When I launched this style-based blog at the start of the year, I surely did not envision that I would EVER be writing about fitness or food. MAYBE athletic attire, but not the others. After many comments, messages and questions about my workout and eating habits (likely more than STYLE questions I get!), I will reluctantly share a bit about my current lifestyle and history (hell, even a few insecurities). Reluctantly, because I’m A: Far from perfect and B: No expert here.
THE BACKSTORY: I struggled as a young girl with my weight. I was the only one of our family of seven that seemed to. Eating pasta almost nightly, followed by my mother’s homemade desserts, I simply didn’t understand how to manage myself. This continued through college, making poor decision after poor decision. It wasn’t until post-college that I started truly appreciating how proper nutrition and a consistent fitness routine positively impacted both my body and MIND. As I began having children, my fitness “hour” was scheduled into my day. I knew, with the craziness of baby years, that if I didn’t SCHEDULE it, it wouldn’t happen. Then I hit a few tough years where my son (with a few minor special needs) hit a very challenging phase. With two other babies at home, I HAD to exercise to mentally get through my day. By the time I had the fourth baby, I knew what exactly I had to eat and do to shed those pounds fairly quickly. HOWEVER, it’s not magic. There’s no quick fix. It’s hard work, and it takes a LOT of time and discipline.
I spent years jogging alone, then pushing a single jog stroller, then a double. When my back started giving me trouble (no surprise) I turned to more of a HIIT (High Impact Interval Training) / cross training routine. Nothing else has been as effective in making my body look and feel as strong as a HIIT workout. I put my workouts together myself using Pinterest tips and core-strengthening exercises I got from my YMCA personal trainer (Michele Cameron) a few years back. I’ve never been a class person. I consider this MY time. Time by myself, in my “zone”, is sacred to me these days. I am VERY disciplined and consistent. It may be sleeting and I may have four children in tow, but I’m at the gym (five times a week). I want to be in and out, so I’ve gotten my current routine down to about 30 minutes, with seven additional minutes for abs. I started using an EMOM timer about a year ago to keep me moving during workouts (versus stopping for 5 minutes to chat). Without boring you with every detail, the types of specific exercises include things like:
- jumping rope
- kettlebell (goblet squat, snatch, etc.)
- dumbell exercises (renegade rows, overhead press, etc.)
- weighted ball slams
- workout ropes
- box jumps
You get the gist. When I’m travelling, I start my day with a workout. If they don’t have a gym, I go for a jog. If the gym is very basic, I do speed intervals on a treadmill. And if there are kids on the trip, I NEED TO DO IT to have the energy to get through my day. If my kids are sick and home from school? It’s a cob job of a sweat in the small space on my family room floor. If my day is packed, I do it at 5 before the kids wake. Whatever it takes, I try to get it in. With me, it’s truly as mental as it is a physical need.
Over the years, I’ve learned what works for me and my body, and I’m fairly consistent in my eating habits. I eat a lot of salads and lean meat, fish, good fats and limit my carbs and sugar intake. I wouldn’t say I deprive myself of anything, but I AM realistic. For example, while out, I may skip the bread because I know they have my favorite dessert. Or pass on getting my own cone on our afternoon family Ben and Jerry’s run because I know we’re eating out later. At home, we grill salmon at least two times a week. The other nights are usually also a high protein lean meat or fish, tossed salad and veggie. While out (we eat out quite a bit), I almost always order a salad and high protein appetizer. I don’t drink much wine anymore and generally choose a low-sugar cocktail (Stoli Orange and club is my “go-to”.) I do snack, grab a cookie here or there, and eat the occasional fried chicken finger off the kids’ plates. Not perfect, and no magic formula. Just management and awareness.
A few things that I would consider my “cupboard essentials” include:
Last but surely not least: my favorite indulgence. Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut Bark Thins. But be careful… you can’t stop.
INSECURITIES IN THIS “PERFECT” WORLD.
I feel obligated to end on this note. Yes, I’m obviously TYPE A, and do a lot to take care of myself. Of course there are still imperfections and insecurities. We all have them. It used to just be my muscular, stocky legs. Well… those have given me the ability to walk MILES and MILES with these babies. Now my belly. It can be in the best shape of my life and it’s still going to be a little droopy and poochy… but for FOUR darn good reasons. The giant veins on my legs? I consider them the tattoos I never got, symbolizing motherhood. The bags under my eyes? Late nights with great friends. I’m blessed to be older, wiser, and able to embrace those imperfections more than ever.
My advice to you and these poor young girls growing up in this unrealistic world of Kardashians and social media filters: don’t strive for perfection because it doesn’t exist. Try for your strongest physical and mental self, and I can assure you that much happiness will follow.