Sunday, February 26, 2012

How Do You Do It? (Part 2)

I went on my run yesterday: 4.84 mi at a 13 min/mi pace. Not too bad. Felt pretty good after not being out there for a week. I have no intentions of doing that again, though, especially after reading this great blog entry on SparkPeople by Coach Nicole titled "8 Cold, Hard Truths about Exercise". One single sentence really struck a chord with me about the strength and endurance I've worked so hard to build up: "It starts diminishing when you rest just 2 days!"
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I normally wouldn't let this happen (going a week without exercising), as I have a great support system set up for myself. This leads to post 2 of my "How Do You Do It?" series. :)
Accountability. Having someone or something keeping you accountable can help you stick with anything. One of the reasons for this is that, the person you choose to keep you accountable knows your goal(s) and will be rooting for you every step of the way. If you take a misstep, that person will be there to help you get back on track and give you words of encouragement. Also, in the back of your mind, you know that you have to tell someone that you did something you're not proud of and risk disappointing someone other than yourself.
This has played a huge factor in my "sticking with it" this time around. Here is a list of some of the ways I've been accountable and ways I'm staying accountable
  1. Food Journal. I started this journey by writing down what I was eating. I wasn't paying attention to serving sizes or calories, just what I was putting in my body. (By the way, this is not how you should do it! lol See #4 below.) This journaling made me think about what I was eating and, quite frankly, embarrassed me. I found that I didn't even want Chris reading it! It opened my eyes to what a problem I'd gotten myself into, the unhealthy habits I'd developed over the years. With it all laid out in front of me it so obvious that I needed to make a lifestyle change.
  2.  Friends, Family, and Co-workers. Next, I let friends and family in on my decision. I told them I was trying to eat better and exercise more, live a healthier life (most people are calling this a diet, but I don't). It was good, but I don't see them or talk to them everyday. So, I also let people at work know. Since I spend so much of my day at work, it was important to me for them to know. A few of my co-workers are dieting, so it helps to exchange stories and information with them. Making my co-workers aware keeps me on track at work. They ask me what I'm having for lunch or whether I decided to indulge in a cupcake. This is something that I've never done before. I've always kept dieting to myself, that way if I failed, nobody knew. This way is so much better: I am actively making better choices, I have people encouraging me, and people to talk to about the struggles/triumphs. 
  3. Accountability Partner. Initially, I was still feeling overwhelmed, especially when we had a potluck at work one day. I tried to eat in moderation, but I still felt guilty and confused. I texted my sister and asked her to be my official accountability partner. She's been an athlete all her life and even played soccer in college. Now that she's graduated, she's also trying to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. Of course, she agreed and we exchanged emails with motivational websites and healthy recipes.  We frequently exchange texts with pictures of a particularly healthy meal or the scenery during a workout, things we might be struggling with, a good website we've found, and goals for the day or week (run 2 miles after work, complete legs workout, eat a well-portioned dinner, etc.).
  4. SparkPeople. This handy-dandy little website has made all the difference in my motivation and perseverance. It has tons of tools for weight loss, weight maintenance, fitness, and healthy living. There's community message boards, blogs, personalized diet and workout plans, articles, nutrition and fitness trackers, exercise demos and videos, recipes, success stories, quizzes, challenges, motivational quotes,  and more. And the best part? It's all FREE! Yep, as in no charge. The part of the website that has kept me on track the most, is the nutrition and fitness trackers. The nutrition tracker is virtually an online food journal. It's way better than any hand-written one (#1 above) because you can enter how much you ate and it will take into account the serving size for that food to tell you the nutritional facts (whether you like it or not!). After you enter the food you ate for the day, you can look at the nutritional facts totals to see what you consumed throughout the day. You can even run a nutritional report for feedback on what your diet is lacking or what's in excess. If your food does not show up in the search, you can search the member submitted information or enter it manually (this is when I started paying attention to appropriate serving sizes, another thing I've never done). To use the fitness tracker you enter the activity (strength training or cardio) and see how many calories you burned (cardio only). I especially like the "Map Route" feature that allows you to mark out your route to see how far you went. Then, you can enter the time and your weight to get an estimate of the calories you burned (you can pick bike or walk/run). Click here to get started.
 Now get to it! :)

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