Back to Basics

Ack!!! I stepped on the scale to find that 10 pounds had come out of nowhere and lodged themselves on me in not so flattering ways ☹ Getting older can be hell. All this hard work and this is what I have to show for it? I know that weight lifting usually makes me gain weight but this is ridiculous! It can’t be just weight lifting that’s causing all this weight gain. So, what’s the real culprit?

Have I been getting enough sleep? Have I been drinking enough water? Am I eating real, whole food? Am I exercising? The answers are no, no, sort of, and yes. After a good hard, long look at what I’ve been doing over the last three months, I’ve identified the main problem as “getting back to basics” and not letting everything slip at once. Letting one of these areas go at a time probably wouldn’t have made a noticeable difference, but all of them seem to have happened at once, which does make a noticeable difference.

1. Sleep – Am I getting enough sleep?
Quietly, I had slipped back into a bad habit of staying up until 12 or 1 am to get a few more things done. This type of sleep pattern is also the first sure sign that I have taken on too much… or all my deadlines are bunched up together again. Looking back over the last few months, it turned out to be a little bit of both – with the end of school, the county fair, camp and work all converging, it definitely made for a rocky sleep pattern. In any event, I have started to get to sleep by 11 pm or 12 am, which has made a difference in how well rested I am these days.

2. Water – Am I getting enough water?
I started looking at how much water I was or wasn’t drinking and quickly came to the conclusion that I wasn’t drinking enough water, at all, almost every day of the week. I went back to keeping a 32-ounce water bottle next to my computer to remind me to drink water throughout the day. I also filled up all of the water bottles in my car so that there would always be some when I was on the road. Both of these things helped but it wasn’t enough. I was drinking plenty of Chai tea and Earl Grey tea but the weather was too hot not to be drinking more water than normal. All this meant I needed to be extra vigilant with how much water I was drinking throughout the day, every day.

3. Real, whole foods – Am I eating foods that are good for me?
I had to take a close look at the food I was eating. Unfortunately, I saw that I was eating a lot of carb heavy foods and that I was eating on the run a lot. Both of these things led to me eating foods that are neither real nor whole. At the bottom of this eating habit was the realization that I had stopped planning my meals for the day/week. This lack of planning led to too much time in between meals, which led to an “eat whatever is handy” mentality, which almost always meant processed foods high in carbs. Meal planning is one of the single most helpful things I can do to keep me on track. Unfortunately, this one is easier said than done for me!

4. Exercise – Am I sweating enough?
I have been exercising every day but after I did a 10K in May I decided to walk more and run less. I think that walking was fine to keep moving and to keep my step count closer to the 10,000 a day level but I think I need to sweat when I exercise. Otherwise the exercise is more like regular movement and not exercise to my body. I think I need to sweat to lose weight or maintain it. So, I guess I need less walking and more running (or biking or kick-boxing, or whatever can make me work up a sweat), to help keep me at an exercise level that will make a difference.

5. Support system – Do I have my support system in place?
I have several things that I use as a support system to keep me on track to maintain my weight and stay healthy. I usually log my food and water intake, my sleep, and my exercise level and amount. I stopped tracking all of those data points cold turkey when I traveled earlier this year and I haven’t gone back to it until I spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure out what is going on with gaining weight. I also had a support system in place to talk to a fitness coach for accountability purposes. I stopped that in March. With two of my main support systems not in place any longer it was too easy to let things slip or not notice them. With these observations I’ve discovered that I need a strong support system in place and that I don’t like to do this alone.

In doing this look back over the last few months, I realized that for me, I need to remain vigilant about what I eat and drink, how and how much I exercise, and how much sleep I am getting. Do I always want to live this way, tracking everything? Paying such close attention to everything? Definitely not, but I need to at the moment until my habits are more ingrained and more consistent.

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