Why do so many women fear the reading on the scale or a lack of dramatic progress in their photos?
Is it because, despite what our mouths say about this being a permanent lifestyle change and not a temporary diet or quick fix, deep inside we still cling to the belief that all of the exercise and clean eating changes really ARE just for 4, 6, 8, or 12 weeks, after which we can go back to being like everyone else?
If this is the case, no wonder some of us are so focused on those numbers! We only have a few weeks to reach our goals before we go back to lackadaisical cardio twice a month and daily visits to the vending machines and office candy bucket! The magic Fitness Fairy has only transformed us into empowered, active, clean-eating dynamos for a limited period of time. When the calendar strikes 12 weeks, our gym memberships and cottage cheese are taken away, and we are turned back to normal.
Well, normal may be a lot of things these days, but those things don’t usually include being lean, fit, and able to rock any outfit of your choice without fear of the Muffin Top.
If we’ve truly embraced a healthy lifestyle of regular exercise and smart food choices, the scale and the camera lens should hold no terror for us because there is no deadline on our progress. We will be doing this for the rest of our lives, right? So what if we are up a pound or two today from a cheat meal (planned or unplanned, PMS, too little water, or whatever? If we keep on doing what we are supposed to do in the gym and the kitchen with integrity, eventually we WILL reach our goals. There is no time limit on fitness if our attitude is truly one of “Fitness is forever, not for NOW.”
Yes, a solid goal date is a good motivator, but I think that for some people who are more rules- and results-driven, the “X-Week Challenge” format can backfire a little because it puts pressure on them to perform to a certain standard within a certain time frame. Unfortunately, when it comes to individual human bodies and their willingness to drop the chub, things don’t always happen on a predictable schedule. Add to that all the crazy ways that a female body can retain water during the course of 4 weeks and the messed up emotional knots that so many women have tied between their self-worth and their weight, and you have a recipe for major anxiety.
As more of a process-driven, scientific personality type who sees weekly weigh-ins and photos as pure data to be used to tweak my program for even better outcomes in the future, all I can say to those of you who can’t stay so detached is this: Examine your true commitment to fitness and nutrition and be honest about whether you are just in it for 6-12 weeks or if you can envision keeping all of this up for the rest of your life.
Imagine that it is a year from now and you have achieved your goal physique. You are at a festive holiday party in a kickass cocktail dress and looking like a million bucks. What do you see yourself eating and drinking at that party? Are you indulging without limits, or are you picking out a few treats that you can really savor in moderation while sticking to the healthier choices for the bulk of your meal?
What about the next Monday when you are back to your weekday routine? Do you picture yourself getting up early and doing your workout before heading out to work with your lunch bag filled with pre-portioned clean eats that you bulk-prepared yourself the day before, or do you instead harbor a guilty (and unrealistic) fantasy of being able to effortlessly hang onto your exercise-sculpted, nutrition-trimmed body without doing any more of those very things that gave it to you in the first place?
As I said, be brutally honest.
If you have been hankering for that rainbow-filled maintenance nirvana where you can work your butt off for 6-12 weeks, reach your goal weight, and then go right back to the ineffective or nonexistent exercise routines and poor eating that made it necessary for you to take on a fitness/weight loss program in the first place, it’s time to face reality and accept that this is not in the cards for you if you want to hold onto your results. If you were one of those genetically-gifted wenches who can eat 50 pounds of fries, brownies, and ice cream in one sitting without gaining weight, trust me–you’d certainly know it by now, and you certainly wouldn’t be suffering from weigh-in or photo phobia.
Once you truly buy into this lifestyle as a forever thing, you can stop thinking of choosing healthy foods and working out as merely necessary evils — the tedious means to a finite end — and start enjoying the alertness, energy, and bounce that a daily workout gives you and the amazing variety of clean AND delicious recipes available to anyone with an Internet connection or a subscription to Cooking Light.
Learn to love the process itself, and the results WILL come.
1. 1 packet P90X Peak Recovery Drink blended with 1/2 c. frozen spinach
2. 60g oats and raisins, 3 egg whites scrambled with 1/2 c. spinach
3. 1.5 c. shrimp and chicken jambalaya with additional 1 c. green beans
4. 15g walnuts, 20g raisins, 5 baby carrots
5. 2 slices firm tofu, 1 t. Szechuan chili paste, 1 small apple
6. 3 oz. eye of round steak, 1 t. ketchup, 1 c. Brussels sprouts and green beans, 2 t. raisins, 1 protein popsicle
* RCR Circuit A2 (61 min)
* Incline Walk/Jog (30 min)