Archives for category: Fitness

In 3 days it will be 6 months since I started my healthy living journey.  Along the way I have learned a great deal: about my limitations and abilities, about clean eating, about running, about strength training, about coffee and almond milk and quinoa…

All of it has shown me that I have a lot more to learn.  But…I am off to a good start.  Even if I have to remind myself periodically that I’m not on a “diet” and that all these changes I’m making are meant to be permanent.

It’s something I don’t think I’ve ever thought about before in my previous weight loss attempts. Sure, I’ve kept food journals and counted calories and opted for the low-fat option on the restaurant menu. But always with an eye toward doing what was necessary to get to the intended goal. It was as if I was subconsciously saying to myself “Yeah, that bacon cheeseburger looks and smells good now, but it will taste really good 25 pounds from now! Order the grilled salmon.”  It was as if I was working hard and depriving myself to get to a point, and then once I got there all bets would be off. No wonder I felt like I was constantly trying to lose weight!

Now with everything I have learned and am still learning, my choices involve a more complex range of analysis: How many calories will I have to burn to balance out this cookie?  Will I be able to say no to this bottle of sweet tea once I reach my goal weight?  Does my goal weight even reflect my fitness goals? If I skip this core exercise today, how much harder will running 3 miles be tomorrow?

And always, the overarching question: Will I be able to sustain this long-term?

That is the nagging question after every success, every good decision, every plan made.  Because if it’s not something I can see myself doing a year from now, what is the point of doing it now? Seriously, what? So I can get to my goal weight that much faster, only to ascend right back up the scale when I stop whatever good thing got me there in the first place?

Now, that sounds a lot like “It’s not worth it to work hard, so why bother?”–but it’s not. You see, I’m trying to think long-term. That means if I can see myself O’Ding on milk chocolate the first time I get my hands on some after several months off, I decide I will just limit myself to a few ounces a week instead of swearing it off completely.  If I can’t see myself working out for an hour 6 days a week just to maintain a physique I achieved in two months, I don’t even start that. Sure with working out 5 days a week for 30 minutes a pop, it might take me five months to get there (wherever “there” is), but at least I have a better chance of staying there.

Frankly, it’s better this way. I don’t have days where I fall to pieces because I couldn’t resist a cupcake.  I realize that a cupcake here and there is not going to derail my goals as long as they are reasonable, sustainable goals. Ultimately, though, I hope to have learned enough and practiced enough, and succeeded enough, along the way that I prefer a nice fresh fruit smoothie over that old cupcake anyway. 

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Sometime in the not-so-distant past, I figured out what I would need to do to reach my ideal size. At the time, I decided if something required that much work and sacrifice, it wasn’t meant to be. “Life is short,” I told myself. “Why waste your precious little time on earth depriving yourself of food you love and torturing your body?”

I’ve spent the past few months answering that very question. I started by actually doing, rather than fearing, what I needed to do. I pushed myself at every workout. I said “no” to one more piece of chocolate, one more helping of pasta, one measly tall caramel mocha. What “depriving myself” and “torturing my body” taught me was that taking care of myself made me feel good.  It was the kind of good that lasted way longer than the satisfaction a couple (or 20) of Hershey’s Kisses gave me.  I went to bed more pleased with myself after a tough workout than after a night spent in front of the TV.

The story doesn’t end there. Over the Christmas/New Year holiday, I reverted. I ate whatever, whenever. I didn’t track my foods. The few times I did work out I barely raised my heart rate. And I was miserable.

I couldn’t enjoy the “food I loved” anymore.  Every time I snuck a piece of chocolate, a part of me (which refused to go away, no matter what I did) shook her head, disgusted.  “You know you don’t want that,” she said, reproachful. “You don’t even like it anymore. You’re just eating it because it’s there and you’re bored. Which would be fine if it wasn’t 200 extra pointless calories you’re putting into your body.”  What had happened to Little Miss YOLO?  It was like the Paula Deen in my head had morphed in Jillian Michaels. 

What had happened was, I had figured out that it was worth the effort.  I was worth the effort.  I had been looking at things the completley wrong way.  Eating healthy isn’t about depriving myself.  Exercising to the fullest of my ability isn’t torture.  I am taking care of myself. I am enriching the quality of my short time on Earth. 

I may not ever get to my “ideal size”, whatever that may be, but I will continue to push myself physically until I can’t anymore. I will continue to strive to fill my stomach with what the best of God’s earth has to offer.

Why do I do it?

Because I’m worth it.

I am happy to report that I have made it through a major pigout holiday (two of them, if you count Halloween) while continuing to decrease the number on the scale!  Thanksgiving was the big test; it involved travel to Oklahoma and food I spend half the year practically dreaming about.

Let’s talk about Oklahoma and what happens to me when I go there for a second.  There’s my mother-in-law’s rich Nigerian food.  Let’s just say “low-calorie” is pretty low on the priority list when it comes to the preparation of rice and stew. Then there’s the candy dish she keeps in the kitchen.  We’ve talked about me and candy dishes before.  There’s also Sonic and Mazzio’s and La Baguette; three eateries I only get to patronize when I’m in Oklahoma.  Let’s not even get into my own parents’ house and my hometown, where we usually go out to eat because my parents are usually too tired to cook, and I don’t know what to make out of what they have in their refrigerator and pantry so I don’t make anything.

Put that all together, and you can see why, after spending half my maternity leave in Oklahoma, I basically returned home to Chicago (and to my job) the same weight I was when I left the hospital after giving birth to my son. Even with breastfeeding.

Now let’s address Thanksgiving in and of itself.  My grandmother’s pecan pies (which I do a decent job of replicating myself), potato salad, corn bread dressing, giblet gravy, sweet potatoes drenched in brown sugar syrup…and some pretty good green stuff thrown in for good measure (but coupled with the obligatory bacon for flavor, of course). Then there are the specialty desserts, dreamed up by my sister and my cousin to debut on each year’s Thanksgiving menu. My mom’s chocolate chip pecan cookies. Um…I should probably stop here…I’m getting hungry again…

The point is, Thanksgiving is a belt-busting powder keg.  So for me to come out of that week not only without putting on weight, but actually still losing is a major achievement for me. Go, me! Excuse me while I cabbage patch.

*cabbage patch break*

Okay now that that’s done.  I’m over the moon happy I was able to truly observe moderation in my eating and actually made time to work out even though I was technically on vacation.  Now it’s time to gear up for Christmas and all of its ensuing parties.  Come on Christmas season, whatcha got for me? I’m ready for ya!

It has been a little while since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been a busy overhauler!

I am happy to report that I am 10 pounds lighter than I was six weeks ago. Exercise has become a regular part of my routine and sometimes I even find myself enjoying it. (Not too much, though. If it’s not a teensy bit unpleasant I know I’m not working hard enough.)  I’ve incorporated eating right into every facet of my day, whether it’s my “cheat” day or I’m eating out or whatever. I check nutritional information whenever it is available on a restaurant’s website and plan ahead, which has done wonders for me in staying on track.
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A common thread in the sermons I remember from childhood is that Satan will go on the attack once he sees you committing to do good.  So it comes as no surprise to me that I’ve been having some difficulty in both my physical and my mental overhaul over the past couple of weeks.

I’ve recently been placed in a position as the head of my church’s social media ministry. It’s a position I’m super-excited about and I felt really blessed to have the opportunity. I started making plans I thought would really grow the ministry and expand the reach of the church.  Because I connect with social media through my smart phone (due to having a lot of down time during the day), most of my plans involved me using my smart phone. 
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I was inspired by this post to give up chocolate for a week, just to see if I could do it.  Even though Erika Nicole Kendall was motivated by clean eating to give up chocolate, and I’m not attempting 100% clean eating at the moment, I thought an exercise in self-control would do me good.

You have to understand; giving up chocolate for a week was a massive undertaking for me.  I have a co-worker a couple of offices down from me that always has the good stuff on his desk.  His candy dish could win a Nobel Prize, if candy dishes were eligible. I pass by his office to get to mine, and when I’m having a particularly stressful day, it’s nothing to walk about 10 steps and be at his desk with a hand in the dish before you can say “woosah”.

This week, though, I wanted to see if I could resist temptation.  The first couple of days were pretty easy.  I was pretty determined to prove myself capable  and that determination alone kept me away from his desk. Even on office bake sale day, when he not only had his prize-worthy candy dish, but goodies he had bought at the bake sale. Did I mention it was his birthday?  Yeah, I was doing really well, staying clear of his office, when I was informed that it was his birthday.  That meant I would have to visit him. (Luckily he came out of his office at just the right time, preventing me from having to go into the lion’s den.) My resolve threatened to weaken as the days progressed.

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I have gone through different phases with regard to working out.  The first two years of college I mainly went to the gym to watch intramural basketball games. My junior year I worked out twice a day. By senior year it had tapered down to maybe three times a week.

Law school followed a similar pattern. I started out hardly ever working out. Then I joined Bally’s my second year and regularly worked out about 3-4 times a week pretty much until I graduated. Then I moved to Chicago, tried to keep up the routine (and was largely unsuccessful), and then got pregnant.
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