Entries Tagged as 'Resolutions'
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions. If I decide that I’d like to change something about my life or my behavior, I usually just do it because my willpower is such that if I don’t strike while I’m motivated, it will never happen. But this year, I decided to make a resolution for myself.
It’s becoming painfully obvious that I don’t sleep enough. Between work, this blog and my life, I am just not getting the sleep I need to thrive. I might get six hours per night, and I really do best on 8.5. So I’m not even getting close to what I need.
To reach my goal, I’m going to have to sacrifice a full weekend day to blogging. No television. No errands. No brunches. Just blogging.
Am I looking forward to it? Not really. But if it frees up my evenings and gets me to bed before 1:00AM, I’m happy. Or at least, I hope I’ll be happy…and rested.
So do you make New Year’s Resolutions? If so, what are you resolving this year? And if you’ve had any resolutions that worked out really well for you in the past, I’d like to hear about those too.
One night in October, I was walking with a friend when she asked, “Do you go running on the Mall?”
My response was the standard comeback I’ve used since I quit working out cold turkey in 2005, “Not unless someone is chasing me.”
“So you don’t work out at all?,” she asked.
“Nope, I’m happy with my body and my weight,” I replied.
She thought for a moment, and then mentioned a Facebook status update from some months back that mirrored today’s earlier post, when it expressed that we should separate fitness from weight. And then she said, “So you’re still linking your weight with working out, but instead of punishing yourself to lose, you’re doing the opposite.”
I pondered her point for a second, and realized that she had me. “Damn you, and your logic.”
You see, I hate working out. When I was deep in my body dysmorphia, working out felt like a form of self-abuse. I was only doing it to lose weight and fit some mythical ideal, not because I gave a damn about being strong or healthy.
So when I decided to love my body–shapely hips, small bust and all–I no longer saw any reason to hit the gym. But once my friend pointed out the flaw in my logic, I could no longer ignore it. I was happy with my body, but I wasn’t in good shape or taking good care of my long-term health. I was going to have to start working out. Eff.
My first trip to the gym was rough. I had lost so much strength and tired out so easily, that I didn’t even know how to train myself anymore. I could no longer run a seven minute mile. I could no longer do 50 push ups (I did four.). I could no longer bench anywhere near my previous record. And that’s when I realized that while the weight I’ve gained doesn’t bother me (and shouldn’t), the strength that I’ve lost really does. Thus, I set about the nasty business of working out regularly at a beginner level.
Two days per week, I spend 20 minutes on the elliptical. I also do 50 crunches on a balance ball, and 50 bicycles. And I use the hotel-style fitness center in my building to do a weight circuit of two sets of 12 on about a half-dozen machines. It takes about 45 minutes, if I’m alone in the gym.
On three alternating days, I do Jillian Michaels workout DVD “No More Trouble Zones” on the floor in my living room. The workout is not as intense or as demanding as a P90X or Insanity, but it works. The first time I did it, I could barely sit the next day because my inner thighs were just screaming for mercy. Now, after two months, the 40-minute workout is much easier.
I also take the stairs when I can, walk home when it’s warm enough and walk up instead of ride the Metro escalator. But this is more to break me out of my sedentary mindset than for workout purposes.
After working out this way on a consistent basis (this is the Hill, of course I miss days now and again) for eight weeks, I wondered what I weigh. There was no doubt that my clothes fit differently and that I was stronger, so I thought I’d weigh less. But I climbed on the scale with exuberance only to discover that I’d gained four pounds.
I then spent a full minute reminding myself that muscle is heavier than fat before the impact subsided. No one, not even someone happy with her body, wants to see the second number on the scale go up.
Thanks to my moderate-intensity, beginner workout, I feel stronger. I feel a little more energized. And I feel good about the workout, not as a method for losing weight, but as way to get back into shape and stay healthy. So if you’ve resolved to get fit this year, I would offer you these five pieces of advice.
- Choose a Workout That Fits Your Lifestyle. Like most working women, I don’t have a lot of time to workout. So I chose a workout that takes less than an hour, can be done morning or evening, can be done at my home and doesn’t need to be done on the weekends during my precious Belle-time. This makes it easy for me to keep up with it consistently. I think the biggest mistake a person can make is starting out with a hard core, 2-hour per day workout that they’ll never be able to maintain.
- Choose a Workout That You Enjoy. I hate to run. So I don’t run, ever. Instead, I picked a workout that I like to do (or at least don’t hate to do). I’ve also thought about taking martial arts or maybe trying to learn the silks at Trapeze School NY’s DC location. Because it would be nice to have a hobby that is active instead of sedentary.
- Don’t Weigh Yourself for Two Months. This will not be easy. I suggest removing the batteries from your scale and hiding it in a closet. But the reason for doing this is that you need to wait until your consistently working out and feel good about your progress before you look at “the number.” Otherwise, you could get discouraged or get too caught up in reaching some arbitrary goal.
- Drink Chocolate Milk. Years ago, I had a personal trainer who advocated drinking a glass of chocolate milk one hour after your workout. She believed that this was good for two reasons: 1) it kept you from feeling deprived and gave you a little reward, and 2) it helped with post-workout recovery by replacing key nutrients. If you’re lactose intolerant, she recommended whey powder smoothies.
- Use the Buddy System. It never hurts to have a friend around when you’re starting a workout plan. A partner gives you someone to be accountable to and someone to support you when you need it. It also makes it less scary to start a new class or start going to a new gym if you have a friendly face around. So if you can, pair up.
Please keep in mind that I am neither a medical professional nor a board certified personal trainer. This is just the workout plan that is working for me, and what works for you may be different. If you need help starting a regimen, many local gyms offer sessions with personal trainers. I’d buy a few for myself as a gift and then, start working out on my own when I felt comfortable.
If you want to share any workout tips that work for you, leave them in the comments.
P.S. I should also mention that while I don’t usually resolve to do anything in the New Year, I made a resolution this year to eat at least one serving of fruit or vegetables at every meal, plus one more. This is much harder to do than it sounds. So I’ve also resolved to take a multi-vitamin as well.
I have met the enemy, and she is us.
As 2011 comes to a close, many people are already preparing to conquer their New Year’s resolutions. Without a doubt, the most common resolution that women make is to lose weight. But sadly, some of these ladies have turned Pinterest–the online inspiration board for food, fashion and assorted girly pleasures–into a pro-ana house or horrors.
Every time I log on to the site, I am accosted by images of stick thin models and surgically enhanced celebrities. I am subjected to phrases like “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” and not so subtly told that I’ll never have romantic moments if my thighs aren’t built for Daisy Dukes. And frankly, the level of body loathing makes me weary.
When I was in my teens and early-20s, much of my life revolved around what I ate and what I weighed. During my freshman year of college, things took an ugly turn, when I started going for days without eating solid food–convinced that I wasn’t thin enough until you could see my sternum peeking out from under my skin.
For a decade, I abused myself. I cut pictures (like the ones above) out of magazines and pasted them on my fridge door and on my full-length mirror. My sense of self-worth was indivisible from my status as a size 0/2. And when I think back on all of the time that I wasted worried about my weight, I feel sorry for younger Belle.
Who knew that a decade later, I’d be 20lbs heavier and love my body more than I did when I had six-pack abs and thighs that didn’t touch?
The most important thing that I’ve learned since my thinner, sadder days is this: 90% of how you feel about your body is under your control.* You put the pressure on yourself to be thin. You berate yourself when you miss a workout or gain weight. And changing the way that you think about your body can change the way you approach your whole life.
In my opinion, if you want to start changing the way you feel about your body, you need to ignore the bulls**t images you see of women who a) are thin for a living (models, celebs, etc.), b) have plastic surgeons to enhance their “perfection,”and/or c) are photoshopped to within an inch of their lives.
Don’t project your issues onto a photo in a magazine. Don’t think that you can find the key to happiness by taping photos of skinny women to your fridge. Because once you decide that the path to contentment lies outside of you, you’ve already lost. But this is not to say that you should never go on a diet or go to the gym.
What I am advocating is this: Let’s separate how we feel about how we look (to ourselves and to others) from the topic of whether we are fit and healthy. Because once you take the number on the scale and the unrealistic expectations promulgated by images in beauty magazines out of the equation, whatever diet and exercise plan you choose will ultimately be more successful.
Ladies, we are too hard on ourselves when it comes to our weight and how we feel about our bodies, and that negativity can impact every facet of our lives from career to relationships. So if you’ve resolved to lose weight or go to the gym this New Year, I implore you: resolve to think positively about your body too.
Don’t set the bar so high that you’ll never reach it. Don’t despair if you gain a little weight or miss a workout or eat a piece of cheesecake. Think of your goal, not as a number on a scale or as a jeans size, but as setting up a lifetime of health and fitness.
And whatever you do, don’t hang a photo of Karlie Kloss’s 19-year-old, photoshopped pelvis on your Pinterest and say, “This is my dream body. No more brownies for me.” Because God didn’t make that body, a half-blind photo editor did.
This afternoon I’ll share some fitness and diet tips that I actually find empowering rather than demoralizing. Because working out and eating right is a good thing, especially when you live the hectic, sedentary, junk-food filled life of a Hill Staffer.
*If someone in your life tells you that you’re not good enough because, in their view, you’re not thin enough, tell them to back the eff off. And if they still treat you that way, get away from them. Life is too precious to spend it with toxic people who treat you like crap because of something as trivial as weight. See: Belle’s former boyfriend who used to pinch the fat above her hips and call her pudgy, even when there was no fat to pinch.
From getting out of debt to building savings, one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions is to improve your financial situation. A few months ago, I started using LearnVest, a financial planning website designed for women, to help me get a better grip on my finances. And in just a few short weeks, the site has helped me develop a financial plan that will have my considerable student loan debt paid off in just 54 months, instead of 22 years.
Yes, that’s right. If I follow this budget, I’ll have my loans paid off by the time I’m 34, instead of 52. Not bad, right?
Like most women, I am not a financial whiz. So when I heard that a company was offering financial planning services at a reasonable price, I leapt at the chance to try it.
Our mission at LearnVest is to empower women everywhere to take control of their personal finances so that they can afford their dreams. We’re here to help by giving you the information, tools, and support you need to earn well, save well, and spend well.
We believe that financial planning should not be a luxury, and that’s why we’ve created the LearnVest.
The website links to your bank’s website to monitor your spending. It also allows you to plug in the information for your creditor’s, so that you can keep track of your debts. Using these tools, you can determine where you need to cut back on your spending to pay off your debts.
The site also offers tools and bootcamps that help you understand your credit score, build your 401k or save for a major purchase like a home or a car. They also have a news and blogs section that offers articles on how to save money on clothes, how to dine out on a budget and how to get deep discounts on travel. And last, but not least, they offer career advice, counseling for new Moms and other valuable mentoring for women.
But, as far as I’m concerned, the best thing LearnVest offers is access to a financial planner. Usually, my taxes are a pretty simple affair, but next year, they’re going to be more complex than Euclidian geometry. Thanks to LearnVest, I can e-mail a financial consultant with questions and get referrals for local tax preparers in my area.
The financial planner has also helped me determine how much money to put in my 401k (whatever my company will match), and how to have an old, erroneous delinquency removed from my credit report (I’ve never even lived in the state where the account was opened in my name).
So if you’re a financial newbie or a professional woman looking to get a better grasp on your money in 2012, LearnVest is worth a try. When you sign up, you’ll get two weeks free. (So wait until Christmas is over and your focus is back in check.) After that, the service costs $129 for a year, $69 for six months or $39 for three months. Not bad considering that the financial planner I had been seeing cost $175 an hour.
Whether your a check-cashing lobbyist or a Ramen Noodle-eating intern, it’s always good to know where your money is going and where your debts stand. LearnVest helps you keep track of everything in one place and helps you build the financial future you want.
*No one paid me to write this. I just love the product.