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Posts tagged ‘small win’

Day 1: Here we go again

Yesterday was challenging. I’ve been off the wagon for so long, I’ve lost the habit of checking my Garmin to see how many steps I’ve taken. I’ve also gotten into the bad habit of reflexively dismissing all of the alerts I set up in my phone to remind myself to walk more. It’s funny how easy it is to fall out of good habits and jump right back into the bad ones.

Despite those challenges though, I managed to hit my step goal. I cut it close; it was almost midnight by the time I reached 15,000 steps. It also had to do a lot of living room laps I wasn’t really very motivated to do; but somehow, I pushed through and did it.

I’m behind on my steps yet again today, but I’m feeling up to the challenge after yesterday’s win. Hopefully, it’s the first of many to come.

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Day 4: Strong

It’s Monday.

I woke up this morning when my alarm went off at 5:00 am, and despite not feeling the best, I managed to get up and hit the gym. Today, I restarted Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove’s Strong program. It’s a strength training program consisting of three phases of full-body workouts done 2-3 times a week. Today’s workout was Stage 1, Workout A. There was some ab work, legs, upper body, and even a little cardio. It was challenging, but well worth it.

I’d tried Schuler and Cosgrove’s New Rules of Fitness for Women (NROF4W) program in the past and really liked it. Both programs focus on compound exercises, and they start off relatively easy, so they’re great for going from the couch to exercising. I went with the Strong program this time around because although it seems more complicated at first glance, it’s still pretty basic and it’s got the extra cardio component NROL4W didn’t have that I like. I also like that even with that extra cardio part, it only took me about 40 minutes to complete. I know as the workouts progress, they’ll likely take me longer to complete, but for now, 40 minutes works for my schedule. It can be really hard to find time (and the motivation) to go to the gym, so I’m all about any exercise program that is short, but effective (and doesn’t suck). Strong is all of those things.

This morning’s workout also gave me a great head start on my step count, so I’m hoping between those steps and the to do list I’ve got to tackle today, I’ll easily hit my step goal. Otherwise, I guess the dog will be getting an extra long walk this evening.

Current step total: 6,184

Day 3: Today was hard.

Riding the high of yesterday’s success, I’ve decided to try to keep logging my food every day. I don’t plan on making any diet changes just yet – my priority is walking 15,000 steps each day – but I figure I might as well give it a try. And if I fail, that’s ok, because it’s not my primary focus.

Which is a good thing because today was hard folks. It was the last lazy day of a very lazy week. We had family in town and since it’s summer, I’m working less to spend more time at home with the kiddos. Unfortunately, I haven’t been feeling so hot. The adrenaline from the last two days of this challenge have kept me moving, but today… well, today was hard. I alternated between finding ways to get my steps in (like pacing around the house and walking to the grocery store) and laying on the couch complaining of all sorts of “I feel sick” symptoms.

In the end, I have my husband to thank for helping me reach my step goal today. This morning, I decided to tell him about the challenge and blog. I figured I would need to do some walking around the house throughout the day to get my steps in and naturally, he’d be curious as to what exactly I was doing. I’m lucky, I have a pretty awesome husband, and as usual, he was supportive of my latest goal. He asked me what my step count was throughout the day, reminding me to move. He kept me going whenever I felt like giving up. He also kept me from losing my shit (pardon the expression) when my Garmin suddenly went black. For an hour or so there, I thought I’d lost my ability to track my steps. Luckily, it was still tracking and eventually came back online.

Now, after hitting my goal, here I sit, watching Avengers: Infinity War (again) while whining to myself about how gross I feel and hoping I feel better tomorrow in order to workout at 5:00 am. As much as I hate the idea of going to the gym tomorrow, I am desperate to get back into my “normal” daily routine. Without a routine, I feel off, but more about that some other time.

Keystone habits

In my Day 1 post, I mentioned Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business.” If you haven’t read it yet, it’s definitely worth a trip to the bookstore or library. In his book, Duhigg writes about keystone habits – habits that have “the power to start a chain reaction” because they offer small wins and have the ability to disrupt other parts of your life. He uses exercising as an example, stating that someone who starts working out regularly will likely begin to make other changes in their lives. For example, they may start sleeping better and feeling more energetic throughout the day, so they may become more productive at work. Or they might start eating better and smoking less. That one decision to be more active, has the ability to basically change the person’s entire life.

This concept of a keystone habit was the underlying motivation for this challenge. You see, last year, when I finally began losing weight after years of starting over week after week and failing over and over again, it was all thanks to one small change I decided to make. I hadn’t read Duhigg’s book yet back then, but I knew I was stuck in a vicious cycle of striving for perfection, only to fail, binge, and start over again. And, the more I did it, the more weight I gained. I needed to break the cycle and try something new. So, instead of starting a new workout program or diet, I decided to just log my meals every day. That’s it. No changes to my diet, no new workouts, no striving for perfection, just one thing: log each and every little thing I ate into MyFitnessPal.

And that’s what I did. I had originally planned to do it for two weeks without making any changes to my diet or lifestyle, but as I saw the numbers add up in MyFitnessPal (much higher than I had anticipated them to be), I found myself trying to figure out how many calories I should be eating. Once I knew what my calorie limit should be, I started to make different choices to cut back on how much I was eating. This change was unplanned. I didn’t do it on purpose really – it just sort of happened. And over time, my habits continued to change. It was a very slow process, but the weight eventually came off. More importantly, it didn’t feel very hard to do (unlike every other time I had tried).

Unfortunately, the problem with habits is that you never really get rid of the bad ones. Their triggers linger and lurk, waiting for just the right moment to suck you back in if you don’t stay on top of them. Despite the changes and progress I’d made, my old, “anything goes” vacation habits took over this summer, and getting back on track since returning home has been hard. I tried the whole logging my food thing again – it worked once before, so I figured it had to work again. But, it didn’t. It felt too hard to track my food on vacation, and I just haven’t been able to motivate myself to stick with it, until yesterday.

After my “small win” on Day 1, I was feeling pretty pumped yesterday. I decided to go for a short run with the little kid and figured I’d at least try to log my food. My husband and I took the kids to the park and played with them, instead of watching them from a bench. I even volunteered to walk the dog again (my husband usually walks him). By the end of the day, not only did I surpass my step goal, I actually managed to log everything I ate (and drank). Granted, I ate and drank a lot, but that’s not important just yet. What is important is that I did it. Baby steps.

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