Recovery Days Don’t Mean Defeat

When it comes to fitness, improving our strength and losing weight, our bodies need rest. We have a culture that’s really turned us against that, though. A culture that’s normalized working out 6-7 days a week and made rest feel like a synonym for lazy, or weak, when it is neither of those things.

What if we change the vocabulary. What if our rest day or days weren’t called rest days, but instead recovery time? Recovery as a word celebrates and acknowledges the effort and work we are doing. Instead of insinuating that we are unable to go on, as rest has come to, recovery tends to weave itself in to the fitness route. While rest is seen as separate from our workout routine, a break from it, we see recovery as an integrated part of a workout schedule. Fitness influencers and trainers support this with suggesting stretches, foam rolling and specific nutrition for recovery. It’s part of taking care of your muscles, your cardiovascular system, and your mind.

Now let’s be clear – rest and recovery are the same thing. We aren’t really talking about different processes. We’re talking about two words that can be used to describe varying your schedule, relaxing, caring for your body outside of the gym. However we’ve allowed a culture that pushes us to feel we’ve never done enough to hijack one of these words – rest – and make it feel like a guilty pleasure instead of a key component in our routine.

So maybe in order to move foreword we need to change the vocabulary. We need to remind ourselves that there’s nothing guilty in listening to our bodies and claiming what we need.

A key reason I think this is so important is that when we treat rest as failure we allow it to overwhelm us. If the rest day isn’t built in to the routine – or we feel guilty about taking our rest day since most reputable programs do include at least one rest day – then instead of feeling refreshed we will feel anxious about the time we took to rest.

This is something I encountered this week. Normally Saturdays are a low intensity day for me and Sundays are a complete rest day. However with gyms re-opening and a little extra motivation I worked my ass off all weekend – literally.

Then on Monday – my normal legs and booty day – I hit a wall. Hard.

Okay, I thought, a rest day. Not a problem. I didn’t rest on the weekend so resting now is okay. Not a problem. Let’s do it. It should have been refreshing and energizing. I should have woken up on Tuesday at least sort of excited to step back in to my routine. But I didn’t. I woke up anxious that I wasn’t on my routine and that anxiety was paralyzing.

Did I want to jump in to my regular Tuesday Abs and Cardio? Did I need to double my workout and also get Mondays workout done? What was going on with the fact I really didn’t want to do any of it?

So I didn’t.

Now I went to the gym on the weekend but it wasn’t my gym. Gyms were allowed to reopen as of Friday so I visited a local one that had done so. However my gym opened on Wednesday so that was my first opportunity to get back in familiar territory.

Thankfully that was the push I needed to take a step back in to my week and not let my Monday-Tuesday off stretch towards the rest of the week. But what if it had been a normal Wednesday with no gym reopening to get me motivated?

I’ve been there before – when one day turns to two turns to three turns to a week and then six months and I am totally derailed by a day or a few days of feeling that my rest was a problem and that I’d failed and not knowing how to recover from that failure. While I’m grateful that there were outside forces – an accountability partner and a re-opened gym – to help me find my way this week – it’s really gotten me thinking.

Recovery is so key and listening to your body is a way to avoid catastrophic failure, injury, and burn out. So why don’t we normalize it? Why do we still celebrate stretching over our natural limits to such an extreme level? I know there is a tide of change working to push back but with the virus and everything going on, it can’t come soon enough.

2020 Is a Year for Goals

This time of year you’ll see almost everyone talking about their resolutions. Some will advertise what their resolutions are while others will be intentionally vague about what their resolving to change in 2020. Even more so, you’ll see the advertising bonanza making good use of everyone’s good intentions.

Did you watch anything about New Years Eve in NYC? Planet Fitness literally sponsored it so a good portion of the broadcast was yellow and purple with Planet Fitness written all over it. You couldn’t even celebrate midnight without marketing from a gym.

From gyms and weight loss products to money management and career improvement programs to fashion changes, skin care and everything in between advertisers will be looking for your biggest insecurity and vowing that, in exchange for your hard earned cash, they’ll wipe all those insecurities away.

That’s why I find goal setting more practical. Goals aren’t a commercial venture. Goals don’t have to be about the things you don’t like about yourself or the things you want to change. They are more likely to be tied to new projects or about measuring progress and milestones without discrediting what you already accomplished in past years. And it’s a lot harder to sell to someone’s goals than it is a classic resolution. Goals are about our own commitments and actions, not about what products we buy.

Even the simple or common resolutions sound better translated from resolution language to goal language. Try weight loss, for one. Instead of “my resolution is to lose weight or get down to this certain number on the scale”, say “My goal is to cook at home 5 nights a week and be at the gym 3-4 times a week.”

We all know that if you’re eating at home, you’re likely eating healthier than if you ate out and if you are also going to the gym there’s a good chance you’ll be losing weight. If not losing, per se, you’re definitely getting on track to a genuinely healthy lifestyle. Health is a better pursuit than weight loss for the sake of weight loss, anyway.

It’s also easy to scale and personalize goals so that they make sense for you and where your current challenges are. If you’re really good at eating at home every night but you struggle with gym motivation then maybe you’d modify the above goal to read “My goal is to cook healthy meals 5 nights a week and go to the gym 2-3 times in the next 6 months and 3-5 times a week in the 2nd half of the year.”

And oh – that’s my favourite part.

Even though this time of year we talk about how fast 2019 went by, how the previous year seemed to go by before we could even process what was happening, how we don’t know where it all went and feel like we can’t even remember what we did…. it still feels like a year is a big, huge, impossible timeline for a goal.

Simultaneously we’re feeling that 2019 was fleeting and impossible to hold while 2020 is massive and the end of it, along with our goals or resolutions, is entirely too far away to think about.

Funny how time plays these tricks on us.

So break it up! Don’t focus on “the year” as an oncoming storm. Focus on the first 3 months, the first 6 months, first. Think about what a quarter of the way, or half way to your goal will look like and correlate those milestones to next month, to March and to June. This gives you the most important things of all, a place to start and a path to follow.

All this, really, to say that it’s a great idea to embrace the good intentions behind resolutions and reflect on what you want to do differently in 2020 but if you’re doing so it’s also time to figure out how those resolutions, goals and plans become reality.

Here’s to avoiding any further New Years Eve’s where we feel like all of a sudden a whole year escaped us.

Celebrating Ten Pounds Lost!

*I wrote this a little while ago and got shy about publishing it. Expect another update soon!

I’ve written again and again about the struggle of weight loss. I always feel like I’m starting over. I am still feeling like every week I must be starting over. Like every time I eat something that’s a little less than healthy alarm bells go off and I feel like I have to start over on being healthy. It’s ridiculous and I know that I have to work through that. I haven’t ended my fitness journey every time I have a cheat meal or get busy and miss the gym.

So – finally I get to post a celebration post! I’m officially down 10 pounds! Many of us might be familiar with the cycle of trying to lose weight – losing some – losing motivation – gaining weight back. The most I’ve ever lose has been 10 pounds. Well this time the motivation isn’t going anywhere!

That picture was taken at the CN tower and was probably around the time I was approaching the most I ever weighed. I can’t remember exactly but I know there were more confident times in my life. I have very clear memories of putting that outfit together simply to hide the rolls and using the scarf to feel like maybe I could hide the chubbiness in my face and neck. I was just so pleased the scarf and sweater were cute together and the necklace helped to make the whole thing look intentional. But it wasn’t.

It’s taken about 2 months to get from the heaviest I’ve ever been to where I am today. Even if that progress isn’t the fastest a lot of work has happened. In those two months I’ve seriously cut back my calories. It’s funny because I’ve counted calories in the past. Realistically I never stopped knowing what a portion size looked and felt like. I just stopped paying attention and let my portions get a little out of control. Now that I’m refocused on making sure that I account for what I eat it’s amazing how much better I feel and how much I was able to cut out.

I’ve also done better at getting to the gym regularly. The last week and a half has been a little wonky and busy – we’ve been on the road a lot and it’s been tough to get to the gym. Over all though I’m doing well with the 3x a week every week and sometimes 4x or 5x a week gym routine. I know I’ll get back on track in the coming week and keep that statement true.

People are truly always looking for the secret or the magic trick. I’m included in that. I would love a magic trick so I could stop asking “How many calories is that? How much can I have?” Nonetheless, it’s actually as simple as nutritionists have been telling us all along.

Eat well. Keep moving.

How your pre-summer fitness journeys going? =) If you use My Fitness Pal we can be friends – find me by username ohmymermaidblog =)

Let’s Talk About “The Weight Loss Resolution”

It’s that time of year again! Just days ago untold numbers of us pledged to ourselves – and perhaps our families, friends & followers – that we would change our habits with the intention of losing weight.

I kinda get it. I mean, for years and years I pledged along with the rest of them. I always used January 1st as the beginning of an imagined weight loss journey. Doing so came with a lot of negative side effects, like writing off the progress of the previous year and chastising myself for every goal I’d missed.

I can only speak for myself here, but these resolutions never really stuck. Or rather, the weight always stuck far better than the resolution.

So what’s with the mass desire to loose weight and why do so many of us keep failing?

I think the key is that most of the time these resolutions are reflecting the marketing of gyms, health food companies and sports clothing brands. We’re focused on looking a certain way and being able to make trendy statements about our lifestyle. We want to be in the club of super food eating, 0 calorie snack carrying, on-brand fitness gurus.

It’s not really about eating healthy for the actual health benefits, it’s not about how we’ll feel or the energy we’ll have. It all comes from superficial status symbols instead of a genuine care for our bodies.

I think that’s a big part of what has always been missing for me in my weight loss journey. I got the message to go to the gym and to eat a certain way but it always came from outside. It came from marketing, blog posts, health magazines and the like.

What if instead of simply saying we have a resolution to lose weight we had a resolution to nourish our bodies and paid attention to what our bodies actually wanted?

Not simply eating this “superfood” or that “negative calorie snack” because we were told that’s what we should do but instead exploring and experimenting to find what really feels good and gives us energy, strength and health?

I imagine this kind of mental shift is where the real change happens. Not in what we’re told to do but in what we feel good doing.

What about you? What are your resolutions and how are you planning to turn resolutions in to reality?

Being “Off Plan” Has Been my Best Fitness Decision in Months

I posted before about loving the Anna Victoria work out plan and about how much the virtual community around that plan made a difference in my fitness journey.  There’s still love in my heart for the virtual fitness community, especially on instagram. I still adore Anna Victoria as a fitness guru but I’ve moved away from following her plan.

I posted about this, too, when I talked about longing for more creativity in my fitness.

So here’s a little update stemming from those thoughts:

For a Beginner, it Has to be About Beginning

That seems overly simple and ridiculously obvious, but hear me out.  Even the beginner plans I’ve tried have a number of expectations.  They tend to look super do-able on paper but in the middle of a work out maybe not so much. Besides that, even when they are genuinely within my abilities there are other problems around success and failure when this journey is just at the begining and so, so fragile.

Being “off plan” might be one of my best fitness decisions yet.  When I followed a fitness plan created by someone else, even if I loved all the components of that plan, it created equal opportunities for failure and success.

If I followed the plan with dedication and discipline I would see results and experience all the joys of success. As someone who loves lists and plans I took great satisfaction in checking off work out after workout, day after day.  I really enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that came with completing first one workout, then one week, then another.  I liked knowing I wasn’t alone but actually participating alongside so many other people subscribed to the same plan.

All that said… each day that I missed a workout or each move I couldn’t physically do in a given workout became a hovering failure.  A bit of a cloud above my head and they added up until they felt bigger than my successes.  As soon as the list of perceived failures grew longer than the list of successes and check marks the cause seemed lost.

Now, like much that is related to fitness, the failure I felt so discouraged by was as much in my head as anything else.  With a little work, I’m sure it could be overcome.

It would have been a worthy cause to overcome those hang ups.  However, I chose instead to rethink my approach to get around the hangups.

What “Off Plan” Looks like For Me

Now I commit to one hour of working out per day. I have very few rules for what that hour has to look like.  It can look the same every day or different every day.  So far it’s the same every day and I’ve been focused on cardio using the treadmill in the garage.

This allows me to be a little gentler with my expectations of myself at the beginning of my journey.  I don’t have the strength, endurance or agility that I have in the past.  As frustrating as that can be, having minimal expectations has given me the opportunity to rebuild while also forgiving myself for what I’ve lost, and what I’ve gained.

So far, moving “off plan” has opened more possibilies and given me a healthier mental approach to fitness.

What has changed your fitness routine?

Carmen

 

#MondayMotivation My Fave Fitness accounts on Instagram

This Monday I thought I’d share a little of my #MondayMotivation with you.  I’ve written before about how instagram specifically can play a big role in fitness and fitness motivation.  It’s a less interrupted feed than facebook, plus we “follow” more than we friend.  Above all, it’s so visual and can help us see our own goals when we see everyone else crushing theirs.  

Here’s a few of my fave accounts from my feed

@AnnaVictoria

Anna Victoria is the main personal trainer type that I follow. I prefer accounts that I guess at least seeeeeeem less like the ultimate interaction with them is for you to buy what they sell.  Obvi it would be ideal for Anna if you’d like her content so much you buy her products BUT the reason I’ve followed her for so long (and even bought some of her products) is that she is the QUEEN of #realtalk about body positivity. Her fit body is her business – her body is the ultimate ad for why you should pay to know her workouts – but she still shows us the rolls, the changes, the things that bug her.  She practices the kind of body positivity she preaches and I love it! 

@thefitwaywithashley 

If there’s an overall vibe for an insta account…thefitwaywithashley is perpetually cheerful. She always smiles and her captions are full of real talk and honesty about how this fitness journey goes.  She shares about having “good body image days” and also douting if she should post a certain photo because of that pressure we all feel to only share the things we feel amazing in and nothing where we think our imperfections show. Plus all her workout photos are a great reminder to get your butt to the gym, on to the matt, wherever it needs to be for you to get your sweat on! 

@Fatgirlfedup

There are SO many reasons to love this account and about 1 million other people agree.  This account follows Lexi’s journey and 312 pound weight loss, achieved with diet and exercise, over two years. She also gets real about the less photogenic side like loose skin and skin removal surgery.  She provides so much motivation by sharing her story and makes you feel like if she could wake up and start this journey 300 pounds ago, you can too!  

@robinmolyneaux__

I love that Robin’s account showcases a little bit of everything. She’s stylish, she’s funny, she’s real and she’s fit.  We’ve messaged back and forth in the past and she’s the sweetest, most encouraging soul.  I love that there’s so much support out there in the instagram fitness community and Robin is a real life example of how awesome that can be! 

@losinggravity

Okay at this point is it a surprise that I’m sharing another AMAZING account full of #realtalk? It shouldn’t be.

I love the story of a big girl getting it together and sharing her fitness success. Especially when the bio is clear that these results are from diet and exercise. From where I’m at (ahem, way bigger than I want to be) these are the stories I admire because these are the stories I’m trying to write for myself with each healthy meal and every work out. Plus there’s a lot more to it than “I didn’t have abs and now I do” or “this dress didn’t fit and now it does”.  Changing our bodies can have a lot of side effects and losinggravity is here with the honesty about it all.

@inked beauty.getsfit

I love this account because as of literally today hers is a body that shows progress (She posts great before and afters) but she still looks real. Gorgeous. Fit. Strong. and REAL. I get so discouraged when alllll the”fit girls” I see look the same and as amazing as they look, as happy as I am for their success, as much as they should keep chasing their goals… it makes me feel hopeless because I am SO far from being THERE with them.

This account though is so much realness and honesty it’s amazing.  Plus she is some pretty legit fashion and tattoo #goals so it’s not just the same content over and over! 

@bodyposipanda 

No list of my fave instagram accounts could ever be complete without this one.  In the midst of my insta-scrolling and fitness motivation bodyposipanda is the voice of self love and body positivity! She’s here to remind us all that we don’t have to change a thing about our bodies and we can celelbrate and love our bodies even when we know they don’t fit in a certain box (or size!) Seriously, she’ll make you smile every damn day! 

For Fit Sake: Week Three

I’ve definetly hit the point where I’m battling excuses. I was so sick over the weekend and everything hurt. I felt like I belonged in a nursing home I was so stiff and off balance.  While that was a good reason to relax and heal, now that I’m feeling better I feel the excuses creeping up like maybe I’m just too busy today or maybe there’s some small reason that I’d let stand in my way and stop me from staying dedicated.

So I know this is where either this effort fails and fades, or it gets stronger and becomes a habit. I have been here and so many times I’ve failed and faded. Now I’m ready to double up my efforts and push through the excuses.  I have a relatively active weekend planned and looking ahead to my schedule next week I have lots of time to work out so I’m getting on top of and ahead of scheduling that time for myself.

That’s honestly one of the biggest game changers for me.  What made it so easy to slip into excuses this week was thinking I’ll just get my workout in at some point in the day.  Weeks one and two I really put emphasis on getting my workout in as early as possible.  Sometimes I got up early to do it before work.  If not before work it was as though the race was on to get it done ASAP and I want to get back to that. When I put that pressure on myself to get it DONE right away I worked out harder and I kept the positive effects of the workout, along with the focus on my health, all day!

When I wait all day before working out I rush through it at the end of my day and my whole day lacks any sort of focus on my health.

What I really love is when I’m able to workout at home in the morning and then squeeze in a little gym time on my evenings off.

Along with being unfocused this past week I’ve been slacking on instagram so I’m hoping to improve that accountability this week, too!
How are you doing this week? Where are you in your journey?

Carmen

For Fit Sake: Week Two

So last Friday I talked about starting a new series, For Fit Sake, so I could force myself to talk about this fitness journey and stay accountable.  It kind of comes with the idea that if I’m forcing myself to report on how it’s going I’ll try harder to make it go well.

So far, so good! I am just wrapping up week 2 using Anna Victoria’s Body Love app for workouts. It’s not super feasible with busy family life for me to commit to the meal plan in the app, but more on food in a bit.

Honestly, sometimes I do have to generalize the workouts a little bit if there’s a move I struggle with too much or if I don’t have equipment available. I’ve been working on staying as close to the workout plan as possible while making sure I never miss a day. Sunday is rest day, and other than that I never miss a day.

I’ve also joined Planet Fitness. My husband (Ben) and girlfriend (Maggie) have been going for a few months. It took a bit of figuring out because I don’t drive so I needed to figure out with Ben and Maggie how I’d get to the gym and make a schedule that worked.

I go a couple times a week with Maggie and whenever Ben and I are free at the same time we try to go.

I really like the chance to get in some extra cardio and I’m working my way towards remembering how to do strength training at the gym.

Now I said I’d come back around to talking about food. The thing is, I’ve gotten really good at working out often but I’m still in a serious love affair with carbs so… still working on eating well.  Week one I was great. Week two I’ve eaten a lot of bread. We’ll see what week three brings… I suppose all things can’t be improved at once, but at least there’s progress.

Question of the week: What do you find easier to do well with – working out consistently or eating well?

New Series: For Fit Sake

Okay so obviously I wanted to write about my fitness journey or health journey or weight loss journey – whatever you want to call it – when I started this blog.  In my mind it would have a bit of everything from my life and right now the three most important pillars that define my day to day life are my love life, my career and my quest to get healthier with the side effect of getting smaller.  If I’m really honest it starts with wanting to be smaller and I just know that the truth is I need to be healthier if I want to shrink.

Notice something about the blog? Two of those things get posted about all the time but something is missing. I haven’t been able to write honestly about my fitness journey because truthfully it’s been a mess.

Like anyone else, I prefer to write about my successes. I imagined myself writing these posts about having done this exercise or eaten that food and seeing results that made me happy.

Well here I am at my heaviest.

Damn it – that sucks to write. It sucks to admit publicly and to even think about going on, talking and writing about being here. It feels like the same old same old – I’ve been ‘at my heaviest” for some time now, except that number, what that phrase means on the scale, has been creeping up.

One of the most successful strategies I’ve had for losing weight in the past has been when I posted more regularly to my fitness-focused instagram. Of course I plan to get posting and engaging there again because it helped but I realized that this blog was always meant to have fitness on it so why shouldn’t it be a part of my accountability posts?

For Fit Sake is going to be an ongoing series posted every Friday where I’m making myself stay accountable about the week. I don’t want it to be just a diary so i’m going to encourage myself to learn each week and have something with a bit more substance to share and hopefully in the process of creating a series I’m proud of I’ll also be building a lifestyle that matches.

Things to look forward to this Friday and in near-future Fridays:

  • I’m starting again with the Body Love app by Anna Victoria. I really like her workouts and her as a fitness coach – she’s created a great community and a beautiful app so there’s no reason for me to go somewhere else at this moment. (Hint: 1 week in it’s going well!)
  • Updates to my fitness journal – what it looks like, how I use it, I’ll try to share.
  • Setting up space for myself to workout. I’ll share what working out at home means to me and how that’s changed.

You can find my instagram if you’d like the daily updates and details, too! My fitness focused instagram is @fitish.kitten

Since I’m starting here I want to know – what are you biggest struggles in creating a fitter or healthier lifestyle?

100 Healthy Days

I haven’t talked about my weight loss and fitness journey a whole lot even though it’s one of the main things I planned to blog about.  The truth is that’s because I haven’t really been focused on that journey as much as I intended to be.

It happens to the best of us – we were moving, traveling, socializing etc.  Life got busy and I lost focus on my weight and fitness goals.

So I got to thinking about ways I might re-focus on these goals.  I have always enjoyed a good challenge.  It adds structure to the goals and gives me a structure for measuring progress.  Perhaps more importantly, they can take the focus away from the struggle.  If I’m focused on meeting the challenges I’m less focused on the ups and downs of working out and losing weight.

100 Healthy Days

So this is the challenge I’m planning now, starting today. 100 Healthy Days is more of an idea than a set challenge – while there are lots of challenges you can find written by trainers and other health professionals that have set rules and food plans this challenge is different.  As the name suggests, it’s time-based.  The way I am setting up and thinking of the challenge is to make good choices for these 100 days.  Rather than set or subscribe to a specific plan that would dictate these aspects of my life I’m maintaining control and decision making.

There are different mini-challenges and experiments that I will try within these 100 days.  For example, my girlfriend is challenging herself to go as carb-free as possible for three weeks and assess the presence of carbs in our diet after that,  and I’m gladly following that effort to see how it will affect me.  Plus I really am a bit of a bread-o-holic and it wouldn’t hurt to reign that addiction in a little (there’s a good chance it’ll be a good step in reigning in the waistline!)

I’m also looking to return to my yoga practice beginning with a 30-day challenge from Do You Yoga and a 30 day “Original Yoga Challenge” from Bad Yogi on Youtube.

Our treadmill is currently buried from moving but my husband has made a plan to unbury it this week.   So I should be back to my couch-to-5k training next week.  I might have started training outside this week but it would appear here in Canada April is having an identity crisis and acting like an angry November so that’s not happening.

So there will be different mini challenges and experiments for me to work through and post about throughout the larger 100 days challenge.  Stay tuned for how focusing on my health and fitness goals for 100 days impacts my life and progress!

Since fitness is a visual journey there may also be a few extra updates on Instagram so find me there @OhMyMermaid.Blog

What’s your fave way to challenge yourself?