If you’ve been following this blog for six years or longer, you know that my fitness/health/weight loss journey has been one of many peaks and valleys. If you’ve only been following three years or less, you might think I must have no idea what’s going on or how to make weight loss happen. The past three years since my sweet little boy was born have been the hardest of my life. and this aspect of my life and health has seemed impossible to “solve”. The past two or three weeks I have really been feeling at the end of my rope, because so far in 2018 I have not missed a scheduled workout even once, and had eaten well within my nutrition guidelines, yet, at the end of six weeks I had not only not lost the 6-12 lbs I realistically could have expected to based on what I was doing, but after initially losing three pounds in january had gained four pounds over my starting 1/1/18 weight. WHAT????
I felt like just packing in all the effort I’ve been putting into meal planning and prepping and getting up at six and allll the exercise, and all the number crunching and just sleeping in and eating pizza, because it seemed like I’d get the same results.
But, ya girl is no quitter. Okay? So it was time for a pep talk.
What would I say to a friend who was in my shoes?
“Girl, Losing weight and getting fit is hard.
Losing weight and getting fit with PCOS is very hard.
Losing weight and getting fit with PCOS and two small children is harder.
Losing weight and getting fit with PCOS and two small children, while homeschooling is even harder.
Losing weight and getting fit with PCOS, while homeschooling and loving on two small children, while managing and healing three mental illnesses is crazy bananas cuckoo fruity hard.
You are staying committed.
You are not giving up.
You are fighting every day of your life to live better and healthier and fuller.
You are amazing.”
See, I have a lot of struggles right now, a lot of limits that I have to operate within or risk making everything worse. but not one of them is going to defeat me or define me. They are factors in my journey, though. It was time to brainstorm some lists, figure out all the puzzle pieces that will create a picture of not just success in building my health, fitness, and aesthetic confidence, but a full and joyful life. I want to get my food and fitness dialed in so it can be a habit, a part of my day, not something that consumes my day and my mind because I’m constantly analyzing if I’m doing enough or too much, or whatever. I want it to start working so I can be free to enjoy life a bit more. Writing this I feel a little fear of judgement, that you’ll think this is too important to me, that I shouldn’t put so much importance in it, but y’know what? That’s okay. E doesn’t fully get it, and I cant explain it in a way that makes complete sense to her either. That’s okay. For me, this is something I need to see through, and I know I’m not setting unreasonable expectations like I have in the past. 1-2 lbs a week should be pretty doable, and even if the progress is more gradual, I’d be fine with that, as long as there was progress. And let’s be real- I wouldn care not a lick what the scale said if i could look and feel good and confident in my clothes. My only hangup right now is that I have been doing ALL the things and not getting the victorious payoff.
The first list I needed to make was a list of reasons (not excuses) that I might be a little stuck, and that maybe payoff wasn’t as far off as I thought.
- my body tends to hold a lot of water when I first start working out really hard, often until I have fully ramped things up and gotten settled into a new routine. even after six weeks I hadn’t fully gotten my exercise routine ramped up, so that is a factor for sure.
- During my most successful periods of weight loss, I took an active recovery week every so often. This let my muscles recover while still staying active enough (by walking) not to let myself get stiff or lose conditioning. I probably needed to do this.
- I was nearing the weird part of my menstrual cycle where gaining a bunch of weight seems to be a thing, and it just hangs out until my period decides to make its appearance at some point. This is super annoying because, while my period is more regular than it has been in my whole life, it was not really a factor I noticed during previous periods of weight loss, because it was so irregular. So, yay.
I also kinda wanted to include “muscle weighs more than fat”, but that’s less applicable to this specific struggle, though it does apply to my over all weight loss goals, because I’m not getting any smaller in my clothes either.
Next, I needed to list all the things that previous periods of successful progress had in common:
- CONSISTENCY IN EXERCISE- no two weeks on point, a week and a half of doing nothing. I didn’t have to do ALL the exercise Every day, but I did something most days that i planned to.
- lots of real food- no deprivation. I looked at my diary on MFP, especially from fall 2013-spring 2014, and I saw lots of good proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables galore. I also included nutritive sources of carbohydrates on days that I exercised really hard. Oatmeal was a staple. Non starchy vegetables were unlimited, and I did not include them in my calorie allotment. I ate between 1300-1800 calories, depending how much exercise I did.
- Intentional rest and active recovery. I got good solid sleep and treated myself well outside my workouts.
- The combination of HIIT, Walking, and indoor Cycling, with some yoga when I was able.
I’ve been doing really well with most of that. I’ve been very consistent, food has been good, I’ve been making an effort toward rest and recovery. So what gives? Well, I thought, let’s see how the recovery week helps.
The first few days of my recovery week looked promising. I went for my walk on Monday as planned and dropped that four extra lbs plus another by Tuesday, and my goal jeans buttoned and zipped. But, also on Tuesday, exhaustion hit hard, and with it came depression and no more walks all week. I’d also gained back 3 of those five lost lbs by Saturday. My period was coming, or at least I hoped that was what was happening. It was a really tough weekend.
Monday morning I woke up determined but soooo tired. I cried trying to do push ups before starting my workout. When I did my workout, I was so frustrated, because I did not understand why it was SO hard! But when I finished, I felt amazing-until the endorphins wore off, anyway. Scott had the day off, so I was able to take a nap before therapy, and that made a huge difference. After a good night of sleep, I managed to get out of bed pretty close to when my alarm went off, have my oatmeal, and get out the door for my walk. I made it back in time to take a 7AM cycle class on my Peloton App, and recover while helping Scott get out the door and feeding the kids breakfast. We got school done, I did my JM workout, and…my period started. WOOHOOOOOO! This was perfect timing, because theoretically the worst of it would be on my rest day Wednesday, and hopefully I’d be functional again by Thursday (today).
note: I’m sorry to anyone reading that feels like i talk about my period too much, or is uncomfortable when i do, but it’s actually a HUGE factor in my wellness, so I have to. xoxo
It’s Thursday, about noon, and I am still feeling pretty rough and beat down. my intention is to do a less intense version of my workout and maybe ride my bike in a less intense way today, but I’m still playing it by ear. The balance of gentle self care and challenging myself physically is an ongoing challenge for me. That’s a whole other blog post or five, really.
(Friday edit: I didn’t get to work out yesterda, due to feeling really rough, but I didn’t want to break my streak, and also did not want to have to make up the workout tomorrow, so instead, doubled up on JM today, and dialed down intensity. I felt incredibly badass and accomplished afterwards!)
Since the timing of my recovery week seems to have been a bit off in regards to my cycle, I didn’t really get the progress boost from it that id hoped to. I need to press on, though, and keep working to hone my systems and plans and optimize what I’m doing to give myself the best chance at not only success in the areas i am looking for, but the ability to live this beautiful life with more freedom and joy.
With that in mind, I want to make a list of things I can tweak in different areas, whether to have more energy, rest and recover more efficiently, use my calories better, or something else.
- experiment with starting my day with a “bulletproof” version of my matcha latte- adding coconut oil and/or butter, to give myself good fat to fuel my workout. I’ve done really well at limiting “bad” carbs, but less well about replacing the energy source with good fats.
- remember that life is for living and it’s okay to have occasional indulgences. remember 80/20. try to keep it within calorie budget.
- be super intentional about having the best choices in carbs when I do eat them. make them count.
- try a different order in my morning routine again so I can use the hours between 6 and 8 am to get the most accomplished that matters
- Make sure I take the time to take epsom salt baths every other day to help my muscles recover.
- hydrate! remember Coconut water after cycling.
- for at least the next little while, start tracking weight changes day-to-day, to notice patterns of fluctuation so maybe they wont have such an emotional impact, and will become just another data set to understand my body.
- take progress pictures at least weekly?
- Write a new mission statement/manifesto about how I’m going to approach and take care of my health and pursue my fitness goals and fit them into the bigger picture of a cultivated life.
Here are some pictures I took last week:
Here’s one from today.
I have to say, in both, I look better than maybe i thought I did. So, that’s something. Obviously my eyes zoom right in on where I think I need improvement, but I can recognize that I am far from what most would consider “fat”- even if the outdated BMI charts would list me as borderline obese on a bad day. *wink*
I’m pretty confident about my exercise plan, at least for now.
- Monday: Walk 30 min ( about 2 miles) and 30-45 min cycle class (or just 60 min walk), JM workout, yoga
- Tuesday: 30 min walk, 45 min cycle class, JM, Yoga
- Wed: 60 min walk or light cycle ride, yoga
- Thursday: 30 min walk, 45 min cycle class, JM, Yoga
- Friday: 30-60 min walk, 30-45 min cycle, JM, Yoga
- Saturday: 30-45 min cycle, restorative yoga
Ultimately I’d still like to get to a point where I’m doing mostly cycle and yoga, reducing JM to twice a week, I think. Maybe cycling in and out of that depending what my current goals are. For now, though, I need the metabolic training and muscle-building.
I’ll share soon the other piece of all this that I think is going to really make a difference, and I am SO excited to do so.
Next up, that new mission statement/manifesto I mentioned…