So, you’ve decided that this time you’re going to do it, you’re finally going to finally get in shape. “Let’s lose that weight!” You say to yourself! “I’m 6 months postpartum, my neighbor lost all the baby weight in 4 weeks, and I am beyond sick and tired of people asking me if I’m pregnant.” And thus, begins the start of a week’s worth of salads, smoothies, and 2 hours of working out each day. You are so hungry after that week that you eat half a box of cookies by yourself on the way home from grocery shopping. (P.S. this little is based off of my own personal experiences.)
Back up a minute. Maybe you just had a baby, maybe you didn’t. If you did, congratulations on growing a little person in your body! You are allowed to look like you just had a baby, because you did. If you didn’t just have a baby, you are still beautiful just the way you are. Society and social media like to portray one type of ideal body, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. Anyone, no matter their age, number of children, can be healthy and strong without losing ____ number of pounds.
At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose a few pounds. It all depends on your mindset.
You may find it more beneficial (not to mention more enjoyable!) to focus on a different kind of number. Maybe you’d like to drop a few blood pressure points, or you want to be able to walk a few more kilometers, or move up to a heavier set of dumbbells. Numbers can be great motivators, just please don’t only focus on the one on the scale.
In case you’re thinking “that’s all fine and good to say that, but I don’t know where to start. There are so many options, where do I find the time, how do I know I won’t quit halfway through?” Here are some strategies that you can implement in your day to day life. These strategies will help you to avoid a scenario like the one in paragraph #1, although we’ve all been there.
Look ahead. Where do you want to be 6, 9, or 12 months down the road? Don’t try to cram in all your goal meeting in a few short months. That might work short term, but you might also be tired, frustrated, or injured. Generally, the longer a goal takes to be met the longer the results will stay, because you’ve made some lasting habits along the way. Your body will also have had time to adapt to the changes being made and recognize them as good things, not as imminent starvation.
Break down your goal into smaller sections. A few months can feel very overwhelming at first. One month intervals might be a good place to start. What mini goal do you want to accomplish each month to work towards your bigger end goal? For example, if your goal is to run 5km, it can feel very overwhelming to start at 5km, so maybe the first month you just decide to start walking. The next month you can start running 30 seconds, walking two minutes. The next month you can run for 1 minute and walk for two minutes, and so on. See? You have to work with your brain on this stuff. You don’t want to quit before you even start.
You may find it useful to break it down further, into weekly or bi-weekly mini goals. This can be a great way to tackle the small stuff that gets in the way of our big dreams. Maybe meal prep would be helpful for you, to help you fuel your active lifestyle. Maybe your schedule needs a bit of a revamp, so you can fit your new routines without added stress. Maybe this means getting up 10 min earlier each week, until you now have an extra 30 minutes in your day for YOU. Small things make a big difference, and properly timing your goals you can achieve a lot without all of the stress and disappointment.
Do what you like. If you don’t like running because it hurts your knees, who cares if it burns __ amount of calories? You may be able to get yourself out the door a few times, but that will end after you find yourself icing your knees after each run. So, explore new things, rediscover old activities. The sky is the limit!
Ask yourself the uncomfortable but necessary questions. What do I want to be able to do? Why do I want this? What is getting in my way (be honest) What are my really good habits, and what are my not so good habits? What do I feel willing to start with now? What absolutely terrifies me, and what excites me? These questions may make you feel uncomfortable, but they’re a great way to see where you are mentally. Write down your answers, and at the beginning of each moth ask yourself these questions again. What’s changed? You’d be surprised! The great thing about this is that you are learning about yourself, and exploring what strategies work for you. You are much more likely to succeed if you know what is working and what isn’t working. Is it uncomfortable? Yes. Necessary sometimes? Also yes.
You can do this!