Introducing #FridayFitClub

Oct 13, 2017

This weekend, I was in Kansas City for my grandfather’s memorial service.  I packed a black Zara dress because it was the only one in my closet that fit.  But when I put it on, it wouldn’t zip.  I sat on the edge of the hotel tub and cried.

All I could think was, “How insecure.  How shallow.  I’m here to celebrate the life of a truly wonderful man, and I’m crying about my weight.”  It was a real low moment.  But one I’m sure many of you can relate to.

Since graduating law school, I’ve gained a significant amount of weight.  Inactivity.  A lack of direction.  Being in a relationship where both parties like to go out to eat.  The plummeting metabolism of a 35-year-old.  There are so many factors at play.

I do not feel good about my body right now.  I try to stay positive, to not obsess about my tag size or the scale.  But I know I’m not in good shape, and being unable to zip my jeans confirms that.  Somehow, knowing that the way I currently feel about my body is fixable makes it worse.

Like many women, I loathe the gym.  It’s intimidating.  It takes so long to see results.  I’m not naturally athletic.  I struggle to maintain discipline and motivation.  I wonder how I can be successful at so many things, but for some reason, not this.

I can’t be the only one who buys the gym membership and never goes.  Who hits it hard for a week or two and then stops.  The only one who buys new workout attire and then wears it to the grocery store instead.  Who wants to get in shape and feel good about my body, but doesn’t want to chase the size I used to be or am “supposed” to be.

I know I’m not alone (even though it sometimes feels like it), and that got me thinking.

What if we did it together?  What if we got a crowd of strong, empowered women and motivated each other in a positive way?  What if we created a group that wasn’t about thigh gaps or thinspo or #abgoals, but about being our best selves?

Welcome to Friday Fit Club.  A place where we can share our successes and our struggles with women who understand.  Whether you have a routine that works for you or you need a little boost, I hope you’ll join us. We all want to feel good about our bodies, and we can support each other through the external and the internal.

So how will this work?

If you worked out today, whether it was P90x or a brisk walk on The Mall, tag your social post #fridayfitclub.  If you want to share your favorite workout tips, meal-prep advice, or motivating song, tag us.  Not feeling it today, and need a boost?  Tag us.  Looking for a new gym or a great class?  Tag us.

Over time we’ll figure out how to use this club to its best advantage. The goal is community, accountability, and support.  Every Friday they’ll be a new post.  We’ll have Instagram challenges and Facebook discussions, and we’ll stick together even when it’s hard.  So if you’ve been looking for a reason to head back to the gym or want to share your wisdom with your fellow readers, come join us on Instagram and Facebook.  Don’t wait for the New Year to begin, we can start together.

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  1. K says:

    This is super timely! I just joined Weight Watchers yesterdaybecause despite regularly exercising (over 100 gym visits this year), I’ve managed to gain weight and it’s definitely not muscle. ????

  2. Cara says:

    I’m in girl. I’ve not only gained 25 lbs since starting grad school, but date night is always about food too, and I have a bunch of food intolerance that are driving my skin crazy and my weight up. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, so I’m committing to both!

  3. LUcy says:

    I know exactly how you feel, I went through the same thing a few months ago – gained a lot of weight during grad school, eating a lot of takeout and delivery, and a slowing metabolism. And I have NEVER considered myself athletic and my gym membership did nothing for me. But I switched to ClassPass and found a workout I love (boxing!) and joined a yoga studio, and combined with rethinking the way I eat, I’m down a size and more importantly, feeling like myself again. So excited to be part of this!!

  4. Roons says:

    I’m in

  5. Alison says:

    Yes! While I’ve lost most of the weight I gained after I got married/moved/was unemployed for 4 months, I still struggle to find the motivation to exercise. This comes at *just* the right time.

  6. Meredith says:

    I think that this is great! Accountability is definitely something that I need to be successful!

  7. Alli says:

    I love this so much! I’m the worst at the gym so when I found a fitness studio I actually enjoyed I decided it was 100% worth the money. But then I moved to Germany… where everyone drinks beer and eats copious amounts of bread. Needless to say, thank you for putting together a place where we can cheer each other on and all work together to be the best versions of ourselves!

  8. Agnes says:

    Have you looked into Body Boss? I love it! It is a short and effective workout. Too bad I haven’t been consistent (work) but it’s great for gals with hectic lives! And I love this idea of Friday Fit Club. It is good to know I don’t feel alone in my struggles.

  9. Jen says:

    Girl, I’m in! I have been slacking on so many thing recently, it’s time to get back in the game! When I wassn’t being such a slacker and making good progress I was using blogilates (just the free youtube versions), because this girl has zero time for the gym!

  10. HBM says:

    Hi Belle!

    Apologies in advance for the long post, but I wanted you to know I really admire you for posting this. It takes a lot to admit ‘man, I’m just not happy right now.’ BUT so so so cool you’re looking for community to build each person up to accomplish their goals. It sucks doing things alone.

    I’ve worked in the fitness industry for a few years now, and am on my way to becoming a personal trainer so I talk to people all the time who (less eloquently) voice what you posted above. I think it’s great that you have a plan – that’s the first step.

    I text my friends when I know they need encouragement or a boost to get to the gym, both as support and an accountability measure. If you (or anyone else on here!) is interested in a support group via text, e-mail me your number and I’ll text you to check in. Just a thought.

    Good luck – you’re going to do great xoxo

  11. N.J. says:

    This comes at a good time. I’ve had s gym membership for two or three years and have barely gone. I’m significantly overweight (I need to lose 100 pounds, that will never happen but 30-50 would help my health) and so tired all the time. Maybe this will work.

  12. Pompom says:

    Two things:
    1) I love this idea, and I’m the same way about working out. Your descriptions about new workout clothes, hitting it hard for a bit, etc….me, to a T. As I settle into a new job with a new commute (“new”=since June, but still), I need to find the time and space for some healthy movement. This could be the kick I need. Thank you.
    2) I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather, and I hope you’re taking care of yourself. It’s a lot to process all at once.

  13. Annette says:

    First Belle, sorry for your loss. That’s hard for sure. You’ve given many people around the World (I kid you not) inspiration and guidance not just for clothes but how to lead a happy life. Now how to be your healthiest? I hit the pool three times a week, religiously, since college. Except when I am in a country without pools, in which case running is a good back up. Just get out and go. Sunday, I think when I can hit the pool that week (takes some figuring out the schedules!) what healthy things I can eat that week (and when am I going to get to the grocery store to get those healthy things)and of course outfit inspiration I happen to find on some convenient blogs…

  14. Shannon says:

    I don’t think this could have come at a better time for me. I have recently gained 7 pounds. This may not seem like a lot but for me, it pushed me over 170 pounds. I was always happy at 160, and probably should weigh 150. Some people probably think “Oh my god, 150!” But I was happy, looked great in pictures and I like food too much – recipes, food blogs, eating, restaurants. Recently, I feel so horrible about myself and hate how I look in photos. I am determined to make better choices, however small. Last night, I became obsessed with Whole30 meal ordering services. But it’s not sustainable – not to mention ridiculously expensive. I went to a spin class yesterday and I’ll walk home five miles from a meeting today in New York.I always make an excuse to not go to my Pilates class. The goal: work out 3 times a week cardio, 1-2 times a week Pilates or strength. And eat less bread and pasta. I am so happy you posted this. Thanks.

  15. Sharon says:

    Love this! I was in the same place a year ago, and while I know this doesn’t work for everyone, my secret to developing a healthy gym habit was to schedule classes where there was a pretty hefty cancellation fee. I prefer the social aspect of group classes (barre, cycling) rather than solo trips to the gym, and I found that while I was motivated to pack a gym bag in the morning, when mid-afternoon rolled around, the last thing I wanted to do was work out. Enter the late cancel policy. Usually mid-afternoon was too late to cancel the class, so my options were to pay not to go to class (either by giving up a class credit or incurring a separate $10-15 penalty) or get my bum in line.

    • raq says:

      yes! I am the same way! I take a barre class that you have to cancel 4+ hours in advance or pay $10 (on top of the membership or class fee) so its a great motivator. I always find I want to workout later but in the afternoon my motivation wanes. The cancellation fee has really worked for me. Also the social/group aspect of a barre class feels like I’m getting a personal trainer without someone just watching me haha

  16. J says:

    Belle, I’m sorry to hear about your loss. I went through the same thing when my father passed away…the black dress I owned didn’t fit and I sobbed while finding another dress at the mall. It kicked my ass because I know that my dad prolonged his life by recommitting to fitness and a healthy diet while fighting cancer, whereas I ate my weight in ice cream. I still have that dress 6 years later to remind me to stay healthy. The only times I haven’t been able to get into that dress was during my 2 pregnancies and the weight loss afterwards.

    I’m not on social, but I have worked out today. Last week of maternity leave and I got a YouTube workout in while the baby was sleeping. Today was Bloglates PIIT. 28 mins and done! #fridayfitclub

  17. Amanda says:

    Your post resonated with me this morning. I am also a fellow thirty-something attorney. Sitting at a desk for long (and I mean long) hours and the catered food that surrounds me on a daily basis is a constant struggle. I eat catered food at a bare minimum 3 to 5 times a week (client events, etc.). When I finally do get home at 8 p.m., I do not want to cook. Twelve hour days are the normal for me. I hate exercise. Like despise it with every bone in my body. When I do have a spare moment to myself, I do not want to spend it exercising. I have tried several diets, saw a dietician, joined weight watchers, and bought more kitchen appliances that promise healthy food than I know what to do with. I just wanted to let you know you are not alone. The rest of the busy working women are right there with you.

  18. Samantha H says:

    I think this is fantastic! There is never a bad time to decide to do healthy things for yourself and I could use some accountability. I’m about 1 year postpartum and still learning to love my body again, but losing motivation for my workouts which have been a huge part of feeling like me since my little one was born. Looking forward to some extra motivation.

  19. Eleni says:

    Looking forward to this! Weight/diet/exercise is constantly on my mind and falling in and out of diet and exercise routines has become my norm . Excited to have a spot for new ideas, motivation, and support!

  20. Em says:

    Are you me?? I’ve had basically the same experience since finishing grad school and it’s so frustrating. I have an practically an entire wardrobe of J.Crew suiting I can’t wear right now and it’s killing me. Count me in!

    • Valerie says:

      Absolutely! I’m not sure what was worse after grad school, feeling like I had gotten into some very unhealthy habits or the fact that I couldn’t fit into a lot of my nicer clothing and couldn’t afford new stuff…

  21. N says:

    I lost 20 pounds after leaving the hill. Like you , I had one of those “low” sit on the bathtub and cry moments. My husband and I were celebrating our 2 year anniversary. I planned for weeks to wear the same dress I wore at our rehearsal dinner. Night of our anniversary, I tried to put it on and same thing – couldn’t zip it up.

    Fast forward six months later, I had oral surgery that rendered me with lock jaw, and I couldn’t have anything but liquids for 4 weeks. I was starving , and craving salads, protein..nutrients really..things I normally wouldn’t fill up with. As soon as the pain went away and I could eat, I found my old love- running. I had just started an off-hill job that was 8 hours and I could actually get home at the same time every day and commit to my workouts. Then I started adding a weights class 3 days a week. The pounds came off and I’m back at my high school weight. Working out for me is about staying strong and energetic and feeling confident, and not solely focused on preventing the no-zip dress moments. It took me 4 years to find that groove, but now that I have I won’t let it go. I have total faith in you!

  22. Kate says:

    This is such a great idea! Count me in! 🙂

  23. Natalie says:

    I totally feel you. I lost 50 lbs about 4 years ago and have gained almost 20 of it back because I have been eating and drinking too much and not moving enough. I don’t think you need to go to the gym to lose weight. Weight loss is 80% diet and 20% being active. When I started losing weight, I also started going for long walks in the evenings, then that progressed into running. I know running isn’t for everyone, but it’s something you can do that isn’t terribly expensive and it definitely is a great way to get in shape. I live in Utah, so I get the cold winter thing. Last year I tried cross-country skiing- what a workout that was! I like running in the cold, too. (well, if it’s above 30!) Anyway, I guess my point is, you don’t need to go to the gym to lose weight, you just need to find something active you like to do, even if it is just a 20 minute walk after dinner each night. I love your idea. I have started traveling for work, which means eating out all the time. It’s also hard to get in some exercise when I’m on the road either because I don’t have time or I’m just tried. Ugh. Why can’t we all have the metabolism of 18 year old boys!? Maybe having a little community will help me go run my ass on the “dreadmill” our around a park when I’m traveling.

  24. e says:

    Bravo for sharing this! You are very brave, I often think these things but am too timid to express them publicly. Let’s be positive influences on one another and get fit together!!

  25. thb says:

    Let’s go! I’m in.

  26. Carrie says:

    Community and accountability are the only things that have helped me establish an exercise routine and stick with it. I recently had a baby and am carrying about 20 extra lbs around with me these days. After not feeling comfortable in my own body for nearly a year, I’m trying to reestablish a routine and learning what that routine will have to look like with all the new time constraints.

    It’s too discouraging to think about the total number of lbs I want to lose. Instead, I’m trying to focus on rebuilding strength and endurance…surly the lbs will follow.

  27. Shannon says:

    I’m so sorry about your grandfather. And as further support of you not being alone, I had a similar thing happen when my great-grandma passed away a few years ago. She died right after my law school graduation and then I couldn’t find a dress that fit for her service. I’d been holding it all together and that was the thing that sent me over the edge. It made me feel even worse about myself. In the moment I couldn’t see it, but some time later I realized that she was such a source of strength for our whole family and in a time of my life when I felt really lost and had no confidence in myself, I really needed her and she was gone.

    All of this to say, I’ve been there, and you’re right – it’s easier when we all remember that we’re all in this together. I hope the moral support of the group helps give you (and everyone else!) a boost to help keep going when it’s hard.

  28. se says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this vulnerable post. I can totally relate. I am also not feeling comfortable in my body at the moment. I’ve recently started running again (ugh) a few times a week; it’s painful to get back in the groove. I’m not one of those people that gets pumped at the idea of working out AT ALL–in fact, I dread it–but I’m always really happy and proud of myself once I’ve accomplished it. I’m happy to join in the Friday Fit Club! I need motivation and accountability anywhere I can get it!

  29. Anu says:

    I am currently in the same place, I have seen in the lat year put on more weight and I am currently heavier than I have ever been. Its difficult to find friends who are on the same schedule to help with motivation. This has come at the right time. I love it.

    Feeling motivated already. !!

  30. Kate says:

    I realized yesterday (as I failed to fit back into a standby tweed dress now that the weather’s changed) that I haven’t worked out in weeks and my eating habits aren’t helping. As much as I know I need to work out, I do have one caution here. Regular exercise helps me to feel strong and healthy and helps my anxiety and winter blues, but it has never done much for my weight loss. I’m trying to simply move more (thanks, fitbit), which aids in maintaining my weight, but again, doesn’t help me to lose weight. The only times I’ve successfully lost weight was when I cut calories while committing to eating in a way that nourished me: lots and lots of plants, lots and lots of protein (greek yogurt is life), lots and lots of water. I use myfitnesspal to track calories and macros and it really does help. I don’t need to go hungry, I just need to eat with a goal in mind. I eat WAY too much and too much junk when I’m tried, stressed, sad, or bored.

    But after yesterday’s dress fiasco, I’m also recommitting to exericise, too. So I took advantage of all the streaming Amazon Prime fitness videos (21-Day Fix was this morning’s choice) and got moving for 25 minutes. It was brutal, but much easier than the gym or a run. Because I’m still lazy at heart.

    • Jess says:

      I’m the same as Kate – working out has never done much for weight loss, but I know that I still feel better when I am moving my body. I’ve got the eating figured out (except for that cake craving I’ve had recently due to my political emotions) and now am working on being more active. Those activity rings on my apple watch are my motivators – I’m taking the stairs every where and I actually took a pair of tennis shoes to work to get out and walk at lunch… I’m in.

  31. SM says:

    Good idea! I went to barre class this morning and while it sucked at least my workout is done for the day!

  32. katherine says:

    I think it’s a great idea. I lost a significant amount of weight last year and then put some of it back on. Redeveloping the good habits that led to the weight loss has been tough. But one thing I learned in spades last year is that you can’t out-exercise your diet. The only extra money you really need to spend to lose weight is the cost of a fairly basic food scale. There are several good food tracking apps you can get for free — my favorite is My Fitness Pal. I also started following two sub-Reddits, including loseit. I friended some of the posters there on MFP and it’s been really helpful to see their comments of encouragement when I meet my calorie/macro goal for the day. You can create groups on MFP as well.

    • Stephanie says:

      Truth. My dad, age 71, lost like 50+ pounds in 6 months just reducing carbs– not eliminating, just reducing. Also quitting drinking wine but I don’t recommend that- in his case it was a medical necessity!

    • Catherine says:

      This is the hard truth that is backed up by so much research. I started fixing my diet by taking the “add it in” approach. I used the app “streaks” on my phone to set a daily goal of vegetable servings and for a while focused solely on that. I allowed myself to eat whatever else I wanted so long as I got my five servings of vegetables a day. Made it a lot easier. I eventually did a Whole30 (hard but worth it) which taught me a lot about when/why I eat or drink (social anxiety = alcohol, feeling overwhelmed = carbs). I’m now working on better understanding my impulses and not relying on food to address feelings.

  33. Bluv says:

    Curious if we can share ideas on eating healthy while on demanding stressful jobs too! Food is really the key for weight loss.

    • Valerie says:

      Seconded. I often read articles about meal planning and meal prep, only to draw up a shopping list and get very intimidated by the task. I’ve heard from friends that I gets easier once it becomes a habit, but if anyone has any tips or advice on starting a manageable meal prep routine for those of us short on time (and sometimes short of motivation, ha), that would be incredibly helpful.

      On a somewhat related note, I’ve started compiling a list of healthy meal options for eating out, for those days I’m too tired to cook or dining out with colleagues, clients, or friends.

      • Janine says:

        Everybody has a different system, but I sit down once a week (just did it this morning) and plan out breakfast, lunch, dinners, make up a shopping list, go shopping, and do any prep. I use the app Workflowy for my lists. I don’t have much time on weekends or weeknights to do a lot of prep, so I focus on easy recipes, e.g., egg cups for breakfast, tuna or hummus open sandwich for lunch, stir fry/frittata/crock pot for dinner. I keep a list of links and recipes that were tasty and quick to put in my routine.

    • Katherine M Leahy says:

      For sure. I actually managed to lose about 40 pounds while also working between 10 and 14 hours a day. I was lucky to work in a building with a cafeteria and a salad bar, and my office had a fridge. I bought a small food scale to keep at my desk. I bought salad at the cafeteria every day (I never put a limit on leafy greens) and weighed out salad dressing I kept in the office fridge. I also used the scale to portion snacks that I kept in my desk as well. I found the biggest problem I had, actually, was dinner. I was so busy at work it was relatively easy to stick to my eating plan during the day — but when I got home I just kind of ate everything in sight. I found that, for me, it was really all mental. I had to sort of figure out how to discipline my mind and my habits. I realized I was eating really mindlessly a lot of the time. So I started doing a 10-20 minute meditation every day when I got home from work before I did anything else. It really helped focus my mind and reduce my impulsive behavior. I also made sure I had easy, pre-portioned meals I could make for myself in the evenings. I used a low carb/moderate fat eating plan, so I bought easy-to-cook cuts of meat in bulk at Costco and froze them in appropriate portions, defrosting one overnight every night so it was ready to use the next night.

      I remember hearing Weight Watchers was losing business because of the backlash against “diets” and as terms like “clean eating” became trendy. But the reality is you just have to control what you’re consuming somehow. I see all these “healthy eating” blogs with pictures of açai bowls and avocado toast and yogurt smoothies with almond butter posing as “clean eating” — and they have no more nutritional value than an Egg McMuffin and at least twice the calories.

      • Belle says:

        I think there are a lot of women who assume eating “clean” is eating lean. Some of these blogs post very high-fat, high calorie recipes but because it’s all organic, natural, or whatever the buzzword is, it must be fine, right?

        But my chief complaint is women who order salad in restaurants thinking they’re making a healthy choice without looking at the ingredients. Avocado, tortilla strips, pickled veggies, corn, Craisins, blue cheese crumbles, croutons, bacon, it doesn’t much to create a 1,000 calorie salad, but they never think of it that way. It’s not healthy, especially when the primary vegetable is iceberg lettuce.

  34. m says:

    I’m so sorry about your grandfather.

    As for Friday Fit Club, I’m in too. I’m working on losing a fair amount of weight for the second time in my life and it’s so much tougher than it was when I did it the first time almost exactly ten years ago (in my twenties). But slow progress is still progress!

    • Belle says:

      This is the second time for me too, and that makes it even harder. Like, I swore I wouldn’t do this again!!!

      • M says:

        I know, that’s it exactly! I swore I wouldn’t do this again, and here I am AGAIN. Maddening! But the upside is, I really know it can be done. Some days, that’s a helpful thing to hold on to. (Some days, not so much, but I guess I can’t win them all.)

        • Jess says:

          Been there – lost 70 lbs, gained back 80, now down 35, gained back 15… Must stop immediately. I’m tired of buying clothes! The one thing I did learn at 70 lbs down, the smallest I have ever been in my life? I wasn’t any happier that small. And I got really tired of people talking about how I looked…

  35. TechWriter says:

    Thank you SO much for this post. Posts like this are why yours is the only blog I read consistently, and have for years.

    The weight issue is a hard one, but it is possible. At very much north of 50, I’m older than most of your readers, but maybe it will help to know that it *can* be done even then. I’ve always struggled with weight, but after four years working in a company with a gourmet, subsidized cafeteria, and nearing 200 pounds and had about given up, but something about tipping the scales by that much more than I ever had was my trigger point. Here’s the thing: as adults, we need so many fewer calories than we think, and don’t realize how far over we go every day just by eating normally. My accountability came when I started using a calorie counting app, and I was shocked at how little I really should have been eating. I decided to target a very, very low level of weight loss, so if it takes me five years to take it off, I’d still feel more comfortable than if I did nothing. The bonus with that is your body’s setpoint adjusts. If my metabolism doesn’t think it’s starving, it may be more willing to assume 155 over 200 is the right place. This might be helpful:

    I still go out to eat (my family is all about food), but know that I need to balance the caloric intake throughout the day or week when I do that. I also joined a ten dollar a month gym. Cheap, but all I really want to do is rent a treadmill. I prefer solitary workouts, so I bring a kindle and walk for between 25 and 65 minutes, depending on my mood.

    Oh, yeah. I’ve been in this situation most of my life, and finally managed a moderate weight loss over the last 18 months via very slow loss and accountability in a calorie counting app. It’s astonishing how few calories you really need in a day. Although I personally prefer solo workouts, I alsojoined a cheap gym just so I could “rent” a treadmill. I bring a book and usually end up doing more time than I thought I’d want to. I definitely don’t go every day, and sometimes miss a couple of weeks, but it’s there when I need it.

    Rather than a quick weight loss, taking it very slow might actually work better for the long term, as you trick your body into a lower set point. Even if it’s slow, you’re still heading in the preferred direction. This site might be helpful:

    I still eat out, and even started perusing the world of cocktails, but now I know to balance the calories throughout the day or week. The caloric information was key.

    Thanks SO much for this post. Best of luck to us all!

  36. Jen FisHer says:

    Yes!!! I’m in—I’m struggling to lose baby weight, coupled with thyroid issues and a bone-deep hatred of exercise. I started working out about a month ago and have seen results, but I’m so afraid of losing motivation!

  37. Stephanie says:

    As another commenter said, it’s 80% diet. I’m 45 and so many of my friends work out like fiends but lose no weight. My advice if you hate working out is walking. Just walking– simple. If you want to run, go for it, but if not, just walk. But do it OFTEN. Weights are good if it works for you, too. But yea, less of the hard core cardio punishment and rushing to get to overpriced studio classes. For food, try to limit eating out to weekends, and if you go out for lunch, make it super healthy (but preferably do meal prep and bring a hearty salad. Make brunch a once a quarter thing instead of once per weekend. Focus more on what you ARE eating than what you’re not. My least successful friends starve themselves at breakfast (literally just coffee) and eat Lean Cuisine for lunch. Eat healthy food, move as much as you can.

  38. Monica T says:

    A few years ago I had the same moment, it wasn’t driven by pictures or clothes not fitting, but I got a DEXA Scan and while I had always thought of myself as large framed and strong, time and desk jobs and a changing metabolism had culminated in a body fat % of 40%. Seeing my skeleton, muscle and a bunch of red fat around it was enough for me. If I didn’t do something I was going to have health problems later, because the more muscle I lost, the worse it was going to get. So instead of focusing on my clothing size, or the weight on the scale, I focused on that body fat %. I got a body fat scale (Withings) that links to MyFitnessPal and other apps, and I started lifting weights. My focus became activity to build muscle, because even focusing on losing the fat would be problematic for me. A few months after starting lifting weights the scale showed I had only lost 6 lbs. This could have been a crushing moment that killed all my motivation. But by focusing on the body fat % I could see that I had lost nearly 15 lbs of FAT, and gained 9 lbs of MUSCLE. My body was changing, long before I could see it in my gapping waste band or in my BMI or LBS. It’s been about 18 months since I started and I’m down to 28% body fat, with a goal of 25%. This is all to say that you can do it, and you don’t have to be weight obsessed to accomplish it. Focus on health, and the right metrics.

  39. Christina says:

    Yes! You so eloquently described how I’ve been feeling for the past few months, and you’e right – it makes it feel so much worse knowing I could do something about feeling this way and haven’t. I’m in.

  40. Lindsey says:

    Woo! I’m in. I had a similar moment with myself back in March. Since then, I’ve lost 25 pounds. Joined Orange Theory, started eating better. Now my body craves it. 11.5 more pounds to go until my goal weight!

  41. Taylor says:

    You inspired me to try a new strength training class at the gym! I don’t like trying new classes by myself, but it was really great and the instructor was awesome!

    Thank you!

  42. Julia says:

    I SO feel you on all of this, although I am actually in a pretty good place right now (I lost the last of the weight I wanted to lose last spring and have managed to keep it off…but the reason I lost it was because my boyfriend and I had a huge fight and I didn’t eat much for weeks due to the emotional strain, not due to some huge bout of willpower, so not recommending that method to anyone).

    The other reason I’m commenting, though, is to sing the praises of Pure Barre (or I guess any barre-type class, but I particularly love the culture at Pure Barre). Like you, I have never ever been athletic, coordinated, or enjoyed walking into a gym. I have wasted thousands of dollars on memberships, trainers, work out clothes and videos, only to quit a few weeks (or days) in. But I have been doing Pure Barre semi-consistently for almost 3 years now. It is the ONLY type of workout I have ever “enjoyed” (even that is a bit strong) and been able to motivate myself to sustain. Part of that is the workout itself – it is low impact, improves coordination and posture, and you really see and feel results fast. Part of it (not gonna lie) is the fact that you sign up for classes online, and then if you try to cancel (or no-show), they charge you $15 – VERY motivating. But a huge part of it is the atmosphere at the studio. All of the instructors know your name – and call you out in class, frequently, with a “great job!” or “perfect form!” mention. There is no expectation of perfection. There are women from 17-70 with bodies of all shapes and sizes. The studio hosts challenges and fun events where they serve coffee in the mornings and wine in the evenings. It’s just… fun. And I never thought I would say that about something that involves exercise.

    It is a bit pricey, but with their specials and discounts for packages, it can be affordable (especially if you go 4-5x a week like I have been, the unlimited package really isn’t bad). And for someone like me, it is SO WORTH IT.

    OK, pure barre plug over. 🙂 I love this idea and wish everyone luck!!

  43. Nicole says:

    I know this feeling well and you are not alone. I’m in the middle of shedding 20 lbs of weight I put on during grad school. I started exercising more regularly when I developed a habit of going to the gym class after work in my building 2x a week, with a work friend. It’s easy (in the building), I am accountable to my friend, and I prioritize it on my calendar. It doesn’t get canceled unless there’s something major. I also started tagging along with a friend to Barre class at a fancy studio and now I’m hooked. It smells like cucumbers there!

    But working out, while it made me feel great and noticeably made me stronger, didn’t lead to an weight loss. I had been working out steadily for about 8 months, no weight loss. For that, I started tracking everything I eat using the app LoseIt. My ideas of portions were distorted, even though I was mostly eating healthfully. The app keeps me honest and accountable. I found that unless I recorded it, I quickly forgot about those “treats” that add up. Losing weight sucks. It’s hard. I go to bed hungry sometimes because I made poor food choices rather than ate the fruits & veggies that I should have.

    Gretchen Rubin’s latest book about forming habits may be helpful! Her four tendencies quiz may help think through what helps you form a new habit – Her philosophy is: don’t beat up on yourself; 80% of what we do is dictated by habit.

    And here’s the thing – it’s not just a one-time change. It’s for the rest of your life.

    I’ve recently hit a plateau in losing weight and I am down for this Friday group. Interested to hear others’ ideas and strategies.

  44. Catherine says:

    All. Of. This. It’s so true. I turned thirty this year and it feels like my metabolism just waved goodby. I already had picked up some extra pounds back during law school, but now the weight comes on more easily and takes longer to get off. So lame.
    But, over the last year I’ve honed in on some practices that are helping. My goal has been to develop long-term habits and make peace with my body in the process.on the nutrition side, I did a Whole30, which helped me better understand when and why I eat things that, if I’m being honest, aren’t worth it the next day. I’m doing a second round right now and it’s really helping me reset my cravings and emotional eating.ive also realized I feel better and make better food choices when I prioritize eating protein at every meal, so I’m learning how to do that consistently. On the fitness side, I agree with everyone saying find what you love. I hate running, so I don’t do it. I like yoga and lifting weights, so I’ve slowly added to my knowledge of those practices and protected them in my schedule.
    Excited about this series!

  45. Jenny says:

    Oh my gosh….this might just be enough to get me off my butt and join instagram. Oh yeah…..and maybe work out a bit too!

  46. Anon says:

    Like your commenter TECHWRITER, I am north of 50. I was never a runner, but started jogging about two-and-a-half years ago to improve all-round fitness for my other sports. I needed to lose weight, but that wasn’t the main goal. I took a couch-t-5k plan from a women;s running magazine: it started with “walk one minute, run one minute ten times”.

    The thought of going out where I could be seen (shock, horror!) was daunting; but I found a place where I could go round the edge of the park and pass enough but not too many people (and they were all puffing like me). But the real key was setting myself really small goals. The first was to get into my joggin kit. The next was to get outside of the front door. Because I found once I’d done that, I needed for my self-esteem to get myself over to the park. And I had an agreement with myself that when I got there, I didn’t HAVE to jog – it was OK if I walked, or even just came back, because I had achieved getting to the park (in my jogging kit!). But I can’t think of a single time when I didn’t then jog.

    My body shape changed, and although I can’t say I loved the jogging, I did really enjoy being outside in the fresh air. So then I actually took my joggin stuff with me when I travelled and made myself go out there, as well.At the moment, I am banned due to the aftermath of knee surgery (and it’s been 18 months), and I am increasingly frustrated. Never thought I’d miss it.

    The other thing I was doing consistently at the time was the Canadian Air Force workout, allegedly used by Helen Mirren, which I got from a Good Housekeeping magazine. It takes 12 minutes, never more – the number of repetitions increases, but not the time you spend doing them; and that provides an easy tacker of progress. It requires no equipment, and most of it is done lying on the floor, meaning you can do it anywhere, even if you are travelling; and I found it very effective..

    The only equipment (apart from a good pari of running shoes) that I needed was a beeper to time the intervals: I use the GymBoss MiniMax.

  47. Colleen says:

    Thank you for your honesty.

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Was in similar shoes when I lost my grandmother six years ago.

    I lost that weight with MyFitnessPal and a Couch to 5k program. Then, a miscarriage, taking another two and a half years to conceive, a pregnancy and new parenthood happened and I’m still 27 pounds over my fighting weight.Joined a Fit4Mom group over the summer and the weight was not budging.

    Finally bit the bullet and signed up for Weight Watchers last week to get my diet under control. So far so good. No special foods and easy to keep track of thanks to the app.

    The other thing that has helped is my Apple Watch. I love getting gold stars, even virtual ones, so the Activity app helps meet that desire when I meet my goals.

    Looking forward to being a part of this!

    • Jess says:

      Yes! I love those little achievement medals on the watch! I’m going for a perfect week closing all of my circles and with a workout every day (5 down, 2 to go).

  48. Mo says:

    Can I offer a suggestion? Secret Life of Fat-NOT a diet book. A scientific look at fat as an organ, how it communicates, preserves itself, what goes wrong with various genetic conditions, etc. Completely changed how I looked at fat–not as an evil to fight but a necessary, complex, crazy organ. It will not explain how to lose weight, but will explain body chemistry and hopefully change how you feel about tackling it.

  49. Janine says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather. Thank you for writing about your experience and fighting to make something positive out of it. I’m probably just adding to the chorus at this point, but I know it was helpful for me to read the comments and know that I’m not the only one constantly struggling to stay healthy. It’s funny, during law school I was actually the lowest weight I’d ever been, likely because I walked everywhere and brought most of my meals from home, and after law school, I gained quite a bit of weight working long hours and being with a partner who loves food as much as I do. This year has brought a lot of transition and stress, and I finally decided that I had to focus on taking care of myself, because this is the only body that I’ve got.

    I’m focusing on getting enough sleep, de-stressing, exercising, and eating well for more energy and long-term health, and losing some excess weight is part of that plan. I’m focusing on getting more protein and nutrients in my diet, and I use Sparkpeople to track my meals (and exercise) because I often find that I eat much more than I think I do. I also found that finding an activity that I liked and sticking with it (joining a rowing team, in my case) and implementing smaller activity goals, like walking with a friend one morning a week, walking to work a day or two each week, and planning weekend hikes, keeps me active and it doesn’t feel like work. You’re welcome to join us for a Monday morning walk if you’re in DC (and anyone reading, for that matter)! Can’t wait to do fitfridayclub!

  50. C says:

    So sorry for your loss, Belle.

    Timely post for me too. Three weeks ago I promised myself I would do at least three sun salutations every day. How many times have I done that? Exactly once in last 21 day 🙁 And why not? Too tired? It’s not hard, takes less than 5 min, does not require a change of clothes, and can be done as slowly as needed. But nope, once in the last 21 days.

  51. Anna says:

    This is so timely. I just committed to doing a new regime – rejoined Weight Watchers! I did it 10+ years ago and actually lost a fair amount of weight, but have put it all back on (plus some). I’m reasonably active, and with my new job will be even more so, but I just need to change my eating. I did a Whole30 in January of 2016, which was really helpful for me to get a sense of *why* I eat what I do (hint: mindlessly snacking was killer) and what foods I needed to stay away from (bye pizza!), but now I need to actually lose weight.

    See y’all on #FridayFitClub!

  52. Paula says:

    I have struggled with the addition of 25 pounds for about five years. It’s now all gone, and I’m back to a healthy, happy weight, thanks to a ketogenic diet. Sugar is the problem, and by sugar I mean any carb that turns to sugar quickly. Sugar makes a lot of us want more sugar, and so when your doctor tells you to eat carbs in moderation, it’s like telling an alcoholic to drink in moderation. You can be any weight you want to be on a ketogenic diet, without ever feeling hungry or deprived; you will feel a sense of well-being that you can’t believe. I LOVE this diet and don’t eve want to think about going off it. I am wearing size 2s again and I got here without any suffering. And it isn’t about willpower, either; no one ever lost weight and kept it off long-term using willpower. Humans aren’t wired to resist hunger. The ketogenic eating plan resolves the fundamental problem: no more hunger, no more blood sugar cycle, no more need for willpower. We have been made to feel like slobs just because some people don’t have the same problem with sugar that we have. Stop eating sugar and you will not want it and the weight will disappear. And I’m 55 years old, so age is not the issue.

  53. Kate says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your grandfather.

    I echo a lot of the other readers and commenters in saying thank you for posting this–it feels very timely! I’ve been having a hard time balancing the demands of law firm life with spending time with and on my fiance, pet and myself (and I’m becoming a sedentary lump.)

    I’m looking forward to following your new fit plan and trying to be more active myself.

  54. Michelle says:

    Not obsessing about tag size or the scale is so important and my biggest struggle. I’ve always been fit but I gained weight when I started my first job after grad school (although it is nice to finally be able to afford to eat well).

    While I think I weigh the same on the scale it’s mostly because of muscle since my clothes fit well again. It’s hard not to compare my body now to high school when I was playing 2 sports year-round, but working out and going to practice is no longer one of my main responsibilities in life. I no longer weigh myself though, and judge my fitness level by my progress during working out and just observing if my clothes still fit.

  55. P says:

    I’m in! I’m sorry for your loss. As I life long non-athletic exercise hater I am finally finding motivation to just do it. For me it has been hiring a personal trainer. It is ridiculously expensive but it’s the only thing that has kept me going regularly. I wish you the best. You can do this. Hugs.

  56. Kelly says:

    Love this Abra – thanks for keeping it real and always inspiring.

  57. Kate says:

    I’d really encourage everyone to check out the Body Kindness podcast, blog, and book in place of starting another diet/nutrition program. It is a great push to look at your ultimate motivations, the psychological hang-ups that might exist, and help you refocus your desire to have a better well-being to one that doesn’t come from a place of shame.

    She has a couple of events in DC at Summit to Soul on Barrack’s Row this fall. Check out Summit to Soul’s FB page to learn more. I attended the first one last night and came away feel liking this is the piece that has been missing in my quest to treating myself better and honoring my body.

  58. jaime says:

    I am *so* in for this! Thank you for such a timely post. Looking forward to being a part of this community!

  59. Kimberly says:

    Oh, me too! I’m working full time as an engineer, getting my MBA in the evenings, and mid-30s metabolism slowdowns….my health and well being has taken a bit of a back seat and I’m tired of buying larger pants! I LOVE this idea!

  60. Jenny says:

    I like exercising on my own schedule when I can squeeze in the time (sometimes 15 minutes in the AM, and 15 in the PM) so also don’t like gym memberships and classes. I’ve found the Fitness Blender videos on YouTube helpful since they have many videos of different lengths and varying levels. There’s no background music, which I prefer, so I can use my own playlists.

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