About two months ago, we loaded the kids in the car and headed North to visit my family. My youngest niece is 1yr older than my oldest daughter and the girls are inseparable whenever they are around each other, so trips like these are always interesting. What was even more interesting this time was that when I saw my sister she looked like she’d dropped a ton of weight! “I’ve dropped 20lbs!!”, she told me. My sister has struggled over the last decade with her weight. Let’s just say that living in WI, healthy eating is not always a priority. Even though she was a top-ranked high school swimmer, sports/fitness have never really been her thing. I asked her, “What’s the trick? What have you been doing that’s different???”
My sister credited weight lifting 3-4x/week, 2-3 fitness classes at the YMCA and eliminating some of her favorite but less-than-healthy food choices (i.e. Doritos with melted cheddar cheese). “Way to go!!”, I told her and asked “do you think your new plan is something you can stick with?” She emphatically answered “YES”, citing the Y’s daycare and her goal to lose another 20lbs. This was pretty motivating to ME. We had come to visit but also for me to run the Firecracker Four . After falling short of my pace goal, I felt like I’d totally bombed at that run.
I was pretty impressed and a little stunned at her new perspective and the results. On our return visit back North ~4wks later to catch the Wisconsin Badgers football game, we stopped in for another visit with Sis volunteering to babysit. I asked how things were going, but this time was met with a more dejected view. “Who’s got the time? I’m back in school [sis is a nurse], the kids are in school, and I’m working overtime every week. I just don’t have the time or energy.”
How sad! Partly, because I want to see her meet those goals, but also because as a mom I totally understand how easily you can become the last priority on the “to do” list. Ultimately, it comes down to making things happen. Lord knows, I’ve struggled with this myself since my girls arrived. Thinking back to the times when I have been more successful at sticking to a plan, there are clear-cut patterns compared to when I struggle. So…how can you stay motivated and find ways to stick with a fitness plan?? Here’s how my family and I have tried to do it so far.
Easier said than done. To view it from another perspective think about the airline oxygen masks. This year I’ve racked up 12,000+ miles of air travel and have heard the “In the event the cabin loses pressure..” speech a lot. If you are traveling with small children, you MUST put on your mask first BEFORE the kids. Why? If you can’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of them. When I do stick with my plan, I tend to do a better job of making time for me. Obviously, as a parent there are definitely times when you’re at the bottom of the pile. But when that happens repeatedly you have a problem.
If you’re not familiar with the acronym, it’s basically saying simplicity wins. Trying to fit in 35 minutes for a workout and every 2nd and 4th thursday of the month, will likely a) not be enough and b) be confusing as hell to an already chaotic schedule. If your family is like ours, it can be overwhelming trying to synchronize four schedules. The simpler it is to fit in a workout, the better. This also extends to the workout itself. You may want to do a 10 stage circuit workout but if running for 40 min gets the job done, maybe think about the latter.
Be the Three Musketeers…or Four…or Five.
The easiest way to get your family on board with your goals is to make them a part of it. Incorporate family into the mix. Be a role model to the kids and have them see first hand what a “workout” means. Cave to family peer pressure! My toughest coach is my 3yr old yelling at me from the jogging stroller to “run faster momma! don’t stop!!“. The more people supporting your cause, the better!
Maintain focus, even in the face of success.
Sad but small successes have been my biggest derailers to sticking with a plan. I tell myself – “I’ve lost 6 pounds. it’s ok to have this soda and skip a run“, not fully appreciating that I’m breaking a slowly forming habit. Don’t stop until you’ve run THROUGH the finish line.
Picture that! Make a picture progress board.
Hands down the hardest thing I’ve done is look at pictures of myself at my fattest. This one isn’t even one of the worst ones but still compared to my “back in the day” photos nowhere near where I want to be. Pictures serve as great motivators and reminders of where you’ve been and what your goals are…
So the story continues…ending on a hopeful note
In the end, the best lesson that someone taught me was to realize you’re not perfect. Things come up — just keep doing your best!! My sis’s workout plans appear to be on hiatus while she juggles a lot of different things. Understandable. At least she hasn’t gained the weight back and here’s hoping at least her dietary changes stick…which they seem to have done. For me, I’m hopeful that I’ll continue sticking with my plan. This weekend my hubby did a great job at the Prairie State Half Marathon and my sister-in-law and I put in 22+ miles on bike providing him a mobile cheering section. Finding ways like this past weekend to let both of us reach our goals is a perfect example of us sticking to our plan. If only the results would start showing up on the scale. Here’s also hoping this next week is a great one!!