Wednesday, July 11, 2012

fitness frustrations

Fitness is something that was never a part of my life when I was young. I mean, sports, yes. Fitness, no. I didn't really learn all those things about eating right and exercising because it just wasn't a big part of my upbringing. Don't get me wrong, we didn't eat fast food and pizza every night or anything (Gah, why not? That sounds glorious) but I did have big heaping home-cooked meals most nights thanks to my wildly domestic mother and when I wasn't playing sports, staying active just didn't cross my mind. 

So you can imagine that going from that level of oblivion to being mindful and conscious of my health choices would require quite the transformation. I would say I dabbled in college with being more health conscious (read: attending 20-Minute Abs and Zumba Power Hour at the rec center and making sure my drink mixers were diet soda), but going to the gym was never a lifestyle for me.

Until now.

Which is where that whole transformation part is supposed to come in, right?

I've chosen to keep the topics of health, fitness and nutrition pretty much off this blog because I never wanted to come off as claiming to be any sort of authority on the matter. Plus I hate laying out my insecurities for the world to see, but hey I figure there's no use in trying to pretend I'm perfect at this point. If you've been reading this blog since the beginning, the cat's kind of out of the bag on that one.

But slowly over the course of the past year and a half, I have incorporated more healthy habits into my lifestyle, one small change at a time. But quick, before you get excited, this isn't some "5 Ways To A Healthier You" type blog post. Like I said, I really hate the thought of being some fitness authority for anyone, even if it is in a super-amateur, innocent-recommendation kind of way. Given my penchant for analyzation of just about every emotional aspect of my life, I'm more interested in sharing my own personal frustration with how slow the physical transformation has been for me. I know there have got to be women out there that feel the way I do, and in the hopes that you might gain some motivation to keep on keeping on, I thought I'd share my experience.

First off, I'd like to think that I have a pretty confident and positive body image, but like most women out there, I'll be the first to admit I definitely have my hangups. In no way am I trying to say that I see myself as fat (ew, I hate that word! It just sounds so cruel), but being slender and fit-looking has just never been effortless for me. I think the best way I can describe what I don't like about my body is that I just feel like I look... soft. And I've always had trouble with my midsection (ie my tummy and my... eh hem.. love-handles. Why do they call them that, by the way? There is most certainly nothing to love about a muffintop!) Basically my goal in changing these things was to become more toned, lose the tummy and say goodbye to the not-so-lovely love handles.

So, as I mentioned, to accomplish this I started making small changes about a year and a half ago, but I kind of hopped on and off the wagon when it came to any sort of real discipline. Until about three months ago when I decided that if I was going to see and feel a change in my body, I would have to really commit to making better choices consistently.

That said, over the course of the past three months I have:
  • eliminated all sodas from my diet (used to be a Diet Coke addict and haven't had a single sip in three whole months)
  • consistently worked out every single week, no less than 4 times a week but sometimes up to 6 times a week. This includes lifting weights about 3 times a week, high intensity cardio workouts like basketball mixed with strength training (lunges, pushups, etc) and most recently yoga 2 or 3 times a week. 
  • started drinking more water, and in the past three weeks I've averaged about 60 ounces a day. 
  • cut out bread, pasta and cheese in my diet and now eat 4-5 small meals a day consisting mostly of lean meats, fruits, and lots of veggies.
For THREE MONTHS. This isn't like working out for two weeks and being confused as to why I haven't dropped two dress sizes. Three months is a fair amount of time to give my body the chance that it needs to make some sort of change. And you know how much weight I've lost? 

0 pounds. 0! My weight fluctuates between the same 5 pound range and continues to do so now. And okay, I know that the number on the scale is no way to measure progress, and I admit I have gained some muscle mass so maybe that has something to do with it, but the point is that I expected to see better results. It's deflating.

Am I disaapointed that I'm not yet able to go down a size in my summer shorts or that I don't feel I look better in a bikini than when I started? Yes. I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't think about those things when I made the committment to working out. Am I jealous that my boyfriend who is 30-days deep in a complete fitness transformation has already dropped 18 pounds and I can see his abs coming in? Yes. (Although, let's be honest, I can't be too upset with the new abs, can I?)

But whenever I think about that disappointment, I remember all the hard work that I've put in. By nature I know I'm not the most self-disciplined person, so the fact that I've stuck to this new lifestyle so closely makes me feel really proud. I've come to realize that although the physical transformation hasn't quite happened the way I want it to yet, the internal one certainly has and that's what I'm focusing on. I have more energy, I feel more confident, and I just feel... lighter. I don't want to eat bad food now or stop working out because I don't like the way it makes me feel (Believe me, if you could have seen my first few weeks in the gym, I never thought I'd say that!)

I will admit that the muscle defition, especially in my upper body, has changed (subtle changes, but still, changes!) It's probably not noticeable to anyone else but me (and Jason... my boyfriend turned personal trainer) but I actually have a tricep now, people! (I can remember flexing and literally not even knowing where a tricep was supposed to be before this all started.) But more than I like the physical transformation, I like the feeling of having muscle tone now. I feel strong. I feel challenged. I feel capable. 

So I'm not going to stop. I've come to the realization that the route that I've chosen to go is not an extreme one. It's about working healthy habits into my life and eradicating bad ones. I know that maybe if I ate clean like a crazy person and did two-a-day workouts for a while, I'd get faster results. But that's not realistic for my life. I'm hopeful that I'll only continue to get stronger and that eventually my body will kick itself into gear. But if that never happens, I have to make peace with my body. We all do. And it's much easier to do that when you know you're doing the work to stay healthy. So I'll keep going.  

My advice to anyone out there preoccupied with weight and body image is, don't make changes solely to look better. Do it to feel better. And don't expect it to be overnight, or even three months in. Because real change is hard work and you have to be in it for the long haul. Only then will you want to keep going if your body expectations aren't met. Stay strong, ladies, and if you have ever felt like I'm feeling, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments!

Keep going // Source


  1. If I were to write a blog post about fitness, it would look EXACTLY like this. I was never a fitness person either, and it was only recently that I felt like I too, looked soft. Soft. Eh. So I have been running, and doing videos and keeping at it like never before (and eating better...probably not as good  as we should be but def improved) and I am in the same boat. Not a pound lost. The only thing keeping my going is knowing that I am actually in the best shape I've ever been in. So that's certainly worth celebrating.

    The other thing is, I was having this conversation with a friend the other day and I was saying I bet if I really did cut out gluten and all that it would make a difference. But when I think about my life and how much I truly enjoy those things, it might not be worth it. I think at some point (and especially for women) we have to think about what having the perfect body is really worth. We might always have a little bit of a softer tummy, if in fact, bread and cheese are important things to us. I feel like I'm getting closer to a wiser-self-appreciation point to where I can know I need/want to work hard and watch what I eat to feel good, but may not ever be 'poster perfect.' But that's just me...and where I stand with bread and cheese. ;)

  2. TOTALLY agree with the is it worth it thing! Which is why I definitely don't want to get to a point of depriving myself. I have just found a way to make healthier choices so that I still experience that sense of happiness with the foods I look without ALL the bad stuff. Like I still eat sweets, but Jason and I make vegan cookies with dark chocolate chips. I still eat popcorn at the movies but it's Skinny Pop and I sneak it in so it's like a tenth of the salt and no butter. And I've been surprised how little I miss bread, but pasta and potatoes and cheese I definitely miss. Instead of pasta we've tried spaghetti squash which I really like because it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce you choose and for fries we make these zucchini and squash fries instead which I love! And if I do have a special occasion where I want to give myself more leeway, I do it and try not to feel guilty.. I just don't go crazy. 

    I can totally tell that you have been putting in more effort so I just encourage you to keep going. Hold on to that feeling of pride that it's the best shape you've ever been in because that's what keeps me going! I never want to go back to that place I was in the beginning because I don't want to undo all the hard work I've put in thus far! Good luck and thanks for sharing!!

  3. I am so proud of you caro! You are taking a stand for your health and the activities, foods, and the journey that makes you happy. Stay in tune with what you need, and your fitness goals and you will reap the mental annnnd physical benefits

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