If you are anything like me, you probably find yourself spread a bit thin at times. While I would love to accept the title of superwoman, that’s just not realistic! There are so many of us (men, you guys too) that are moms, business woman, wives, athletes, friends and perhaps even breadwinners. Often times we get so much out of doing things for others; cooking meals for a family, helping a friend with a move, finishing a work project early for your boss. At the end, there is often little time left for US. Add in a fitness goal and poof! The house of cards can blow down. I get it. It’s a LOT to handle.
Rest assured, there is reprieve. It’s possible to still do the things you love AND achieve your fitness goals. It likely boils down to 2 obstacles that I’m going to help you tackle head on.
#1. Relationship with Food?
Single. Taken. It’s Complicated.
Unfortunately, many of us grow up using food as an emotional relief. Perhaps it’s ice cream after a break up, or alcohol after a stressful day at work. The same can be said for opposite emotions as well. Cake for celebrations and pizza for birthdays. There is a HUGE relationship around food and our lives. We often forget that food is merely just fuel to nourish our bodies and really isn’t for our enjoyment. Okay, don’t slaughter me with that one. I’m simply trying to make a point that our relationship with food doesn’t have to revolve around an emotional experience.
After we’ve binged on the wine or chocolate or ice cream, typically comes the aftermath of guilt or feelings of failure. We all know that food doesn’t fix our emotional state and yet we all too quickly find ourselves sitting in front of a bowl of (fill in your favorite item here). It’s a coping mechanism. Without any interference (coach, counselor, doctor, friend, etc) it can even develop into a food addiction if it hasn’t already.
Dr. Krista Scott-Dixon, head women’s coach for Precision Nutrition Coaching, has an exercise called “breaking the chain” that she uses with many of her clients. It’s shared below.
It might feel like you’re hungry now… but is it really hunger?
Maybe you walked past a good-smelling bakery 15 minutes ago and forgot about that. Or maybe something stressful happened this morning. So, link by link, working backwards along the chain of events, start asking yourself questions:
‘What was I doing just now? What was I thinking? Where was I?’
Oftentimes you can uncover the source of negative emotions.”
If you ever find yourself struggling with mysterious hunger and feel like you just really want to eat an entire chocolate bar, Krista has a few more tips to help:
- Begin by assuming some emotion is driving this urge, even if you don’t yet know what it is.
- Look for where your emotions are in your body. “Scan” your body from head to toe, observing any signals or physical feelings you notice.
- Wait. Don’t rush to explain things with your immediate response, e.g. “Oh it must be my mother issues because blah blah blah” or “Oh, it must be because I had no protein and only 20 grams of carbs.” If the answer pops up quickly, that’s your brain. Your body is slow and quiet with its signals. You must wait. At least 30 seconds, ideally 60.
- Remember that emotions can feel like hunger. Yes, it’s weird. But so is an elephant’s trunk. And Nature has made both of these things possible.
These are just some of the tips Krista has shared. More can be read here as discussed by Precision Nutrition.
#2. Lack of Consistency
I can’t tell you how many of my clients struggle with this side of things. It’s really hard to make changes in our routine! Most people come to me after having used a plethora of diets (paleo, juice cleanses, weight watchers, shakes all day, intermittent fasting, ketogenic, low carb, etc). None of these are “bad” persay, but like most diets, they are not set up for long term success and will breakdown over the course of a few weeks. It’s not you, it’s me (says the diet).
So why don’t they work? It’s because they are dealing with surface problems. They don’t know your hectic work schedule or how your kids are in dance and sports, and they surely don’t care if you are a nurse or restaurant manager and on your feet all day without time to sit down for 6 meals. They are not customized to your life and don’t really take any of your lifestyle into account. It’s almost impossible to be consistent! And guess what? When one surface solution doesn’t work, we’ll likely jump ship after 2-3 weeks and look for another.
Like the problem above we can “break the chain” by doing two things:
Make yourself accountable to a program and then a person.
As a nutrition coach this is where I come in. There are many times clients tell me before getting started that they know having me to keep them accountable will keep them going when they don’t want to. What they don’t realize is that after a month or two of consistency, it’s really not me doing anything at all (I say that loosely) but they’ve figured out the consistency.
After years in the fitness industry, I’ve determined the following measures are the most important in your program:
- You need a way to measure your progress (scale, measurements, and workouts are my triple threat).
- You need to follow a structured plan, but still have wiggle room if needed. (hellloooooo flexible dieting!)
- You need a bi-weekly or weekly reminder to help you stick to your plan (exercise or nutrition or both).
- You need it to be customizable to your life, your goals, and your level of ability.
Have a complicated relationship with food? Then it’s time to break the chain. Follow Dr. Krista’s suggestions.
Struggling to stay consistent? So are lots of others. Ditch the surface solutions and make yourself accountable to a program and a coach.
For most women, getting started is the hardest thing. Just walk through the doors and I’ll take care of the rest. You can contact me for more information about my program and coaching at firstname.lastname@example.org.