Step 1: Catch Your Breath

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Today is day 0 of No-Nonsense November, in which I’ll be posting musings on mindset, actional tips, and useful information to take you into the holiday season feeling confident about your choices, able to enjoy the foods you love, and maybe (just maybe) head into the New Year WITHOUT needing to change everything about yourself. Got questions? Don’t hesitate to email me at meg@ironandspice.com!

A Case For Maintenance

If you’re here, you’re probably already very aware that something about your nutrition, fitness, or wellness isn’t working exactly the way you want it. YOU, I can say with confidence, are awesome (and that will never change) - but maybe you want to feel a little better, or feel that you can behave with intention around your food choices, or just look a little bit different in your clothes.

All of that is amazing! And I’m glad you made your way to me, because I know the internet is chock full of some confusing bullsh**. If you’re new to my space, you’ll learn quickly that I’m here to help women stop jumping from restrictive diet to restrictive diet and find a way of eating and moving that jives with them no matter where they currently are in their lives. In short? My goal is to help us all just take a collective breath and CHILL OUT. Due in part to a ton of voices competing for our attention, we’ve become a society of extremes.

”This is the thing you MUST DO TO LOSE WEIGHT.”
”This is the ONE FOOD you’re eating that’s DESTROYING your progress.”
”If you want to lose fat, you’re WRONG. LOVE YOUR BODY.”
”If you love your body, YOU’RE WRONG. Here’s how I feel about your body, and why you should care.”
”Lifting weights is DANGEROUS.”
”Lifting weights is the ONLY WAY. Cardio is stupid.”
”ZERO CARB. ALL THE CARBS. COUNT. DON’T COUNT.”
”Treat yourself, have a break, you deserve it….but don’t tell anyone, or you’re a bad mother who doesn’t care about her children.”
”THE SUGAR IN MY BACON is what’s holding me back.”
”5 Tips to Health-ify your Thanksgiving Dinner.”
”Just eat the pie, it’s once a year!”

And believe me, there are a ton more tropes out there, and frankly, they’re exhausting (and kind of borderline hilarious/ridiculous).

Here’s what I think:

We all need to stop and take a breath. Both literally (if you’re reading this, maybe try that - close your eyes, take 5 deep breaths into your belly, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth) and figuratively.

Before you start on your next “thing” - whether that’s a diet, a challenge, a cleanse, an exercise regimen, just take a moment to self-assess and really dial into your current choices and the effects they have on you. Approach this, to the best of your ability, WITHOUT the goal of immediately changing everything or judging your own choices too harshly.

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find that you’re not actually a lazy, undisciplined person who can never stick to a diet or see anything through.

Maybe - just maybe - you’ll notice some patterns and trends that make it easy to approach building new habits from a less emotional, more practical place.

Maybe - the next thing doesn’t have to be a rush? Maybe it can be a commitment to a forever change, but that commitment is way less scary because you’re not clinging desperately to the story you tell yourself about who you are NOW vs. who you want to be.

An example:
Man, I suck. I’ve tried to start 5 different exercise programs this year and I can’t seem to stick to it. I know I should go to the gym after work, but I just sit and watch TV instead. I wish I wasn’t so lazy and disgusting, I should hire somebody/buy a program that’ll really kick my ass. OK. I’m starting on Monday and 12 weeks from now I’m going to be in the best shape of my life. I should also throw away all of the crackers and chips in my house. My friend’s been on the keto diet for a few months and lost 20 pounds, maybe I should google that and start that on Monday too.

REFRAME:
I know that losing 20 pounds won’t make me a better person, and that the people in my life love me because of who I am inside. However, I know I’d feel better and be able to keep up with my kids if I exercised regularly. And with all of my obligations to work and family, it would be awesome to do something that makes ME feel better about myself. I’m going to take a few days this week and jot down what I’m eating and how I’m spending my time so I can start to identify some areas in my week where there’s space for some more activity and see where I could find some wiggle room in my eating to make some better choices. This time, it’s not a race.

Does the first script sound familiar? Does the second script sound relieving and SO much less stressful? If it does, you’re not alone. As you approach the holidays this year, take a moment to step out of the busy-ness and set some reasonable goals and expectations for what parts you LOVE and want to enjoy intentionally, and what parts you could take or leave and frankly, aren’ serving you. (And if you need help identifying those things, keep an eye on this space or reach out - I’m here to help!)

This isn’t a race.

This isn’t all or nothing.

This isn’t perfection.

This isn’t #hustle #grind #effyourfeelings #noexcuses

This is your life, your body, your choices, your time.

So before you spend another holiday season spiraling between over-indulging, restriction, shame, eff-its, and pledging to start over on January 1st - step back, take a moment, and catch your breath.

It’s not the sexiest program ever, but it’s a practice that will serve you well for the rest of your life.