I thought this would be a good first topic of a series of posts that will answer the question I've been asked so many times lately, "How do you do it?" So, here is How Do You Do It? (Part 1):
Listening to my body is a big part of this journey I am on (the goal of losing weight and being a healthier, more fit person), especially in relation to food. In the past, I generally ate what I was craving or what looked yummy. I was really bad about snacking (especially when bored) and overeating (especially when we went out). When the hubby and I went out to eat, I could not resist the bread basket. When we went to a buffet, I couldn't resist trying whatever looked good to me. At the movies, we got a large popcorn and I'd just sit and eat during the movie without thinking. So it's quite the challenge for me to actually stop and listen to my body when it comes to food.
Last week I saw this mentioned on a message board on SparkPeople (love this site! Join- it's free!). A member was talking about how she had gone over her recommended daily calories, but it was not out of boredom or mindless snacking. She had done a hard workout and her body needed to refuel. She listened for the hunger and fed it. On the other hand, a few days prior, she hadn't met her calories for the day, but her body just wasn't hungry. And, believe me, it's not a good feeling to eat when you're not hungry, just for the sake of eating. You need to listen to your body to figure out:
- if you're really hungry or just bored/emotional. Check in with what you're feeling/thinking. You could even write down what you're feeling when you go to the pantry; it helped me get started.
- if you're thirsty. Have a glass of water before eating anything, you might be surprised that your "hunger" has been satiated.
- if you're full. Slow down when you're eating. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you're full. (So, chew chew chew!)
|A chart for figuring out what your body needs when you're experiencing cravings. (Image from Free Form Fitness)|
In terms of your workout, listen to your body to prevent injury and/or exhaustion. You can also listen to your body to stay motivated, though. If you are feeling like you need to throw in the towel, check in with your body:
- During strength training, don't be afraid to modify your workout (go for a seated exercise or the beginner's version if you're trying intermediate). You will still build strength and it will help you to go a little harder next time.
- If you're feeling so sore that you can barely walk, don't push yourself to do another rigorous strength training or cardio routine. Use an "active recovery" day: do yoga, stretch, go for a walk, etc. Don't put your workouts on hold, though, it just makes it harder to get motivated again. Give yourself a day or 2 (sometimes the second day is worse) and then get back at it!
- A lot of times your head will tell you, "You can't go any farther." (At least mine does!) At that point check in with your legs or your arms. If they feel like they're going to fall off, then chill for a few minutes (walk vs run, take a water break during strength training). If they feel good, then put a smile on your face and keep going! Just don't forget to check on them again in a few minutes.
Always remember: You're so much stronger than you think!