I blogged last year about how I consider *maintaining* your weight to be a success. I mentioned that I would much rather maintain a flat stomach year round with little headache, than labor through weeks of strict dieting for a chance encounter with a 6-pack for a day. Extreme dieting is, well … extreme. And I don’t know about you, but I’m over it. The up and down, back and forth of yo-yo dieting can make you feel like you’ll never be successful. Not to mention, dieting hard for months on end is a game you can never win because your metabolism outsmarts you.
ANYWAY. I asked JillFit Ambassadors Allison Siemens of Wholesome Fitness to contribute a great guest post for JillFit all about summertime balance and perspective. Allison, like me, was a competitor in the past and after years of working with clients and honing her own mindset, came to a place of balance after many years of struggle. She, too, decided that crazy dieting and out-of-reach expectations for how she *should* look and how long it *should* take her to get there, only made her more and more miserable.
Love this guest post from Allison, where she outlines her tried and true strategies for a great summertime experience: healthy, happy & balance.
Enjoy! Ox, Jill
I’m excited to be here on Jill’s blog today to get to share with you stuff that’s straight from my heart!
I love that my job is about helping women feel better about themselves and finding a new strength in that. But I also know from experience how hard that can be. And often it’s a confusing and frustrating process. So, to get started here’s what I want to know:
What is stopping YOU from feeling your best?
When I ask women this question, the answers I typically get are along the lines of not being slim enough to fit into their favorite jeans, lack of energy or desire for exercising, wishing they could stick to eating better more often, or that they are tired and just don’t feel like they can keep up with it all, all the time.
So it’s easy to feel frustrated, and often the result is that we assume that our “best” can only be attained after those problems have been solved. We end up spending so much time and energy trying to find all the answers to bring us into that “perfect” place, that we miss out on two things:
- All the good things that we could have been embracing in life instead of wishing for better circumstances (or a better body).
- Actually making consistent progress with our goal. We assume that because we can’t do it perfectly 100% of the time, or because our results don’t look exactly like we expect them to, that we aren’t “good enough”.
This is all stuff that I struggled with for much of my life.
I was miserable because I would work hard and stay focused on doing all the “right” stuff, and then be left with feeling like all that effort just wasn’t good enough to result in me feeling my best. So the cycle would ensue of basically saying “screw it” in favor of just wanting to “live” – and then my behaviors would swing in the opposite direction, leaving me to feel like I had failed and would have to start the hard road back.
Guess what?! None of that ever got me anywhere – and it certainly never resulted in a better body – or a better, more meaningful life. And isn’t that what we really want at the end of the day? A life we can love and find satisfaction in?
I often challenge the women I coach for fat loss in why they really want to lose weight or change their body. Why do they NEED to lose 20 pounds? Is it just for the sake of seeing that number appear on the scale or to fit into their jeans better? OR do those things actually represent something else that they want, like confidence, peace, happiness, balance, to feel empowered, strong, improved health and more energy? I’d wager it’s the latter.
I truly believe that this is where so many of us go wrong and why we never really feel like we reach our goal:
We put our effort into miro-managing our weight and believe that we cannot be our best without 100% effort and compliance with exercise and food.
And that is a hard place to find yourself! Most of us want to simply feel our best and enjoy our lives, but truly understanding how to do that is often the biggest hurdle.
Personally, I was tired of this never-ending battle and realized that I was sacrificing a lot of the good parts of my life while I was either so focused on “staying on track” or being depressed that I was not getting anywhere. I decided to take a totally different approach, which was a little scary at first, but that process is ultimately what made all the difference to both my physical transformation, as well as to my mindset and quality of life. I found out that I really didn’t need to be so focused and disciplined ALL THE TIME on micro-managing my weight. What it really came down to was focusing on simple, do-able habits and behaviors that I could easily manage forever. Because I could do them easily, they offered me balance and less stress about “staying on track”. I finally found what it truly meant to be consistent. My progress became more about what I did every day to make me feel my best in that moment, instead of worrying about whether I had lost or gained a pound or could find more willpower and energy to stick it out til I “got there”.
My progress was (and still is!) about nudging me towards what I really want: a body and mind that works for me and I feel good in.
From my own experience, plus coaching women in this every day, I have created a system for breaking all this down into an easy to manage process so that less time and energy is put into trying to keep up with diet / nutrition rules and fitness regimes and the focus is instead on creating Simple Solutions that are do-able and work for YOU. The goal isn’t to do everything perfectly 100% of the time, but actually to better understand how to thrive with IMPERFECTION…. and still make sustainable progress towards your goals.
What are “Simple Solutions?”
Simple Solutions are real-time habits and behaviors that:
- Are not difficult to maintain every day. They are behaviors that are intuitive and we prefer them because they make us feel really good – both physically and emotionally.
- Don’t follow someone else’s plan or program. They address your own personal challenges, habits, goals, and self-realization.
- Are judgment-free. Your solutions don’t need to align with what everyone else is doing because all that matters is that they work for YOU and give you what you need.
- Are adaptable and evolve with your own progress and circumstances. Simple solutions don’t follow rules, they are simply “what you do”. Not all solutions work 100% of the time, but that’s ok because you can find another perfect solution that works for YOU.
- Put the focus on action instead of outcome. Often we assume that our only measure of success is the outward physical result and that THAT is a direct reflection of our discipline and willpower.But healthy progress doesn’t always work that way. Our physical progress usually isn’t a perfect journey from A to B. And that’s ok – that’s exactly how it is supposed to be. But when we get too focused on just seeing the end result, it can affect our actions adversely. We get frustrated that our hard work doesn’t seem to be paying off, so we swing into the “screw it” scenario.
Focusing on the stuff you CAN do that works and is easy WILL get you there. YOUR best IS good enough :)
Not only is this a more realistic approach for our health and physical transformation, but it also give us the gift of a mindset transformation. When these two components start working together, then it is easy to actually love the life you are living RIGHT NOW – even while you continue to work on your goals.
Summer is a really good time to switch gears!
This is the time of year when we are craving more relaxation in our routines, and often need to find alternative ways to do things because of vacations and travelling, a more unstructured schedule that may not include regular workouts and planning, and we want to enjoy seasonal celebrations that include ice cream, cocktails, or roasting hot dogs around the campfire. Instead of feeling like these changes make us go “on or off” our plan or program, or that we have to just “screw it” and start over later, we can use the principles of Simple Solutions to maintain a body / mind balance, while opting for a more relaxed, low-key summer.
5 Simple Solutions for summer to help you maintain your weight through the dog days:
1) One of my non-negotiable habits is staying hydrated.
The weather is warmer, and as a busy working mom I am on the go all the time….if I don’t keep water with me then I tend to get headaches, feel hungrier, and tired. So every night, I fill up at least 2 large water bottles (I usually add a lemon slice or green tea bag) and put them in the fridge, ready to go with me in the morning. I also keep a Costco flat of water bottles in the back of my van so that I’ve got water if I forget, or the kids get thirsty (then I don’t end up at a drive thru ordering sodas out of desperation!).
2) Take advantage of the longer, warmer evenings to take a relaxing walk.
This can feel so refreshing after a hot summer day, and it’s amazing how good you feel after a long walk (yay endorphins!) The fresh air will help you sleep, and this kind of restorative exercise is actually very effective for maintaining fat loss. So even if you are travelling or camping, just simply getting out for regular walks can be very beneficial. And there is the bonus of some quality family-time (if you can all get out together).
3) Plan ahead for treats that you will truly enjoy.
I love a good ice cream cone in the summer – and our family camps for 2 weeks every summer, where it’s all about treats at the beach and hot dogs and s’mores around the campfire. I used to use my “screw it” mentality at times like these – and wonder why I felt like I had no self-control. Yuck. But it wasn’t about self-control, it was about fear of missing out (FOMO) – or Fear Of Missing Out On Food (FOMOOF) HAHA! So instead, I gave myself permission to choose all the BEST things that I didn’t want to miss out on – and I planned them into my menu, guilt-free. This wasn’t a free for all, but I suddenly wasn’t consumed with feeling like I had to have it all, all the time. A shift in perspective allowed me to enjoy the things I wanted to enjoy, knowing that I wasn’t “going off track” – and this is actually a strategy I use all the time to keep me from relying on willpower to be successful.
4) Use the 2 minute rule for exercise.
One of the most common challenges for women is finding time to workout. So, I say don’t workout – at least not like you think you have to. As soon as you believe you don’t have time and can’t do it, you will simply NOT do it. So instead, do a Body Burst exercise (like squats, lunges, push ups, or a quick sprint) for just two minutes. Keep a list and check them off as you do them throughout the week. Some days you might get one Burst done, other days you might get 6 done – this could be one 2 minute burst at a time, or all in a row. Doesn’t matter – two minutes is all you need to do at a time. This is a good example of putting the focus on what you CAN do, instead of what you think you can’t do. A little bit goes a long way!
5) Take the time nurture YOU.
I call this a “Daily Dose of Downtime.” What this looks like will be different for everybody – but the goal is to reduce stress, reflect, or give ourselves care. Some ways to do this might be: five minutes of deep breathing in the fresh air, prayer or meditation, reading, taking a bath or a nap, going to bed early, or spending time chatting (in person, not texting!) with a friend. It’s crazy that this can be one of the most challenging things to include in our lives, but it really DOES make a huge difference to quality of life, general health, AND fat loss.
That’s it! Let me know how you do!
Some tweetables for you: