It’s Sunday night, I scroll pinterest for “healthy” dinner ideas, saving “at home arms & abs” workouts. I tell myself this Monday will be different. This time I’m really going to stick to my goals. Monday I’m on fire, but by the end of the week my plan has gone off the rails and I’ve thrown in the towel again, wondering what was wrong with me, why I couldn’t stick to my plan… gearing up to tell myself next Monday it will be different. And so the exhausting cycle continues. I spent a decade living in this cycle. Constantly making and breaking promises to myself. Having the pendulum swing from overly ambitious fitness goals to binge eating taco bell in my car alone. I subscribed to toxic fitness myths that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, I tracked calories, I held the unhealthy belief that food was something to be earned. I thought if I saw a certain number on the scale that would mean success. I took every fresh start I could and it would burn hot and bright but only for a moment. And then I would find myself right back where I started, never reaching any goals & not feeling any better. The constant starting and stopping, the feeling of defeat before I even started felt never ending. But I’m going to share how I broke this cycle, how I became consistent and found a way to enjoy movement, how I helped mend my relationship with food.
I prioritized – the simple unsexy truth is: I cut the crap and prioritized 20-30 min 3 – 4 days a week. I don’t have some secret abundance of extra time laying around but I MAKE the time. We live in a society that tells us a “good” mom gives absolutely everything for her children regardless of the toll it takes on her. I call bullshit on that. As moms we wear a hundred different hats, and it’s easy to feel like nothing is ours when we spend our days giving so much to everyone else. But this 30 minutes is mine. It isn’t for anyone else but me! It gives me more energy, patience, confidence, and strength than any bubble bath or night out ever could. I learned to protect this tiny window of time and make it happen more days than not, because at the end of the day only you can make YOU a priority.
I broke up with my all or nothing mindset – Life is not all or nothing. Being healthy or fit isn’t comprised of perfection it’s built upon dozens of small choices we make day in and day out that compound over time. It’s moving your body more days than not. It’s going to bed 20 min earlier, it’s drinking water before a meal, it’s eating less out of boxes and more real food, it’s getting outside, it’s carving out stillness. It’s showing yourself kindness and focusing on building yourself up instead of tearing yourself down. I accepted the imperfect workouts where a toddler joined me, or a nap was cut short. I learned showing up imperfectly four days a week would carry me further than to show up for one perfect day.
I simplified. If a new habit is gonna stick it needs to be as easy and resistance free as possible. After having kids the logistical struggle of coordinating childcare and then finding motivation to use that precious kid-free time at the gym was just not a reality for me. I’m also not a personal trainer, I don’t enjoy or have the mental capacity to create my own workouts. I need it to be simple, straightforward and requiring as few decisions from me as possible. I found a netflix for workouts that I can do anywhere. I started in our tiny living room in San Francisco with a set of 5 pounds weights. I picked a 21 day program to do over 31 days and I simply started. Remember, you don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step.
Lead by example: I thought about the message and the example I wanted to set for my boys. Do I really want them to view exercise as a way to punish our bodies for things that we eat? Do I want them to moralize food as “good” or “bad”. I though hard about the message I wanted to send them. And I decided I want them see movement and exercise is a way to thank and care for our bodies. I want them to view food as fuel for your body. I want them to know what science has shown us, that movement boosts happiness, decreases risks for depression, improves sleep, strengthens muscles and bones, cuts our cancer and diabetes risks, reduces pain, energizes us, helps our immune system, the list goes on and on. There are dozens upon dozens of reasons to exercise & eat well. I want them to be able to think of 100 reasons to move and have none of them to be about the way their body looks or a number on a scale. We create our children’s inner dialogues and the same way we teach them to have healthy relationships with peers we also wield the power to teach healthy relationships with food and exercise and the most powerful and meaningful way to teach them is to be an example of healthy relationships.
I swapped motivation for discipline – I stopped letting motivation be the determining factor of whether or not I was going to do my workout. Because the truth is motivation is unreliable. More days than not it is nowhere to be found, so instead I lean on discipline. It’s okay that I’m not motivated, I’m still going to follow through on my commitment because I know how I’ll feel afterward. Honoring our commitments builds momentum. If I had an obligation to a friend I wouldn’t break that promise so it’s time to treat myself like a good friend.
I found gratitude – I stopped viewing working out as a burden. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a body that can move and lift and jump and run and carry my babies. Why I am a purposefully turning a blessing into a burden?? Instead I shifted my mindset to one of immense gratitude. Gratitude for all my body has done for me over the last 30 years. The miles it’s carried me, the heart and breath that go on without thought, the safe home it’s grown and then nourished multiple babies from. Why would I want to punish my body when all she truly deserves is thanks.
80/20 – I unsubscribed from thinking carbs were evil. I quit eliminating entire food groups, I don’t track macros or count calories. I don’t tell myself I can’t eat something that I love. That’s not living and it is not sustainable. If your plan is restriction based that’s where you’ll have serious back slides, fueled with resentment. Instead, 80% of the time I focus on more water, more protein and more vegetables. And 20% I eat what I want, without guilt. The without guilt is key. I order my five guys burger and milkshake or get pizza and drink wine on Friday nights and don’t worry about how many calories are in it or how much cardio will be required to even it out. I don’t have to fill myself with guilt because I know I’ll be back to my 80% tomorrow. This allows to me eat Halloween candy or bake Christmas cookies or get cocktails and dessert on date night and truly ENJOY it, giving myself this 20% of guiltless freedom makes the 80% doable.
I keep grace in my back pocket – This journey is not about perfection. So we have to take a little pressure off ourselves. There will be sick kids, unexpected errands, injuries, travel, sleepless nights, or days our bodies yearn for rest. So I’ve learned how to extend grace and be gentle with myself. And when I get off track, when a day or two off turns into a week, I pick up right where I left off. I don’t spend time beating myself up about it, I let go of any shame or guilt or thoughts of failure and I simply choose to show up again.
There is no finish line when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle – so it is KEY to find sustainable habits that fit into your life no matter what season you might be in. We love to dramatically overcomplicate fitness and then wonder why we aren’t seeing results or feeling the benefits. I hope this post encourages you and helps you shift some mindset blocks you might have when it comes to working out. Not only have my home workouts helped me lose 40 pounds (not once but twice!) they have truly been a gateway to immense personal development and growth! And if you’re curious about what programs I use, if you want an accountability buddy or just have questions feel free to reach out. I’m an open book about my fitness journey & would love to help another mom create this space for herself!