Exercising and eating well seem to go hand in hand, wherever you look for healthy wellbeing how to. I’ve never been clever enough to put the two together, having isolated running or working out from all kinds of diets I’ve done in the past. But I’m older and wiser now (of course), and I’m trying out both simultaneously with equal gusto for the first time and simply had to tell you about it, as the results are turning my world upside down. Why I haven’t done this my whole life?!
You see, I’m finally ready to accept that Exercising and Eating Right simply cannot be a one time thing for me. I want to jump into a healthy habit of Living. And though I have always vacillated between “but-I-can-get-away-with-ice-cream-every-night-for-a-week-every-other-month-and-indulge-in-chips-whenever-I-feel-like-it-IF-I’m-running-and-eating-well-the-rest-of-the-time” and “eat right, sleep right, be active, do things, steady as she goes, this is a lifestyle not a sprint,” I think I’m finally on to something now. I’m going to finish this once and for all.
A while ago, I was searching online for a big chewy oatmeal chocolate chip recipe and stumbled across a blog called Our Best Bites. I explored around a little and discovered a side bar post on Real Life Health and Weight Loss, a story about one of the two gals who write the blog. Reading her story ignited my enthusiasm to finally finish it all.
I’m going to be dreadfully candid with you and share some vulnerable stats. Having had my first baby, Cillian, right off the bat after getting married at nineteen, I quickly inflated from my little married 5’6”-123 lbs-self to a postpartum mama 60 pounds heavier. I lost 30 lbs of it between Cillian and Jamie, who was born 17 months after Cillian. I gained another 60 lbs during my pregnancy with him and for the first time in my life saw a mortifying 200.0 on the scale. After the boys, I managed to get down to the 160’s before having our third child and first girl, Lucy. I managed to keep my weight down a little better during her pregnancy and only gained 40 lbs this time. This was due to a number of factors, namely, that I was under the care of my first midwife as opposed to a doctor with both boys, and consequently a bit more closely monitored concerning lifestyle and health; and also, Lucy was my smallest, earliest, and quickest baby at 9 lbs 3 oz, born two days before her due date after an active 2-hour labor.
Lucy is now going on 11 months old, and I am currently 180 lbs. I never ever want to see this number again, even when at 9 months pregnant. I want to get as close to where I was five years ago when I got married. The gal writing the blog post went from a size 12/14 to a size 2/4 in 18 months by working hard at strength training and eating right – that’s correct, the real, old-fashioned way. And if she can go down 10 sizes, I can get back down 6 sizes. I’m going to do it right. I’m sweating through the work, and more. I’m enjoying it.
What I’ve been doing for the past several weeks is following the Jillian Michael’s (Biggest Loser trainer) Ripped in 30 exercise DVD and diet plan. With some variations. Her diet plan is widely diverse, which is nice, but I’ve chosen a few of my favorite meals and remain content to rotate those, which JM authorizes with encouragement. I’ve chosen to go carbless and for the most part, sugarless as well, rather than to spend lots of money on special carb-acceptable options JM provides in her meal plans. More or less, I’m doing a low calorie paleo diet including dairy and eggs. And it’s working. I feel cleansed and satisfied and light and strong and capable.
The workouts are amazing. I’ve never craved working out the way I do JM’s workouts. She does a 3-2-1 ratio of strength training, cardio, and abs – each workout is an entire 24 intense minutes long. So, including a warm up and cool down, there are three circuits of the 3-2-1 exercises, each circuit increasing in intensity. On the DVD, there are four different workouts, one for each week, again, each exponentially more challenging. JM recommends doing each individual weekly workout 5-6x a week, and taking a rest day or two, then beginning the next level. I’ve been doing workouts every other day and my own weight lifting in between as much as possible without injuring myself. I intend to step it up as soon as I figure out a consistent time to work out and shower during the day. (Still not great at the getting up early in the morning thing, but I think it’s my only choice!) The entire process takes me an hour, as I usually require more stretching than her cool down provides to prevent mucho soreness.
As of now, I can feel a noticeable difference in my back (always a weak point… I threw my back out two times after having Jamie, as he was my heaviest baby and my poor, overtaxed body was at its heaviest ever weight,) and my legs (more specifically my quads and muscles around my knees, which have always seemed weak as well). I can also feel the exercises working my upper back, shoulders and triceps, which makes me optimistic, as those are areas I’m eager to improve. I have yet to feel an exercise that makes my biceps sore, but I’m beginning to think that after four years of baby-toting, they remain the strongest muscles I have. The abs exercises are highly effective too. JM’s whole mantra is to be in constant motion so as to maintain an elevated heart rate while doing combination exercises (ex. weights plus lunges or squats) to maximize results as quickly as possible. Another thing she does is avoid repetition between workout weeks – once you’ve done an exercise, you’ll never do the same one again. There may be a variation on it in sequential workouts, but never the same exact one, which I’m highly in favor of, as I tend to get bored with too much monotony.
Something else I’m doing along the way is keeping a physical wellness journal, where I document the date, which exercise I’m doing, and whatever extra notes I want to add, as well as weekly measurements and weight records. Nothing to report yet, as I just started this a few days ago, but I’ll update my stats as soon as I have something worthy enough to necessitate coming to look for praise or a few gold stars or maybe even an “excellent!” or a “great job!”
It all makes so much sense, really. You burn calories on both ends by eating less, but more nutrient, protein-rich food to satisfy hunger for longer stretches of time and by exercising consistently and building muscle to burn through the fat in your body and to increase your resting metabolism as a result of your growth in muscle. Genius.
I have a few goals in mind when I think of the “end result.” (I put that in quotations because I don’t want to stop exercising and eating well in general…) I put that in parenthesis because I felt like it.
- I want to get to the point where I can jump in to various physical activities (if a friend randomly wants to go running together, if we decide to go hiking or swimming, if I decide I want to try rock wall climbing, parasailing, bungee jumping, etc.) and walk away invigorated and not limping in search of the nearest urgent care
- I especially want to be, look and feel a good 15-20 lbs lighter for Caleb’s and my 5-year anniversary trip we have planned for September around my 25th birthday. Looking satisfactory in pictures is important to me. I want to hide my face when I look at pictures of myself now. And these pictures will be special. I want to look special too. This goal gives me a grand total of two months.
- Honestly, I want to get my weight down so I can be at a confident starting place when, God willing, I get pregnant again. Having a healthy pregnancy where I gain only 30-35 lbs would be a dream.
- After completing this workout program, I think I want to do more JM workouts and also get back into running. I just loved doing that after I had Jamie. Never before then had I run as much as 5 miles without stopping. It was bliss.
The whole idea is that I orchestrate my life to be a more active one in general too. I don’t have the advantage of livestock depending on me yet, but that will soon be remedied in the near future, as we are considering getting chickens this coming spring and eventually a pig or two. Maybe more animals. I don’t know yet. Caleb wants to be a farmer of all things living. I’m along for the ride.
All in all, I just know that I need to be doing something every day to keep me in shape. And eventually I absolutely won’t have time to work out to achieve it. I have got to live an active life to achieve this. There’s no other way. There will be no time to make room for it, even. I plan to homeschool, to raise a house full of children, to maintain and grow in my own hobbies and passions of music and art, to become a good seamstress, to become a proficient grammatically-correct writer, to become an efficient homemaker and self-sufficient-living woman of the house, to become a wonderful cook, to massage and read to my husband, and so much more that will make “working out” a near-certain impossibility within, easily, the next ten years. And by then, I sure hope that I would have established an active way of life. Smiley face.
I want to share all of this with you so that you can be encouraged if you, like me, struggle with eating right and being active enough; so you can follow along and keep me accountable throughout my journey of living healthily; so you can feel free to share anything inspiring or insightful concerning this topic (or anything else that I ever post about!); and truly, so you can be a part of my life and see the real challenges I face and endeavor to conquer through my eyes.
Thank you for bearing with me, if you have finished reading this long-winded and repetitively written post (there are only so many synonyms for “workout.”) You are a gem. And I am grateful for you. I hope this has been a heartening, refreshingly honest window into my life. Stay tuned for more fitness updates, as well as more blog posts coming on many other subjects.
May your day be bright and challenging, active and well-lived.