Getting Real and Getting Over Emotional Eating!

I was on the local news again this morning to talk about emotional eating, why we do it, and what to do about it. Check it out.

 

 

Advertisements

Fail to Plan; Plan to Fail

No matter what your goals in life it is very important to plan.  Developing a plan helps you stay consistent, establish a routine and helps maintain focus.  Planning requires evaluating goals and identifying steps to help keep these goals on track.  

I am not a planner, naturally.  I am what most would call “a rebel without a cause” and I definitely “do what I want, when I want”.  Planning has a way of limiting spontaneity, which is something that is needed or an exciting and thrilling life.  However as I became more focused on my goals, I found I was more willing to plan.  Perhaps it is maturity, but planning helps me be more successful.

Although I value and urge each of you reading to find balance, planning is a necessary evil.  Planning is needed to:

  • keep goals in perspective
  • stay focused on goals
  • limit excuses
  • reduces anxiety
  • develops success

I am currently preparing for a vacation with my family to New York City.  Despite my excitement about this trip I am 5 weeks away from my first bodybuilding competition and there is no room for error or mistakes.  Planning for my trip is essential to my success when I step on stage on July 5.  I had to plan ahead.  Here are the steps I took to plan for my trip.

  • Found an accountability partner.  I have notified my coach of my trip.  There will be lots of eating good and “dirty” food and there will be lots of activity and visiting with loved ones.  I notified my coach of the days I will be working out.  I plan to wake up early to complete my workouts for the day.  My coach is aware of this plan so that he can check-in and ensure that I did what I said I would do.  
  • I did research.  I needed as much information as possible to determine how I would work out, when I would work out, and what food I could bring with me.  I researched my hotel and I called the hotel to request a refridgator.  I also inquired with the hotel about the workout facilities available.  I know arriving in New York I will have a way to keep my food cool and a place to work out.  I also asked what equipment was available in the workout facility so that I knew what workouts would be available to me.  I researched the TSA so that I knew how to prep my food and what food I can carry with me on the plane.
  • I have prepped all my meals for the week.  Meal prep really does not take very long.  1-2 hours max.  I have prepared all my food for all 6 meals for all 7 days.  Solid food is OK to carry on the plane.  Each meal is placed in a small Ziploc bag.  Each Ziploc bag is placed in a tupperware.  I have pre-cooked my chicken, broccoli, sweet potatoes, turkey burgers, and asparagus.  My breakfast makes great waffles, so I have made all my waffles for the week and each day is placed in a Ziploc bag.  Protein powder can be carried on to a plane as long as the Ziploc bag indicates “Protein powder” and flavor on the bag.  I have scooped each days worth of protein into an individual Ziploc bag and then all will be placed in Gallon Ziploc bag.  The same was done for supplements.  I have labeled each bag with the day.  I purchased a Six Pack Fitness bag.  This will carefully hold all my food for the week.  Condiments and liquids cannot be carried onto the plane, however I purchased a couple of things I could not live without, like Stevia for example.  Unopened containers will be placed in the bag that I check.  All I will have to do each day is grab the food labeled for the day, and go.  I have packed a bag large enough to carry my food, but comfortable enough to tote around the city.

All this preparation has eliminated my excuses.  I know I have a gym to get my workouts in.  I know I have enough food for each day.  I do not have to worry about being hungry, stuck in a show, tour, or museum, and that I am hungry.  I will have my food on me.  I have asked my coach about eating out while on vacation.  I know what is on my meal plan and will check the menus of restaurants.  I can still enjoy the food but know what I can and cannot have.  I am not worried about what I will eat.  I am not worried that I will not be able to continue to prep for my competition.  A couple phone calls, a couple internet searches, and a little time will keep me 100% focused on my goal.  And this will allow me to have fun and enjoy the city and my family.  I will not have to feel guilty that I missed a workout or that I ate off plan.  I can relax.  I know that my preparation will help me stay focused and lead me to success for my goal.

A little planning is all you need for your success.  Planning is necessary for success with any goal, not only fitness or weight loss goals.  Know what you want.  Research how to get it.  Tell a friend/coach/professional about your goal and elicit their expertise and support and ask they hold you accountable.  Read and learn what others have done and follow their path.  

Confessions of a Bikini Competitor

I have neglected this blog for way too long. So first let me apologize. I plan to be more consistent. Now let me explain why I “fell off the bandwagon”.

For the last 5 or 6 years I have been a “fitness nut”. Since I began I would say I have consistently averaged 5-6 days a week in the gym and have had a healthy diet. It started out as a means to save money from eating out. Quickly working out became my sanity and it saved me from the stress and emotional upset of my full time therapy job. About 3 years ago working out became my part-time job when I started teaching group fitness classes. It was during this time that working out became not just a hobby but a passion of mine. Working out and eating well was fun for me. Over the course of time I found I wanted to challenge myself in the sport of bodybuilding.

I was always happy with the way I looked and felt very comfortable and confident with my body but I wanted to see how my body could change with discipline and focus. So in March 2014 I started prepping for my first bikini bodybuilding competition. With my excellent coach and my motivation to be successful I walked on stage July 5th, 2014 and placed 6th. I felt very proud of what I accomplished. The road to the stage was fun. It is exciting to watch your body become lean and vascular. My body really became a fat burning, muscle building machine. I am a competitor at heart and can honestly say I feel accomplished with my performance in my first competition. I believe that others found inspiration in my progress and dedication, and my accomplishment really does show that with hard-work and discipline anything is possible.

However over time I stopped enjoying eating well and working out because these things were now a chore. Most days I dreaded going to the gym but went because “I had too”. When I wasn’t in the gym I was obsessing about working out. I literally laid in bed at night and visioned myself doing the next days workout and cardio. Images of food and meal prepping consumed my every thought. The food I ate no longer tasted enjoyable because it was solely fuel. When I wasn’t eating, I was starving and literally counting down until I could eat again. I was exhausted mentally and emotionally.

As my contest drew closer I hired and worked with a posing coach (one of the best in my opinion). So every Saturday after my workout, rather than spend time with family and friends I drove close to 2 hours (one way) to practice my posing. I spent money I could have been saving for a retirement or starting a new business for me and my husband on supplements. I thought my food bill would decrease as I just ate the same thing daily, but our grocery bill doubled and I was spending over $200 a month on supplements. The food is not only expensive but it is also costly to compete. There is a fee to join the Federation, there is a fee for each contest, tanning costs about $300 dollars, there is the cost of hair and makeup, plus the cost of a hotel stay and travel. Alas, the bikinis the girls in the bikini division wear are gorgeous. They are also very expensive. Yet I choose to once again spend HUNDREDS of dollars on a bikini instead of saving, investing, or bettering my families future.

Sure my waist and my body fat decreased but so did my wallet and my self-esteem. Suddenly it became about being a certain standard and fitting into a mold. I prefer to stand out, be different, and quite enjoy not always fitting in. Yet consuming myself with working out and competing I found I wanted to be like other competitors and fitness professionals. On contest day I saw myself with my tan, my hair and make up done, my beautiful bikini, and did not recognize myself. I was no longer Stephanie, but rather some obsessed meat head.

I spent the weeks following my show thinking about my next show. I was now obsessed with not “getting fat” (whatever that means). So I continued to obsess about going to the gym and counting calories and macros. Still working out and eating well was not fun. As I began to gain normal fat back I felt self-conscious and disgusting. This is about the time I stopped writing and stopped trying to help, motivate, and encourage others. I was so over working out that I stopped teaching at my gym, and this was something I love to do. Was I depressed? Not clinically but I think I was in a dark place. I had become something and someone I did not want to be.

You see, I had found balance in my life. Working out and eating well was fun because it did not control my life. I made it fit my lifestyle. I took it to the extreme of restricting calories, food, and WINE! I was working out to an extreme. When all you can talk about, think about, and dream about is working out and eating vegetables and lean protein you can be sure you are off balance. I remember a few meals following my show I literally had anxiety about eating. I ruined a surprise my husband had planned for me because I was so anxious and worried about what the meal would entail. Because I had become so obsessed with working out, eating, gaining fat, and staying lean, I was no longer able to enjoy friends and time with family. I felt embarrassed and insure to be at the gym. The gym was once a place where I felt confident and in control. But after my show it was as if I was a beginner again just walking into a gym for the first time. I was lost. I even kept my coach and had a plan but found I was not able to follow through. I withdrew from family and friends and wanted to spend my free time doing nothing and resting rather than being active and outgoing. I became lazy! I stopped feeling motivated to work on my career. I gained weight and body fat back but my confidence was destroyed. I felt I did not deserve to teach others. I felt I was not good enough to inspire and motivate.

I had to find balance again. I wanted so badly to enjoy working out and eating well and not worry about my body if I did not do things 100%. I am not sure when things started to come back together for me. I can say it did take about 6 months to feel like myself again. I am enjoying working out again. I can eat well but I can also not eat well and not freak out. I can eat out with friends and family and not binge. (A cheat meal used to contain well over 3600 calories). I am teaching again and I love it! And I am finally feeling motivated and passionate about writing again and finding ways to help others live well lives.

So many fitness professionals preach balance. But I caution you and warn you, they are professionals. Their living is spent in the gym working out. It is their job to stay lean and we only see their professional self. We do not see the other parts of their life that involves family, friends, and fun. Your job is not to be a workout professional. (I don’t think this is a bad profession, it is a needed and valuable profession, but not one that everyone should seek). Your job is to live a healthy, fit, and happy lifestyle. Life should never include obsessing about what to eat, when to eat it, and when to get to the gym. I do think life is about making healthy eating and working out a priority. When we make time for what is important we find health, fitness, and happiness.
I saw this quote and thought it perfectly expressed what happens when we compete or take diet and exercise to the extreme.

“You begin to change your food, your friendships, your sleep habits… you change what you talk about, the stuff you buy, and what you think about… and it all happens without effort – like it was meant to happen. You just find yourself consumed. Then, after awhile, you grow perspective. Regular life comes back and you enter the maturity stage, where all the fitness and training stuff still interests you, but just doesn’t engulf your mind”.

Let fitness and health fit into your life rather than trying to fit into a life of fitness. Fitness is something you do, not who you are. I eventually noticed that many competitors are so consumed with competing and looking and staying lean it becomes what defines them. Seeking to obtain a certain physique is an accomplishment and should be a source of pride. However it should not be something that is sought forever. Yes I obtained about 10% body fat, yes I had abs, I was vascular in my legs and arms, but those things did not make me happier or more fulfilled.

When we all die and face Judgement we will not be judged on our weight, body fat, abs, hamstrings, or glutes. We will be judged by what we do and how we positively benefit the lives of others. Fitness can do that. Fitness truly does save lives. Eating well and working out gives us the energy to do good deeds and live meaningful lives. Many fitness professionals help so many people find health and even balance, but so many also comply with the stereotypes and cause insecurities and doubt. Don’t let a picture of legs, butts, or abs on social media be your motivation. That is a false world and the consequences of that world can be worse than what is described above. Let us be fulfilled by spending time with family and friends, traveling, and trying new things. Find what makes you happy, find what makes you fulfilled. That is what determines your worth. Not how you look in a mirror or how you look to others.