As you might know, I’m somewhat of an Instagram addict. The fact that I have over 2600 pictures kind of speaks to that fact. I’m not sure if that means I have a problem? Buuuuuuut … I love it. And, it’s another reason why sometimes I feel like my ultimate destiny was to be a 14 year old teenage girl.
Besides taking pictures I also use Instagram for other things. Mainly, creepily stalk my friends, mindlessly browse through stranger’s pictures and try to avoid spammer’s comments about wraps, Beach Body and the like.
I also love the motivational posters, pictures and grams that people post. I will occasionally share some myself, especially if it’s relevant to my journey, my running addiction or even religious affiliation (Mormonism if you haven’t caught on yet). I’ll take Instagram over Facebook almost every time, but that’s a post for another day.
But, the ‘gram that I posted above on this post really caught my eye. My friend Becky posted it and it really rang true to me on a number of levels and for a number of reasons. It not only sums up my journey, but it lays out what I try to do personally to maintain my lifestyle and stay healthy.
I also thought it would be great to share here and then explain a little bit about WHY these habits are essential to a fit life. Sure you have the list there, but no explanation of why. That’s why I thought I’d go beyond the ‘gram for your benefit (and for a refresher for me).
So without any further adieu, here you go …
Fit People Don’t Diet
Diets are like treadmills. They help get you results, but don’t really ACTUALLY get you where to go. Why? Because, once you need to get back to that “weight” after straying you simply hop back on the treadmill of dieting and without control it can be a continuous curse.
I’ve been on a number of diets, I’d like to think I’ve tried them all. But, sadly, I know I am nowhere close to that claim. I’ve been around friends who have been a crazy diets … juice diets, cabbage diets, soup diets, willpower diets, chewing diets, etc. There’s a reason why the dieting industry is worth billions. Everyone needs … or believes that they need to lose weight. So many of these companies feed upon those feelings. And, it works.
And, throughout my journey the biggest thing I’ve learned is that dieting is NOT a long term solution. It just isn’t. About the only thing it’s good for is causing insanity. In my case, when I started losing weight I needed to diet. I had 180lbs. of … fat … that I needed to lose. But, when I dieted I went into KNOWING this wasn’t my new lifestyle forever and not wanting to get stuck into one routine I decided to mix it up every six weeks.
So that’s what I did. I kind of told myself that after 150lbs. I wouldn’t diet anymore and that I would change my diet dramatically every six weeks to keep my diet moving along towards my goal. And, that was to be in a state that could maintain and life a healthy lifestyle. That was always the goal.
Now that I am here and maintaining my weight, I really just try to eat clean following the 80/20 rule. I get a “free” or “cheat” meal once a week and don’t fret that I won’t get fat over it. Because, I won’t. One “cheat” meal won’t make you fat, just like one healthy meal won’t make skinny.
But, I have learned what foods I like and what foods help maintain my runner’s lifestyle. A lot of that comes with knowledge. I’ve educated myself about what foods I should eat … when I should eat them … and how much of them I should eat. Right now as I have been trying to slim down from my health concerns I haven’t fretted, I just know what foods to avoid and what foods to load up onto. I’m not prescribing to a certain diet in the process. I’m just eating right.
They Find A Way to Enjoy Exercise
Well, I think it should go without saying what my preference of exercise is and why I enjoy it. This blog isn’t Swimming180 or Badminton180 … it’s Running180. I love running. I absolutely love it. It has given me WAY much more than I ever put into it. But, it wasn’t always that way.
When I started running over four years ago … I hated it. I really did. I wasn’t at my goal weight yet so that wasn’t helping any, but everytime I ran I felt awkward. It didn’t matter if I was on the treadmill at the gym or outside on the road. I just felt awkward and NOT like a runner.
In fact, it took me a while to accept the fact that I was a runner. Funny I know. But, I didn’t. Running hurt. My legs hurt running. My lungs hurt in the winter. I questioned my existence while “running” … it just didn’t come easy to me.
But, I stuck with it for many reasons. First off, it was a great way to lose weight. I didn’t need a gym membership to run outside, I could just do it around town or my neighborhood. I also love the sense of accomplishment that I got from running through the pain and aches. At the end it didn’t matter how dead I was, I was done! And, I survived to live another day.
The more I ran and the more I pushed myself through the pain leading up to my first marathon. The focus wasn’t just on proving to myself that I could do hard things, but I started focusing and seeing the running world around me. I started meeting some wonderfully great people. Some of these people I met online on Facebook, others at races or group runs. But, the bonds that have been created have really deepened my love for running. It’s given me extra motivation to run. And, I really do love it.
No matter what your sport is that you enjoy, if you don’t have that sense of community attached to it, I really believe it’s hard to enjoy it and stick with it. If there’s no joy in what you do … what’s the point of doing it, right?
They Don’t Compare Their Bodies to Other People’s Bodies
This is a huge one for me. Nearly five years ago I had BIG issues with my body image. I hated everything about my body. I hated how I looked and felt fat. I hated my teeth. I hated my clothes. I hated my smile. I hated what I saw in the mirror.
I just avoided looking at myself in the mirror all together, because I didn’t like what I saw. But, more than that, I compared everything I didn’t have with what I thought was desirable or even “the norm.” Even when I started losing the weight I still had a hard time viewing myself in the mirror. I hated pictures of myself. A selfie? Hardly ever (shocking, I know!). I tried to ALWAYS hide my ugly self as much as I could.
I can’t really tell you what changed from then to now about how I few my body. Honestly, I think it’s that I just don’t care what people think? I’ve got a lot of loose skin. So what? It’s shrinking … slowly, but it’s shrinking. And, I don’t see it as this hideous thing anymore. I see as something I worked HARD to achieve. Just like those who work hard to get the six pack or toned arms. Victory shows its’ way in many different forms.
Just save yourself the trouble and be you. Make goals based on your dreams and desire, not some false interpretation of how you SHOULD look. That’s just stupid.
They Get Enough Sleep
I might be somewhat guilty of this. I am a horrible sleeper. HORRIBLE. My bedtime is usually midnight to 1am and I am then up by 7-7:15am. Sure that’s ABOUT six hours of sleep, but there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be getting more sleep or getting to bed earlier and then up earlier. To, you know, work out …
But, most Americans don’t get enough sleep and it is one of the main reasons why we are such a fat country. Obesity and the lack of the sleep go hand in hand. Your body needs that time to recover and replenish itself. When we don’t get that us Americans basically survive the day with artificial energizers … coffee, Diet Coke, energy drinks, etc. All that is doing to our body is giving it this false belief that you are not tired when in reality your body hasn’t recovered properly with a good night’s sleep.
I really need to be better about getting the right amount of sleep throughout the week, especially around my races. Being rested is one of the greatest things you can before a race is to make sure you are well rested. One thing that I am going to start doing is setting my alarm for 10:30pm each night to remind me to go to bed. That way, I can train my body to get itself ready and prepared to sleep. And, I just need to remind myself that little projects that keep me up late aren’t worth the loss of a couple hours of sleep. Because odds are I am on Facebook anyways, right?
They Have a Cheat Day
One of the biggest things that held me back when I wanted to start losing weight, was this false notion that I needed to be 100% with my diet. I had to follow an eating plan and not deviate from it … whatsoever. Oh, geez, how foolish that was. I could never maintain that. One hiccup in the plan and I totally fell off the wagon. It was a stupid vicious cycle.
But, I’ve learned over the years that you can’t be 100% 24/7 … you just can’t. You have to have cheat day … or even simply just a cheat meal. Generally, I allow myself a free meal on Saturday or Friday night (depends when I am racing) and I don’t worry about the calories, fat or carbs of the meal. I don’t PIG out, but I make sure to enjoy it. This really has helped keep things normal for me throughout my journey.
One game I play with myself about my “cheat meal” is that I have to be spot on with my diet in order to earn it. Basically it keeps me honest with throughout the week, because it gives me something to look forward to if I am good. I normally don’t reward myself with food, but this is a good exception because it deals with food.
They Make Fitness a Priority
Working out and running takes time. Often it’s a sacrifice for not just you, but for your family, etc. When you are starting out on a journey it can be a big adjustment for everyone involved, because it becomes a priority. I’ve seen this with myself and friends who start on a weight-loss journey or start training for half marathons and marathons.
This is one reason why I have so much respect for mothers with kids who train for marathons and half marathons. It’s a big sacrifice for not just them, but their spouses and kids to have Mom gone a lot throughout the training. Even throughout the week they’ve learned to sneak in a run wherever they can. Whether it’s while the kids are at school or while a babysitter comes over an hour or so to watch the kids, they make it work. It’s a priority.
Even if you are not training for a race anyone can make fitness a priority. It doesn’t have to be a daily five mile run or three hours in the gym, but something as simple as that hour workout, that couple mile run or a simple bike ride around the neighborhood. It’s that sense of priority that also helps one eat healthy and fill themselves up with nutritional food. They live the a healthy lifestyle, because it’s a top priority.
While that is all easier said than done it really takes some dedication and determination to accomplishment such a state of commitment. Because not only do you have to be committed, but you also have to a spouse and family that is supportive of your lifestyle and journey (this ties into habit #8). There will be resistence, but from experience if you show how committed you are to your lifestyle with action, rather than words the support will follow.
They Eat Breakfast
This is my favorite thing on the list. If you know me, I actually REALLY love breakfast. Well, breakfast food. I could eat off the breakfast menu 24/7 … and that’s probably why I list Denny’s and Village Inn as two of my favorite restaurants. Extra crispy hashbrowns with sunnyside eggs on the side, anyone? Mmmmm …
This really wasn’t the point of this habit. I just really wanted to start talking about breakfast, because it really is just that good. At least we didn’t start talking about waffles, because if I did I would be in trouble. All those delicious brown goodness with little pockets all ready to receive glorious maple syrup in them. Each bite of the waffle is a tantalizing bite of … CRAP! I just did what I told myself not to do! I’m a horrible human being.
But, seriously, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It sets the tone for the rest of your meals and how you tackle the day. But, on the other hand, our perception on how breakfast should look and be is pretty much skewed here in America. We focus so much on our carbs of pancakes, waffles, cereal and the like. But, in reality, we should be loading up more so on protein and less of the carbs.
The protein gives you not only a jump start for the day, but the filling of being full much better than some easy carbs ever will. Personally, I usually achieve this by eating something like a morning omelet or a protein shake. Sometimes I will make a protein shake using my Zeal shake mix in the morning and then mid-morning eat a couple of hard-boiled eggs. Hardly ever do I seek carbs before 11am or noon.
But, when you skip that important meal of the day or skimp on the meal you are just setting yourself up for failure. Odds are you will probably end up binging on carbs come later that night. Because that’s what happens to me. I can’t tell you how many times I skimp on breakfast and then find myself binge eating Lucky Charms marshmallows while watching TV in a badly lit room. It’s just not pretty. That’s why you can’t skip the meal.
They Find and Appreciate Support
When I started my weight-loss journey, I started it off slowly. It started with me. Then I shared it with my mother and eventually my family. My co-workers started noticing my changes and then it kind of snowballed from there. I then started sharing my experience with my other friends via Facebook. The more that I lost and shared it seemed like I got tremendous support from others.
Eventually, I launched a blog, Phat Josh, that chronicled my weight-loss journey. I really didn’t understand the blogging world or how blogging would fit into my journey. But, it was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. It started as something that kept me accountable. There’s something about putting personal stuff like your weight, your struggles and the like out on the internet. Because, well, anyone could see it.
But, it helped me tremendously. The support I got really encouraged me and helped me stay motivated to keep going. Eventually, the blog went from a weight-loss centric blog to a running blog which eventually lead me to launching this site last year. The support that I have received has been overwhelming and it’s inspired me to be that support to others in similar shoes as I once was. Even with my running I am a part of some AWESOME groups on Facebook that have helped elevate my running experience.
I think the important thing to remember from these examples is that you don’t have to go your journey alone. There are others out there who will walk with you (or run), there are those out there that will cheer you on and be a support and then there will be those out there that will be THAT difference you needed all along. Don’t shy away to ask for help or to make new friends. You never know what could possibly happen if reach out.
Now, are there other habits you would add to this list? Do you think this list is complete or missing something? I think it’s a great outline and starting point for anyone wanting to either start a journey or recommit themselves to their goals. What’s your ten cents?