Many set unrealistic weight loss goals and give up feeling defeated. Here I share my journey towards finding consistent and attainable fitness and nutrition habits.

Finding A Healthy Balance: Lessons from a Yo-Yo Dieter

Like many well-intentioned people, I started off this year with unrealistic weight loss goals. I’ve been a serial “yo-yo” dieter for years now – I get really motived, start a new program, kick butt at it, lose some weight, and then get overwhelmed with life, fall off the wagon and gain it all back.

Ugh! Can you relate?

Losing weight is a common goal for hundreds of thousands of people and over the past several years I’ve become more aware of the challenges of goal setting as it relates to weight loss.  I want to share my journey with others who are struggling with the same.

My health and fitness journey

I’m not a trained nutritionist, fitness instructor or health coach – I am sharing my personal experience as someone who has struggles that may be very similar to yours.  Personal development is a journey – not a destination, and I’m continuously working on being a better version of myself.  Additionally, I am not overweight, but do struggle with that extra ten to twenty pounds that many women experience post baby and/or as a result of the dreaded aging process.

Yes, it’s time to admit it…I’m aging! (gasp!) I am approaching forty and this body isn’t what it used to be.  Losing weight and maintaining a toned body becomes more and more challenging as you age.  While I’d Love to lose weight, I recognize that part of my journey is learning to love myself through every stage of life. Like many, I’m a work in progress in this area.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through this journey is that it’s not about the number on the scale.  It’s about taking care of your body and fueling it with nutritious foods, lots of water, and daily exercise.  Your body may be most comfortable at 125 pounds while mine may be better suited at 150 or 175 pounds.  We are all unique, and rather than obsessing about a number we should be focused on eating whole foods, moving our bodies, and feeling energetic!  Yes, it really is that simple – yet, it’s so freaking hard!

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My 90-day goals:

I have always been motivated to set goals, but too often I only get as far as writing them down on paper.  Or I make them so unrealistic that I get discouraged because I never meet them.

This year I am focusing on narrowing down my annual goals into 90-day goals in order to make them more achievable and hold myself accountable.  After the first 90-days, I’m already finding that I am much less overwhelmed by a long list of seemingly unachievable goals.  I’m happy to report that in doing so, I’m meeting several annual goals and have made great progress on my main 90-day goal.  Woohoo!

I’m using my Life Well Designed Journal to track both my quarterly goals and my daily exercise and nutrition habits (as well as my mental health practices).  In addition, the journal has helped me recommit to my Why.  My why is always my children.  I want to model positive habits and self-care while pushing myself outside my comfort zone – no matter how challenging it may be.  I also need plenty of energy and patience to keep up as a busy working mom.

My 90 day-goal for the first quarter of 2019 was to focus on my exercise and nutrition and create realistic routines that I can follow consistently.  I’ve learned a lot along the way as I’ve researched different diet tips and weight loss programs, and this quarter I committed to being healthy without the fad diets and unrealistic goals. Cleaning the house, working on my blog, and other things would have to come after my fitness and nutrition was prioritized.  I would schedule time each week to meal plan and set aside time to do meal prep each week.

My progress has not come without a few bumps in the road.  

Having young children can make consistency very challenging.  All of a sudden someone is sick and you’re up all night making it impossible to exercise the next morning, or your workout routine is interrupted by an early riser who may die if she doesn’t eat breakfast right now!

In addition, my biggest struggle has always been with eating right.  Not only do I hate to cook, but I’m just plain bad at it.  I always have great intentions when it comes to meal planning, but it doesn’t come easily to me, and I often find myself squeezing in a trip to the grocery store with two kids in tow and no plan.  I then end up snacking on carbs, PB&J or a bowl of cereal throughout the week.

Sound familiar?

What has gone well:

I love getting my workouts done early as part of my morning routine.  It gives me the energy to start my day and helps me feel a sense of accomplishment before the kids are even out of bed (usually). With the exception of a week while I was sick I have worked out a minimum of four mornings per week for 30-45 minutes since January.  This, my friend, is a realistic and achievable goal!

I workout in our finished basement and I love Beachbody on Demand because there are so many options for every level of fitness.  It can be done from the comfort of your home, saving time and money.

In February I completed Liift 4, an eight-week program that focuses on weight lifting and HIIT.  I loved the program and I felt a huge accomplishment when I finished that last workout.  So many times I have let illness or mom life get in the way of finishing a program to the end, and I was determined to finish this one (even if that meant being a few days behind from the cold I got on week 7).  I appreciated that it was a four day a week program because life happens.  If necessary, I could skip an extra day and still stay on track.

In March I decided to go back to an old favorite of mine – 21 Day Fix.  The great thing about switching to different workouts is you do different exercises and use different muscles.  Despite feeling more in shape and stronger after Liift 4, I am still feeling sore from 21 Day Fix!

I’ve also done really well with my water intake this quarter by using my 20 oz  Contigo water bottle and refilling it 3-4 times per day.  I love my water really cold and this bottle helps keep it cold for longer than most (without the expensive price tag of others I’ve seen).  My body has also adjusted to the extra water so I’m not using the bathroom every 20 minutes anymore 🙂

What I’ve struggled with:

As I mentioned before, nutrition is challenging for me.  I knew that I needed to follow what I’ve known for a very long time.  Eating right is about choosing healthy foods from all the food groups and finding a healthy balance.  No more fad diets, just plain healthy choices and meal planning.   In an effort to start the year with a quick weight loss I tried Keto in January.  After about 3 weeks I realized that it wasn’t working for me and I needed to stick with my original plan.  I actually loved the way I felt on Keto, but I really struggled with the amount of fat I had to eat every day.  I also wanted to be able to enjoy a piece of pizza without feeling guilty about it.

While I haven’t done it every week I have been a lot better about planning and prep.  I try to find a few hours on Sunday to cook off some chicken for salads, make the kids’ homemade granola bars, and cut veggies and fruit, but there are busy weekends when it just doesn’t happen.  I also struggle at the end of the week when healthy foods start to run out.  Ideally, I need to have a second prep day to evaluate meals for the second half of the week.  This is something I continue to work on.

My typical meals:

I read the book Body Love by Kelly LeVeque last year and have been drinking her Fab4 smoothies ever since.  Her book explains that each meal should include healthy fat, fiber, protein and greens to keep you full longer and eliminate the need for snacks. This isn’t some fad or a special diet, it’s science, and it makes so much sense!  That being said, it may not work for everyone.  A lot of people do better eating 5-6 small meals per day and that’s okay too.  It’s all about finding what works best for you and your body.  I drink a smoothie each morning for breakfast and don’t feel hungry again until lunch.

I love my Ninja blender because I can blend it all right in the cup and take it with me if I’m running out the door.  Breakfast is literally ready in 2 minutes!  I also purchase most of these ingredients through Amazon subscribe and save so they arrive at my door every 30 days without having to think about it.

My typical smoothie includes:

1/2 C ice
1 C Almond Milk
1 T Chia Seeds
1 T All natural Peanut Butter
1 Serving of Chocolate Collagen Protein Powder  (collagen is great for your skin) – If you prefer vanilla I also love Orgain Organic Vanilla Protein Powder
1/2 Banana or other fruit

Most days I make a salad for lunch which includes the 4 key ingredients that LeVeque recommends.  I enjoy a cobb salad with mixed greens, turkey or chicken, a hard-boiled egg, avocado, and a few veggies.  I often have a craving for chocolate after lunch so I usually have a small handful of chocolate chips to satisfy my sweet tooth.

If I feel myself needing a snack I try to have a piece of fruit or veggies.  While fruit is healthy for you, it is high in natural sugars and can spike your blood sugar, so it’s recommended that you don’t eat more than a serving or two each day.

Dinner usually includes a protein, veggie, and sometimes potato or piece of bread. If I’m on the go I try to prep something in advance, but sometimes I have to pick up a sandwich or salad on the road.  A healthy lifestyle is all about balance and I’m not so strict that I won’t eat something that makes my life a little easier that day.

On Friday night I reward myself with a few pieces of pizza and over the weekend I may splurge if the opportunity presents itself.  Overall I’m working on healthy choices most of the time, but trying to be realistic.  Life is too short not to enjoy a piece of cake now and then!

My 90-day results:

Over the past 90-days, I’ve lost 6 pounds and 2 inches around my waist.  Yes, I know I said it’s not about the scale, but I haven’t given it up for good yet.  I watched the scale go down a few pounds and then back up, but over the last month, I am consistently losing weight very slowly – which is the way it should be done!  I’d love to go down another pant size, but my next goal is to just work on loving me and not focusing so much on the scale.

In addition, I’ve noticed a big shift in my energy levels, which is really my main motivator for eating better.  When I fuel my body with junk I can feel the effects.  I had started developing acid reflux and felt tired all the time.  Since I’ve fully committed to my routines I’ve found myself catching up on things that I was putting off, playing with my kids more, and feeling happier and more positive.  That alone makes healthy eating worth it for me!

10 ways to stop yo-yo dieting and recommit to your health and wellness

How to Stop Yo-Yo Dieting:

In summary, here are my top 10 tips to help you get started or recommit to your health and wellness journey and stop the yo-yo dieting.  If you’re just starting out I suggest making small changes one at a time.  If you try to make drastic changes you are more likely to fail.  Start by increasing your water intake or eliminating something like soda or potato chips.  Once you’ve conquered that move on to something else.  Slow and steady ALWAYS wins the race!

  1. Make small changes one at a time – your wellness is a journey, not a destination.
  2. Do not snack after dinner.
  3. Always have a bottle of water with you.
  4. Move your body most days – it can be as simple as a walk around the neighborhood or finding a yoga video you YouTube.  Just move!
  5. Make healthy choices 90% of the time, and reward yourself with something satisfying 10% of the time.
  6. Limit carbs and sugar – there is nothing healthy about them and they drain your energy.
  7. Focus on your wellness both inside and out – accepting yourself as you are is a big part of the process.
  8. Use a notebook or journal to keep track of your progress and hold yourself accountable.  Celebrate all the wins no matter how small.
  9. Set up a motivating playlist that makes you want to get up and move your body.  I love using Amazon Music because I can play them on Alexa too.
  10. Ditch fad diets and promises for big results in a short amount of time.  Slow and steady ALWAYS wins the race.

To learn more about my morning routine and the other aspects of my wellness routine check out How a Change in My Daily Routine, Changed My Life.

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1 Comment

  1. Kathleen Sullivan says:

    Such a motivating article! I love your realistic observations and suggestions. Very helpful!

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