Today's post continues my chronicle of getting back in shape and prioritizing my body, health, and wellness. I invite you to read the first two entries in this self-care series on coming to terms with my age and overcoming limiting beliefs.
The Easy Trap
Do you remember the Staples commercial introducing us to The Easy Button? The premise was simple: with the touch of the giant red 'easy' button, sitting so conveniently at our fingertips, all our problems would be solved in a snap. Suddenly the tag line of Staples' brilliant ad campaign became part of our vernacular. And, I would argue, our collective mentality.
We all want everything to be easy. Quick. Not require much effort or energy. Some would say it's a symptom of our increasingly lazy, self-centered society. Others might argue we're merely seeking efficiencies in our increasingly busy lives. We'd probably all agree we're getting spoiled with everything that's available at our fingertips. Just about anything we need is on our doorstep within two days via Amazon Prime. With Instacart, our groceries show up within two hours. We know we can have what we want, when we want. Our inner brats are placated while our patience and attention spans are at all-time low.
Now add to that the needs of a strung out, exhausted, emotionally fragile mom held together by spit, tape, caffeine, and happy hour. Even with Amazon Prime, Instacart, meal delivery services, fashion box subscriptions, and a Starbucks on every corner, we're still hanging on for dear life. We require simple, quick, and easy. Otherwise this Jenga tower of schedules, errands, jobs, marriage, and basic hygiene will come tumbling down into a pile of rosé-scented rubble.
Love Food, Hate Cooking
I'm the first to tell you I gravitate towards what's easy in certain aspects of my life. Not all, but some, and especially with food choices. I love food, I love eating, I love sharing a table with my family and friends. I do NOT love a kitchen strewn with dirty dishes. I do NOT love meal planning and food prepping every single dang week. I do NOT love frantically throwing a meal together while my child throws a tantrum in the living room and then acts up at the dinner table so we have to shove our food down our throats and clean it all up. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
Sometimes I feel on top of my game, scouting out great recipes that are quick and healthy. Other times I would rather starve than try and whip up something I don't want and will just stress me out.
So I go out to eat. Usually to a sports pub type of place, or maybe to get Mexican or pizza. Nowhere diet friendly. And truth be told, when I already feel like I'm sacrificing so much just to get through a normal day, I hate feeling like I "have" to order the lame salad with grilled chicken AGAIN. Dang it, don't I deserve something a little indulgent? Bring me the burger and the beer and those better not be sweet potato fries! Mama needs a treat.
The question is, is it still a treat when it's a weekly occurrence?
N-O-P-E. My unhappiness with my body, my declining body confidence, it's not like it happened overnight or without my permission. It's all my own doing and I'm fully aware of what choices I'm making. It's just that with so much going on in my life every single day I need something to be...easy.
Does self-care actually mean choosing what feels easy? Turns out, it doesn't. Not by a mile. (This AMAZING article on what self-care truly means is a must read!)
It's time to redefine what's easy, and become more aware.
Awareness, Attention, Intention
Aware of the choices I'm making beyond the scope of one day. Aware that easy doesn't have to mean comfort food and eating out all the time. Aware that easy doesn't mean better in the short or long term. Aware that sometimes you have to decide what's really important to you, make a plan, and in the words of that other really popular marketing campaign, "just do it."
Because if I don't, all this hard work I'm pouring into mountain hikes and twice-weekly classes at Club Pilates won't show up the way I want it to.
In just three weeks of pilates, my abs have strengthened beyond what I thought capable in such a short amount of time. I can hold a full plank position longer, I'm more stable in my core, and my neck feels no strain whatsoever when I do ab work. My body is transitioning but if I don't get my food choices in check I won't ever see the changes.
Let's pause for a quick reminder that YOU can join me in strengthening, protecting, and stretching your body with pilates and save 15% on your first THREE months of membership at Club Pilates with code BROOKECP15. Every schedule and every fitness level can do pilates the first day you walk in. I went in with zero body confidence and core strength and now I'm shopping for more fitted clothing and my jeans fit better. All in just one month! And all because I just decided to DO IT.
I've committed to a new eating and drinking routine that I'm not calling a diet because it's not...it's more about smart habits and choices balanced by regular indulgences. (If I don't give myself treats I will go bonkers and abandon ship before it ever sets sail.)
None of this is rocket science or revolutionary, but I've found having a plan with a few guidelines in place helps keep me honest and focused. This was NOT written by a nutritionist, but merely my attempt at moderation and balance. (Side note: It's funny I'm publishing this the day after a stressful week followed by a vacation when I certainly did NOT abide by these rules to a T.)
Eat carbs during the day and go low-to-no carb at dinner
Eat whole grains
Substitute veggies for carbs when I can, such as riced cauliflower, veggie pasta, etc.
Limit sugar (I have one York peppermint pattie after lunch every day bc I'm obsessed)
Limit salt (trying to banish the bloat)
Try not to drink Monday through Wednesday (shoowee this is a toughie! Usually by Wednesday I need wine on a code red level but I'm trying to push through! Not always successful but I try)
When I do drink, choose wine or non-sugary cocktails
Save beer for fun weekend trips to the local breweries
Stock my fridge and pantry with microwavable veggies, beans, brown rice packs, and other quick and healthy food staples to make a meal in a pinch
Drink protein-packed smoothies with lots of fruit for breakfast
Drink tons of water
Make smarter decisions when I eat out
Watch my portions (really hard to do when eating ice cream)
Have one cheat meal a day on the weekend, not an entire day's worth of them
Keep a food diary to track what I eat and maybe make me second guess mindless eating
The BEST part about all this is that the treats and indulgences taste wayyyy better enjoyed in moderation than when I eat them all the time.
No, scratch that. The BEST part about all this is that I've shut down that mean, nasty inner critic that told me I couldn't "do" this. That I was too out of shape to change my body. That life was too stressful to try and find the time to eat better and exercise. That I'd never look the way I wanted to in my jeans and shorts. I'm proving to myself that I can and I have and I'm so happy with the changes I see on the outside and feel on the inside that I don't plan on stopping!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to come share in this journey with me. It's a very cathartic process, opening up about my behaviors, owning them, and changing them in ways that serve my lifestyle, health, and wellness. So thank you for being here to 'listen.'
I'm so grateful you came by The Tony Townie today, and for Club Pilates for partnering on this post. Please know that all opinions expressed herein are my own, authentic and genuine. This is a journey I'm excited to take and I'm grateful for Club Pilates for believing in me.
I hope you're having a wonderful day and week! Be back soon!