This post ended up being a bit long as I told my story of how I got to a joyful relationship with exercise so I'm going to stick my quick take-aways on top here:
- Focus on food first. If you think you need a lot of exercise for weight loss, release yourself from this and spend your precious time integrating real food - meat, vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, no sugar, and no grains. Energy will increase so that you can sustain any exercise you introduce. 80% of weight loss happens in the kitchen.
- Keep it simple. Lifting weights rather than a ton of cardio. It will give you more lasting results. Weight train 2 times a week for 30 minutes or less, sprint once a week, and include plenty of walking, hiking, biking, or some low level activity that you enjoy.
- Find out more about the Primal approach to fitness here. You will get to download a free e-book and then receive great info and ideas to support the way of eating mentioned above.
My relationship with exercise used to be very much a love/hate relationship. And if I'm honest, most of the time it was hate. It was yet another thing in my overwhelmed life that I was supposed to be doing. There were times I would recommit to it and get to the gym nice and early and do the elliptical for 40-60 minutes. I would stick with it and then see some weight loss but it never gave me the energy all the experts promised. I would go back home (I was a stay-at-home mom.) and it would take everything in me not to fall back asleep at 10 am. Something else in life always seemed to happen and I wouldn't be able to get to the gym for awhile and the weight I had lost would find me again. It was a horrible, joyless cycle.
I have spent the last two decades of my life looking for the right program and diet to get healthy and stay fit. It was yet another thing I was trying where I was introduced to weight training. Not the little dumbbell weight training, but big stuff like barbells and leg presses and chest presses. I had a new friend that was training for fitness competitions and she was a personal trainer. I decided to ask her for her guidance and signed up for her personal training. I learned the machines and I learned the free weights. I had a routine and tracked my progress. I still remember the day when I did my first 100lb. leg press. I sat there and thought little (5'3") me just pressed that?! I had no idea how strong I was. This created a shift in my mind and heart. It shifted the way I saw myself too. I had viewed myself as weak in many ways in those days. This weight lifting stuff was empowering on many levels! I LOVED it. I also noticed that I wasn't exhausted afterwards. Sometimes I didn't even break a sweat and I was suspicious. Yet the weight was coming off and and the inches around my waist was going down. I must also note that with this shift in exercise I was also being introduced to getting more protein in my diet.
Something happened in life again and I was getting to my workouts less frequently yet I was completely surprised that I somehow maintained right where I was at! The muscle I had built didn't disappear as quickly as the effects of the chronic cardio I had been doing before. This was another huge shift. When life calmed down again I was not as discouraged this time to get back to my routine and pick up where I left off. Another empowering shift in my relationship with exercise. I was beginning to experience joy!
A number of years passed and a couple pregnancies along with hormonal imbalances and blood sugar issues had me in another exhausted, overweight place. The low fat, whole grain, low glycemic diet was no longer working. I had little ones (three of them) and felt like the walking dead. How was I ever supposed to get to work out?
Enter the Primal Blueprint. I had just had our third son and was ready for things to shift again. My husband and I were desperate to find something that would work for both of us. With recovering from giving birth, I just focused on the diet part. We were going from low fat, whole grain to a way of eating that focused on real food - meat, vegetables, healthy fats, no sugar, no grains. It did take time to change what we were used to. New recipes, new ingredients, more meal prep time since things weren't coming out of a box as much.
In Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint he said something that caused another shift in my relationship with exercise. He said, "I train to play." Play? How do I play? Who has time to play? I have so much to do. I have so many responsibilities. It was hard to wrap my brain around it, yet it pulled at me.
After focusing on food at first, I noticed my energy levels were increasing. I was off the sugar roller coaster and I craved movement. I started to apply the Primal approach to exercise and it was a beautiful fit. The Primal lifestyle encourages lifting heavy things 2 times a week for no more than 30 minutes at a time, lots of lower level activity like walking and hiking, and a sprint (10 minutes or less) once a week. I really like the idea of workouts being 30 minutes or less! I've been doing this approach for nearly 8 years now! I do indeed train to play. I have discovered I enjoy weights, hiking, paddle boarding, and mud obstacle course races. I started with the Primal Essential movements which are squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and planks. We lived in a condo at the time and the only space we had was a hallway next to the bathroom. So we put a portable pull-up bar in the door frame and did the workouts in the hallway. I loved the simplicity of it all. I loved the minimal amount of time I had to devote to it. I loved the activities outdoors. It fed my soul and was great for my fitness. It felt like a win-win-win relationship now. I had joy. I was getting stronger. I was learning how to play again. I was with my family. I was in nature. There is just no going back.
Find out more about the Primal approach to fitness here. You will get to download a free e-book and then receive great info and ideas to support the way of eating mentioned above.