The countdown keeps on coming — only 2 weeks now to the first day of summer! The sun’s come early though, with warm weather that I usually only see in late July! All the more reason to keep up with my training and healthy eating with Tone It Up’s Bikini Series. The past month of Tone It Up workouts have been less constant and more roller coaster, so I’m trying to keep up the good habits and turn off the voice in my head that always wants to sleep in or veg out.
Oh man, what can I say? Week 2 was such a disappointment that I got I started doubting myself, and my ability to even keep a fitness regimen up for several weeks. I mean by the end of Week 2, I was already caving. Thankfully, I stumbled on an article by Tina of Carrots n Cake, where she compiled a big list of tips to stick with your workout, all from her favorite health and fitness bloggers! Hey if these bloggers can find ways to keep moving and keep finding the joy in it, why couldn’t I? While many of the tips are things I’ve heard before (schedule your workout like a meeting, change it up to keep things fresh, work out with a friend, etc.), there were some ideas I hadn’t considered and it was so great to see how people who actually make exercising a priority make it work for them. It’s definitely worth checking out: How to Stick With Your Workouts: Tips from Consistent Exercisers
Then, as if Karena & Katrina at ToneItUp.com were reading my mind, this week they wrote about keeping motivated and what to do if you slip up (read: don’t sweat it, keep going forward, eyes on the prize). It helped me remember that just because I stalled didn’t mean I had to walk away from the whole thing. I mean, how would anyone get anywhere if that was the status quo?
Week 3 was much stronger, a model week in the Bikini Series – 4 weekday morning workouts and evening toning workouts almost every evening! I was eating fairly well and pushing myself, and it felt GOOD. Yet when Week 4 rolled around, I literally didn’t work out after Monday. No activity, eating more than I wanted to (though still mostly healthy fare), exhausted ALL the time, no matter how much sleep I got. I got a weird skin allergy to something (I still don’t know what, possibly dairy or maybe it was a reaction to stress…) and my face and neck broke out in hives. Instead of trying to blow off some steam, by Friday I was in tears, utterly defeated. I felt ready to throw in the towel yet again, ready to put up a sign that read, “pity party, this way,” with an arrow pointing at my red and itchy sad face.
Thank goodness for two of the best men in my life for pulling me out of that slump. Avery helped me get soothing face moisturizer and soap for super sensitive skin, and kept trying to make me laugh. He even semi-serenaded me with John Legend’s “All of Me” until we were both cracking up (because my lovely bf is more goofball than crooner, and I adore him for it). The next day, my little brother came over (he’s the family’s fitness expert since he’s going to school for exercise science) and brought A) an adorable dog named Bella that he was watching for a friend, and B) a dose of #RealTalk. His pep-talk wasn’t the tender, kind encouragement I was expecting, but straight forward and logical. His words stung a little, and I had to stop myself from getting defensive or yelling at him to stop lecturing his older sister. Still, it stayed with me for a while, and he helped me see things from a different perspective, one which reminded me that I’m in charge of my results, and that you either do something good for yourself or you don’t (there’s no try, to paraphrase Yoda). Plus, playing with Bella made it easy for me to forget how bad I was feeling, and it was the first time in a few days that smiling came easily to me. I also (finally!) worked out that day with the bf and the bro, which helped shake off any residual sluggishness. By Memorial Day, I felt like a better, super-capable version of myself, grilling up vegetables and laughing with friends in our backyard.
The rest of Week 5 was good, and this week is looking pretty balanced as well. I still have trouble with morning workouts, despite how great I feel afterwards, so it’s a work in progress. But this up & down experience made me realize that I wasn’t setting myself up for success, and in some ways I even sabotaged my health & fitness by:
- Not scheduling when to workout or planning what workouts to do: While this requires about 10-15 minutes of upfront work at the start of each week, knowing exactly what to do when I wake up (or when I get home, tired and hungry) and having the link to a workout video already queued up is the difference between hitting the snooze button (or just collapsing on my couch after work) and actually getting a quick workout in. Plus, scheduling ahead of time would force me to plan realistically — when I have plans after work that I know will go late, that’s not exactly the right day to schedule 3 circuits of arms, 3 circuits of abs and 3 circuits of booty workouts. Planning my workouts allows me to make my fitness a real and non-negotiable part of my day.
- Not having a meal plan: Speaking of getting home from work, tired and hungry, that was a hurdle all its own. Sure, the meal planning is good to do anyway, but for several nights in Weeks 2 & 4, I wasted time rummaging through my cupboards and going back and forth with my bf about what to eat for dinner. By the time we decided on something and made it, I’d feel too tired to even pick up a 5 lbs. dumbbell.
- Not enough sleep: Whether it was a morning or evening workout, I think the lack of proper sleep affected me the most. I realized after a few weeks that Tuesdays on the Tone It Up Bikini Series are especially difficult and/or last longer, since it’s the day new workout videos come out. But after those tough Tuesdays, instead of getting more sleep to help my body recover, I often stayed up looking at Instagram or reading until after midnight. On those days, I woke up with eyes so puffy that it felt like I couldn’t physically open them, let alone get up and go for a 2-3 mile run. Sure, I already know how important sleep is, but the lesson really hits home after you’re physically feeling it.
- Not eating for energy: I think that if I were eating the right kinds of foods to give me energy, even with less sleep I would have gotten at least one more workout last week in. On my off weeks, I would often eat pastries for breakfast or have a heavy, meat-filled lunch (and I don’t typically eat lots of meat, so I think it was hard on my body to digest). Foods like fruits, green vegetables, green smoothies and trail mix at work would have helped me stay peppy and ready to move when I got home from work.
Now that I’ve figured out these weak points and how to get around them, I feel much more confident about not only completing the Bikini Series by June 21st, but I’m starting to feel more confident about myself. This fitness challenge may not bring me to where I originally wanted to be on the first day of summer, but it’s taught me a lot about how to make a healthy lifestyle work for me personally. Sure I’m really looking forward to being able to rock a bikini this summer, but for the next 2 weeks, I’m going to focus more on me and becoming as healthy as I can be.