I just did it today. I was home last night reading an awesome book, (check back in for that forthcoming book review!) – and overindulging in some delicious Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered almonds, chocolate cookies, & some croissant. My justification whilst said indulgence was taking place was that I would be running 12 miles the next morning and so, “eh-go fer it!” This, in essence, however, is symptomatic of what a Greatist article describes as self-abuse. Check it out.
As the custodian for your body, you’re responsible for its care—just like you’d be responsible for a child that you’re babysitting. Imagine finding this kid knee-deep in candy bar wrappers, halfway into an all-out candy binge. Caught red-handed, this kid looks up at you, terrified, ashamed, awaiting punishment. What do you do? Do you yell insults at the child? March him or her over to the treadmill to run off every last calorie? Of course not. You’re not Mommie Dearest. With that in mind, let any name calling and punishment stop. You will treat yourself with the same compassion you would treat this child.
This is so exactly what I have always done and am getting better at not doing to myself. I indulge and immediately go over the most rigorous form of calorie-torching physical activity that I can afford to “erase the evidence.” Only when I’ve completed my self-inflicted torchure do I feel relieved and redeemed and like I can start on a clean slate. People, I don’t work out because I enjoy it. Honestly, it’s not for the high or joy of it – it’s for the elusive goal of achieving body perfection. I’m still workin’ on it – there will be a huge blog post about it when that happens, but don’t wait by your inboxes. I say that to demonstrate that I’ve always been in a bad eater/ over exerciser vicious cycle that this article described to a T.
It can be easy, post-gluttony, to beat yourself up. Things like “no self-control,“ “lazy,” and “gross” can get thrown around. Maybe you run five miles and end up making yourself sick. Or swear off eating for an entire day. It’s super easy to treat your body to all types of abuse post-gorgefest, but here’s where taking a step outside yourself is critical.
I’ve evolved though, and am happy to report that I am in the driver’s seat with my eating, compared to confused and out-of-control eating in the past. I also indulge with pleasure, versus feeling guilty during and especially after indulgences in the past. And while I still derive a twisted sense of satisfaction in “working off an indulgence,” I think there is a certain level of healthy balance in that behavior. I’m much more at peace, aware, knowledgeable, and in control of my diet than ever before, but this article certainly offered me a spot-on illustration that inspired this post.
Read the full article
And so, when Maria came out with her recent book: The EveryGirls’ Guide to Diet and Fitness, I was actually in need of some fitness inspiration and snatched it right up!
Let me begin by asking you “Did you know that the Maria that we see on TV today is 40 pounds slimmer than her former self?! I was impressed to learn that she was formerly much rounder before she slimmed down on her own, but wait, it. gets. better!
My biggest takeaway from her story was the fact that Maria was always happy – round or thin. She was also successful – round or thin. Her decision to change her lifestyle was for the purpose of better health and in the process, she found her muscles.
But I was inspired to learn that Maria won a beauty pageant and a hosting award before she ever even counted a calorie! And then, when she decided to change her lifestyle, she opted for small changes over a long haul and thus, has never had to look back! Immensely interested, I read the bulk of her book during the course of my plane ride from NY to LA and the following are my cliff notes. Take from it what you desire!
My approach to this book, as is the case with many books that I read, is to simply walk away with a few concepts affirmed (because nothing is new anymore, it’s more about at which turn you heard it that it stuck) and resolved to incorporate into my life. Take away as much or as little as you’d like from the the following solid advice from Maria’s book: The EveryGirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness!
the fifty year plan
This is something that Maria and her partner use (I believe it was his invention) to gauge whether or not any behavior is sustainable. Whether it’s leaving dishes unwashed or inhaling junk food or not moving, putting your behavior under the lens of a fifty-year projection will give you insight to make the judgement call on what type of behavior should be edited out or implemented. So Maria encourages us to “get on the fifty year plan!”
log 1 week of food
This is one of Maria’s keys to shaping up her diet anytime: in the beginning of her journey and whenever she wanted to achieve a new level of fitness. She personally wears a FitBit wristband to log her activity and sleep and endorses the MyFitnessPal app as an effective tool for food journaling.
From this, I was reminded of the effectiveness of MyFitnessPal when I used it and have committed to logging my food and exercise everyday. It’s a free app and Maria even recommends this as a tool.
drink hot water
This is an interesting tip that actually reminds me of my parents and Chinese culture in general – the older generations love to drink boiled water (gwun soi). Maria swears by the effectiveness of drinking hot water – she says that she and her partner dropped weight as soon as they incorporated this into their lifestyle. I don’t know if there is science behind the benefits over drinking hot water – especially over cold water – but this is something that I haven’t and probably won’t do.
always be exercisingThis is great and is a step up from her first tip to “always be moving.” I’ve heard another version of this before: “fidget.” And I read somewhere that Jack LaLane used to do pushups while he was waiting for the elevator, etc. And one of my fitness friends recommends habits such as doing calf raises while waiting in line at Starbucks.
I have taken this to heart and have started to take the stairs in my building more, have swapped my Metrocard for a Citibike Membership, have opted for the “harder” route, in general, whether that meant taking the stairs, walking, standing, or calf-raising in line. What I’ve found that it does for me is keep me in a constant state of motion, where a little bit of sweat is normal, where I’m more so in a state of activity rather than a state of rest – and so it’s easier to just keep moving. I love this concept.
bond over fitness
Maria talks about inviting pals over for a basketball game, having a meeting while hiking, and basically swapping activities in for our default form for socializing – eating and drinking – both of which are healthy lifestyle dangers! I have long adopted this way of being. As a spin instructor, I extend an open invitation to anyone I feel compelled to do so to. I also love to do fun activities with friends – movies in the park, working out together, attending church together – and we’ve all got to eat! but even then, I love trying out themed places and healthy places and maintain a balanced mixture of activities with friends.
try not to eat after 7pm
Maria advocates this and I am far from this. This is apparently something that she practices in her lifestyle and I agree that lighter eating at night is certainly the protocol, but if you are hungry, you’ve got to eat – just lightly. She has a saying, “Sleep it off,” and I agree that many times, sleeping early can nip midnight snacking and hitting the sack can stave the munchies. Ultimately, if you’re logging your food, however, the one and only rule is staying within your calorie limits, whether it’s 7pm or 11pm and I believe you can’t go wrong based on that.
earn your food
I just did this when I worked out like a maniac yesterday and kept saying to my spin class “Earn your BBQ!” It feels good to go into some planned overeating knowing that you worked out to create a calorie deficit and will work out the next day to address any difference still residing. It comes down to science and calories-out must exceed calories-in to lose weight and must be equal to maintain weight. Snacking counts, free samples count, and fortunately, exercise counts! I love the feeling of chowing down on a healthy meal when I’m famished and sweaty after a workout! I think it’s important to hold off on eating until you can get to a healthy meal and then eat up, cuz you “earned it!”
soup before meals
This is an easy habit that anyone can incorporate into their eating routine. I personally love to load up on vegetables so am not holding myself to practicing this – I would rather chow down on extra salad or cooked veggies over soup and they both accomplish the same goal: filling up on low-calorie food items.
Below are Maria’s phases and steps that she realized she took – upon looking back at her gradual weight loss – to get to her current fabulous state. She has broken it down and I think this is solid commonsense advice that you already know but may engage with because of her presentation. Check it out!
I betcha didn’t want to hear that, did you?! Well, from someone who has tried it all, eating less is what works and since that’s still unpracticed by so many, it might as well be some secret. We are very good at creating our own realities. We employ selective hearing, selective memory, we seek out the answers that we want to hear, we retain information that supports our case, and we are just very very clever at deceiving ourselves.
As a woman, as a trainer, and as an actress, I exist in a cross-section of society that can wreak havoc one’s body image. I have also had the opportunity to hear it all in matters of the body. And let me confirm what you are already suspicious of. Everyone is trying to change their shape: pinch it in, flatten it out, elongate it, bulk it up, keep it up, take it away, you name it, it’s been scrutinized over.
In the midst of this seemingly never-ending strive for the perfect form, however, I, thank God, received a refreshing perspective on it all! A recent visit to a nutritionist gave me a simple, reasonable, and no monkey-business assessment and game plan! Going in, I was the typical frustrated diet-er, armed with excuses and baggage: I believed my metabolism was on the downspiral that everyone says accompanies aging; I believed that as a fitness instructor that teaches 4 times a week, I had leeway to eat without counting; I believed that I had truly uncontrollable snacking urges that sometimes erupted in binges and that I shouldn’t subjected to the repercussions; I believed that disciplining myself from all sweeteners and sodium and eating organic should count for something and that I should have been reaping the rewards! Boy did I get a wake up call!
Right off the bat, Lisa rejected the proverbial metabolism excuse, citing the reality that our decrease in metabolism is minute and almost negligible. She later proved it with a test. She taught me that my calorie burn needn’t be added back into my diet. The few hundred calories shed during a workout is better off left as a bonus and my body is not going to miss that extra energy. She left me with a simple number: 1100. That’s how many calories my body burns at rest and that’s all I really need. Out the window with the “never eat less than 1200 calorie” rule.
Most refreshing from my visit with Lisa was the realization that this is not rocket science. There are no bizarre rules regarding carbs, snacks, eating times, etc. Common sense and calorie-tracking is all that was asked of me. And a change in body is everything that was promised to me! It’s so simple that I almost believe we make things more complicated just to have an excuse to wag our finger at later. If everyone committed to the reality of how much they needed to eat, didn’t add in undeserving calories, saw through the outlandish gimmicks, and just kept it real, they would undoubtedly experience a slimmer existence. I’ll keep you posted…hopefully with pictures soon!