So here you go…Lysa’s fitness questions, with my responses:
Lysa: Let’s be honest. It’s hard when your best friend, sister, mother, co-worker, hair dresser…other women you do life with eat whatever they want, whenever they want and never gain an ounce. And while they are munching away on all things delicious, you look down at your mid-day snack of a slice of turkey wrapped in a lettuce leaf and you think, “This is not fair.”
Now, I know there are a lot worse things in this world than this…But this is an honest, everyday struggle many of us deal with and I want to address it head on. So, please share your thoughts.
Fitness Friday Girl: I’m so glad you asked this question today. As one of the so called “skinny friends” I think it’s important to note that just because my weight may be in a healthy range, it doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with it. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The REASON I’m fit and thin is because I work hard at it. Every. Single. Day.
For the last 25 years (when I first noticed my metabolism was NOT my friend), I have been making a conscious effort to educate myself about all things nutrition. I can tell you off the top of my head the general calorie count of nearly every food known to man. I read every label before I purchase or consume something. When I am in the privacy of my home, day after day, I can be found eating lettuce-wrapped turkey and drinking tons of water. In the wee hours of the morning, I can be found getting my butt kicked by my personal trainer at the gym or doing P90X in my basement. In the evening, I can be found taking Tylenol to ease the muscle aches from pushing myself so hard.
When I indulge, even just for a few days, the pounds jump on my body just like they jump on yours. The difference is that I spend the next several weeks watching every morsel that goes in my mouth so I can get the 5 pounds off…before it becomes 10, 20 or 30 pounds. Because it will, if I don’t watch it. Just like it will on you.
So when you see me at the Christmas party or the girl’s night out, indulging in “all things delicious,” it’s probably because I ate a salad for lunch and did 30 extra minutes on the elliptical to compensate for it. Not just this time, but just about every time I let myself really indulge.
When I have a heart-to-heart with those who “accuse” me of being able to eat whatever I want, and explain what I actually do behind closed doors, I usually get a response of, “Oh…I didn’t know that.” Or, “I could NEVER do that.”
So I guess I say all this to say, just because you have a “skinny” friend, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t struggle or work very, very hard to stay that way. It’s just like everything the Enemy of our souls tries to do with women: Make us believe that everyone has it together but us. It’s a lie.
Sure, there may be the rare person out there who is just plain genetically thin. But she is the exception. And just because she’s genetically thin does not mean she is healthy, and therefore, is not necessarily something we should strive for. She may not have weight issues, but if she doesn’t watch it, she will have other health issues down the road from her lack of nutrition and lack of exercise.
And finally (deep breath…not that I feel passionate about this or anything!), remember that EVERYONE has weaknesses. While I may have a handle on my fitness routine and nutrition, I struggle with my temper, my impatience and my quick tongue. I absolutely hate it. I have to keep a CONSTANT check on it or it flares up and hurts others without warning. I often wish I had a different temperament…one that is naturally gentle and sweet. I’m afraid I don’t.
Others may not struggle with weight, but maybe they struggle with gossip or drug addiction or impure thoughts or laziness or jealousy…It’s easy to look at our sisters and say, “If only I had HER struggle.”
But REALLY? Is that what we REALLY want? I don’t think we do.
Lysa: I realize this is probably the worst time to be asking this question. Which in a strange sense makes it the best time to ask this question. Why do we so often gain back the weight we lose? It’s the worst time to ask this question because December is a month heavy laden with goodies of all sorts. But it’s the best time to ask because December is a month heavy laden with goodies of all sorts. So, what are your thoughts?
Fitness Friday Girl: When we drastically change our diets for any length of time to lose weight and then start eating “normally” again, it totally messes with our metabolism. I don’t think people realize how much food, chemicals, environment, stress and muscle affect our metabolism and thus, our abilities to burn calories efficiently.
In August, I went on a 40 day fast and only ate fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, water and tea. I continued to work out 3-5 times per week, but did mostly cardio and very little weight training, because I didn’t really have the endurance to do so. I lost about 5 pounds during the fast.
When I came off the fast and started to eat and work out normally–which is still really healthy, but includes grains, dairy, sugar and some meat–I gained 10 pounds in 6 weeks. TEN POUNDS! I freaked out. Never had I weighed that much other than pregnancy.
Six weeks ago in an effort to combat the weight gain, I hired a personal trainer, who I meet with once or twice a week. I also started incorporating P90X workouts into my routine, and added time onto each cardio session. In the last 6 weeks I’ve lost a total of, let’s see here…hold on..remainder 5…carry the 2…that equals, um…NOTHING. NOT A SINGLE POUND! Can you believe that? I can’t.
I totally messed up my metabolism by taking entire food groups out of my diet and then putting them right back in when the fast was done. I lost muscle mass because I stopped weight training for that period of time. And it doesn’t help that I’m 41 years old and the old metabolism ain’t what she used to be.
Though I don’t regret doing the fast at all, I do regret adding all that stuff back into my diet so quickly. It has been very, very difficult to get the weight off, and it is very frustrating.
That is why we hear all the time that “fitness is a LIFESTYLE” and “Diets don’t work.” Because changing our eating and exercise for only a short time to get off the weight is just that: a short term fix. It takes complete and total life changes to keep the weight off.
Lysa: I think we all agree that making life style changes is the key to lasting success. So, let’s chat about that. What is a lifestyle change? Is it truly possible to eat healthy forever?
Fitness Friday Girl: Lifestyle changes will be different for everyone. If a person struggles with eating too much, then a lifestyle change for her will be to learn to eat healthy portions. If a person lives a life of inactivity, then her lifestyle change will center on finding an exercise routine she loves and will do consistently. If a person is addicted to fast food or soda, then her lifestyle change will require her to cut unhealthy food out of her diet and incorporate healthy substitutes.
But the rules are the same for everyone. There are no short cuts. No quick fixes. A healthy lifestyle consists of eating nutritious food in healthy portions as well as exercising regularly (at the very least, three times per week.)
With regard to your question, “Is it really possible to eat healthy forever?” I have to answer a resounding “YES,” but with qualifications. We need to define what we mean by “healthy forever.” If you mean “healthy forever” as in a person will never eat another cookie or skip a work out as long as she lives—a life of total perfection—then, no. If you mean “healthy forever” as in a person eats a balanced diet consisting mostly of whole foods, then, yes. If you mean “healthy forever” as in a person leads an active lifestyle, engaging in some form of exercise on most days, then, yes.
I like to look at my fitness routine like a budget. Most of the time, I watch what I spend. I’m frugal by nature and ,therefore, usually look for smart buys and restrain impulse spending. But that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally splurge on a great outfit or a memorable vacation. It just means that when I do splurge, I plan for the splurge…save for the splurge. If I splurge spontaneously (and that happens!), then I must adjust the budget for a time to compensate for the over-spending. If I don’t, I will eventually be spending more than I have, deplete my savings and bury myself in debt.
It’s the same with a healthy lifestyle. Most of the time—probably 80% of the time—I eat very, very healthy food. Lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. But I also indulge. I like cookies. I like real cream in my coffee. I like Graeter’s Peanut butter Chip Ice Cream!!! Sometimes my indulging is planned, sometimes it’s not. But regardless, if I choose to indulge, I must compensate for it somewhere, either by eating fewer calories for a while, or exercising harder and longer for the next few work outs. If I don’t, I will gain weight. Striking this balance is the key to long-term lifestyle changes. Is it easy? No. Is it do-able? Absolutely!
Now I pose these same questions to you, readers. You’re a smart group of folks. What are your thoughts?