Let me get something straight. I hate the word diet. With a passion. When people say “I’m going on a diet” I want to scream at the top of a mountain and just smack them. The term diet is used by doctors, trainers, and the like. It’s often used to ask what kind of food a person eats. “What does your diet consist of?” is the question I hear when I’m at the doctor’s office. In this situation, it’s cool. They’re asking what you eat. But in the term of a diet or to diet, I lose my mind.
Here’s why. For years, literally years, I have been a yo-yo dieter. I’m not proud of that era of my life. Actually, 99% of it is due to a mom who wanted me to be skinny. So she would have me on every fad diet you can think of, plus diet pills. That’s a whole other story. For years, it would be the Hollywood diet, the cabbage diet, the atkins diet, the no sugar diet, the no fat diet… every… single… diet.
Shocker. None of it worked. Why? Because even though I was following what I thought to be the right information, thanks to being a dumb kid who listened to their parent and other adults, I didn’t lose weight. Why? Nothing stuck. It was an endless wave of crash dieting followed by binging. This wasn’t healthy. And actually, it caused a lifetime of self-hate and a battle with food.
There was no middle ground. Not much of a support system either. This was where I learned to control my feelings and not let people see me cry. Especially those who were “close” to me. The diet obsession kept going, I kept trying different things. Until I got smart. Not from reading endless articles on how fat is bad, then all of the sudden fat is good. No. From trial, error, and reading on actual nutrition. And the importance of certain foods. After a few years of cutting out the bad: soda, cream and sugar filled coffees, sweets, chips, etc. I learned that food isn’t bad. I learned to cook healthy and delicious meals. Food loaded with lean proteins and veggies.
If you want to make an actual change to your life. You have to start with what you’re eating. Not a crash diet to help you lose 20 pounds fast. No. Small little changes, that day by day turn into huge changes. If you drink a ton of soda, start by counting how much you drink in a day, and cut out a few cups/cans. Like I was drinking a 12 pack of coke a day. I said enough. So, I cut it in half, then in half again, until suddenly I stopped drinking soda. I still get days where I have a taste for it, and I get one. Do I go crazy and binge on it later? Nope! Why? Because I’ve learned to live without it. I’ve learned to tell myself no. That water is a much better choice. The point is, it takes time. These are behaviors that you’re changing. It takes time to change something that you’re so used to doing.
But it’s not just food. Is it. Nope! Exercise too! Who hates the gym? I’m fairly sure 80% of the people reading this, raised their hands. Hell, 10 years ago that would have been me. Pretty sure I know the main reason too. Intimidation. You’re intimidated by the meat heads (not poking fun, I’m one too), gym bullies, bodybuilders, bikini models, grunters, the strong silent types, the ones banging weights around, I mean… I could seriously continue.
Let me tell you something. The gym is a humbling place. These people have all been and will continued to be humbled by the iron in their hands. Period. They are all strong and weak at the same time. They have all started off right where you are. They have worked hard, and have a focus that is something to be admired.
You hear stories of people with bad experiences in the gym. I’ve had many myself. My first experience in the gym, first and not last, was the first gym I ever joined in Illinois. I was on the treadmill and this girl told me to get off because she needed it and it wasn’t doing me any good. Out of 30 treadmills, I was the only one on it. There are assholes in the world, but then there are people who are there to lift you up. One of my many positive experiences. I was doing deadlifts, minding my business (minding my business means: baseball hat, hoodie, sweat pants, RBF), and this guy stopped and watched. I know creepy. As I was loading another plate, he stopped me and said that he was impressed and to keep going. Another time, I was doing man-makers (man-makers are a million times worse than burpees) and this guy runs over and stops me, says to keep it up and I’m doing awesome. Then he started working out with me. It was weird, but it was cool at the same time. I was just finishing up on bench, and this kid asked me to spot him. When his friend asked why a girl, he answered “because she’s stronger than you and knows her shit.”
Eight years later, I’ve been to about five different gyms. One has sucked more than all of the others, but each time I go in, I own the place. I kill my workout, sometimes whoever is working out with me curses me out… a lot, and walk away feeling good.
This is a lifestyle change. Being healthy and fit is not something that lasts six months and you expect it to stay like that forever. No. You have to work for it. Every. Day. It’s not a health kick, it’s not a diet, it’s not a 30 day shred. It’s a change that you will make and continue to do every day of your life. If working out for 2 hours a day, eating as clean as possible for the rest of your life is something you don’t see sticking. That’s fine! Do an hour of day, split it up, eat healthy 80% of the day. Be flexible.
My current schedule is this. I wake up, workout (most mornings, somedays I don’t hear my alarm and I get extra sleep). Get ready for work, get my daughter up and ready for school. And we go. I eat breakfast at work, if I’m starving before then I chug a protein shake. Breakfast, lunch and dinners are typically planned out. But twice a month I plan out a lunch where I go out and eat, plus a movie (which includes so much buttered popcorn I feel sick the next day) at least once or twice a month. I’ll be going back to boxing fairly soon, which means a few days a week at the gym hitting stuff or someone. Plus extra running and walking due to the 2017 miles challenge.
You aren’t going to stick to something if it’s set in stone. If I told you right now, no more cookies for the rest of your life. What would you do? Eat a cookie. (Getting a chocolate chip cookie right at this moment). See what I did there. You make your own choices. Make the choice to get healthy, lose weight, stop drinking, whatever it is you need. But you need to make that choice on your own.
If you’re just starting out with eating healthy and working out. Start with something that’s actually tangible. Three healthy meals a day, plus a snack or two. Once or twice a week treat yourself to something, but don’t binge. Cut down on alcohol (I still enjoy my occasional beer), cut down on soda, and get to the gym at least three days a week. Be reasonable in your decisions. If you plan for five days in the gym, but after day two you can’t move, take a rest day, then get back to it. That doesn’t mean you failed, that just means your body is in shock for all of the crap you just did. In the end, you can do this. And if you feel like you need someone to talk you into continuing, talk to me. I’ll tell you to get to the gym.
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Kristy Kronas is a Certified Personal Trainer in the burbs of Chicago. She is a single parent and author with a children's book being published this fall! She has a passion for lifting, boxing, kayaking, and a hatred of running. Watch out for her new venture this March when she launches a daily podcast called the 'Daily Donut.' If you have any questions, comments, or just want to say hi, shoot her an email!
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