In January, I shared that my most important goal for 2017 was exercise. I committed to focusing on my health this year so that I could lose weight and create a lifestyle change.
I knew it would be a challenge, given our busy life and my past attempts to lose weight.
Since I shared my goal publically on the blog, I want to share my progress as well. I will be checking in each quarter to share my successes, challenges, lessons learned, and any adjustments that I am making.
First, here are the “stats” that I have tracked.
- I’ve worked out at least 5 days per week (most weeks it’s 6 days) since the week of January 1st. I do 3 days of High Intensity (HIIT) cardio and 3 days of steady state cardio + weight training.
- I’ve lost 5 lbs total. My initial goal was to lose 11 pounds in January and February. So, I’ve only lost half of what I planned. However, I decided to focus more on building muscle and a sustainable exercise routine, which leads to a slower weight loss. More on that in lessons learned.
- I didn’t track my calories consistently in January. I started in February and currently have a 40-day streak in MyFitnessPal.
Next, I’ve learned some important lessons that I want to share:
- Accountability is key.
- I shared in my original blog post that my hubby would be my accountability partner. He’s done a great job of 1) providing me time to exercise daily and, 2) encouraging (sometimes strongly) me to keep going and not get frustrated.
- At the end of January, I was pretty disappointed that I had only lost about 0.5 lbs. I thought I was failing. He reminded me that I needed to be patient with myself and my body. I didn’t gain the extra weight in only 30 days so why did I think it would be so easy to start losing it?
- Consistency is critical.
- This builds on #1. This is a lesson that I am learning in many areas of life right now. Raising kids, building a strong marriage, building a business. All of it takes consistent, daily effort. Exercise and healthy eating are no different. You can’t go to the gym and pound for hours in one day and then skip the rest of the month. It doesn’t work that way.
- Habits are built in weeks and months, not minutes. I had to commit to going to the gym every day regardless of how I felt. In fact, taking the feelings and emotion out of it actually makes it easier. After about 6 weeks, exercising just became “what I do.” It doesn’t feel special; it’s just a part of my day like brushing my teeth, eating and sleeping (well, sleeping is still a challenge, but I digress).
- Community is important.
- While having accountability is important. It’s different than having community. Community is the place where you go to be supported and to offer support to others. My friend, Heather, had the great idea of starting a Facebook group for our friends who were all focused on health goals for 2017. The group had been a great place to share my progress (and lack thereof), get advice (as a few people pointed out, I was still eating too many carbs), and encourage other women on their own journey.
- By nature, I am an encourager (read: cheerleader) so it’s great to have a place where I can cheer on others and not just share my own story. I get to help other women who are struggling and succeeding. I’ve learned so much by reading their stories, strategies, and successes. It is both humbling and inspiring.
- Measure and track, even if you don’t want to.
- I am not afraid of numbers, spreadsheets or data. And yet, I still hated tracking my calories and getting on the scale. By early February, I realized that what I was doing was working, but much more slowly than I anticipated. I mean, I was going to the gym SIX days a week! What else did I have to do?
- Well, the answer was that I was not tracking my eating. I was eating more than I thought and more than my exercise was compensating for. So, after I lost less than 1 pound in January, I committed to using MyFitnessPal in February. I immediately saw that I was overeating, especially on snacks in between my meals. I now have a 40-day streak of logging into the app and 5 lbs of weight loss to show for it:)!
- My workouts did not have enough strength training. I was doing cardio every workout. On my steady-state days, I would also do strength training. But, after doing some reading on weight loss and having some conversations with my husband, I decided to shorten the cardio on those days while increasing the weight lifting. This started in early February. By the end of February, I had lost 3 lbs. So far in March, I’ve lost 2 lbs. So, tracking what I was doing and making tweaks is important.
- Finally, measuring and tracking should also include how you “feel”. You can’t necessarily put a number on it, but you should be taking notice of your energy levels, attitude, and how your clothes feel. Even before I saw the numbers decreasing on the scale, I felt better. That was an important factor in not giving up or being too hard on myself. I could feel improvement even if my “metrics” weren’t picking them up. In fact, weight loss might be a lagging indicator:)
- Having a backup plan is important.
- I anticipated that I would hit scheduling challenges because my husband travels 2-3 times per month. In my original post, I outlined what I would do on days where I had to exercise at home instead of the gym. I am happy to report that plan has served me well. There was a week where Cullen was gone for 3 days and I did exercise each day! That momentum has been really important for me!
Finally, here are some tools that I have found helpful on this journey. Note: Affiliate Links Included
- Myfitnesspal–tracking exercise and calories
- Leslie Sansone: Belly Blasting Walk–I use these DVDs when my husband travels to still get in my exercise
- Polar Heart Rate Monitor and App–I started tracking my heartrate and more accuratley measuring calorie burn
- Thinner, Leaner, Stronger by Michael Matthews–a book my husband gave me for my birthday. Awesome read and I am in the process of starting to implement the program.
BONUS CONTENT–Tools To Help you Achieve Your Own Goals!
Did you have an important goal for 2017? How is your progress? What have you learned so far? Leave a comment and let me know!