During this quarantine, I saw a funny meme that said: “This lockdown can go 3 ways…you either come out a hunk, a chunk or a drunk.” Ha! If you have been feeling a little over-indulgent over the last couple of months with food or alcohol, you are not alone.
Before hitting your weight loss plan “guns blazing,” make sure your headspace is a healthy one. Check out these tips to get your mindset in a healthy place:
1) SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: We certainly live in an instant society – it’s called INSTAgram, not PROCESSgram, right?? Once we decide we want to live our healthiest and best life, we want to see it IMMEDIATELY. It can be hard to remember that it most likely took many years to get to our present selves, so it should come as no surprise that when approached the right way, it will take time to reach our health goals, too. There is no magic wand when it comes to healthy weight loss, stronger muscles, improved self-esteem or a fridge filled with nutritious meals; garner your patience for your health + wellness journey and be realistic that it will get bumpy.
2) UNDERSTAND THAT PERFECTION IS AS REAL AS A UNICORN: I will debunk a myth right here and now – there is no such thing as perfect! When we aim for perfection we become paralyzed by the fear of the failure of not meeting our own expectations. Or, we start out strong and quit the minute the going gets tough (and trust me, it WILL get tough). Instead, aim for consistency – consistent efforts win every time and will get you to your goals MUCH sooner than the elusive pursuit of perfection. When you find that you have veered off course, rest assured it’s normal, and remember WHY you started in the first place. Now put your big girl/boy pants on and make the very next meal/drink/activity/thought a healthy one.
3) ENDORPHINS MAKE YOU HAPPY: Think about a healthy person that you know. It’s a safe bet that regular exercise is part of their wellness regimen. When it comes to exercise, YES you have to do it! Find something you like to do – it sounds obvious, but if you hate running, don’t run. You will have a much higher success rate if you choose an activity that you enjoy. If you are drawing a blank, think back to when you were a kid. Did you enjoy swimming? Running? Dancing? Hula Hooping?? Pick an activity you enjoy and plan for that in your week. BUT, it’s not all about the cardio! Weight training is CRUCIAL to building lean muscle, which is the powerhouse to burn body fat, and keeps your bones strong. Exercise has a gazillion health benefits. So take your excuses and toss ‘em – they are not serving you.
4) MANAGING STRESS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK: Chronic stress creates a constant release of our stress hormone, cortisol. Picture a tall glass of black iced coffee. Now imagine pouring in some cream. What happens? The cream slowly seeps its way down until the entire glass of coffee is infused and a totally different color. Cortisol acts the same exact way as that cream. When we are chronically stressed (about COVID-19, our weight, our finances, our relationships, our careers…) excess cortisol causes body fat, especially in our belly region, to hang on for dear life as a survival tactic. It contributes to the very problem that we may be stressing about in the first place, making belly fat even more prevalent. Can you say counterintuitive? Instead, take a deep breath and take a mind-clearing walk (in nature or your favorite place). Finding ways to manage stress through meditation, essential oils, yoga, journaling, and other modalities are essential to keeping your cool.
5) CATCH YOUR ZZZ’S: Have you ever noticed how much lip service we give to being tired all of the time? It’s almost like a badge of honor or a contest – who is the most tired? News flash – there’s no prize for the most exhausted. The real news flash is that instilling a healthy nighttime routine is an essential key to optimal EVERYTHING. Not getting quality sleep causes sugar cravings, contributes to brain fog, grogginess, mood swings and the list goes on and on. Melatonin, our body’s anti-aging and restoring hormone, is produced between 10 PM – 2 AM, so if you are missing out on this window, you are missing your melatonin. Make a cup of sleepy tea, journal, or write tomorrow’s to-do list to start preparing yourself for a good night’s sleep. If you are hitting the sack at midnight, be realistic with your goals. A good place to start is to move up your bedtime in 15-minute increments every few nights. You will be catching more of that gorgeous melatonin in no time.
6) DRINK UP: Hydration is another imperative key to living your best life! We somehow get through our day by the skin of our teeth, without an ounce of energy leftover – and it’s most likely because we are walking around dehydrated. Water also cleanses the kidneys, flushes toxins from the body, and helps with proper circulation, digestion, bowel movements, and keeps our skin glowing. How much is enough? Take your body weight and multiply it by .67 (and add 24 for every hour you work out!. For example, a 130-lb woman who exercises for an hour a day would need 111 oz of water daily (130 x .67 + 24 = 111). A great way to keep track is to put hair bands around the neck of your fave water bottle. If you want to drink four bottles a day, start with four hair bands. As you finish a bottle, remove a band and refill it. It’s a great visual reminder of how much more you have to go. If you are more technologically-inclined, try an app like Plant Nanny or My Water & Drink Reminder.
7) “ME TIME” IS AN APPOINTMENT YOU SHOULD NEVER CANCEL: Most people, especially women, are innately nurturing caregivers. We give to our children, our spouse, our parents, our siblings, our friends, our pets, our house…. Everything and everyone except ourselves! I often ask my clients to share with me activities that bring them joy. It’s a rare occasion when my clients rattle off things they love to do. Oftentimes, a blank stare is what I get in response. It’s like the saying goes, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” It’s time to put yourself as a priority! It’s not selfish – it’s self-care. When is the last time you bought yourself your fave fresh flowers? Took a class on a hobby you love (even if it’s virtual)? Treated yourself to new art supplies and started a project? Took a solo trip to a pretty park (I would say the beach but they are still closed!) with a new book? When we don’t give ourselves – or ask for – what we need, we go to other things (like food) to fill those holes. Get quiet and give it some thought. Schedule your time for joy as a non-negotiable meeting – with yourself.