Choose Your Hard

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There are only two choices: hard, and hard. That’s it.

If it was Choose Your Easy, it would be done already. And let’s admit it, that would be boring.

We’re well into January, and this is about the point where it gets harder and harder to keep those New Year’s resolutions: to drop some pounds. Get off sugar. Eat clean. Make most meals at home, all healthy. Get off bread. Abstain from alcohol. Go to the gym–five times a week. Run. Yoga. Circuit train. Begin that weight lifting program that “Mari” suggested. For some of you, I know it’s pretty hard right now.

What no one tells us is that motivation and “will power” are limited resources. They’re each sources of energy that often help us get started but when they run out, or it just gets too tough, we can’t count on limited motivation or will-power.

It’s hard to eat the way you decided to. It’s hard dealing with cravings and temptations. It’s hard on rainy days to make the exercise happen. It’s hard to pass up the cocktail, or wine, with friends. It’s hard to plan the menu, by the good food, prep it, cook it and clean it all up.

Being true to yourself is hard.

You know what else is hard?

Giving up on yourself–that’s the hardest! Excuses are hard. Not meeting your goals is hard. Feeling out of shape is hard. Eating in a way that you feel is wrong is hard. The after effects of too much alcohol is hard. Letting time go by and not changing your condition is hard. Buying bigger clothes is hard–that’s super hard.

Letting yourself down is hard.

If motivation has run out, then it’s time for grit and continued resolve. You may be realizing that this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And it’s one hard choice after another.

It’s time for love. Time to love your big ole badass self enough: to continue. To push. To endure. To be good to yourself. Because what you want and what you dream for yourself matters.

You matter.

Here are some of my hard won tips:

1. Get used to being uncomfortable. Yep, it’s uncomfortable to exercise regularly and to pass up yummy fatty or sweet food. This is where you have to get over yourself and learn to be in some form of discomfort to make your goals.

2. Buy the good food–the food you decided was on your plan–and eat it first. Have it handy so that when you have a craving for other things, you can tell yourself that if you still want pizza or the lasagne or the burger later, that you’ll consider it after your healthy meal.

3. If you don’t feel motivated to exercise, just lace-up. Then walk out the door. Just start your run, or your gym warm up. Don’t think further than just that moment. I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t have the motivation to exercise. Still, I laced up and walked out the door. I’ve now done hundreds of exercise sessions I was NOT motivated to do. You want to know how many of those I regret doing? None. I’ve never once regretted a workout.

4. If your exercise routine is wearing you out then rest. But don’t quit. Which brings me to #5.

5. Recovery is just as important as exercising, especially with intense work. Make sure you’re eating a post recovery meal. That you’re drinking enough water. That you’re eating enough protein. And that your exercise sessions are spaced far enough apart to allow for recovery.

6. If your diet has you lethargic or feeling off, talk to a professional and get some advice on how to tweak your plan. Tweaking is good. Quitting, not so much.

7. Make sure you’re sleeping well and enough. This is as important as nutrition and exercise.

8. Find your tribe in this area of your life. I watched my friend, Babes, join a tribe of fellow runners. She’s been running for forever. I noticed a dramatic change when she found her running tribe. She began to run marathons. The tribe meets up and runs together. They support one another. They run in cute costumes and they even post pics of their early morning runs celebrating each other’s birthdays. Her tribe inspired me to find and create my tribe of like-minded athletes and healthy eaters. Finding my version of my tribe has helped me to have support and encouragement, and even a little bit of cheer-leading.

9. Get tougher. Sometimes when the going gets hard, you just have to be tougher than any resistance you are feeling. Be stronger than the push against you. Tap into your grit.

10. It’s normal to want to give up, or not feel motivated. Everyone feels that way. Just take it one day at a time. One lace-up at a time.

11. Once you form better eating and exercise habits, it begins to feel easier to live your life in this higher plane.

12. Be kind to yourself. If you went off plan, don’t beat yourself up. Forgive yourself quickly. Makr your next meal on plan. If you missed a workout, just pick up your game in your next session. Don’t get crazy and decide that because you went off plan at dinner, you’re going to restart the following Monday. This could turn into much longer. I encourage you to make your very next meal on plan.

13. Forget about perfection! Progress is made by being consistent. Let’s say you decided to workout five times a week, that’s 210 times in a year. But since you’re not perfect, you laced up 175 times this year. I promise, it will still be a huge win! Same goes with your healthy meals. If you eat healthy 90% of the year, I bet that’s a lot better than last year.

Choose Your Hard.

Forget perfection.

Love yourself like a badass.

You are so worth it.

~Mari

Why Over 90% of People Who Lose Weight Regain It, and More!

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How I Busted Through That…

Diets Don’t Work Because They’re NOT Sustainable
I want to tell you why–in the long run–diets don’t work. Over 90% of weight lost is regained within eighteen months. In many cases, more weight is put on than was originally lost. It’s discouraging.

The downward and unsatisfying cycle of dieting goes something like this: put yourself on a strict diet. Be disciplined about it. Lose weight. Go off the diet. Eat everything you’d forbidden yourself to, then hate yourself when you get on the scale. You brace yourself to prepare to diet again. Procrastinate the diet because you feel disconnected and hate your life when dieting. More weight creeps up. Because of an upcoming event, you need to lose more weight in less time. You start thinking of maybe having your meals purchased all freeze dried, or maybe some hormonal injections are in order because you REALLY REALLY need to be strict now. The obsession and negative self-talk is at a full roar.

Cray. Cray!

Diets, lists of “bad foods” you’re not allowed eat, and deprivations, don’t work in the long run. Why? Because living this way is not sustainable. It’s probably a good thing because whenever I’ve gone on a strict diet my sweet temperament has turned to a “hangry” one. I’m not an angry girl–unless I’ve been dieting. I’ve tried all sorts of diets, including two rounds of HCG (a 500 calorie-a-day, hormone injecting diet) and a couple of juice/protein shake fasts. No extreme diet worked in the long run. They actually slowed down my metabolism, messed with my hormones, and made me a bit more cray-cray about food and nutrition. For the sake of the relationships in my life, it’s probably a good thing I can’t sustain a crazy diet.

It’s been five and a half years since I made the significant changes that resulted in my transformation. I didn’t plan to lose 170 pounds. I didn’t make the changes I did with dieting in mind.

I get asked all the time what I did to lose weight? What was the game-changer? What I’m really being asked is what diet did I use.

Toxic Relationships and a Shift in Convictions
My life changed when I decided to walk away from toxic relationships and a toxic tribe that I was suffocating in. I felt like I was the worst version of myself. One day, when enough was enough, I gained clarity about the situation I was in, and without any doubts, I knew that it was time for me to let go.

I didn’t know then that a shift in my convictions would touch off a series of changes that would radiate to every part of my life. You can see in the before picture of me that I didn’t ¬†look healthy and I needed to make some changes.

Some of the manifestations of dealing with toxic people are that you’re upset, disturbed, bitter, defending, out-maneuvering, anticipating, worrying, and dealing with all sorts of negative feelings. These feelings, not only mess with your hormones, your nervous system, your adrenals, and your ability to rest, they take away your inner peace and the deep sense of love for yourself and others.

Letting Go
I had to let go of a lot to find my way back to a real sense of myself again. When I say I let go, it was simply that–I LET GO. I took the high-road. I didn’t engage in a bitter battle of how right I was, or how wronged I’d been. I never asked anyone to take sides. I refused to engage, no matter how tempted I was. I took a friend’s great advice: I ignored utterly any toxic behavior. I simply refused to reinforce toxic behavior by giving it my attention. If you want to get a toxic person to stop using you as a target, simply ignore all efforts to taunt you. Toxic people are addicted to drama and chaos. Disengage. Rise above it. Healthy people will respect you all the more for it.

By letting so much go, I inadvertently let go of bitterness, anger, hate, and resentments. I started to feel wonderment and curiosity. I became interested in my life as if it was a new beginning. This opened me up to the miracle of peace and love, and a feeling of well being.

If I hadn’t taken these actions, I’m not sure I’d still be alive.

When I see people in toxic situations: they have high blood pressure, adrenal problems, elevated cholesterol, ulcers, they’re angry and resentful, they’re combative, they smoke, they drink too much. They look miserable and they don’t age well. Some miss the signs that result in a heart attack, because dealing with toxic people consumes you, and you don’t pay attention and quit listening to your body. Toxic people like to have someone to hate and fight with. This is very wearing on body and soul.

I’m not being melodramatic when I explain how I saved my own life.

Neuropath Ways and Habits
Your life is a mass of habits. Think about how you get up. What are the habits you use to get your day going? Habits form the neuropath ways that your mind uses to get things done, without having to rethink everything you do. They reduce space in your head. If you didn’t have these little neuropath ways up there, your head would be too big for your body.

Unbeknownst to me, I began to form new pathways after I let go of so much toxicity. I began to feel good and I found I had newfound energy. I needed to burn it. I started by walking only seventeen minutes.

One day, I was upset so I reached into our pantry to eat a treat. I stopped myself and thought, “Mari, this is NOT what you need. What is it you’re really upset about right now?” I missed someone. I missed them so much. I was broken hearted. I decided to write this person a letter. I never mailed it. I just wrote everything, and sat there with all my tears. As I wrote, I felt ALL THE FEELS. I got through it. The next day I felt better. I went for my first three mile walk. It felt so good.

As I got stronger, I quit consoling myself with treats. This broke my old habits. I started making yummy nutritious meals. I found writing made me feel better.

Then I started running. At first, I ran for about fifteen minutes, but soon I was up to an hour. Then two hours. If I was mad or upset, and had that type of energy to burn, I would run.

I continued to evolve. Nutritious food felt better. Before, nutritious food wouldn’t stick to my ribs, but now it’s all I wanted.

I started rowing on the machine at my club. I got to where I could row for hours.

I changed behaviors, and they made feel better, they then reinforced other positive behaviors which built on each other. I slowly created brand new neuropath ways. These pathways are my new habits, which feel natural to me now. I can’t go a week without exercising or eating well.

These changed behaviors, habits and newly formed neuropath ways are the fundamental reasons that I lost 170 pounds. More importantly, it’s why I have NOT regained the weight.

Love and Nutrition, and Keeping Food Real
In making my nutritious food taste even better, I still used a little butter here and there. I ate toast a few times a week. I bought chocolate ice cream bars that were calorie measured and I ate those a few times a week. I made great salsas and I doused my eggs in them. I made fish tacos with corn tortillas and avocados. I ate if I was still hungry. I found that the deep empty hunger I always had went away the better I lived, and the better I ate. I made my own salad dressings, or used ones I preferred because I knew I needed the nutrition from salads and vegetables. I didn’t gain 170 pounds because of salad dressing. I ate fruits and didn’t listen to anyone that said they were high in sugar, because it was baked goods, not pears that had made my dress size a 28.

My healthy loving behaviors became my new habits and formed my brand new neuropath ways. I even developed self-soothing habits I use to deal with the hard stuff. I believe that these new pathways are why I’m a rare massive weight loss success.

STRONG and BENDY and Neuropath Ways
With my newfound understanding of habits and pathways, I decided my next step in life was to get STRONG and BENDY. I needed to continue to change the composition of my body and I wanted to age with strength and mobility. I’ve observed people get injured from bad form in weight training. So, I researched and hired the best personal female trainer I could find for my needs. I decided on Cece English at Red Dot in Willow Glen. When we met, she did a full assessment of my mobility, my strengths, my range of motion, and asked me a ton of questions while she watched me do a series of activities. My STRONG and BENDY’s clearly stated objective was appreciated by Cece, so much, that besides all of her other professional qualifications and her knowledge in injury prevention, I knew I’d found my trainer. She and I are have become quite the team.

I promised myself that I would move mountains, if I had to, but I wouldn’t miss one single scheduled session with my trainer. I knew that if I kept showing for my sessions, I would set my new neuropath ways. All events on my calendar, including work, are scheduled around my training sessions. Gotta love healthy habits!

I feel empowered by my own body. Nutrition and fitness are a staple of my life. I don’t really think too much about my routines and the foods I buy because they’re embedded in how I live.

Summary
Dieting, and feeling bad about yourself, isn’t going to work because you won’t create healthy behaviors that make make you feel more fulfilled. Maybe there’s a bigger issue that’s keeping you from the healthiest of behaviors for your life. Maybe you need to let some negative stuff go?! And I mean, LET THAT STUFF GO. Only you know what the game-changer is for you, and only you can change it.

Sticking to healthy habits and behaviors over a longer period of time, create new neuropath ways. The healthy neuropath ways will be the back bone of securing success.

You’re so totally worth it.

~Mari