Since I wrote my first and second posts on my Health & Fitness Journey, a lot has changed! I have learned so much about fitness, nutrition, and overall health over the last six-ish years. I certainly do not claim to have all of the answers because in all honesty, no fitness “guru” out there truly knows it all, nor can they give a blanketed plan that works for everyone. My own journey has evolved from initial shock about how little I truly understood about nutrition (spoiler alert: the food pyramid is no bueno), to trying to absorb as much as I could as fast as I could through podcasts, videos, blog posts, and social media, to adopting a rigid viewpoint on what I thought should be “healthy” for not only myself but for everyone else, to realizing that things are not as black and white as I thought they were.
I have gone through many ups and downs in my fitness journey which has been interspersed with three pregnancies, births, and postpartum experiences. I found that no matter how strictly I stuck to my regimen, once I got pregnant, I threw everything out the window and overindulged. I felt like it was the only chance I would have to eat all of the foods I wanted, as much as I wanted to. I continued to exercise consistently through my pregnancies, but that was more because I truly felt better physically and mentally if I maintained an active lifestyle. Unfortunately, the nutritional side of my health journey always knocked me down when I was pregnant, and then I had to climb my way back up after the “postpartum haze” as I not-so-fondly refer to it.
As I have mentioned before in my first podcast episode on body image, having a third baby has truly rocked my world in terms of getting back into shape. Let me preface by saying that “getting back into shape” does not mean having a six-pack (which I have never had by the way) or wearing a size 0 (which I also never have been). It meant starting with the simple act of physically getting up from the floor. It meant rebuilding and re-stabilizing my pelvic floor. It meant not feeling like my internal organs were going to fall out after a light jog. Once those baby steps were taken, I worked HARD to build my strength back up. I also worked towards re-learning about nutrition and what works for my body. I used to eat a mostly paleo diet, and I still believe that this way of eating makes me feel the best, but at this point in my life I simply cannot adhere to that. The main reason for this is I am lucky enough to have an enormous amount of help at home from my mother-in-law who does the majority of our cooking. Not having to meal prep and plan has been a lifesaver during these last few years, so I eat what is cooked for me! Much of the time it includes a lot of gluten and dairy, but instead of restricting these foods, I just make an effort to eat enough to satiate me. I have really learned the valuable lesson of listening to my hunger cues and stopping before I overeat (most of the time!).
I also have learned a hugely valuable lesson in terms of not feeling guilty if I make a decision about food that is not perfectly in line with my fitness goals. Working in palliative care during a global pandemic has taught me many things, and one of them is that life is short. This does not mean I can do everything I want or give into every impulse and passion. On the contrary; I still strive to live according to my values and place great importance on being able to exert self control in all aspects of life. Still, there are times when indulgence is permitted and that is ok. Have that extra slice of pizza and move on. Tomorrow is another day.
Another big lesson I have learned is not to be such a snob about nutrition. Like ALL things in life, what works for one person does not work for every person. As someone smarter than me once said, “Good for her, not for me.” I try to remember this perspective whenever I start to feel judgmental about another’s choices. I stop and remind myself that the choice is not mine, it is someone else’s to make, so it should not matter to me whatsoever. This does not just go for food, but really most things like what people spend their time and money doing. Many times, it is “good for them, not for me.” That has been quite liberating because it shifts the focus back to the decisions, and the underlying values guiding those decisions, back to what’s right for me.
Finally, I have learned to be more intentional with my exercise. Last year, I met every monthly activity goal set by my apple watch. In the process, I left my body overly worked and exhausted. I spent all of January just trying to feel energetic again, and I think pushing myself too hard with workouts and apple watch goals had a lot to do with that. I have never used my fitness tracker to guide what or how much I eat, but I always use it to keep track of exercise goals (e.g. how often I “close my rings” in a week). I wrote about how I use my fitness tracker here, if you’d like to read more. Recently, however, I decided that once my current apple watch dies, I will not be replacing it. There are multiple reasons for this, and I will get to those in another post, but one reason is I do not want it to dictate how/when I exercise anymore! While fitness trackers were so helpful in kickstarting my journey with exercise, I am no longer at a place where I need external motivation and validation anymore. I want to start moving away from external motivators and start moving towards listening to my body.
So where am I currently in my goals? I talked about this quite a bit in my podcast episode if you haven’t had a chance to listen yet. I truly do not use the scale as a measure of success anymore. I rely on how my clothes fit and how I feel. I don’t rely on the size on my pants either. If I feel better in a larger size, I simply buy the larger size. I keep exercising regularly because I truly love it. The peloton (bike and app) have been absolutely essential for maintaining an at-home fitness regimen during the pandemic. I really don’t have the need or desire to join a gym again, although I do miss the stair master, ha! I know, weird. Who misses stair masters? They are killer.
This year, I am also making an effort to refocus on strengthening my core and pelvic floor and fixing my diastasic recti. I am focusing on continuing to listen to my body and what it needs. I don’t limit myself to strict rules and protocols that my body is fighting against. I basically am trying to go with the freaking flow.
Below are some of the resources I have used and continue to use as far as learning about fitness, food, and body image. If you are looking to break out of the hamster wheel of diet culture and feel confident in your own body and skin, I know these can be of use!
Stay tuned for an upcoming post on weekly meal planning and prepping while my MIL is out of the country! In the meantime, check out my post on How I Meal Prep! Feel free to reach out to me ay any time also if you have any questions. Again, I am not an expert or certified in nutrition or fitness coaching, but I can share my experience. You can take as much or as little from it as you need!