I want something really, really badly. I think about it every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to sleep. It’s different from when I wanted a baby so badly my heart and soul ached. That was beyond my control, and when I accepted my lack of control it was easier to handle. Well, at least a little easier.
But this something is within my control. Only I can do something about it. Only I have the power to make it happen.
I want my body back.
Yes, I realize that having a baby irrevocably changes your body, and I am OK with that. I’m not asking for my stretch marks and battle scars to disappear. I’m not asking for my feet to shrink back down a size. I’m not dreaming of reviving my 18-year-old self. I’m not even wishing for my pre-pregnant, pre-nursing boobs to return.
I just want to feel like ME again.
I could write a book whining about explaining all the things that have caused my body to change in the last ten years, but does it really matter why? We all go through life changes that make an impact on our physical and emotional states: marriage/divorce, moving, starting/losing jobs, medical problems, medications, aging parents, family dynamics, pregnancy, motherhood…the list goes on and on. What really matters is, What am I going to do about it? Honestly, my issue is not so much about the weight in numbers as it is being out of shape. I want to be stronger. Less flabby. Not out of breath after carrying my baby up the stairs. I want to feel more confident in myself. I want to feel like ME again.
And here’s the thing: I know what I need to do to shed the pounds and rebuild the muscle. I know I need to cut out the junk and get my butt off the couch. I know it’s doable with some effort. Right now I’m just lacking something my daddy used to talk a lot about: gumption. Gumption is something that combines common sense, courage, practicality, initiative, and perseverance. At least two times a week I decide I’m going to start the next day, and then something comes up and I think, “Well, this week is weird because I have to work late/family is in town/I’m meeting up with friends/baby is teething/whatever excuse justifies my laziness, so I’ll start on Monday.” Then next week comes, and it’s the same bit all over again, leaving me wallowing in guilt and getting angry every time I have to plan an outfit for something because none of my clothes fit. Zero fun.
So why do I do this to myself over and over again? Because I am the Queen of Procrastination. Because I have no gumption. And only I can change that. It’s time to say enough is enough.
I need a plan. I (clearly) do not have all the answers, but I’m sharing with you my plan of action for getting back into shape. Hopefully this will motivate others out there like me—I’m not alone in this, right? And maybe going out into the blog world will motivate me to stick to it. Nothing I say is a magical solution. There is no medical breakthrough that reveals the secret of weight loss. The “secret” is simple: dedication. Motivation. Gumption.
Set a goal.
Just saying “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get into shape” isn’t good enough. Those statements are too vague to have the power of motivation. Set a specific goal that is challenging but realistic. Your goal doesn’t have to be limited to losing pounds. After you’ve set a goal, decide how long it will realistically take you to attain it. I’d love to lose 15 pounds by Christmas, but I’m probably not going to lose more than a pound a week for the next nine weeks.
Write it down.
If it’s not written down, I’m not going to do it. I work well with lists and charts. I use a calendar for meal planning, so I’ll dedicate one of the boxes to my exercise plans. Then make your goal, list, and schedule visible. It’s much more motivational on the fridge or bathroom mirror than in a journal in a drawer. It’s also not helpful to leave your plan in your mind, where mine has been stored for the last several months.
Find something you enjoy doing.
For a while I thought my getting-into-shape solution was to become a runner. Everyone else loves running and is training for all these crazy races, so surely that’s the answer! Turns out, I hate running. I’m not good at it. It’s not fun for me. Sure, with some practice I might get better, but for right now running isn’t my thing. Maybe your plan will include walking around the neighborhood or park trails, biking, swimming, running (more power to you!), a class at the gym, or a DVD at home. Whatever it is, be sure you enjoy it so you won’t dread doing it every day.
The best way to ensure you’ll give up is to try too much from the beginning. This may have very well been my downfall with running. I was an athlete in high school and college, so I figured it would be no big deal to pick back up and start running again. I decided to try the Couch to 5K plan, but I skipped the first week because I thought it would be too easy. I was so winded halfway through my run on the first day that I didn’t even finish the scheduled time. And I had no desire to go back the next day, so I gave up. Realistically, you’re not going to go to the gym five days a week if you’re currently averaging once a month. And for your body’s sake, you shouldn’t make that drastic of a change.
Find someone to help you.
It’s great to have someone to work out with or help hold you accountable for late night ice cream binges. For me, I need hubby to know my workout schedule so he knows the days he needs to pick up our daughter. He’s also pretty good at encouraging me to take small steps when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
Focus on one healthy change every week.
Again, don’t try to do it all at once. (I think I’m noticing a recurring theme that may be the root of my problem…) Make a healthy switch for breakfast, and then next week add another healthy switch for lunch. Don’t try to change your entire diet or routine suddenly; you’ll get overwhelmed and frustrated, which will cause you to give up.
Realize it takes time.
There is a poster on my “Inspiration” Pinboard that says, “It takes four weeks for you to see your body changing, eight weeks for friends and family, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world. Don’t give up.” I don’t know how scientific that is, but it certainly gives me motivation! Don’t expect that eating healthier and working out will result in big payoffs in one week. Even if you lose half a pound in one week, you’re headed in the right direction.
Cut yourself some slack.
As wonderfully thought-out as your plan will be, there will be days when it just doesn’t happen. Something will come up at work or with your family. Somebody will get sick. You are a mother, sister, daughter, and friend. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Just pick it up again tomorrow.
Get some GUMPTION.
No matter how wonderful your plan, it will never work unless you STICK WITH IT. This is my #1 problem. If you take the above steps in developing your plan, you should be able to avoid those hurdles that make you want to give up.
Now, time to put that plan into action: Go get some gumption and get your body back!