident.

Even after seeing great results and feeling better, after a while, it’s still so easy to slip back into old habits. It happens so slowly. It’s so sneaky. One treat here. Skip one gym day there. I tell myself that small changes here and there won’t make a difference. Before I know it, I’m kind of closer to where I started than where I ended up. Lesson learned: small changes make ALL the difference. For better or for worse.

Some days I’m 100% motivated, and other days I feel like I’m pulled in so many directions that any free time should be spent doing nothing but eating donuts and browsing Pinterest. The truth is that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that I value long-term more. It’s hard to not quit. It’s so easy to slip out of the good habits.

My method now? I can’t think about motivation anymore. I’ve really wasted a lot of time lately hyper-analyzing whether I’m motivated, why I’m motivated or unmotivated…I need to redirect my focus on action. This is how I approach everything else anyway – laundry, cleaning…It’s not a matter of being motivated, I just choose to do it. Just lace up and go to the gym. Set myself up to make good choices. Make those good choices every time.  Maintenance is always more of a struggle for me than the beginning. Anyone else feel this way?

Trying new things when you’re a creature of habit

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I’m 31. I thrive on routine. It’s not that I don’t want to try new things, it’s just that trying new things takes effort and learning and time and sometimes failure. To someone who is already running on all cylinders, trying new things (no matter how great the potential payoff is) just sounds exhausting and it’s easy to feel like it’s not worth disrupting a good groove. I like to find things that work, set to autopilot in that area of my life and not worry about it. Survival mechanism? Maybe. It’s been a very long time since I tried anything new for myself because frankly I was just barely swimming. And there’s no shame in that, but it’s where I was.

The last month of my life has been SO UNCOMFORTABLE but SO WORTH IT. People – try the new things. I promise you even if you hate it, you will learn so much about yourself and the world around you. It is so hard but IT IS SO REWARDING. I remember my college orientation. I was 17. My leaders told me that it was important to step out of your comfort zone if you wanted to learn and grow and succeed. I spent many years doing that (and feeling really good about it), and then one day along the way…autopilot. Maybe it was when the kids came along. When it came to food and fitness, it was kind of like Groundhog Day (you keep living the same day over and over again). I wasn’t fed up or unhappy or at rock bottom. I just got a challenge from someone (my little brother) and felt like it was time.

I am the last person I thought would ever do a Whole30. I’m a picky eater, I don’t like deprivation, and I frankly felt like I’d be too lazy to stick with it for 30 days. I got a custom workout from a friend who is a trainer and did my first real workout today. I could only do the three-rep circuit two times because I thought I was going to keel over. It was so hard and exhausting and I was doing it in the gym in front of other people who at first I thought might be laughing at me (I’m sure my form wasn’t perfect) but then I just hit the wonderful feeling of NOT CARING AT ALL what other people think (and I’m sure no one was, but don’t you always think that when you’re doing new workouts?). I was doing something that was good for me. I was proud of myself. It wasn’t perfect, but I was getting it done.

I want to encourage anyone who feels like they’re on autopilot to shake it up a little. You don’t have to make a big change (or maybe you do?) – just step outside of your comfort zone. Try the new things. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. Do something even if you don’t think you can. Write out your goals. Read and learn about what you want to do. Find support. Give yourself that gift.

What’s something you’d like to do? Share in the comments! I’d love to hear what other people are doing, and you never know if your journey can spark someone else’s.

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First week of Whole30

This first week of Whole30 has been such a valuable learning process for me!

Some history: My brother has been encouraging me to do this program for a while now. I always said no because I was scared I’d fail and honestly because I didn’t want to give up the food I love. I love food. I love eating. I love events that revolve around food. When I know I’m going out to eat, I look up the menu online ahead of time to read every single thing and decide what I’m getting then drool until I go. That’s how much I love food. A few weeks ago, he came in town and stayed with me for a few days and finally convinced me to try it (and said he’d do it too, long-distance). I also roped my always-a-good-sport husband into the program.

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Why’d I say yes? A few reasons. I’ve been a lifetime member of Weight Watchers for 13 years. I joined in college to lose the freshman 15, went back after each of my three children were born to lose the baby weight (successfully), and have maintained pretty close to my goal weight. I love Weight Watchers and will always recommend it, but I was ready for something that was solely focused on healthy foods. I’ve been feeling sluggish lately and the scale was stuck despite “eating mostly well” and exercising. I want to break my love affair with food. Not because I don’t want to keep loving what I eat, but because I don’t want to love things that are bad for me. I need to retrain myself. I’m also a very competitive person (with myself) and really don’t like feeling like I can’t do something. Because I can. I can do anything. And so can everyone.

Fast forward: So after I clutched my coffee with crack-creamer and shoveled donuts in my mouth, I logged on to www.whole30.com and started reading. These are the things that stuck with me: “Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it . . . so how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you? Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days.” Ummm. LIGHT BULB. “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” LIGHT BULB. “there may be other foods that you find are not psychologically healthy for your Whole30. Use your best judgment with those foods that aren’t on this list, but that you suspect are not helping you change your habits or break those cravings.” LIGHT BULB.

Noticing a theme? The PSYCHOLOGICAL relationship with food is also being addressed. I love this. This is not about creating your favorite junk foods with Whole30 ingredients and pretending it’s healthy. It’s about really, truly, eating clean. And feeling good about it.

The food: I printed off the grocery list and started thinking about meals. You don’t have to get fancy or eat a bunch of stuff you’ve never tried (though it’s been GREAT trying new foods). I looked at Instagram pictures tagged with #Whole30. I made a list of easy dinners I know I could make. I went to Sprouts (comparable to a Trader Joe’s or small version of Whole Foods) and stocked up on produce and healthy proteins. More on meals in a bit.

The first week: The first day was awful. I was SO excited to start and stayed compliant, but I skipped coffee because I didn’t want to drink it black, and if you go from drinking four to six cups of coffee each morning to zero, I will tell you a secret. It hurts. Also, when you completely cut processed sugar out of your diet, that doesn’t feel great either. So around 2 p.m. I started getting dizzy and feeling nauseated. I’ll spare you the details but basically I was literally sick to my stomach from about 4 p.m. on, and for the first time in 10 years, had to call my husband home from work because I physically couldn’t care for the kids. WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS TO THEMSELVES? Then I realized . . . huh. These things I was putting in my body were so significant that it made me physically sick to remove them. I was literally dependent on crap. Our bodies were not made to depend on crap. They were made to depend on real food. Food is fuel. That was a big eye-opener and one of the things I’m happy to have learned right away.

Photo Jun 07, 12 00 42 PMBreakfast: I have a weird texture issue and cannot eat eggs unless they’re on toast. Like in the same bite. (Weird, I know). So eggs are out for me. I also am/was not a breakfast eater, but without my morning coffee (wasn’t ready to try it black), I decided fruit and some cashews or almonds (or almond butter) were good.

Today I made a big brunch for the family and had fruit and compliant bacon (not cured, no sugar added. Did you know most bacon contains sugar? I didn’t.

Photo Jun 03, 5 32 33 PMLunch: These have been the hardest for me. I’m by myself with the kids all day and it’s so easy to make a sandwich and I can’t eat a salad every day. I bought a big container of shredded rotisserie chicken from Sprouts and kept it in the fridge all week. (Lasted three to four days, then I bought a second container). My lunches were pretty much the same every day: Chicken, half an avocado, some fruit, almonds or cashews, and sometimes raw carrots. You can eat compliant lunchmeat (check the ingredients!) on Whole30, but it’s fairly expensive, so I skipped it this week. All in all, it was repetitive but good.

Photo Jun 04, 11 48 44 AMPhoto Jun 04, 5 07 12 PMPhoto Jun 04, 1 16 44 PMPhoto Jun 05, 7 57 00 AM

Snacks: Mostly fruit, cashews, almonds, avocado with a little sea salt and roasted sweet potatoes.

Photo Jun 05, 6 43 03 PMDinners: The first night, I was too sick to eat. Two of the nights, I had lunch repeats. The other dinners this week included Philly cheesesteak-stuffed peppers (minus the cheese), grilled steak and zucchini with baked potatoes, grilled boneless pork chops with roasted vegetables, and a chipotle salad (lettuce, chicken, pico de gallo and guacamole). See end of post for recipes!

 

Whole30 Dinner

Overall reflection: I’m so glad I’m doing this. It’s SO HARD, but I am breaking my dependence on crap food, eating SO MUCH MORE healthy food (especially fruit and veggies) than I ever have,drinking more water, being more thoughtful (am I hungry or just bored?), and really fueling my body. I’m setting a good example for my kids. My blood sugar is so much more stabilized – I don’t feel that up and down and food coma you feel after eating. That part is crazy to me. It’s going to be hard to stick with this for another 23 days, but mentally I’m just taking it one day at a time. I can do one day. I can do that 23 more times.

Do you have any questions for me? I’d love to answer them! Comment below and I’ll answer them in my next Whole30 post!

RECIPES:

Philly Cheesesteak-Stuffed Peppers (minus the cheese):Whole30Food

Ingredients: 4 green bell peppers, two yellow onions, half a pound of compliant roast beef sliced thinly, a splash of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), salt and pepper.

To Prepare: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut peppers in half from top to bottom and remove stem and seeds. Drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper and pop in the oven. Caramelize onions in a little EVOO (this will take about half an hour). Remove onions from pan and crank heat to high. Tear up roast beef and toss in the pan to sear. When all the meat is seared (will only take a minute or two), add the onions back in and mix everything up. Pull your peppers out of the oven and fill each one with the roast beef/onion mixture. Serve!

Roasted Veggies:

Ingredients: 1lb carrots, 4 red potatoes, 2 onions, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), herbs de provence herb mixture

To Prepare: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season and sear all vegetables on high heat in a little EVOO and put on a foil-lined baking sheet. Pop into the oven for an hour, flipping everything halfway through. Serve with grilled pork chops or meat of your choice!

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Picky eater tries Whole30

I’m writing this the night before I start Whole30, which is a 30 day commitment to only eating whole, unprocessed foods. (To learn more about Whole30, click here.)

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I decided to do try Whole30 for two reasons. I’ve been following Weight Watchers for 13 years (of which I’m a HUGE fan and which has helped me lose the baby weight successfully three times), but over the last few years, I’ve felt a major decline in energy. After blood tests came out normal, my doctor said my fatigue is likely from my environment (mom of three kids age four and under), and to try to improve my exercise and diet. I like the structure of Weight Watchers but want to try something more rigid that didn’t include shakes or supplements (not knocking them, they’re just not for me). I’m going to try Whole30 and then gradually reintroduce certain food groups to see how my body responds (I’m guessing dairy will be a difficult one). The other reason is that I’ve become much more of an emotional eater recently and I really need to get a grip. I love food, it’s the part of my life I feel like I can indulge in that doesn’t require a lot of time or effort, it’s the focus of most family celebrations and it’s fun and relaxing to prepare. I don’t want to stop enjoying indulgent food – but I want to stop making that food the center of things that bring me joy.

I don’t doubt my willpower or my ability to meal plan. My biggest challenge is that I’m extremely picky (actually, I’m fairly certain I have some sensory/texture issues), and that limits what I will be eating from the Whole30-compliant foods. I won’t be eating eggs as part of my Whole30 experience, which are a HUGE part of what I see when I look at Whole30 meals. I’m nervous to give up coffee for a month (or at least to try and drink it black) because I have about 47 cups every morning. I love cheese. Enough said.

Whole30ShoppingListMy prep work included reading about the program on whole30.com and then printing out the shopping list, grabbing a pen and meal planning. I searched #whole30 on Instagram for meal ideas because I’m a very visual person and that helps me feel like there are a lot of options. If I can see what other people are eating, it makes me feel a lot better.

I’m looking forward to cleaning up what I put into my body and seeing if it makes a difference in how I feel! For good measure (and possibly because he knows me well enough to know that I need a buddy), my brother is doing this with me (long-distance from Houston), and I’ve dragged my always-a-good-sport husband along for the ride, too. I’ll report back soon on how things are going. 🙂

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