Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My (Pre-Wedding) Fitness Journey

So when I started this blog (2 years ago this month!), I NEVER thought I would be writing about fitness. I am by absolutely no means an expert when it comes nutrition or working out, but I have tried to adopt a more healthy lifestyle these last few months leading up to the wedding, so I thought I would share my experiences in hopes that it's even a little bit helpful for other brides getting ready for the big day, or even those who have just struggled getting into a solid, healthy daily routine. So here goes!

Where I was: I have never been someone that lived at the gym, ate particularly healthily, or really even had any sort of food guilt. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and was lucky in the fact that frankly I wasn't a lot bigger than I was! But after testing for fairly high-cholesterol (thanks, cheese) and feeling really out of shape after a (very) long winter hibernating indoors, I knew it was time to make a change, and what better excuse to make it than arguably the biggest and most photographed day of my life. But I also knew that I wasn't willing to starve myself, drink only juices for weeks, or spend hours at the gym everyday to do it. I needed something that was sensitive to my busy schedule and also didn't leave me starving at the end of the day.

My goals: When I decided to get going in late May/early June, I wasn't overweight by any means. I was about 123-125 pounds depending on the day, and wanted to lose a little bit of weight, but mainly really tighten and tone every part of my body.

The 5 things that got me there:
1. Eat Healthy: At the end of the day, losing weight is really all about what you put in your mouth. Luckily at the beginning of this process, my bridesmaid Erin (who is a clinical dietitian), gave me a pretty comprehensive run-down of what I should be eating to reach my goals. This meant a certain number of calories per day, which I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app to track. Every time I eat something during the day, I log it into MyFitnessPal, and it tells me exactly how many calories are in it, so at the end of the day I end up with a nice daily log of my total, which I try to keep as close to my goal number of calories as possible. And while at first this was excruciatingly hard to stick to (just ask josh what kind of mood I was in for that first week), it was really just because of what I was eating. You learn quickly that if you want to have a side of fries and a couple bloodys at brunch that's completely fine, but then you are already at half of your calorie intake for the day so you wind up being pretty hungry later when you are only allowed a small second meal. Or if you want to add cheese, croutons and a few tablespoons of olive oil to your salad that's fine too (and I always did), but then that healthy salad just turned into a very unhealthy salad. So I learned fast that you can eat much more if the food you are eating is healthy. And this may be super obvious to most people, but having never really looked at labels or cared about it before, this part was a total game changer for me! Adding foods to my app and seeing how many calories are really in that cup of pasta sauce or scoop of ice cream were really eye-opening. One of the best things I did was sign up for Boston Organics bi-weekly veggie delivery, which makes it so easy to eat healthy. We still do shop for the basics like milk, cheese, and meats, beans etc. but other than that we pretty much live off our weekly goodies from that box. That includes making most of my own lunches (which makes it so much easier to calorie count), and when I don't make lunch, buying it from a chain like Pret a Manger, Au Bon Pain, B. Good, or Hale & Hearty where they include the calories right on the shelves or the menu.
2. Ditch the Gym: Now I know a lot of people love the gym so this may not apply to everyone, but every single workout I did in the last few months, I did right in my living room. I absolutely dreaded going to the gym (which led to me rarely going), and working out at home saved me so much time, money, and all of that comparison to others around me. Once I had my diet under control (thanks Erin!!), I turned to my other fitness-coach-friend Brynn for the workout piece. She pointed me to BeachBody's "21 Day Fix" program, and I am totally obsessed with the workout videos. They all can be done with very little equipment (just a couple sets of weights and a mat), very little space, (I do them in the little area right in front of our TV), and very little time (30 minutes a day). I've tried several workout videos in the past, but I think the fact that these videos really mix up the workouts and are only 30 minutes is what really helped me stick to them this time. Taking 1-2 hours out of your day to work out can be tough but generally, you always have just 30 minutes to spare! Since they are DVDs, it's also been easy to travel with them and squeeze one in no matter how busy our summer weekend schedule has gotten. I've popped in a DVD in my parents' basement, in hotel rooms when traveling for work, and multiple times up in Vermont when I ran in from the beach during lunchtime to squeeze a workout in (while still in my bikini!) before heading right back out into the water.
3. Work out in the morning: This was another HUGE realization for me. I am not a morning person, so working out in the morning was and never has been an option for me. But at the same time, when I planned workouts at night, they would often go right out the window after I got home from a long day at work or plans with friends popped up instead. So I decided that if I was going to integrate a workout regimen into my daily routine, it had to be in the morning. During that first week, I dragged myself out of bed and forced myself to do the videos before work, but after that first week it got easier. Since they are short, it only requires waking up about 30 minutes earlier, I feel so much more awake and energized throughout the day, I can meet up with friends and have a social life after work without worrying about squeezing in a workout first, AND I've found I actually like how my hair looks much more when I shower in the morning vs. before when I showered at night. :) Winning all around!
4. Find a support group: Eating healthy and working out is always easier when you aren't doing it alone. That's another thing that I've loved about the "21 Day Fix," in that we are all in a Facebook group together encouraging each other, getting healthy recipes workout tips from Brynn, and ultimately being held accountable for sticking to the plan every day. Since I'm doing everything at home, I also love that joining this program doesn't mean sacrificing time spent with josh, who is always there cheering me on, laughing at me, snapchatting videos of me :/. or sometimes even joining in! When you are in a relationship, working out can often be such a solo sport, but I love that whether it's through finding new healthy recipes, cooking, or jumping around in our living room, I've been able to involve him ever step of the way.
5. Develop food guilt: I think it's healthy to feel a little bit guilty after eating an entire bag of chips or quart of ice cream, and maybe most people do feel this, but it's never something I felt before. As I said, I literally ate whatever I wanted and would walk away maybe feeling full, but didn't care the slightest bit about the "health" factor of the meal. I thought it was so annoying when people brought up how they wished they could order something off a menu but they couldn't because it was "unhealthy" and I just wanted to scream "live a little!!" But the truth is, having a little bit of food guilt is what makes you conscious of what you put in your body, and is what makes you not choose the unhealthy option every time. I by no means stuck to my goal calorie intake everyday, there were SO many days over the last couple of months that I skipped my workout, went way over those calories, or ate an entire pizza at 2am. But food guilt is what made me not do the same thing the very next day, or maybe eat really healthy for the next few days after that to make up for it. The guilt is the highest at restaurants since there is really no way to accurately track the calories you are eating, so restaurant dining is definitely not your friend when dieting, unless you grab something at a well-established chain restaurant like Chipotle, Shake Shack, Not Your Average Joes, Bertuccis, or even Joe's American Bar & Grill, whose menu item calories ARE all already logged in the MyFitnessPal app. All those other fun Boston restaurants and bars are, however, a huge part of my social life, so I didn't avoid them altogether, just less often! I am just so much more aware of what I eat now, and "eating" is something I thought I would hate thinking about, but I'm actually so thankful that I'm at least a tiny bit more nutritionally educated now than I was when I started.
^ how I look most mornings after my video ;)

I am happy to report that after making these five small changes, I'm down to 114 pounds after 2 months, which is about 10 pounds lighter and I'm 100x stronger. He would argue with this, but I think I can plank for longer than josh now! But other than the obvious changes in my body, it's how I feel that I'm the most excited about. I feel lighter, happier, and have more energy than I ever have. And surprisingly (mostly to myself), it really hasn't been that hard. Originally I thought I'd have to shift my whole life around to get in shape, and that mindset is what was holding me back. But I've found that it's not a drastic lifestyle change at all, it's simply small changes that you need to make an effort to stick to.
And what's even better, is that even post wedding, I've found a routine that I'm confident I can keep up with, maybe not as religiously, but at least enough to stay in shape. I know that I will be doing plenty of walking, stair climbing, and swimming to stay active while we are on our honeymoon in Greece, but I find myself thinking that I actually might miss my morning workout videos a little! I feel certain that our hotel rooms on the caldera will not have DVD players, but I might bring my videos along on the off chance they do. ;)

And again, these are just my opinions and experiences, and by no means are they right for everyone. I just wanted to share because hey, if it works for me, one of the biggest junk food addicts of all time, then it might work for some other people too. Thanks so much to Erin, Brynn, and to Josh, who has painstakingly listened to the same workout video music over and over again and who could now probably quote Autumn in his sleep. :)  I hope you all enjoyed reading and if you want to join in with me on one final "21 Day Fix" in these last few weeks before the wedding, or even just talk to someone about starting a workout plan, feel free to shoot me an email at lindseybach@yahoo.com and I will get you in touch with Brynn!
^ P.S. in case you were wondering, Mac is also "shedding for the wedding," and often joins right in underfoot during my workouts. :) 

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