This past month I’ve been a part of a Facebook fitness ‘challenge’ group, as well as participating in our campus’s yearly Fitness Challenge. Although I don’t fully buy into the ‘use my system/shakes/videos/secret method’ angle of marketing (plus, anything that has to do with business or making money makes me uncomfortable), I have enjoyed the anonymity of being a part of something but also having a level of privacy too. I love that I can do gentle, effective workouts that aren’t compared to anyone else.
Here are a few things I’ve learned this month about myself, fitness, health, food, and exercising:
- A plate of salad fills me up completely differently than a plate of pasta. I knew it was true, but until this month I hadn’t ever tried it out. When I go through the food line on campus, I make myself a huge salad and then sit and eat it with my family. After I finish it, if I’m still hungry I’ll go back and get some of the protein or veggies that is served in the main meal line. When I pass the rice or potatoes or pasta I often think, “Oh, that looks delicious! I’m so hungry!” even after I’ve eaten a huge, veggie-loaded salad. I’ve realized that’s simply my mind wanting to eat the food, not my stomach needing nourishment. Now, when that thought hits my mind I immediately picture another plate full of salad. Am I actually hungry enough to eat that? If not, then I know I’m not really hungry, I just want to eat whatever food is calling my name. Sometimes I say yes and have a few too many pieces of homemade French bread, but often that simple mental flip-of-the-switch has helped me pass up foods that really don’t nourish me.
- Breakfast can simply be ‘the first meal of the day.’ I’ve started to think of breakfast way outside the box. Like this. Sure, I still make waffles, pancakes, quick breads, oatmeal, and loads of other healthy (and hijacked – gotta fit extra nutrition in where we can) options for the kids. Breakfast is the one consistent meal that we eat at home so I like to pack in as much nutrition as I can for the little ones. For me, though, I’ve found that choosing a variety of real, whole foods that ‘go’ together is the best option to start my day. Usually it’s a mix of veggies – fresh, sautéed, or roasted – with a fried egg, some Greek yogurt or hummus, nuts, seeds, and a diced apple. It fills me up and keeps me full for awhile. Sometimes I’ll nibble on whatever I made for the kids (especially if they snagged some of what I made for me) but I try to mostly stick with what I made for myself.
- High intensity exercise still sends me into a panic. Something is there still from way back in the day when I was dating J and got into to running to make him happy. Whenever my heart rate goes up and I start to break a sweat, waves of anxiety and fear start to wash over me. I’d rather stick with something low impact and effective (loving all of these videos – have done some of the series three or four times!) than push myself to do something that others think is good for me but really I hate. I’ve been doing two short Pilates videos as soon as I wake up and then a bunch of sun salutations. It’s working – I’ve gone down one notch in my belt. I like it and I like the routine it sets for my day.
- If it’s not on my plate, I won’t eat it. Back to the food line on campus…skip the bread, the tortilla, the extras that fill me up but do nothing for my wellness. Once I get to the table I won’t eat it since it’s not in front of me anymore. Simple but true.
- Late night snacking needs to go. For the Fitness Challenge this month I set a goal to finish eating for the day by 8:30 PM. I’ve had this goal for about three months now and it’s been revolutionary. I had a habit pattern of eating after the kids go to bed as a reward. I reset my pattern – thanks to HUGE stacks of books from the library – and now use the end of the day (my cue) to pick up another good book from the stack (pattern) and read the night away (reward).
- Sugar? Buh-bye. I’m seriously flirting with the idea of no sugar all year. Sweet, desserts, candy, chocolate, drinks – all that messes with me so much. I’m much more an abstainer than a moderator, and with no sugar this month as part of the Fitness Challenge it’s been easy to say no.