As I write this post I’m sitting here drinking the World’s Most Gargantuous Cup of Unsweetened Iced Tea. What I really want is coffee. As it is, it’s already mid-afternoon and I know a coffee would seriously screw with my sleep cycle even more than the 24-hour non-drowsy allergy pills I’m taking already do. Turns out, while incredibly efficient at putting a stop to my hacking fits, marathon snot-blowing pity parties and blood-shot peeps (I cannot count on all my appendages how many times the hubs has asked me “Are you high?”), allergy meds can make normal nightmares feel like a meditation retreat. I mean, has anyone else dreamt about witnessing a car run over a polka-dot dress-wearing ghost in a cemetery conveniently located next to the haunted mansion where “babysitters” are watching your two precious offspring who each suddenly know how to break into things with crowbars? Now I know how M. Night Shyamalan gets his material.
Nevertheless, I’m on a mission. In fact I’m on Week 3 of a mission. In approximately three months I’ll be on the sands of Maui with my whole family, dancing to the tune of whatever-the-heck-I-want-to. In a swim suit. The kind of outfit I haven’t worn since I was pregnant in the biggest of ways and taking my then-toddler to mommy-and-me swim lessons. So there’s that. And of course it involves a two-piece which I purchased during my pre-allergy medication status when I was questionably delirious. So let’s just say some things need to happen if that whole bikini-on-the-beach situation is going to play out well.
Now let me be clear, I’m the type of person who will wear that swim suit regardless of whether I put myself on a 4-month fitness program. I’m happy either way. But hey, just for fun – because it’s part of what I love to do for money – let’s see what I can accomplish in four months, shall we? And maybe you follow along because you’re interested too. Because you won’t say it out loud but you’ve gained a few pounds this summer and you feel like maybe you’d rather be in a better place fitness-wise (and all of your people want you to stop talking about how icky you feel). And the holidays are around the corner (yep, I said it) and you’d like to lose some lb’s before that. Or maybe you’re where I’m at and you feel healthy overall but you want to take it to the next level – just for kicks.
But hold the phone: You’d also like to keep some wine in there somewhere because life is hard and diets suck. I’m with you. In fact I’m so with you that I’m three weeks ahead of you just to be sure it’s going to work. You see, I put myself on my own Get Fit in 4 Plan at the end of July and I’m happy to say I’m down three pounds AND still drinking wine (although not as much – I gave myself an intervention *sigh*). But I’m not just looking to lose a few pounds. I’m looking to see what I can accomplish in 120 days. Why? Because everybody needs a goal or we get complacent.
If you’re feeling like it’s that time for you but don’t know which actions to take in order to begin, follow along. I’ll be posting this as a series, so in a few weeks I’ll give you the Get Fit in 4: Month Two plan I’ve designed for myself. No diets, no shakes, just some accountability to and for yourself. That’s going to be the HARDEST PART in this, folks. Losing accountability is ridiculously easy, that’s one of the primary reasons I’m employed. So you’re going to have to dig deep and stay committed – because all the flakes are still waiting for the “right time” to start.
Get Fit in 4: Month One
*Please remember I’m giving you MY plan for MYSELF, which means you may have to tweak a few things if you’re already doing them/they don’t apply/you have an alternate method. I’ll give suggestions for options where I think they might be necessary, but otherwise try to focus on keeping true to yourself and finding areas you can improve on that are similar to what I’m talking about in this guide. Also, this is meant to escalate in baby steps, meaning each month will become more focused, particularly the last month where I’ll be in small-detail mode. Oof!*
1. Limit yourself to one glass wine/night, Sunday through Thursday.
Okay let’s chat for a moment. I’m admittedly not perfect and obviously the wife of a winemaker, so I enjoy my wine. Typically I try to limit myself to one glass of wine a night on the week days (for lots of reasons encompassing my health, my ability to appreciate early mornings a tad more, the quality of my workouts, etc.). However, sometimes summer happens. Suddenly I’m drinking two glasses a night and the calories begin adding up. I’m no longer a cheap date and Mint.com tells me we have exceeded our wine budget. Boo! I’m back on track and, funny how this happens, it appears that even on the weekends where I’ve allowed myself more than one glass of wine I’ve been stopping around two or three simply because that’s all I want. Tolerance is a silly beast that way. If you find you’ve been throwing back a bit more alcohol than usual this summer, now’s your time to start taking it down a notch (but still enjoy a lovely glass of Petite Syrah/beer/etc.). I’ll be dialing it waaayyyy back in about three months, so let’s save the drastic measures for then, shall we?
2. Log your food as often as possible.
Remember what I said before about accountability being critical in this step-by-step process? This is one of those things. I don’t typically log my food every day or count calories because, frankly, it’s time-consuming. But it’s also incredibly effective if you want to really see where your calories are going and be honest with yourself about how much you’re eating. Usually my M.O. is to log my calories for a few days whenever I feel like I’ve gotten off-track. It always opens my eyes to where I’ve been sneaking in the excess. Right now though, I’m going on three weeks of logging my food MOST days of the week and in addition to adhering to step #1 up there, I believe this is what’s caused a 3-pound weight loss already.
The easiest way I’ve found to log my food is to use the My Fitness Pal app on my phone. It’s free, and once you know how many calories you should be aiming for each day (check out the handy calculators at Freedieting.com), it’ll help you track what you’re putting in and what you’re putting out (through workouts and daily activities like walking). It’ll also give you a great idea of macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats) so you can see if you’re overdoing it on the breads and cheeses and under-doing it on the lean proteins (a key issue most of us face). Lastly, it has an impressive database of foods and you can always scan a barcode if you’re eating something store-bought. Here’s a screenshot of what the Diary section looks like:
3. Run or simply workout more.
If you like to run and you’re not doing it already, start. This is one of those things that as soon as I start doing it again I instantly lose weight thanks to the calorie burn it provides. If you’re already running a lot, change this to weight-lifting or high intensity interval training (HIIT) or even fast walking or hiking if running is too hard on your joints. Basically, whatever you’re not doing enough of, do more of this month to get a bigger calorie output. I’ve been really great about my strength-training and HIIT sessions but as the temps reached triple digits this summer I let running drop off. I keep my runs to about 3 miles now because I find I’m a much better and faster runner when I do shorter distances. Keep in mind you only need about 30 minutes of high-quality cardio to see some benefits, so squeeze it in where you can. Or, perhaps you’re not working out at all. Here’s your kick in the @$$. Aim for at least 3 days a week. Don’t tell me how hard it is – I’m aware.
4. Watch portion sizes.
A no-brainer, right? Not so much. Turns out “watching portion sizes” is too vague for most of us Americans. “I’m watching this portion size become unmeasurable” seems to be our general attitude. I’m not saying we have to weigh everything and become obnoxious to our family and friends. I’m saying maybe we don’t have to eat EVERYTHING on our plates. Or mayyybe we don’t need seconds. Even too much of a healthy thing is no longer a healthy thing. If a portion of peanut butter is one tablespoon – how often do you just eat one tablespoon? I already know that answer because I have lived that answer (Ahem: Post-pregnancy #1 and my affair with nutella/peanut butter/bananas).
5. Take a new fitness class.
Oddly enough, this one is proving to be the hardest for me to do this month. It’s a time thing, as I’m sure most everyone understands. I did manage to sneak away from my chaotic schedule one day for a noon Pure Barre class and was immediately thankful I had. Trying new fitness classes breaks up the ho-hum of a fitness routine and also helps shock our bodies into Go-Mode. I’m hoping to visit “the barre” again in the next couple weeks (for those of you interested in the Barre movement, check out Purebarre.com).
6. No food two hours before bed.
This one really works for me. If I can give my digestion that two-hour head start before I lie down for the night it helps me feel lighter and ready for breakfast the next morning. This applies to beverages as well. Soooo, basically just some good ‘ol fashion H2O, friends. I know this one is difficult sometimes when we’re rushing around with the kids or getting home late from work or going out to dinner with friends, so just employ it on the nights you can. Extra credit: Follow my steadfast rule and ALWAYS drink warm lemon water upon waking. (Check out this post for further explanation).
So there’s the first installment of Get Fit in 4! Are you in?