On Making Lifestyle Changes (and Sticking to Them)

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’ll know that it’s been a year since I remotely talked about fitness and health. Remember that time we went cardio-kickboxing? I stopped going altogether when I endured minor battle scars on my knuckles. Perhaps my hand-wrapping technique was poor and ineffective, or I’m simply a wimp. Want to hear something crazier? Not once did I go to our two-level gym last year—one of the amenities we’ve been paying for in our ridiculous monthly rent—and in hindsight, it’s not even funny.

I meant to add this update to my recent monthly round-up post, but realized that it deserves a space of its own. I also thought that it may be too soon to be sharing all these little details, but I believe in the power of accountability and support (from the right people), so here we are. Although it’s only been two months since I hit the reset button, I have a good feeling that I will follow through these changes for a longer period of time.

On Quitting Sugar-loaded Drinks Cold Turkey

I don’t drink coffee because it either triggers migraines or palpitations that eventually lead to one, so I’d choose tea over coffee if I could. My go-to Starbucks drink since I discovered it had been their Mango Black Tea Lemonade (as long as it’s available). I haven’t had MBTL or any sugar-loaded drinks* (i.e., soda, juice, milk tea, etc.) since June. My realization? I only buy it out of habit, and that I could live without having one. I shouldn’t have trouble weaning off of it since this isn’t my first rodeo after all.

On Cooking (Again) and Meal-Prepping

I mentioned a while ago that I don’t think I’m made to work in the kitchen, but I did a complete 180 on this, too. I’m sure my weight-gain quickly escalated when we started eating out more than making home-cooked meals. I can hardly remember the last time I made a mess in the kitchen, trying to recreate a recipe I found online. I guess I’m lucky that Roan, in spite of trying different things out for both of us, hasn’t complained about having the same thing for lunch and dinner for consecutive days (because sometimes, our lunch and dinner are the same for the entire workweek).

Roan and I are mostly out on weekends, so we are a little lenient on these days; however, fast-food remains to be off of our choices. Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves why we should be concerned about how meals are prepared outside, so it’s important that we watch what we eat when we dine out.

I know it’s counterproductive, but I usually only shop for a week’s worth of grocery instead of stocking up to avoid spoilage (especially of meat/fish/poultry and fresh produce). Also, if I could, I’d do the grocery alone. It’s the only way to make sure that I only pick up things we need because Roan has a habit of adding stuff to our cart that are unnecessary.

On Moving More

I won’t deny that I’ve gained weight since I moved here in the US, and it’s taken a toll on my health in general. I wouldn’t say that Roan and I had an entirely sedentary lifestyle, but we were not as active as we used to be either. Working and “going” to school full-time sucked our time and energies dry. We’d been busy is the lamest excuse one could give.

In an effort to make this transition more realistic, I’ve decided to seek guidance from a professional personal trainer—CJ—for my overall health’s sake. I meet CJ at least once a week, and she provides me workouts to perform on my own in between our sessions. Personal trainers don’t come cheap, hence that motivates me to make it all worth it. I’d rather spend on them than on medications or hospital visits I could have avoided in the first place. I like to switch things up by either swimming laps, hiking/walking outdoors, jogging, cycling, or bodyboarding to avoid burnout and challenge myself, too. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the last time I embarked on a similar journey, it’s that recovery days are just as important as training days, thus I make it a point to listen to my body as needed.

CJ explicitly noted not to rely so much on the numbers I see on the scale when I weigh myself in because a pound of fat is not the same as a pound of muscle. She encouraged me to celebrate non-scale victories because those will make me feel better inside and out. You know what I think? I think it’s working because friends and family had pointed out that I looked like I lost some weight when we saw each other last weekend. Winning!

*Since I work out more these days, I need to drink protein shakes that I mix with unsweetened almond milk or readily-mixed ones for muscle recovery.

On Staying Focused and Setting Priorities Straight

I know I have a long ways to go, but I’m committed to making this lifestyle change consistent, if not entirely permanent. CJ made a very good point about doing this now than later in life, when everything is harder than it was a decade ago. Newsflash: Roan and I are both in our 30s! If we were to have kids soon, I want to be able to keep up with their active, playful nature without struggling to catch my breath; and live longer to watch them grow and bloom into wonderful adults.

This is no longer about looking a certain way, it’s more about feeling good on the inside and out. I think I owe it to myself to take care of my well-being first, so I could nurture other people. I have devised a plan, now all I have to do is execute it, and keep at it.

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  • I wonder if you’d believe me if I told you I’ve gained 4kg (almost 9 pounds) in the past year, but dropped a dress size. The numbers on the scale are 100% not what you should believe. I have gained a lot of muscle!

    I think it’s good that you are going off sugary drinks. I don’t think I could do that, but the only sugary drinks I have are a cocktail maybe once a month? And in the summer I probably drink an iced coffee with a bit of sugar. I usually try to ask for no syrup or sugar if possible, at least with things like teas and Starbucks drinks.

    If I had a two-level gym included in my rent, oh boy I would be there all day!!!

    • Oh, I believe you! I’m experiencing it first-hand—I find that some of the clothes I haven’t worn since last year, I’m able to wear [effortlessly] again, especially the jeans!

      Summer is hard, if I’m being completely honest, because you get that craving to quench your thirst! D:

      I know! I’m so disappointed with myself for even allowing it to happen. 🙁

  • Good for you for making these changes!!!

    Giving up sugary drinks is HUGE, but you’re right it’s mostly habit. I weaned myself off by buying Perrier and having fresh lemons/limes to squeeze into it if I needed a bit of a soda-fix (because sometimes you just do!)

    I’m hitting 30 soon, so I feel you about it being harder than it used to be… but you’re right about celebrating non-scale victories, I find the scale rarely moves but I feel better and think I LOOK better since I started my health focus, so celebrations are required!

    keep at it!
    xxox
    Laura @ http://www.cookwineandthinker.com

    • Thank you, Laura! I tried La Croix, but they taste weird to me! That, or I have yet to try out the best (flavored) ones. I do think adding some lemon into plain water helps with the craving, too!

      Isn’t that the best feeling?! Thank you, and good luck with yours, too! 🙂

    • Man, that’s tough! I’d be tired to do anything else, too, if I were in your shoes! I’m so sorry, but I hope you find time at least on weekends to do some fun stuff just to get moving. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

    • Thank you, Cameron! The first step is always the hardest part, but it also makes you feel better once you get over it. Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by!

  • You got this, girl! This is such a good way to keep yourself accountable! I love your point about having rest days – I need to remember that more often because I like to always be working.

    • Thanks, Shannon! Oh, no! May this serve as a reminder to take advantage of rest days (or days when you don’t do anything at all) in order to refuel for busier days. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

  • Good job! And even if it took some time to keep yourself accountable, you still did it. Also, I really like your writing style. It just flows very nicely and is enjoyable to read 🙂

    • Heya, girl! We follow each other on Instagram, but we’ve never really stopped over at each other’s blog, have we? Anyway, thank you! It wasn’t easy to put myself out there, but I truly believe in the power of accountability and support from the right people, so I’m using them as my inspiration to try harder. and thank you for your kind feedback! Appreciate it!

    • Everyone go through that more than you can image (me included). I started doing it for a week, then the following week, until I realized that I’ve been doing it for a month. The first time (or first time back) is always the hardest! Good luck, and thank you for stopping by, Lecy!

  • I’ve been trying to do a lot of the same changes as well. I feel like I do so good for a couple of weeks and then revert back to my old self. I have to push through it! THanks for sharing!

    • Believe me, I break mine, too! I just make sure I show up at the gym again even if the first time after a long time feels daunting. I plan on going tomorrow after work, too! You’re not alone! thanks for stopping by, Ashley!

    • I used to own a FitBit, but I’ve since switched to Apple Watch last fall! I do believe that wearables hold you accountable, too! Thanks for stopping by, Kait!

  • This is so important! I find my self constantly planning life style changes (working out, eating healthy, etc.) and can never seem to follow through for more than a few weeks. This will definitely help, thanks so much!!

  • These are great lifestyle changing tips Kudos to you for giving up sugar-filled drinks, that’s my biggest battle right now! And yes I agree that keeping active and making your own meals as opposed to eating out makes a huge difference!

    • Hi, Lindsay! Thank you! I think it’s a good thing that I’m not naturally sweet-toothed, so it was easier for me. I could only imagine how it is for those who are sweet-toothed (like my husband)!

  • Yay for living an active lifestyle! I’ve been really trying to get back into working out after going away for a week which kind of threw our whole routine off. I feel so guilty not going as often as we used to but I know that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. Meal prepping has been something that I’ve stuck to for a while now. We love eating out but I know it’s so much better for our health (and wallet) to bring lunches. We do like to indulge on the weekends but it’s pretty much guilt free.

    • If it makes you feel any better, I took a week-long break because I’d gotten sick last week. Today was my first day back since that quick hiatus, and I honestly felt like poop. Hahaha! First day back is always a tough one! We’re on a roll with meal-prepping, too, and weekends are when we let loose (not exactly cheat day, but pretty lenient) because otherwise, Roan and I will both go crazy. Hahaha!

    • Thank you, Kim! From what I see, there’s not much to work on your body physically. You look fine just the way you are! Living a healthier lifestyle is always a good—if not better—idea, but it’s truly a commitment. I can’t say it’s always been an easy road for me, but I try my best!

  • Kudos on getting a personal trainer! I think you have a good plan going here and having structure definitely helps you accomplish your goals. Giving up sugar drinks is huge because of how addictive they are so you should be really proud! As for fast food . . . once you stop eating it, your body stops craving it. After awhile, it will just taste like garbage if you eat it again. Finally, making changes to feel good rather than for aesthetics is a really healthy mindset 🙂

    • I know I could get by without a personal trainer, but I use that as my motivation, too. It would be such a waste of money if I don’t show up on train days, wouldn’t it? Funny that I was only drawn to sugary drinks, but not much on pastries/desserts. I cut back on that several years ago, and it wasn’t really difficult since I don’t have a sweet tooth. I totally agree with you—the body stops craving it! Thank you so much for these kind words, Alyse!

  • Go you for working hard to make these changes! Dropping everything but water can be challenging but once you’ve done it it’s easy to choose water over sweet drinks. We rarely have anything but water and coffee over here. I also only shop for things we need in the next few days instead of stocking up (besides some canned staples that we use as ingredients in many things.) I also do know that I have the luxury of time to be able to go to the store more than once a week if I need to.

    • Thanks, Em! I knew that excessive sugar intake (even in forms other than desserts) can lead to weight-gain, so I quit that as soon as I decided to step my fitness routine up a notch. Will I occasionally have one? Maybe, but it feels amazing when I realize how long it’s been since the last time I had one. It’s been a real challenge, though, because SUMMER, but I just chug some cold water to resist the urge.

      Agreed! We’ve dealt with spoilt produce several times in the past, and that was when we used to shop for two weeks worth of groceries. Besides, there’s just two of us, and there are several stores nearby, so it shouldn’t be much of an issue.