Thursday, January 20, 2011

September 14, 2010 - Eating and Exercising

I have had a bunch of people email and comment asking for tips on exercising and losing weight. I don't know that I feel qualified to give advice, but here are just a few quick things that worked for me. (And keep in mind that what works for one person doesn't work for another).
I covered pretty much all of how I handled the eating/diet part of things in this post. I would add to it:
- make changes to your eating/diet slowly and they will be easier to stick with. I gave up soda first. Then I started watching portion sizes and not eating after 7pm. Then I started adding in a lot more fruits and veggies and whole grains (and have continued to slowly transform the bulk of my diet).  Drastic sweeping changes seem a lot harder to stick with to me than gradual ones (and forget fad diets that you won't stick with long term).
- I know for a lot of people writing down what you eat (or keeping track somehow) really helps avoid with oversnacking and overeating. I never counted calories but I did keep track of what I ate in a day. I don't do this anymore, as I just did it to get an idea of how much I was eating until I got better at knowing what my body needed and how to eat better.
- A really good tip I read somewhere was that if you get a craving and want to eat something that isn't great for you (and it isn't time for a meal) wait 15 minutes. If you still really feel the need/desire to eat it, then go for it. But a lot of times if you wait the 15 minutes you'll be able to just forget it and move on or choose something better.
- and my own personal favorite tip is chew gum, especially minty gum. When I have gum in my mouth I am a lot less likely to eat mindlessly, and if I have minty gum (or recently did) I usually don't want to "ruin" it with food for awhile. I love all flavors of gum though. :) Along the same line of thinking, I brush my teeth when I brush the little kids' teeth at 7pm, and then I am done eating and drinking (except for water) for the day.
For exercise my tips would be -
- Start with a small time goal every day (such as exercising for 30 minutes a day, five days a week).
- Make that exercise time a priority! I can tell you that if I only exercised on the days that I had time to, I would never excercise. There will always be a good reason to sleep in, to do something else or to be too busy to fit it in.  The only way to stick with it and find the time is to make it a priority. See exercise as something in your head that you HAVE to get done. I know as a mom I often put myself last (my meals, my shower, my sleep, my everything!) so it was easy to do that with exercise too. But I decided to make it a priority, and decided I would fit it in no matter what.
Let me tell you, especially after we got Noah, it was tough! We had a new baby. We weren't sleeping great. We had a million doctor appointments in another state. We had therapists coming to the house four mornings a week (still do). Other kids, husband, work, laundry, etc. etc. etc. all needed attention. Life was super busy. But I decided exercising was a priority and I was GOING to stick with it no matter what. So I did. Some days it was harder than others, but I did it. And I felt so much better for doing it. I feel like now that if I could keep up with it during Noah's first six months home, I should be able to keep it up through anything.
And contrary to what moms often lead ourselves to believe, the world is NOT going to come to an end if we take half an hour for ourselves. :) Kids can entertain themselves for a little while. Phone calls and emails can wait. The laundry and dishes aren't going anywhere. You will be better off, and therefor your family will be better off, if you take some time to exercise regularly.
- Try different things! Honestly, I would have laughed IN YOUR FACE if you had told me two years ago that I would like running. I never in a million years would have believed it. I had never tried it nor did I have any desire to. And now it is my hobby, one of my passions, my "me time" and one of the ways I identify myself. I love it! But in the mean time I found that I am not really a "jumping around in front of a DVD person". I am definitely not a bike rider. The gym is ok but the added time to get there and get home make finding time to exercise even harder for me. But give me a pair of running shoes and the great outdoors (or a treadmill if the snow is really deep!) and I am good to go. :)
So, try different things. Maybe you'll love the gym. Maybe you'll love riding a bike. Maybe you'll love swimming. Maybe you'll love DVDs because you can do them right at home (and there are tons of different ones). Maybe you'll like to mix it up and do different things. My Dad awesome says how great it is for you to even just go for a walk everyday.
The only way I am able to drag my butt out of bed at 4:45am most days is because I enjoy running. If I dreaded it, I wouldn't do it. Find something you enjoy!
I read somewhere that it takes 30 days of doing something consistently to develolp a new habit. Not sure if that is true or not, but it sounds about right. So try it for 30 days. I went from having exercise be something I made myself do, to something that I love to do, and eating healthier went from being something I worked hard to do to something that I just do out of habit now.
As for staying motivated, I guess what motivates you will be different for different people. If you are trying to lose weight, losing weight (and trying to maintain that weight loss) is definitely motivating. If you aren't trying to lose weight, or you are and it is coming off really slowly or not at all, you are still doing your body good by eating better and exercising. I often remind myself that I am way more than a number on a scale, and there is a lot more to being healthy than what you weigh. By eating well and exercising you are making yourself healthier and stronger, and that is something to feel good about.
 If you have a tip to share, please leave a comment. ;)

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