The Edition: No. 100

May 23, 2019

You can control two things: your work ethic and your attitude about anything. — Ali Krieger

Programming Note. I am off tomorrow for a birthday trip to Phoenix.  As you know, I do not post Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day sales out of respect for our servicewomen and men.  So there will be no content until Tuesday.  Have a great weekend.

Open Up. End the plague of secret parenting.

Brighten. This cobalt Harper Rose sheath is fabulous (also in petite).

Arrived. I don’t like the person I’ve become; is it too late?

In the Bag. Banana’s leather carryall and bright red tote bag are so chic.

Bitten. Why do we turn into snack maniacs at work?

Leggy. Boden’s 7/8 pants come in a lot of great colors. Their navy bootcut pants are a great basic.

Split. Don’t let annoying quirks ruin your relationship.

Screened. This Melt In Sunscreen Milk comes highly recommended.

Traveled. A first-timers guide to using points and miles.

Striped. This gorgeous LOFT midi dress and flirty flared dress are perfect for summer.

For three years, I’ve been trying and failing to get in shape.  Like many women in my generation, I was taught that you worked out to become or stay skinny.  Health was an after thought.  Jean size was the primary goal.

In my 20s and early 30s, I was blessed with a metabolism that just would not quit.  So I didn’t need to develop good habits around exercise and food, so I didn’t.  But the days of downing whole pizzas with nary a care are long over.

Next week, I turn 37 and the path to body acceptance has been long.  But the issue is not “loving my body.”  I’m forced to admit that I am in bad shape.  My BMI is over 30.  My eating habits (while improved since the New Year) are not great.  An exercise routine is non-existent.  And personal discipline…what discipline?

I have finally accepted that this is not about my weight, it’s about the fact that aging is hard on your body.  And if I don’t start taking care of mine, it cannot take care of me.

So what works for you to stay motivated or to get back on track?  We’ve had this conversation before, but it never hurts to have it again.

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  1. Cara says:

    Abra, are you sure you’ve calculated your BMI correctly? A BMI over 30 puts you in the clinically obese range, and recent photos from your stories on Instagram don’t suggest that you are anywhere close to that.

    • Belle says:

      I didn’t calculate it myself. A nutritionist did. So I’m assuming it’s correct. Apparently, I have very little muscle mass.

      • sunnyia says:

        just to follow-up on that, because you don’t look anywhere near a 30 BMI: are you sure it wasn’t % body fat? that’s the figure that is affected by relative muscle mass. compared to BMI which isn’t affected by muscle – only your weight and height get plugged into that equation.

        • kmcm says:

          Agreed. I don’t know how tall you are, but if you were 5’6″, a BMI of 30 would have you at 186 pounds. I was shocked when you said your BMI was over 30 based on your Insta photos, unless you are really, really, really good with angles and editing. I wonder if it’s 30% body fat.

          • Bivvens says:

            I was thinking the same thing. Saw her in person at an event a few months ago and she looked pretty thin to me! Definitely not a 30 BMI!

          • Belle says:

            Maybe she meant 30% body fat, but wrote 30BMI. I’ll call her tomorrow. Thanks for chiming in, ladies. Either way, time to get healthier.

  2. Monica T says:

    I am going to be 38 this year and I am in the best shape of my life. To people who have only known me in the last 5 years it would probably come as a surprise that I spent the decade of my latter 20s to early 30s pretty out of shape. Relationship weight, birth control weight, slowing metabolism and then baby all took it’s toll. When I was 34 I got a DXA scan that one of my friends recommended, it shows full body composition including your bone mineral content, or the weight of your SKELETON. I was shocked to find that I wasn’t “strong and sturdy” anymore, I had reached 40% body fat. It explained why it was so hard to lose weight with just cardio: my metabolism was slowing down from age AND from muscle loss. Eventually this would effect my bones too if I didn’t do something about it.

    That was enough for me. I changed my goal from “lose weight” to GAIN MUSCLE. I started lifting heavy and developed a routine for myself. I focused on body fat % not size or weight at all. At my first check-in I had only lost 5 lbs according to the scale, but had actually lost 15 lbs of fat and gained 10 lbs of muscle. My body started changing, I got stronger, leaner and eventually my clothes were too big.

    My goal now is to hit the big 4-0 in the best shape of my life. I do pull ups, chin ups, or whatever and people say, wow you’re so STRONG. I don’t do it for them though, I train hard to keep my body strong, my mind sharp and my soul at peace. When things are difficult, it keeps me centered. When I lose motivation I just keep showing up and it eventually returns, or some new goal invigorates me again. It’s never too late, and it doesn’t have to be a vanity project. I love the mantra “I won’t let age change me, I’ll change the way I age.”

    • M says:

      I’m only just approaching 30, but having struggled with body image since childhood (then again, who hasn’t), I’ve had a difficult time over the past decade finding a fitness regimen that works for me. I have to second lifting (specifically powerlifting) as my most successful health motivator! I initially started as a means to build leg strength for running, but I realized that I love the challenge of lifting, and it felt less punishing on my body. It quickly turned into a competition with myself to push my max lifts and become as strong as possible. It’s just SO FUN. My motivation also switched from losing weight to gaining muscle! It also made eating way more fun because I got to eat to fuel muscle gain instead of losing weight, which is so much less restrictive. It also definitely helps with self-confidence, because you get to feel pretty badass 🙂

    • Liz says:

      I got this scale about three-ish months ago:

      It gives you all kinds of info about body composition, totally not as accurate as a DEXA scans, I do the convenience of an app on my phone keeping tabs on my muscle mass, visceral fat, bone density, etc.

    • Anna says:

      I love lifting. It’s so empowering. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough for me. I’ve realized that if I want to lose fat, I also need to do some challenging cardio. In the past that’s been running, but I hate running in the cold, so it’s hard to keep up. Now I do CrossFit and I love that it combines heavy lifting with really challenging cardio that gets me that spent, endorphin-fueled feeling after a workout that I love. Other fitness classes just didn’t have enough of one or the other. It also keeps my cardio strength up enough that I can throw in a run here and there and not feel like I’m coming off of a long hiatus. It’s a little annoying that I can’t decide which lifts to do when (if it were up to me, I’d be doing deadlifts every day), but the programming is pretty good. It’s also helpful to measure my progress in strength and achieving certain goals (still can’t do a pull up!) than in weight. Don’t love that my back has gotten wider, but I do love how the muscles look 🙂

      • Laura says:

        I totally second Anna’s comment. Crossfit is the first exercise regimne I have successfully kept over a year (I usually fizzle out when it gets cold and the holidays roll around) but I’ve been doing it 2.5 years now without any gaps except travel. I didn’t think I’d love the community aspect but I do and it helps me stay accountable.

        • Violet says:

          Is Crossfit okay for newbies? I’ve wanted to try it but I feel like I need to get in shape to go get in shape. If that makes sense….

          • Anna says:

            YES! Every exercise can be scaled. I’ve always been into fitness and working out and have been lifting for a few years, and I still scale most workouts. Coaches will usually tell you before a workout how to scale the movements, and they’re super supportive and help make sure you’re doing things right. Most gyms also require that new members take some sort of intro class. In some places, it’s three days. My gym (CrossFit Bethesda if you’re in the DC area), requires new members to take a one month foundations class. They go through all the movements to teach you good form and do sample workouts, and you’re with other people who are new to CrossFit so there’s no intimidation. That way, after your course is done and you start regular classes you don’t feel like you’re being thrown to the wolves. There are definitely bad gyms out there, coaches who are poorly trained or who push people for the sake of pushing them, but that’s no different than personal trainers or gym classes anywhere.

  3. DCP says:

    The best thing that ever worked for me was finding kinds of exercise I actually loved doing in my late 20s. For me, that was yoga and rock climbing. I went from hating the gym to working out 6 days a week for fun. I think you just have to experiment with a lot.

    Since moving away from a place with good yoga studios, I wound up getting a personal trainer for three 30 minute sessions every week. Do I love the process? No. But having a trainer forces me to go and I feel SO MUCH better for it. My energy is through the roof and I sleep so well.

    Worth adding that as you can probably guess, none of this was incredibly cheap. So I had to have an internal conversation about what my priorities were and how my spending would reflect that. Being healthy is my top priority, and if that means spending less on clothes/hair/bar tabs, so be it.

    • DCP says:

      Hate to say this because I loathe the diet industry and their marketing, but Noom has worked really well for me for the nutrition side of things, which I struggle with more than exercise.

      • Jessica says:

        Can you give more info, if you’re comfy, about your experience with Noom. I’ve seen it and looked into it a bit but I wasn’t totally sure what it was or what it does.

        • Erin says:

          Noom is literally the only program I’ve ever had success with; on a basic level it’s calorie tracking, but each day you’re guided through short articles about the psychology of healthy eating and little quizzes. You also have access to a coach and community, which weren’t really my thing but something others might like. My weight has always been in the healthy-ish range, but clothes fit me better and I felt better when I used Noom to lose about 15 pounds after as many years as trying other things and not seeing the scale budge.

          Also- Abra, is there an Orange Theory near you? I’ve done CrossFit, but I find OT to be more my speed. In either case, it was a learning for me that when I’m being coached I’m always going to push myself harder-but I like having a workout planned out for me and I like doing the workouts alongside others. It’s also more affordable than a personal trainer.

        • DCP says:

          It’s basically a more extensive version of a calorie tracker, but with advice on how/what to eat and a bit more guidance overall. It has you weigh in every day and gives you a coach and group. Periodically you get assignments to try different things. I don’t know exactly why it has worked for me versus other methods (probably just the constant reminders to stay on track) but I’ve lost 15 lbs in 2 months.

          It also categorizes your food into green/yellow/red categories based primarily on their calorie density. This got me to eat a lot more vegetables, stay full longer, and cut down on processed foods, which helps me feel better in general.

          You can do a free 2 week trial before paying for anything, which I recommend at least trying.

  4. KB says:

    I know it’s not ‘cool’, but weight watchers is stupid effective. I’ve lost baby weight both times with it and gone back twice for a ‘tune up’. Once you get the hang of it, you pretty much go on autopilot and the weight melts off.

    • Cristina says:

      I completely agree. Time and time again I start WW and it ALWAYS works. Then I fall off the wagon, start choosing unhealthy things, gain the weight back and then start all over…when will I learn? All WW does is teach portion control and choosing healthier options. I really do love it. Down 20 pounds in a little under four months.

    • Liz says:

      I initially did WW a couple years ago, and I hop back “on” for tune ups too, if I feel like I’m starting to slide (either in terms of the number on a scale or in terms of how I feel about my eating habits). It really is stupid effective, and the other thing I love about it is that it kinda becomes a game with the points. I find it oddly satisfying to plot and scheme about how to use my points, so I don’t see it as restrictive but like a puzzle. When I feel like I’m not as healthy as I want to be, I’ll get regimented about my points again for a couple weeks, that’s usually long enough to get me back in a make good choices mindset.

  5. Cristina says:

    The link for the first article is missing! I’d love to read it!

  6. Alexis Krieg says:

    For me, doing one of those “2 weeks for $50” kind of deals at a boutique fitness place is a good motivator to jumpstart a fitness routine. I love a good deal and hate to waste money, so that helps get me out of bed and to the studio (shoutout to OrangeTheory). That gets me over the initial hump and reminds me that working out actually *does* make me feel better. Also great to have a workout buddy and keep each other accountable! Last plug, I downloaded the Kayla Itsines “Sweat” app. Can’t recommend it enough! Great workouts you can do at home, and a nice community of people all at different stages in their fitness journeys. Good luck!

  7. MElissa says:

    I’ve also struggled with this. Since the new year, I’ve finally built up the habit of working out 5-6 times per week. What ended up working for me was really quite simple – a gold star system. I print out a calendar every month and each day that I work out, I give myself a literal gold star sticker. It’s silly, but I love that feeling of earning a star. Plus, seeing them on the calendar on my fridge is a reality check of how much I am or am not working out. I also hired a personal trainer last October and see her 2 times a week. She is encouraging and focuses on feeling good and mobility, rather than getting in a certain shape. These two things have really helped me get stronger and have more body acceptance.

  8. Leah says:

    For me, I need the accountability of a class sign up (and the pain of losing $$). For you, it may be different. The goal is ultimately habit changes and you may need some help to understand what will be most effective.

    Read this book: The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin. A bit of a cheesy title, but contains simple and effective strategies fit to how you function.

    As you know there’s not a quick fix and you have to do the work, but luckily, you’re a hard worker and simply have to apply that drive to a different aspect of your life.

    You’ve got this!

    • M says:

      I second this book! So helpful in forming habits. I figured it my tendency, establishes habits to suit that, and now working out is just something on auto pilot for me 3-4 times a week.

    • MEG says:

      The Four Tendencies book is so useful. The other one of hers that I absolutely love is Better than Before which is all about habit building and more granular personality traits that affect how you function and deal with routines and choices. It’s dead useful.

    • Julie says:

      I’ve also found her Happier podcast so helpful at reinforcing strategies. I had to reframe a lot of my thinking and habits to lose weight. I didn’t include exercise in my weight loss plan but I included everything from drinking water, walking, house cleaning, reading, meal planning, and my actual food. Everything in my life changed. But change didn’t have to mean bad and mostly it just meant being mindful of all the little habits I had that I didn’t know about. I listen to the podcast each morning while getting ready and it makes me much happier than flipping through facebook (though not as happy as blaring ABBA tunes but what could bring that level of joy?)

  9. Meaghan says:

    For me, goal setting and consistency are key. When I did Crossfit, I wanted to do one pull up unassisted (a huge challenge at the time) and squat my body weight. When I was able to do that, I increased those goals. I started running 4 years ago (I am 37), with my first goal to run a mile non stop (had never in my life done this). Then 1.5, 2, 3, etc. Once I could consistently run three miles without stopping, I signed up for a half marathon to commit myself to training regularly. Now, I aim for time goals (running goals are truly endless). This goes hand in hand with consistency for me – I have to get out and do the training in order to reach my goals, and getting out on a regular basis gives me routine, which I crave. I hated running (and working out) when I started, and then I became more skilled at it. Now I love it – both for its own sake, and because it’s fun to watch myself become noticeably better.

    For diet, I focus on nutrition rather than avoiding foods (because if I try to avoid foods, they’re all I want). I aim to eat good amounts of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. When I focus on that first, I find that I am usually satisfied – both in that I feel full and don’t typically have random cravings.

  10. carrie says:

    My primary motivator for regularly exercising is physical and mental health. It helps me control my anxiety, improves my sleep quality, and helps my self esteem. I also really like not getting easily winded when doing something more physical.

    Getting into a routine is really hard. When I first started exercising, a strong community really helped me establish a routine. Once I was in a routine, I was able to coast a bit, but things changed after having a kid and I lost any consistency in working out.

    I’m now learning that being realistic about your lifestyle and what works for you in the moment is really important in maintaining healthy habits. I don’t have time to go to the gym for an hour 3-4 times a week anymore, but I can fit in a 30 minute at home workout 3 times a week. There are some great fitness apps out there that are geared toward at home workouts. I’ve been very impressed with Sweat – it’s definitely not for everyone, but it really helped give me structure and routine that I was lacking and I like the challenge.

    And in the end, doing something, even if it’s small, is better than doing nothing.

    • Paige says:

      “And in the end, doing something, even if it’s small, is better than doing nothing.”

      This is the best advice, Carrie – bravo! As a working mom to two very young children, I tell myself this most days. Just do something – 10 pushups, one minute of jumping jacks, 20 squats – and see what happens. I often find that once I get started, it’s easier to keep going. It’s pretty incredible what even 15 minutes of dedicated time per day can do!

      You’ve got this!!

  11. J says:

    It’s literally the doctor telling me at 21 that I had high enough cholesterol to be on meds. I had a choice: get healthier or be on drugs for the rest of my life. I chose healthier. 18 years later, I’m at a good weight for me, and more importantly, healthy. I started with my diet. I did go cold turkey off of junk food and measured my food to have a better understanding of portion sizes. Then I searched for exercise that kept me motivated. I don’t deny that I’ve had ups and downs or gone crazy on vacation, but I also force myself to always get back on track after the fun is over. I’ve talked about the last 10 pounds on the Facebook group. Yes, if I could lose those, great. If not, I think I’m okay with it. My fear is that I model disordered eating and exercising to my kids, so yes, they see me exercise and eat veggies, but they also see me eat cake and take it easy every once in a while too.

    I see someone above suggested a DEXA scan. I think it’s totally worth it. You do see everything, and it provided me a base level of awareness of my body composition. It’s covered by FSA if you have it since it’s a bone density scan. That’s good to know for women too!

    • L says:

      For me, it’s all about the difference I feel when I leave yoga class. As long as I feel good or better at the end than when I arrived at class, that tells me I should keep doing it. It has also helped to develop a personal relationship with my instructor—she is very supportive and a good sounding board, and I consider her a friend. It’s nice to see her 2 or 3 times a week!

    • Emily says:

      Same here! Dad has high blood pressure and high cholesterol and I was going down the same path for permanent medication.

      • J says:

        Just the thought of being on the same meds forever pushes me to keep working on my health and fitness. I have family history of high blood pressure too, so I’d like to delay that as long as possible.

    • Jessica says:

      I’ve read many times that if you’re down to the last 5-10 lbs that you want to lose but can’t, it may be your body telling you that it’s good where it’s at.

      • J says:

        Yup. After having kids, my body shape has changed, so I have to accept that. The DEXA scan showed me that there was fat to lose, but not as much as I thought. After my husband gets to closer to his goal weight, we’re probably going to go in for another scan and then I can re-evaluate again.

  12. SaraJones says:

    I am 33 and have been on a thousand diets, “life-style changes”, exercise routines (WW, Noom, Paleo, Vegan, Crossfit, running) for the past five years. Read “Intuitive Eating” – and spend a long period of time working through the steps. Exercise and diet is not about a lack of willpower or laziness – get in touch with what you like to eat and how you really feel in your body. My weight has stabilized and doesn’t go up-down every few months. And I rarely think about food at all. No good or bad food, no counting calories, no eating food to deal with emotions. It’s just food.

    • Kelly says:

      I’m reading “Body Respect” by the same authors and loving it. I had a pretty healthy body image until some combination of societal pressure, social media, and mental health took its toll. This book is a good way to clear out all the “facts” I’ve started internalizing/believing. On the flip side, I’m trying to balance forms of exercise I love with the kinds of movement that will help me not get injured/keep old injuries at bay. For now that’s a combination of running, ultimate frisbee, Pilates, hot yoga, weights, and things I’ve learned during the time I’ve spent in PT over the years.

  13. Em says:

    I definitely get where your coming front on this. I played sports through college. I never developed healthy diet or exercise habits because I never thought of it as exercise, it was just something I loved to do, and any healthy eating or strength training I did as just about making me better.

    After my competitive sports career ended I spent years doing the on and off diet and exercise thing, lost weight, gained it back, you know the drill. There were points where I was a little obsessive. Then last year I signed up for a 10 mile race, threw my scale away, and promised myself I wouldn’t count calories and just enjoyed the training. It’s the most positive I felt about my body in years. For the first time since college I felt like exercise was about working toward a performance goal and not an appearance goal. I ate healthier because I was finally thinking of food as fuel. I don’t know if I lost weight but my clothes fit better and I felt a lot better.

    Bottom line, shift the focus toward a goal that has nothing to do apoearance, and be kind to yourself on the food front.

  14. Anna says:

    I’ve found that the best way to build a habit is to start so small you don’t even realize it’s what you’re doing. It’s how I ended up training for my first marathon by accident and the only ways I’ve gotten back in the working out habit.

    The one time I fell off the wagon HARD, I used the book State of Slim to get back in shape. I’ve always had issues with my weight, but I’ve never done an actual diet (which has probably helped keep me from yo-yoing, but on the higher end of normal weight). This was a pretty balanced approach. It kind of starts with a typical low carb period, then slowly starts adding more foods. The diet part is very veggie and protein focused, but the habit-building part that was really helpful was that they require you to do some form of moderate exercise six days a week. The first two weeks, just 10 minutes, then 15, then 20…until you get to 45. In the beginning, the goal is so small, you hardly notice it. I’d even do a 10 minute ab video before bed. I mean, there’s no excuse when it’s just 10 mins. Once you get into higher times, you’ve already built the habit.

    As far as what exercise you do, just make it something you love. I know that I need to be able to track my progress to stay motivated. It’s why I like running and lifting. There’s always something to work towards. I can’t stay motivated with stuff like bootcamp or spinning, though I do like to throw them in every once in a while.

  15. L says:

    A few years ago, I had a surgery and my required 2ish week break from working out became a 3+ month break. When I couldn’t stand how I felt in my skin (like a blimp, joints and back hurting) I finally bit the bullet and hit the gym again. Coming back was so incredibly hard – all my strength and endurance was gone, and exponentially harder than when I would take extended breaks in my 20s. At that moment I promised to never let myself fall off the wagon for so long again just because coming back was so difficult. Now my goal is to never take more than 2 days off consecutively, but realistically, with sickness and travel, sometimes I’ve taken up to 2 weeks off. I generally have the mantra of “I’m working out for my mental health” so if my workout is making me miserable, I won’t do it and I’ll find something else.

    Lately I’ve also started seeing friends develop terrible health issues, so that’s become a new motivator to stay on top of my fitness preventatively.

    As for in the moment motivation: I’m all about the ridiculously expensive boutique trendy classes when I just can’t with working out on my own. There’s no chance I’m losing my $30+ because I want to sleep in or whatever excuse. Plus it’s fun to try new classes!

  16. Lauren says:

    Wishing you a happy birthday! And appreciating the comments about staying motivated with health goals. About two years ago, I started going to the gym almost every day. I felt so good, was down to my lowest weight in years, and it helped with anxiety and depression. Throw in a few life curveballs (family deaths, job changes, etc), and I stopped, and have put on 20 lbs. My clothes are too tight, I feel uncomfortable in my skin. This has been going on for months, and I have felt so much despair over it, and so angry with myself for ‘letting myself go’ again, after putting in such hard work. I’ve been trying to get the motivation back, and while I’m still struggling, I appreciate the tips. Part of my motivation is to fit back into some of my favorite clothes comfortably! Unfortunately I need to buy some new items until that time comes. But – you made me decide to go to the gym this evening. Thanks for sharing your own struggle!

  17. Jules says:

    Aging is definitely hard. I’ve kept a very strict workout protocol since I was 20 (am now 34) and here is what works for *me* (may not be for everyone. Also caveat- I may come across as insensitive, but just sharing my personal experience):

    1) First and foremost: DO NOT WAIT FOR, OR LOOK FOR MOTIVATION.
    It will not come for the things you dislike. If I only worked out when motivated, it would be about once a month. I *make* myself go to the gym no matter what, as a non-negotiable (obviously within reason).
    Tired? too bad. Workout
    Sore? too bad. Run.
    Sad? too bad. Go lift something heavy.
    Busy? too bad. Forego laundry and cleaning.
    Kind of like brushing teeth. I don’t feel motivated to do it, I don’t enjoy it. I just do it.

    2) Stop using FOOD as a treat.
    This is going to sound harsh, but harsh works for me. One time, a guy told me – “you’re not five years old. You don’t need a cookie for doing a good job.”
    While this may be insulting – it was acutally a HUGE shift for me. I realized there are so many other fun things to look forward to – and it tookd a huge emotional connection to food away, which made eating better way less of an emotionally charged thing.

    3) Don’t buy junk.
    Plain and simple. I realized if I didn’t have it in the house, I didn’t crave it. If I had it in the house, I would crave it by just seeing it.

    4) Eliminate the ‘easy’ vices
    This may vary person to person, but for me – cutting out alcohol, soda, deep fried foods and processed meats was ‘easy’ for me. And once I felt comfortable with that, I just added more things to that list (slowly) so I never felt ‘deprived’ – but over time just replaced them with more nutritious options.

    5) Eat the cake.
    or the cookie, or pizza or whatever it is. But eat it slowly and savor it. The most “benefit” you will experience is in the first few bites. Really enjoy it. Then see if you are satiated. Most likely, the answer is yes. If not, eat some more. But know when to stop – and if you overdid it, brush it off. No need to make it into a personal failure or anything other than a few extra bites of yummy food.

    6) Eat more veggies.
    I hate veggies. I hate fruits. I haven’t found a way to cook them in which I enjoy them. Doesn’t matter. I just eat it.

    7) This will take some time – but retrain your palate. I used to only be able to eat food drenched in sauce and dressing and dips and stuff. It took time, but now I like the plain flavors of food. And the calories in dips and dressings and sauces can really add up!

    8) Challenge yourself.
    I find that many women I observe at the gym are not challenging themselves. They walk rather than sprint. Lift 5 pound weights when they could realistically be lifting 20 pound weights. They do ten reps when I can see they can do ten more. Not saying you have to kill yourself in the gym everytime, but I find that my brain releases more ‘feel good’ chemicals when I PUSH myself to do something, and I acheive it.

    I think for goal-oriented people who were good in school and stuff, it’s boring when it’s easy. And I see too many people doing too many easy things in the gym. (again, not saying you can’t have easy days – but challenge yourself and you just may surprise yourself)

    9) Find a workout plan
    There are so many free and/or low cost workout plans of EVERY IMAGINABLE variety out there. I find that having a calendar plan of pre-determined workouts helps me when I have zero motivation and inspiration. I just follow directions. Takes a big mental load off.

    It really doesn’t matter if its running, yoga, crossfit, lifting, jazzercise or swimming. Literally anything is fine. You don’t even have to like it. You just have to stick to it.

    10) Do’t psyche yourself out.
    When I talk to my friends, many people make working out and eating healthy such an ‘ordeal.’ They talk about it like some sort of big, burdensome project. I find that this mentality is actualy detrimental.

    I’ve found that if you can take the emotional and psychological *charge* away from working out and eating ‘right,’ – it just becomes another task, like washing the car.

    11) Small steps in the right direction is still progress. You don’t have to turn into Mrs. Iloveworkingout and Ms. Ilovekale.

    Phew. Sorry for the novel.

    • anna says:

      I’ll add that the side benefit of eating the veggies is that they’re pretty filling for few calories. I count calories, because being as sedentary as I am most of the day, I don’t really have a ton of wiggle room, and when I don’t have a bunch of veggies in my meals, it’s sooo much harder to stay under my calories.

    • MMC says:

      Love your approach and commitment!

    • Emily says:

      This is a blunt, but great, comment! So true- just do it and with consistency you will see results. And I mean consistency over months, not days or weeks. You can do it!

  18. J says:

    The absolute number one thing that helped me with movement was a complete shift and re-frame from doing it to make my body look a certain way, to doing movement that felt really good in my body at the time I was doing it. If it didn’t feel good, if I wanted to die, if I wanted to quit, if I was doing it from shame or disgust or hatred – it was off the table. I only do things that make my body feel awesome.

    I stopped going to classes, because I wanted to freedom to leave when my body was done, or to modify as needed without a trainer beating me up over it. I “counted” daily movement like a walk during lunch or a particularly active cleaning or shopping day and called that good. I subscribed to online workouts like Barre3 so I could pick a class length or focus and do it whenever worked for me. I stopped logging my exercise (and my food intake or calories, for that matter) and gave myself complete and irrevocable permission to honor myself through movement. And surprise (!) – my body is super into this. I move more and in a healthier way than ever before.

    Granted, this took a long time and honestly, a fair amount of therapy. But for the first time in my entire life my weight is stable (no yo-yoing), my body doesn’t hurt, I look forward to working out, and I spend almost no time in body shaming land. Moving my body now just feels good, and it’s because I took the pressure off.

  19. Sheena says:

    I am about to turn 37 and am in the best shape of my life. The thing that finally helped was joining a gym where community is a core component. Rather than a place where I am on my own with just my headphones, I work out with a coach and classmates. We laugh, we have fun and I have friends who hold me accountable. It’s difficult to miss more than a couple of days because I find myself craving the community as well as the endorphins from exercise.

    On my own, I’m lazy AF. But with my group, I am a crossfit badass. I never saw it coming. Now instead of weight goals, I have goals like doing a pullup or pulling 300 lbs during a deadlift. Those goals are fun to work toward and keep me more motivated than what I weigh. In changing my mindset, my body fat percentage is decreasing, my clothes fit, my energy is up and I feel good about myself. Even with the remaining fat on my belly.

    • Alisha says:

      +1 for community for exercise. I prefer to workout solo, but signing up for a race with a friend or doing the same program and being able to talk about it with someone keeps me on track. Diet has been harder for me, especially now that I’m in an office where there’s no break room and most people go out for lunch.

    • anna says:

      YES! This is why I joined CrossFit. For years, I’d worked out in the House gym and loved the vibe there, even if it was weird seeing colleagues in gym clothes – I knew all the trainers, the classes were good, it felt kind of homey. But when I left the Hill, I joined Washington Sports Club, and I just didn’t love being there. It felt so impersonal. Now I’m coughing up a bunch of cash for CrossFit and don’t love that I can’t personalize every workout, but it feels like a community, and I feel at home there.

    • Janine says:

      First off, I am loving the very thoughtful discussion here about what it takes to become and stay healthy given the demands of everyday life. Second, I wholeheartedly agree that a community really helps with staying with whatever you do to stay healthy. Nearly three years ago, I took up rowing, and the great people I’ve met are definitely part of the reason I’ve stuck with it, even when life throws curve balls into my schedule. (Not to mention the thrill of getting out on the water and the challenge of getting stronger.) Before I headed to grad school, I used to take karate with a great group of people – so you can find community anywhere, you just have to find the place for you.

  20. Andrea says:

    Just before Christmas I got serious about making my health a priority again. A whole slew of factors-depression over feeling stagnant in my career, a birth control that didn’t agree with me, too much time spent in traffic and too little in the gym-all had contributed to my being in a place where I didn’t look or feel good. For months I kept telling myself that I wanted to do something about it…right before diving headfirst into a roll of cookie dough. It was a mess.

    The two biggest things that have helped me as I move forward on my fitness path are:

    1. Calling myself out when my actions do not match the goals I have set and/or the things I keep saying I want. I was always resistant to this because I didn’t want to be that person who was so rigid that she shamed herself for having a treat every once in a while. But I have come to realize that I know myself pretty damn well, and I’m discerning enough to recognize the difference between treating myself with intention and mindlessly snarfing my way through a bag of pizza rolls while bingeing Netflix. If it’s the latter I need to be firm with myself about cutting that s@*t out.

    2. I got the free My Fitness Pal app and I love it. You can input your goal calories and your goal macros and play with them until you find a ratio that works for you! Again, I was worried that this would feel overly restrictive or triggering of my past disordered eating patterns but I’ve found just the opposite! It’s not a punishment, it’s a tool so I can have all the possible data to make choices that support my goals. And I think it has been so interesting to see the difference in how my body feels on lower carbs/even split/etc. it has turned into kind of a fun science experiment and I love that it engages my brain!

    Thanks for always being so encouraging of honest conversation about fitness on the blog. It’s so important to know that others face the same issues and are struggling, and falling, and getting back up just the same. There is something so powerful about a community of women coming together in pursuit of good health and a life better lived.

    • MOnica T says:

      Seconding MyFitnessPal as a useful tool for tracking nutrition and activity together. Syncs up with tons of third-party trackers, wifi scales etc, and brings everything together in one nice place with it’s own community as well.

  21. Kristen says:

    I started a program called Faster Way to Fat Loss in March. I was moderately strict with sticking to the program for the 6-7 weeks and can’t believe how well it worked. I only had about 10lbs to lose but I feel SO much better eating around her guidelines. I learned so much about what my body needs & I’ve continued to roughly follow the guidelines. I also like their motto “progress not perfection” as well as their emphasis on body measurements/how you feel, not weight

    • Kristen says:

      Also… I actually increased the amount of food I’ve eaten on this program. I was so nervous the first week because I was eating so much that I was sure I’d gain weight! Nope. And they provide an exercise plan that is very doable

      • Em says:

        FWTFL is what I do too! I started with just the exercise program last October, thinking that if nothing else it was cheaper than a personal trainer, but I’ve been doing it for six months now and have adopted most of the program’s eating guidelines too, although I do eat dairy and gluten regularly, as do some others on the program. I do honestly feel better (and am definitely stronger)

        I also like another key saying of the program: “You don’t have to be perfect, just consistent.”

        Another thing I tell myself that sounds mean but really works for me: “You don’t need to reward yourself with food. You are not a dog.” Something about it helps break the connection I had between eating as reward, and that’s been incredibly helpful for me. (If I want a brownie I eat it—but not as a “reward” for anything.)

  22. SC says:

    Weight loss for me is always about portion size and cutting back big-time on carbs, which sucks because I friggin love carbs. And umm, acknowledging the fact that I’ve got binge-eating tendencies and really need to be mindful of what I’m eating, and how I’m eating it. A serving size of peanuts is okay. Downing half the jar of peanuts while zoning out on YouTube is not okay.

    My favorite exercise is cycling and while I know the cardio is good for my heart/lungs, it does nothing for my weight management, which again really sucks. Hiking up long, steep hills with a heavy backpack on really melted the weight off for me in 2010, and also got me into good enough shape to climb a mountain. I guess I should get on that train again.

  23. kate says:

    When I was 38 I lost my Dad to cancer. It was a devastating blow. I was in horrible shape physically, mentally, spiritually, you name it and my auto-immune condition was debilitating. I had a very active four year old and I could not keep up and hated everything about my life. The spouse was full of criticisms. The gym and exercise were my Savior. I won’t lie. Exercise HURT! Sometimes to the point of tears. (For those of you who suffer from fibromyalgia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or other AU condition you can relate). But, for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening I did not have to think about anything, feel anything or take care of anyone else. It was literally monkey see monkey do. Then I added a weight class, started to feel empowered, and the depression began to lift. The friendship of the women! To hear laughter! To listen to them talk about their TEENAGERS! I needed ADULT company. If I hadn’t pursued diet and exercise at that time I’m not sure I would be here. I’ve never looked back.

  24. aar1 says:

    I’m approaching 28 and my mid-twenties have put me in probably the healthiest routine of my life. What has really made a difference for me is (1) accepting if i’m exercising, drinking water, and eating lots of nutrients but still not as thin as I want to be, the weight goal is unrealistic and I shouldn’t dwell on it; (2) finding healthy things I enjoy eating and consuming those – there’s truly delicious salads I have learned to make with avocado and heirloom tomatoes and good lettuce; and (3) in the same vein, finding exercise I enjoy AND with cancellation fees has been a game-changer. I had a long love affair with barre, when my body felt burnt out, I went to yoga, and now I’m in a pretty rewarding routine with orange theory. I’ve definitely made some financial investment to get to this point. Workout classes aren’t cheap, and avocados are stupid expensive. But if you do legitimately factor in the fewer co-pays you’ll be responsible for with a healthy lifestyle, it’s a much better bang for your buck.

  25. sarah says:

    I just started ole faithful again, Weight Watchers, and it really is the best program for maintaining a life while losing weight.

    I also find my apple watch reminding me to move my body and their monthly challenges helpful. It gamifies exercise, which I need apparently!

  26. anna says:

    For anyone that’s kind of lost when it comes to nutrition and exercise, I really recommend James Smith. I think his social media handles are James Smith PT/@jamessmithpt, and he has an online platform at He really demystifies a lot of nutrition info and explains everything in a super straight forward way. The website has a calorie/macro calculator and recipes, and his instructional videos are also great if you need guidance when it comes to weight training.

  27. MMC says:

    I’ve been shocked by home much I love my Peloton. The instructors are so positive and encouraging. The focus is on being good to yourself and showing up for yourself. Robin, Ally, Andre and Matt are my favorite instructors.

    They also have yoga, strength training, running, etc programs that you can stream.

    Huge thumbs up.

  28. Denise says:

    I’m most likely going to echo what others said….but here’s my take –

    (1) Diets fail. Nearly all the time. If you restrict the foods you are eating, there’s no way for it to NOT feel like restriction. Restriction simply isn’t sustainable long term (I mean, eating one bowl if ice cream instead of 10 is sustainable…but never eating ice cream is not…). Why do you think weight watchers is so successful? Not because people lose weight and keep it off! Because they keep going back (I am also guilty of this! Lifetime member right here!)

    (2) Due to #1 (diets fail), the goal should never be a number on the scale. It also shouldn’t be the goal because we are all beautiful, amazing women that are so.much.more. than a number on a scale.

    (3) I suffered several injuries in my 40th and 41st year on this planet, one of which being a herniated cervical disc that kept me from picking up my 2 year old son for months. It was debilitating and I decided I would never be in that position again, so..

    (4) …I started working my strength and my core. this led to improvement in my running pace, which led me to simultaneously peruse longer distance running while practicing pilates and lagree. All of that training led me to many road races, my first triathlon, an improved diet, and overall a significantly better body image.

    Instead of moving my body to burn calories, I moved it to hit a goal (sub 2 half marathon, triathlon training) and to simply enjoy it (ever take a hip hop spin class? Its a good time!). Move to live, move to enjoy.

    (5) I’m 42. and am in far better shape than my 20 or 30 year old self, even though the 30 year old was most likely much lighter.

    So at 42 i’m in the best shape of my life, at a time when my appearance really doesn’t matter all that much. My sons pay exactly zero attention to that and they are who I live for 🙂

    TL;DR – Move to LIVE, do what you enjoy, recognize that you are so much more than your scale, then throw it out 😉

  29. Mandy says:

    I highly recommend you check out the faster way to fat loss. I found it originally through the fashion blogger seersucker and saddles. It’s an online program, but the creator released a book this week available on Amazon. It’s intermittent fasting, carb cycling, and macro tracking. It’s a great program and very easy to incorporate into your life. No deprivation, shakes, pills, etc. I actually use some of the recipes you recommended with the program. Specifically, that Thai peanut chicken. Thanks for sharing. It’s delicious. Best of luck.

  30. Noelle says:

    I was in the exact same place a couple years ago – was not taking care of my body, working constantly, and stress eating. For me the two things that really helped were:

    1) group fitness classes. I signed up for Classpass before finding a place I really liked, but the key for me is that they make you pay if you cancel class. I used to blow off exercising when work was busy…and it was always busy. Classes were expensive, bit they forced me to put them on the schedule and commit.

    2) eat real foods. My job is stressful and I hate dieting, but I found it made a huge difference whether I was overeating on popcorn and ice cream or overeating salmon and almonds (even chocolate covered ones). I eventually went low carb but it was less about the carbs and more about cutting out processed foods and replacing them with tons of vegetables. Even now, I eat whatever I want but I always make sure to eat a ton of vegetables and that alone helps.

    This is just what worked for me, but I hope it’s useful. Good luck!

  31. Katharine says:

    I find that the exercise I enjoy the most, and stick with, is the kind that feels like a fun activity and not like actual exercise. Swing dance lessons, and the social dances that accompany them, are both really fun and a great full-body workout. Ballet classes, morning yoga, hiking or going to a climbing gym with friends… anything that feels like a fun activity rather than a chore.

    I also try to fit little bursts of exercise in throughout the day. Squats while I fold laundry, jumping jacks if I feel cold, calf raises while I wait for the teakettle to boil. In the office I’ll do wall pushups or tricep dips while I wait for my lunch to heat up. Little things add up, and feel a lot more manageable than an hour at the gym every day.

  32. JdHS says:

    I started doing weights in my mid twenties because they made me feel powerful, but also because all my friends at work in their 30s were doing them. Now in my late 30s, I do weights still to feel powerful! But they also make me feel tight and trim. If I have to choose between cardio and weights, I typically pick them. The saving grace for me, was starting with a weight class that was female friendly, and that taught me the old school weight lifting moves so that I now feel generally comfortable on the weight floor at a gym. That was Les Mills Body Pump. I’m still a huge fan, and subscribed to their online classes so that I can do them at home now that I dont live in a town with classes. It’ll kick your butt at first, but I think it’s one of the fastest ways to feel and see a difference, that hopefully will keep you coming back.

  33. Siri says:

    One thing that really worked for me is developing a schedule and prioritizing it above everything else. I have two days when I do weights, and one day when I do spinning – and those sessions do. not. move. Then I can usually find some additional time throughout the week for yoga/more cardio, but, even if I don’t, I know that I’m still doing pretty well. I never used to think of myself as a gym person, but having a routine and knowing I am getting stronger has really made me enjoy it. And then I want to eat healthier to help my performance and set new personal records!

  34. Jenny says:

    I am a person who looks fit but is not. I know that this cannot last as I get older! There have been a few times where I was in legit good shape as an adult, and those times all involved: EXTENSIVE walking. LOTS AND LOTS OF WALKING. WALK WALK WALK. I absolutely hate to run and will not do it, but walking can be pretty good exercise too, especially if you get some hills in. Walk obscenely long distances, and use the time to call a friend long distance and catch up. For a while I did barre class and wow, I really did look and feel good for those months. But it was too pricey and inconveniently located. I’ve recently picked up yoga and am hoping I will gain strength back again through that.

    Being sensible about carbs — not strictly restricting, but just not making them such a big part of my day — helps a lot too. Even just saying “I’m only going to eat whole grain carbs for two weeks” makes a big difference, as you will have to turn down that slice of office pizza, etc. But you can still have a satisfying sandwich on whole grain bread later.

  35. DianE says:

    A friend of mine runs a body positive anti-diet website/blog/community focused on adopting healthy habits to feel good rather than achieve weight/size. It’s a good place to reframe goals and steps towards achieving them.

  36. LHW says:

    My husband and I went to a nutristionist about 2 years ago. We did food diares for a week and reviewed them with her. She didn’t shame any of our decisions but put together loose meal plans for us. She also indicated the balance of proteins, fats, etc for meals and snacks. I don’t follow it to a T but it makes me more concious of some of the decisions I’m making.

    I’ve been working hard to maintain my weight over the past year due to fertility medications{or that’s what I’m b. I’ve just now accepted that my weight is higher than I’d like but I’m eating well and staying active. That’s the best I can do and if I have a bit of fluff so be it.

  37. Cheri says:

    I found myself in the same position. Gained about 15 lbs more than I am comfortable with over the last couple of years. First, I had to find an activity that is fun and a workout. For me, it was pilates and horseback riding. When that wasn’t enough, my husband and I started doing the Keto diet. We are 3 months in, I lost the 15 lbs (he’s lost almost 30) and feel amazing. Since I’m where I am comfortable weight-wise (without expecting to have my 25 year old body back), I’ve started adding carbs back in, but keep an eye on just eating healthier and not reaching for the cookies or bread.You’d be surprised at how much just cutting out the bread, pasta, etc. makes a difference.

  38. Katherine says:

    I struggled with an eating disorder and terrible eating habits for years. Weight Watchers was the only thing that put me on a healthy path and kept me there. As a seriously type a person, I loved the structure of the points system, it made sense to me. They’ve really upped their game so that it’s no longer about per-packaged foods. The program is focused on lean meats, fruits and veggies and learning what is good and not so great for your body.

    Honestly, I still battle with my eating disorder, it’s a daily struggle but WW helps me realize that it’s ok to eat because I know it’s good for my body.It doesn’t work for everyone but it worked wonderfully for me and there is a wonderful support system through the app.

  39. Jennifer says:

    I absolutely agree that it’s not about the weight. My metabolism is also slowing after years of eating excessive amounts and now, I have to remind myself that my body is not a trash bin for empty calories…I’ll let some other 20-year old to “not be wasteful”.

    Now when faced with a wide array of unhealthy food, I stop and think about how I’d feel after consuming it all. For the most part, it’s just not worth it to me. However, if I choose to eat for that special occasion, I don’t stress out.

    In terms of exercise, I walk the dog daily and like to try different things, but have yet to find an exercise routine that sticks in the long term. In the meantime, I try to do a little bursts regularly, even if it’s just a few sets of squats/mountain climbers/arm curls.

    All this is an ongoing conversation with myself for sure.

  40. Jenn says:

    Ugh it really is. I have to be vigilant about my diet to maintain my weight. For me it’s about fitting comfortably in my clothes. I do weigh myself but the check is that my suit skirts are too tight. In my early 30s I bought bigger clothes and gained 30 pounds. I ended up donating ten, expensive three piece suits after losing the weight. It’s a battle every day though and I wish I could have my 20 something metabolism back! I try my best and also try to cut myself slack when I have bad days.

  41. Abbie says:

    I love my Fitbit. I’m a very data driven person. I actually like billable hours as a lawyer because I love having a clear representation of my productivity. Until my fitbit, the only piece of datum I had was weight. So I obsessed with weight, which isn’t a great indicator of health. With my fitbit, I have so many different, more useful indicators of health. I particularly have enjoyed using resting heart rate and VO2 max as indicators of health. I’ve noticed that when I start eating a lot of fried food and drinking booze, my resting heart rate spikes for the next five days. I also don’t feel guilty if I didn’t formally “work out” but still met my step goal.

    On a serious note, I had a talk with my mom not to comment on my weight. Not feeling like I need to cut all food out of my diet five days before I see her has made a big difference in how I think about health.

  42. Abi says:

    Thank you for your gentle reminder about the meaning of this weekend. For me, this weekend is about remembering my lost brothers and sisters in arms. Yesterday, a dear friend buried one of his Soldiers. For those of us who served, this isn’t a “happy” weekend, although it remains a celebration of those we lost.

  43. Morgan says:

    I can relate to this on a deeply, deeply personal level. I have been an athlete my entire life and I always thought the key to a nice body was working out. I’ve discovered that is so far from the truth. Some truth: If you want to look good (and feel good), you have to eat properly. If you want to grow muscle, you have to put your muscles under tension (i.e. lift weights). You can’t “tone” muscle; you lose fat by being in a caloric deficit or you gain muscle by being in a surplus. Unfortunately, in today’s world, there are so many gimmicks and fad diets out there that it’s really hard to break through the noise. However, we learned all about how our bodies need to be fueled in elementary school science! If you’re trying to lose weight, you must be in
    a caloric deficit (but not a big one!!), carbs are not bad – you only need to eat enough to fuel your body, you must eat enough protein to prevent muscle degradation and keep you full, and fats should be minimal and high quality. The single biggest piece of advice I have is to buy a food scale – it is impossible to measure out servings without one. You can do this!

    • MORGAN says:

      Also, if you don’t know how much or what to eat, I highly recommend the Renaissance Periodization nutrition plan. They help you calculate your macronutrient requirements based on your current weight and activity, and they even offer an app which reminds you to eat, and tells you how much of each food you select to eat per meal. The program was developed for optimizing athletes’ performance, but thousands of every day people like you and I are using it incredibly successfully. Check out @rpstrength and @rptransformations on Instagram.

  44. tansy says:

    A few things have really changed my mindset regarding health, fitness and weight now that I’ve entered my 40’s.

    1. No intense cardio. I used to think exercising meant huffing, puffing and collapsing in a heap – and that it simply meant I was out shape, so I deserved this experience. It really just made me hate exercise and dread it. Now I simply walk the treadmill, on a decent incline (8-11%) and a moderate pace, but devote 45 mins or an episode of a show. I’m never out of breath but I do sweat and it’s not a dreadful experience. I catch up on my Youtube or shows.

    2. Lift some weights. After my treadmill walk I do max 4 different weight lift movements, either upper or lower body. This takes me at most 15-18 mins, then I leave the gym.

    All in all I am in and out of the gym in about an hour and I don’t feel like I’m going to pass out. I leave stretching to when I’m at home in front of the TV.

    3. My mantra on food is that food should taste good, but does not need to be AMAZING. Sounds weird I know. Doritos are amazing, greasy burgers are amazing, pasta carbonara is amazing, fried chicken is amazing, blueberry pie with ice cream is amazing. I simply have no will power when it comes to these types of food and I don’t blame myself. Our brains are engineered to want more of something, the better it is. Processed foods are designed to have as much deliciousness built into them as possible, so they are hard to resist – it’s how they are made.

    So I focus on eating food that tastes ok-good, but is far from drool worthy, or best thing I’ve ever eaten.

    However if you’re not someone who is largely driven by taste like I am, this may not work for you.

  45. Karla says:

    I am 37 and had a baby last year. Exercising is now valuable me time where I get to zone out, and it helps me with the back pain from carrying my 20 lbs daughter. I am finally craving opportunities to work out, it just makes me feel so good.

  46. Nan says:

    I would suggest seeing an Integrative Nutritionist Health Coach. They will approach your personal goals from all angles- sleep, exercise, diet, body and mind. If they’re good they will set you on a course of baby steps that will empower you to make real and lasting changes in your life. In short, you’ll enjoy the process of transformation.

  47. Nel says:

    Losing weight is what started my late 20s workout regimen. But kept me working out was that it just made me feel better, and the philosophy that exercise is practice for life’s challenges. You learn how to persevere. Honestly, I’m not a natural runner or gifted athlete by any means. I don’t have a perfect body even though I work out 4+ days a week. But it’s worth it for the mental health victories. Running a half marathon helped me conquer perfectionism, performance anxiety and fear that comes with a disruptive chronic health issue. If I could do that, I could do anything. I’d recommend taking on a challenge that you need to train for. Then approach every run or ride as a lesson in adversity, perseverance, radical acceptance, etc. Not as a weight loss activity.

  48. Jo says:

    I second recommendations for Gretchen Rubin’s work and would add The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I find a set plan for exercise very helpful (for me, that means going to the gym after work almost every day before doing anything else). On days when I really don’t feel like doing anything, I tell myself I’ll go for 10 minutes and then can leave if I still don’t feel like it. I never actually leave…turns out getting there is the hard part!

    I would also suggest, after you’ve found your primary form of exercise (whether that’s group classes, solo gymming, etc.) having a backup plan for days when it doesn’t work out. For me, that means doing some kind of bodyweight video at home, such as Blogilates or yoga on a streaming video service, or going for a walk.

    Finally, I mark all my workouts on my calendar in a certain color – I find tracking very motivating, plus it lets me see at a glance if I’ve skipped too many days lately.

    Re: food: I find the most helpful thing I can do to be limiting eating out. The food is so much less healthy, and I often feel sickly if I eat out too much anyway, so imo this is a very beneficial piece of low-hanging fruit. Plus you save money! My friends and I often meet for coffee instead of a full meal, and sometimes we even go on walks together to catch up.

  49. RGH says:

    Podcast “weight loss for busy physicians” by Katrina Ubell. Although she’s a MD and her coaching groups are only for women physicians, her podcast is free and really goes into the hows and whys of behavior. Highly recommend! It really doesn’t have a lot to do with being a physician – just a busy person in general.

  50. Samantha says:

    I bit the bullet over a year ago and got a trainer. Just once a week, but he’s taught me tons, gotten me in great shape and way stronger, and that has helped me immensely with body acceptance and pushed me to keep going even when I don’t want. It makes it fun, but I’m also accountable to not waste his time so I keep up with the routine and push myself on own as well.

  51. Meghan says:

    I can totally relate to this post – so many of us can. I don’t belong to a traditional gym – I should, but it’s hard to pay for something that I know I won’t use. It’s been like 5 years… After getting engaged this winter, I bought a membership to Barre Code. I like the traditional barre classes that focus on toning and building strength. It’s not an intense cardio workout (although the studios offer those options), but it’s the first time I’ve ever found a class that I like and have gone back. My wedding diet is non-existent, but I make myself go to barre classes 1 or 2 times a week. My goal is to have strong enough arms to carry my bouquet without getting tired. Side effect: I’ve gained muscle and lost 7 pounds. Maybe if I was at a different stage of my life and/or career, I would focus on losing more before my upcoming nuptials, but it is what it is and I’m happy with the results I’ve seen. Plus, the studio I attend has a wide-range of people in class at different fitness levels and ages, which definitely helps.

  52. Julie says:

    For me, the feelings of aging and acceptance were in my face daily. The first step I took was to separate diet from exercise. I did not exercise a single day to lose 75 pounds. I did exercise in the time I dropped from -75 to -80 but I don’t know if it made the difference. When I started, I knew I only had enough energy to focus on one thing. So I started for 10 weeks with my diet and the promise that if I didn’t have 10 pounds of loss in that time, I would go see a doctor and get help. Well, I lost 20. Crap. That meant sticking to it.

    By then, I was itching to do a bit more. I had started discovering my triggers: eating while binge watching, snacking at work, skipping meals and then binge eating later. So I created new habits and routines. At work, I created a tea tray and drink fancy teas all day long. At home, I decided to start reading for 15 minutes after dinner each night and found myself binge watching less and less. It got to the point that I cut one (of many) streaming services because I wasn’t using them as much. When I did sit in front of the TV, I made myself color or cross-stitch. That era was so productive and really helped shake TV = eating. I also added on a real protein-filled breakfast and shrunk my other meals to accommodate to head off binge eating. I focused on earlier bedtimes and being more mindful of the time I spent on things.

    The next step was starting to forgive myself for being fat. I never needed to hate myself for it but I clearly had done it. It’s not an excuse to say that food helped me cope with some truly awful times. I don’t know if I could have made it through them without food. But I didn’t have good coping techniques so I worked on that, I worked on reducing my anxiety and made some choices to ensure I could cope better. When I lost yet another family member in the middle of my loss and realized I didn’t have to eat to cope, it was a huge turning point for me. That didn’t mean I avoided the sadness but I didn’t let it take over and destroy my own vision for my future.

    But at some point I realized I did want to exercise. Cross-stitching and reading weren’t enough for me. I had dropped the weight and my doctors were shocked that I actually had the medical issues I had told them about and it wasn’t just because I was fat that I had these issues. My total health had become a priority to me. I had to find a way to gain some strength but not hurt my heart or lungs or joints which weren’t ready to sustain the physicality of a lot of exercise. So I started yoga. My husband joined me because he knew I do better with an accountability partner and he had joined me on the weight loss journey too. Now I’m at a point 148 days later that I can handle even more exercise and I’m itching to do it too. That might seem like forever but better to do it slow and steady than to rush into something you aren’t ready for. It’s taken 15 months to get to this level of thinking and I still have a lot to learn but combined the husband & I lost 145 pounds, he dropped nearly 10 minutes from his 10K time, and I really don’t feel like I’ve lost quality of life for losing weight.

  53. Becky says:

    Lots of good advice on here! I think getting healthy is like playing hide and seek while blinded, because it’s a different thing that will click for each person. But here’s what worked for me (someone with little athletic ability who has not been naturally thin since puberty and while not rail thin now, I do feel like my health “journey” for the last nine years has put me on a very solid path).

    First, I started by joining a gym (as a new year’s resolution) and then going basically every day. That first year (and even into years two to four), if I was skipping the gym it was for very specific reasons like moving (still a workout in its own right). I probably made it to the gym 330 days or more that year. This was an idea I adopted from beer runners. The moment you give yourself a “well do I really need to go today?” you’ve started down a slippery slope.

    Once workouts started, I genuinely wanted to start eating healthier. Once I was putting in that time, I wanted to be giving my body the nutrition it craved. That being said, I still was eating plenty of nutella and bought myself donut tins, so I found a balance.

    After building a significant amount of confidence at Planet Fitness and small apartment building gyms, I started getting into group fitness. My current obsession is Orange Theory. Give it a try! It can be a bit intimidating, but, there’s so much going on (and you’re positioned as such) that no one has time to pay much attention to anyone but themselves. I like it because you get weight training in (learn some new exercises) and cardio at your own speed. The endorphin rush is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before and it’s addictive. For years I thought that was a myth (or at least not something I would ever experience) but once you find the thing that does it for you, you’ll keep going back. Before Orange Theory, I was very into Flywheel (I moved to a city without studios) and I highly recommend giving spin a try. What I love about it is that you’re in a dark room and can peddle at your own speed and no one else will know.

    I know that it sounds like propaganda, but once you’re in a groove when you feel healthier, you really will start to crave that. I’ve been on vacations where I wake up craving vegetables and having dreams about exercising because my body is like “hey, I miss that.” Keep searching for what is a fit for you. It’s worth it!

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