Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Are you too busy to focus on your weight and fitness?

Many of us have either stopped a diet or fitness program or never started one for reasons like:

        "I'm so busy doing other things for other people at home and work that I just don't have time to do this too." 

Or maybe its:

      "If I take the time to prioritize my fitness I won't be able to do all the other things I'm doing." 

One way or the other, there seem to be a bunch of reasons why fitness and diet fall by the wayside.  We decide that work, or hobbies, or groups we belong to, or family are so demanding and take up so much of our time that we have to drop our plans to eat well and/or exercise in favor of all the other stuff we have to do. 

Unfortunately, when we do that, we often enter a negative spiral of some combination of:

1.  Feeling resentful that we "don't have any time for me"
2.  Feeling stressed out and having no way to diffuse that
3.  Lacking energy and focus
4.  Feeling physically out of shape or weaker that we'd like
5.  Gaining weight and feeling awful about it
6.  Increasing risk for health problems associated with weight, being sedentary, or poor eating habits

Once these things start to creep in we tend to spiral further into them, feeling worse and feeling worse about ourselves.  This then translates into the very people we are "serving" or working with at work or home noticing that our demeanor is not so pleasant, that we "look tired", or, my personal favorite, "look like Hell" (yes my previous boss said this to me).  It can also affect how well we do our tasks or jobs-  we may become less effective or more error-prone.  In any event, the end result of all our sacrificing our own care to care for others has the unintended consequence of impairing our ability to meet the demands before us.  It sucks, and it does not have to be this way.

I can say this because I know this all too well-  it's one of the reasons I'm where I am today.    Before I took a job at my university as an Associate Dean 3 years ago in a tumultuous college with a rotating door for Deans and huge budget challenges, I had been battling my weight for years and years.  I was not in great shape but I was in control and reasonably active.  Then, as the demands of the job increased and increased and my demands at home did the same thing as my husband struggled with his career and felt the impact of the failing economy, I totally gave up my fitness program and any semblance of healthy eating.  I wasn't getting ice cream or cheeseburgers every day, but I was overeating and drinking more than usual to compensate for the stress.  My sleep became disrupted and I pretty much never worked out.  By the end of the job (I finally resigned at the end of 2009), I'd gained more than 20 pounds and felt weak, flabby, and demoralized.  The real bummer was that all those bad feelings bled over to my family, whom I'd been trying to support through all my "sacrifices".  Talk about adding insult to injury.

So after I got my sea legs back from that job I had an epiphany.  I'm a life coach in addition to being a professor, and I'm always telling clients to define and set priorities and put in the time and energy necessary to make them happen-  why on earth had dI not done this with my fitness????  DOH.

So I've done this, and it's not all that bad.  I still work a stressful job at the University, but it's not as bad as it was, and I'm plenty busy in my coaching businesses and with my awesome family, but I've prioritized two simple things for myself that are non-negotiable:

1.  1 hour per day of exercise (Beachbody videos, walking, elliptical, stationary bike, yoga)
2.  Mindful eating (skipping sugar, lots of fruits and veggies, no fried stuff, less wine, less cheese, watching portion sizes) with one "cheat meal" per week if I want it (which I often don't now).

Really, this is 1-2 hours a day of effort at the outside-  this is no more time than I was spending watching TV, goofing around on the internet, tweeting, and facebooking.  I still have time to do all that, but  just not as much.  The best part?  Not only have I already lost 15+ pounds and 2 pant sizes, but my family is glad to have my (generally) cheery demeanor back and I feel strong and healthy again.  I still have more weight to loose to get to my goal, but it will happen this time.  I am a priority at last, and that means that I can take better care of others in my life as well.

The things that have made this possible are not only my decision to invest some time every day in taking care of my physical and mental health, but finding fitness support and solutions that make sense for my life.  Beachbody home fitness videos have made the difference for me, as has the support of the BB community and my coach.  I can help you make these same changes for free in a way that fits with your life.  Click  for Free Fitness Coaching  and select "free membership" to start your diet and fitness coaching with me, DrMary.  You can also email me at to get started.  If I can do this, anyone can, and I can help you make it happen too.

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