The message popped up in my inbox from coach Lauren: All it said was, “You good?” My first thought:
I’ve been struggling lately. After we moved, I was excited to cook more and experiment with new ingredients in the kitchen. I was buying food at a newly discovered farmers’ market and natural-foods grocery store. Kyle and I were grilling often, and I was making hummus from scratch. Even though I hadn’t been exercising in my usual manner, I still managed to walk/run a 5K in late July — and made my time goal of 45 minutes. And I lost another 3 pounds.
But I wasn’t adhering to my usual clean-eating program. I was skipping breakfast during the week (note that intermittent fasting can work really well for some, but usually I find that I overeat at lunch and dinner; read more here). Even when I was good during the day, I started giving up at dinner, opting for Chinese take-out, rice bowls, burgers, and a big, risky splurge for me: cheesy tortellini in a cream sauce. (I bargained with myself, saying I could have it since I asked for extra veggies.) I was allowing myself to drink more alcohol than normal (usually, I only drink one day a week if at all; in the past year, I would have two or three glasses of wine or cocktails each month instead of each week). And my sweet tooth returned, to the point where I was eating chocolate (albeit dark) nearly every night.
I puttered around the house unpacking boxes, but even stopped walking the dog — a shame because we are surrounding by nature and trails in our new neighborhood.
Mostly, I’ve been collapsing on the couch, then heading to bed early. The latter is great; the former, not so much.
Everyone needs a break now and then — in fact, we encourage it at the magazine! — and there’s much research around the necessity of recovery days, getting more sleep, and de-stressing through yoga, meditation, and visualization (which I find to be both relaxing and empowering).
But what happens when you find yourself taking too many recovery days? What balance is right?
That’s definitely a personal question, one that we usually answer with, “Listen to your body.”
So I asked my body, and it told me it’s doing great. It’s feeling tired, perhaps more mentally than physically, but would love to move more. Maybe I could keep it as simple as swinging the kettlebell and jumping rope, two pieces of equipment I already have at home? Why not shorten my route for a walk, taking the loop around our street inside of the 3- or 6-mile paths around the nearby lakes? How about getting a friend or Kyle involved, so we can catch up on our day while being active instead of over a cocktail?
The other piece of information I needed to examine was the big why for returning to old habits.
So I thought about several factors:
- At dinner this spring, my grandfather asked me, “What’s next for Coming Clean? Will it be, ‘Keeping House’? Or ‘Tidying Up’?” He was being funny, of course, about the title of my blog, in that, I’ve already “come clean.” But I was exploring another challenge: I had recently finished writing up my weight-loss story for our How I Did It column, and part of me was thinking, Well, I did it! I lost the weight, and now I’m done. It’s a trap I’ve fallen into before, as you’ll read in the story. And I even acknowledged in the story itself that I’m not yet at my goal weight, even though I’m less concerned about the number on the scale. I had to reframe my thinking: This is a continual process of taking care of my body and my mind. I need to embrace all the good that comes with challenging my body long-term.
- On the subject of my How I Did It story: To have reach one of my weight goals and have this journey published in the magazine is a huge honor. It’s a goal I set a while back, announcing it to my coworkers at one of our holiday dinners. I’ve loved writing this blog, but wanted to put this story out to our readership that doesn’t follow us online: some 2 million people in our reach and 600,000-plus subscribers. Why? Because I’ve been so inspired by these How I Did It stories, and my hope, in sharing my story, is to continue to inspire others, wherever they at on their fitness journey. I wanted to be honest and open, and hope that you all know that I get it, I’m not perfect — even with my role at a health-and-fitness magazine — and this path to healthy living is definitely doable with commitment.
- I will say, with publishing this story, I was extremely nervous. Not so much for what the readers would say (we’ve got a great, engaged audience), but what my family, friends and fellow journalists would say. Would the comment about me never learning self-care offend my mother, who’s a brilliant nurse and has taught me so much? (In her defense, there were some challenging times during the teen years where I wouldn’t listen to much of anything my parents said.) What would my in-laws say? Would my Grandpa think I was over-sharing in print, for all to read? (My maternal grandparents subscribe to the blog, and my grandpa was a surgeon so I wasn’t too worried there. My paternal grandpa, however, was a principal, and I hadn’t yet shared my struggle with him.) In the days leading up to the story going live on our site, I had some nice talks and email exchanges, so I started feeling a lot better.
- I’ve been relying on my trainer and Boot Camp group for all my fitness progress/maintenance. This started happening sometime in March, when I started exercising less and less on my own and just focused on my 2–3 Boot Camp workouts each week. In June, when we moved, I decided I needed to mix up my routine because the BC class time didn’t fit with my work schedule and now 30-minute commute. Instead of finding a new outlet, I just stopped. As much as I can’t thank trainer Shane enough for leading me to a stronger, more-awesome body, I need to take back my power and use what he’s taught me for my own workouts. I need to believe in my fitness knowledge and trust myself to work out regularly. The group and Shane will be there when I’m ready and able to reconnect. And I can always find a different time that works for me to train 1-on-1. (If you are in the Twin Cities and want to check out Shane’s Boot Camps, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
- I’m still in a fragile place, and being accountable is crucial to my success. Getting back to sending my nightly promises to Lauren — and publishing them here for my readers — will, I believe, help me get back on track.
I’m so excited for you all to read “A New Path,” whether that’s online or in the magazine (or both!). You should get your copy of the September issue later this week or early next (preview of my story below). And you can find more helpful and fascinating stories in this issue, which is live on our website today.
As for my healthy-living work: Yes, I’m good, but I can be better. Let’s keep going together.