“I know I need to _____________, but how can I find the time”? You have certainly heard this statement attached to many things in the past. Often it is tied to something related to diet and exercise. I know I have personally used it together many, many times in the past. As a school administrator it can be very difficult to manage your weight. We are super busy individuals in highly stressful careers. It is easy for the extra pounds to add up over time. I usually stay away from posts of a personal nature but this will be an exception. I have lost about 55 pounds and want to share a bit of my story with you.
Full disclaimer – I am not a medical doctor and do not offer any of this as medical advice. This is simply what worked for me. Again, please do not take this as medical advice. I did not do any research to back it up – it is simply what worked for me. End Disclaimer!
As a practicing school administrator I know how little time those of us in education have and the myriad of responsibilities we face. We wake up very early, work all day and come home way past dark! If you struggle with your weight and/or exercise it can be very easy to fall into the “I don’t have time trap”. I know I did many times.
When I was in high school I was very active. I exercised almost daily and was at a reasonable weight. (Notice I say reasonable – not ideal at all). I played sports and between practices and games I guess there was always enough exercise. I ate ok but was not a healthy eater at all. Once I started college I became much less active and the pounds really started to add up. It continued this way for a good amount of time.
Once I became a school administrator is was easy to fall back on the lack of time excuse. I would always say things like:
“I would work out but who has the time? I have a family to hang with after work, extra work to get done at night, athletic events to cover, and on and on and on”. It was easy to convince myself that there really was no time to exercise. Because really our schedules are over packed – throw in family and at home responsibilities and there really does not seem to be any time.
I have tried many fad type diets over the years. I have always found success with Atkins (very low carb). The problem was I would gain all of the weight back (and then some) as soon as I stopped. It was certainly not sustainable weight loss for me (although I loved all the steak and meat!!). I was thoroughly convinced there was nothing I really could do – it just seemed so impossible. In my mind I was addicted to poor eating habits and I thought I had no time to work out. Fast food became a daily routine and no snack was off limits.
I knew I needed to change. I needed to get back in shape. I needed my energy back. I needed to make sure I was there with my family. I also knew about my past struggles – my different diet attempts, my on/off relationship with running and exercise. I had always heard people say “You have to make time to exercise”. I always thought that sounds great but it is just not my reality. I just knew I could NOT do it. I had tried and tried but nothing ever stuck. The funny thing is in the past couple of years I trained to run a half marathon (which I completed) and I lost a grand total of zero pounds. So deep down I knew I could exercise, the problem was committing to doing it on a regular basis.
In December of 2014 I decided things must change. The scale shot up too high when I stepped on it. I knew it was time – or it would be too late before I knew it. I knew I needed to exercise on a regular basis and knew I needed to drastically change my eating habits. I decided to go at it the old fashion way – reduce my calories and increase my exercise. No gimmicks, no fads. I would rely on science – burn more calories than I ate. I figured if I burned more calories than I consumed I would be good to go. I also knew I needed some quick wins out of the gate.
I committed to doing some type of exercise (usually running) 20-30 minutes a day, every day, no matter what. I learned from past experiences that if I say I will exercise 3-4 times a week it is easy to say I can catch up tomorrow. With the every day commitment I had no excuse. Most days I ran, but I also used an elliptical machine and stationary bike. When did I find the time? Whenever I could – oftem times at night after everyone went to bed, sometimes right when I got home, sometimes at school before the PTA meeting or game. I made it part of my schedule. There was no way I was going to bed before I completed my workout. The everyday commitment way key. If I would have said 4-5 times per week I can almost guarantee I would have missed more. I said everyday so there was no wiggle room.
I had been using the Run Keeper App for my workouts and that let me see the calories I burned with each workout. I also got a Fit Bit which allowed me to set goals and keep track of my progress. I often found myself running in place before bed so I could reach a certain number of steps for that day. I really feel the Run Keeper app and Fit Bit have played a big role in my weight loss. I was able to actually exercise every single day from January 1 until about the end of February. Since then I have continued to exercise 3-5 times a week. I also set a monthly running mileage target. It is not huge, but it gives me something to aim for (I usually set out to run 30 miles per month). The data from Run Keeper and Fit bit are huge, It really helped (still does) me to set a goal and work to achieve it.
This is the first time in my life that I had ever really connected eating and exercising. I always figured it could be one or the other. I know now that is not true (at least for me). I had to focus on both. In order to keep my caloric intake low I decided to keep it simple. I had mostly the same breakfast and lunch.
I have had this for breakfast almost every single day since January 1.
Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage Breakfast Bowl. It has 240 calories with 22 grams of protein. All I really look at is calories and protein. Again, I am not a medical doctor – just relaxing what worked for me.
If I needed something to snack on before lunch I would often have a Nature Valley Peanut Butter Protein Chewy Bar. It has 190 calories and 10 grams of protein.
I usually have some type of sandwich for lunch. It could be turkey or ham with mustard (never mayo and I love mayo). I also have greek yogurt almost daily. This is another staple like the breakfast bowl! Low in calories and high in protein.
I would also keep a close eye on my calories for dinner. The type of food varied but I always kept it as low calories as possible.
Fortunately, there are many fast food options that fit in my diet. As a busy school administrator fast food is just part of the equation. Here are some things I get from fast food type places:
Subway – they make it easy. Stay away from sauces (except mustard). I always get ham or turkey loaded with veggies on wheat bread. I also get the baked chips.
Chick-Fil-A – grilled chicken sandwich plus chicken soup instead of fries. The grilled chicken wrap is awesome as well. Again, stay away from anything fried or any of the sauces.
McDonalds, Wendys, etc–grilled chicken sandwich and side salad with a tiny bit of low calorie dressing.
McAlisters – Choose Two Combo – Half New Yorker sandwich and Half Savannah Chopped Salad. Not sure of exact calorie count but somewhere around 500.
Key go to snacks as needed – Greek yogurt as mentioned (loaded with protein for 120 calories), Nature Valley Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Bars
It is crucial to note this is still a work in progress. It will always be a work in progress. I am only 7 months into this journey. I still crave all kinds of foods and wished I could eat whatever I want whenever I want. I am still coming to terms with the reality that this has to be the new normal for me, bit just a diet for a period of time. I really have to change my relationship with food and exercise. I am doing pretty good so far – I have lost about 55 pounds. I still have about 30 to go. My weight loss has slowed and I need to get it back on track. I have run the last two days but not yet today. I need to get going! This is a journey and it will not be easy. The main point of this post is to show you that there is time. I never thought there was time for me to exercise. There is if you make it. I never thought I could eat healthy and say no to the second serving. I can if I commit to it. You can as well. Commit to exercising every single day for the next month and go from there. Even if it is an extra long walk each night. Start somewhere. Start now.