I feel like I've been saying for months: “One of these days, I'll really commit to getting in shape.” With my wedding looming just two months away now, one of these days finally needs to be…today. The person who brought this to my attention was, of course, my mother. I was propped up on her counter munching on a croissant and flipping through a magazine, lamenting about how I simply don't have time to exercise. She pursed her lips and crossed her arms (similar to the way that my grandma does when my cousin lathers on too much eyeliner) and said, “Well hun, your wedding is pretty close now. I'm not saying you're fat or anything – not at all. But if you really want to lose a few pounds or get in shape…now would be the time.”
In other words, “Drop the croissant and do some frickin sit-ups already.” Point taken, mom. Thanks. So, determined to shed a few pounds, I tried the Slim Fast thing. And the drink-nothing-but-syrup-and-lemonade thing. And several other things. Nothing works. My problem is that the rebellious teenager in me doesn't like to commit to anything. I don't like leases, contracts, or choices of any sort. Before Nate came along I'd even become quite anti-relationship because everyone I dated tried to segway me into their tiny little box of a life. But I digress. Point is, I don't like being cornered into one thing. Diets that restrict or starve me don't work.
What does work for me is a diet I tried way back in the late-90's (for those of you who know I'm in my 20's and may be scratching your head at this point – yes, I was 14 years old. I was an insecure teenager). It's called the Larry North Slimdown diet. The basic concepts are simple, straightforward, common-sense ideas that have been re-iterated through a number of programs (most recently in the Eat Clean diet). It's all about balance. Every 3-4 hours I eat a combination of lean protein, healthy carbs and vegetables.
For breakfast I'll have something like yogurt and toast (skipping the veggies because really, I'm not having vegetables for breakfast. Gross). Morning snack is, for example, a hard-boiled egg, rice cracker and some carrot sticks and then a whole wheat chicken sandwich for lunch, followed by celery and peanut butter, then a similarly-balanced dinner. I'm full all the time. I don't have cravings. And if I don't feel like eating a particular carb, veggie or protein, I just pick a similar substitute. It is a lot of food, but not a lot of calories, and it keeps me from pigging out on ice cream, since I have tons of choices and don't feel deprived. Most importantly: it works. Diet dilemma solved.
Exercise was a similar problem. I've done the fitness center thing before. I've had trainers and classes and programs galore, but none of those things worked for me long-term due to that dreaded commitment. “I have to do this same thing HOW many times a week?” I'd remark to my trainer, “And I have to SCHEDULE it? At the same time every single week?? And you charge me if I don't show?” Yeesh. Yes, I'm a flake. I whole-heartedly recognize the issue. But that's my nature. Get over it.
So I slowly learned to work with my commitment phobia-induced limitations. I take spontaneous hikes. I swim when I feel like it. On rare occasions, I'll even hop on the treadmill or do push-ups in the living room. But sometimes, you do need a little more than self-motivation. Work-0ut videos help, but the best thing I've discovered are drop-in classes. Although not all gyms offer them, there are a number of fitness centers, yoga studios, and recreation groups that offer drop-in workout classes. So you can get motivated with a group full of pilates-doing, jazz-dancing, cycle-spinning exercisers without the fear that they'll make you come back repeatedly. Better yet, you don't have to feel like an idiot if you don't know what you're doing because you have the choice to never see any of these people again!
Those of you who look forward to the recipes I post on here, don't worry – just because I'm eating a little better and doing the occasional jumping jack doesn't mean I'm not still cooking a bunch (both for myself AND for people who are fortunate enough to not be dieting). I just got a great new cookbook I can't wait to review, so check back in for that next week!