A lot of people ask me if I work out often. I’m hesitant to answer this question for a few reasons. I don’t want people to get discouraged by my answer. I do outline what I do to keep in shape in my book For Black Girls: The Shaping of a Young Woman if you want to know the full low down. But before I give you a few small tips I just want to start off with a few truths about me.
No, I don’t exercise every day. I also don’t look like I exercise every day. Everyone is different and responds to exercise in different ways but I would look much different if I exercised every day. I guess compared to the average person I can seem more fit because 1. I used to train heavily in university. I competed in track and this required, cardio, weight training, and power training techniques. 2. I have Ghanian genetics that have served me well. When I do train it pays off quickly because of these two major background factors.
In early high school, I had a short time when I wasn’t in great shape because I was addicted to fries ( I still am) and excessively large donuts. However, before that, I’d been an active child. I played outside, biked, rollerbladed, took gym class, and joined running teams. All of these factors play into what I look like now as an adult. I’m still generally very active (when I’m not writing) I enjoy occasionally training, rollerblading and I play sports with the kids and youth I work with. In case you’re wondering if I watch what I eat, I do most of the time but it doesn’t mean I won’t indulge. In fact, I’m more likely to indulge when I’m out at a get-together or party because I know that on a day to day basis I pay attention to what I eat.
The truth will set you free
You don’t want to do it. Working out is annoying when you first start. It’s embarrassing, tiring and there are a whole heap of other things you could be doing. The truth is that it’s easier to be lazy and not to care and so we make excuses. I’ve felt all those things at some time or another so no one is immune. But we need to own up to the truth.
A huge factor in weight loss is changing how you think. Many people excuse their day to day behavior by believing that eating healthy is a chore, it doesn’t taste good and it’s expensive. We excuse our resistance to training by comparing ourselves to others and believing that we have something no one else has, holding us back.
In comparing we want to believe another person’s genetics are the reason they look the way they do. Or we want to believe it’s because they never had kids. Or maybe they don’t have the health problems you do. While all those things might be true they are still not always an excuse because many people with kids, health problems, different genetics, and busy lives have found their way into a healthy lifestyle. If you feel that your mind is holding you back you should consider counseling and motivational videos that will help you overcome.
These tips are simple and you’ve probably heard them already. So it’s time to actually start to put them into your day to day life. The earlier you start the better but it’s never too late. There are many people that got fit in their 50’s 60’s and 70’s. A word to the wise- don’t wait until the health problems begin. Health problems are not only discouraging but they are debilitating. It’s difficult to get fit when your body won’t let you. If you’re already in that boat talk to your doctor or a fitness trainer about what you can do. If you want some support send me a message. I have a whole heap of friends that are personal trainers that I can recommend.
All body types are beautiful and so are all sizes. In the odd times when I do gain a few pounds, I’m prompted to lose them not because of how I look. I actually like the way I look heavier. I lose them because I know that as I get older my metabolism is changing. It might get more difficult as the years pass to maintain optimum health. At my ideal weight, I have more energy to live the life I have. At my ideal weight, it’s easier to exercise and play with the kids. If I eat badly it takes its toll on me in other ways from my skin, sleep, hormones to my brainpower. These are very important factors that can change the outlook of our lives. Just because you can get away with being unhealthy doesn’t mean you should. No matter what your size make a decision to make small changes that will have a life long impact.
Weigh yourself every day
I have to say when I was heavily training I hardly ever weighed myself. I didn’t have a scale at home so I would find out my weight at the gym or at the doctor’s. I was usually around the same weight so it didn’t matter. On the whole, my weight did not change although I would look different at various stages of my track season.
Now that I don’t train as frequently I find weighing myself very helpful. I weigh myself in the morning and it lets me know if I’m dehydrated, bloated from PMS or foods, if I need to change my diet or if I need more sleep. It’s helped me become more self-aware. Sometimes I can even guess what my weight will be depending on how late I ate a meal or how late I went to bed. I know what you’re thinking (what witchery is this…) but I’m serious. I really can tell all those things. And because I weigh myself frequently and eat a generally simple diet I can also tell what effect foods have on me and my system.
Your weight can change by a few pounds based on simple things like how often you have a bowel movement or how hydrated you are. Get to know your body it will help you make better decisions each day.
Eat the good stuff first– more vegetables and a little fruit
Minimize sugar– it’s in everything so be vigilant
Take your food with you– A habit I began at university. I went to York University. It was far, I was a poor student-athlete. So I packed my bag every day like I was going on a journey. Meals, snacks, and books made my bag very heavy but were great for my budget and body. When I started working full time I stopped this for a few years because meals were provided at work. As time went on I found myself grabbing whatever unhealthy snacks surrounded me and I saw myself begin to gain weight. So I started packing healthier snacks again. Now that I’m at a new location and often commuting all day to different places I’m back to packing a lot of food. You’re less likely to eat mindlessly and make bad decisions if you have already outlined your food for the day. You can even put a few treats to help you not get tempted by other treats. Just don’t overdo it because it will defeat the purpose.
Switch your snacks– veggies and fruits
Stop eating before bed
It’s comforting I know. But it’s unnecessary and actually prevents you from having a real restful sleep. To wean yourself off of this bad habit try finishing up your meals earlier. Or eating a bit heavier earlier around 4 so that you are not hungry at night. You can even try having herbal tea or some vegies or something light around 7 pm and then start getting ready for bed, brush your teeth if it will help you. Start winding down close to bedtime by reading and taking your mind off of eating.
Let’s not forget the obvious…
I promise it gets more fun. In my book For Black Girls: The Shaping of a Young Women I outline a few ways you can keep active in your life. Self-care is key. Sign up for the blog and get 4 Ways to Love Yourself More for more tips.