Sunday, July 20, 2014

Trying to Change Habits in Spite of Low Motivation

posted some training plans recently, and I haven't been able to live up to them. It's not that I can't do it physically; it's that I haven't been there mentally. As we all know, it’s difficult to change more than one habit at a time. In the spring I set up a very aggressive (for me) schedule that would have me running three nights a week with a long run (or race) on the weekend, plus strength exercises every day. 


My kitten Boo with my new Altra Paradigms, just because it's cute; she loves to smell our running shoes!

It wasn’t long before I found the schedule overwhelming, and feeling like I was failing if I missed a workout. And then one missed workout would lead to two missed workouts, and so on. I did not maintain that schedule for more than a couple weeks. Since then, I’ve tried to add different strength or core programs into my routine, and they still didn’t become routine. I was skipping more of my running nights than I care to admit. I blamed some of the missed runs on thunderstorms, hot & humid weather, headaches, etc. And while those are sometimes good reasons to take a rest day, they are not good reasons to take a rest MONTH. Not when I have access to a treadmill, not when I could try to get up early and run to beat the heat. Yet, I’ve been doing the bare minimum. My motivation has sucked. So, because I was doing so poorly on the exercise front, I subconsciously decided to control diet instead. This was not one of the things I was planning work on, but it has become one now, and I’m actually doing a little better than I was with the workouts. I am not logging my meals and I’m not counting calories or points, but what I am trying to do feels good, and I think will have a lasting effect:
1) Taking control over my snacking. I’m trying to replace processed snacks with whole food snacks, so I've told myself I can have unlimited fruits and nuts.

A good breakfast or snack: blueberry smoothie with vanilla protein, banana, pineapple, flax and chia
2) Incorporating more whole grains into my diet, in place of pasta, breads and white rice. That means less eating out. I’m trying to take a big, homemade entrée salad to work most days. I start with mixed greens, add my favorite veggies (this week it was carrots, mixed bell peppers and alfalfa sprouts; I try to keep it simple and easy with only a few veggies), a whole grain like brown rice or quinoa, a vegetarian protein (grilled tempeh this week) and a nut or seed (pepitas this week), with a healthy dressing. I don’t like lite dressings; while they are low in calories, they are high in sugar and additives. So, I go for natural dressings like Annie’s Goddess, which is tahini-based. I think I will start making my own dressing. If I buy all the salad ingredients once a week, I can chop all the veggies, grill the tempeh, put a big batch of grain in the rice cooker, and then store it all in the fridge to make quick salads throughout the week. 
3) Cutting way back on dairy. As a vegetarian, this is tough, because I love dairy and it provides protein and a lot of meal options. But it’s also fattening and high in calories in the amounts I’ve always eaten. I’m mostly talking about cheese, but I’m also a sucker for cream-based sauces and gelato. Cutting back on the dairy means more reading of labels of processed foods…or eating less processed foods, and eating out less. By necessity, this causes me to make more whole food, healthy choices. But I’m not just doing this for my health. As a vegetarian of 20+ years for ethical reasons, I need to finally admit that factory farmed dairy products are cruel too, and I’m not sure that I want to contribute to that industry any longer. I won’t judge others who eat meat or consume dairy, but a vegan diet is the direction I’m leaning toward for me.
As for the workout goals, I need to expect just a little bit less in terms of how many days I run. I think I’ll reduce my goal to 2 days: a weekend long run/race plus either Tuesday or Wednesday with my running groups. If I can achieve and maintain that schedule for a month, only then can I think of adding more days – one at a time. And I found a new strength workout that is effective and easy to do EVERY DAY because it only takes 10 minutes: the BodyBlade

Just one of the BodyBlade exercises that you maintain for 60 seconds; this one primarily works the triceps and the core

BodyBlade is a flexible "blade" that you hold in different positions and oscillate back and forth. Your muscles work against the vibration to stabilize the blade, which is constantly moving. It works multiple muscles at the same time. The DVD contains 4 different workouts that are only 10 minutes each. In them, you do multiple BodyBlade exercises that you maintain for 60 seconds. In between these exercises, you do squats, lunges, etc. Sounds easy, but you can control your own intensity, so the 10 minutes can really provide a good workout if you do it right. I'm new to this, so I find it difficult to hold many of the exercises for the full 60 seconds. I'm using BodyBlade mainly to strengthen and tone my upper body and core, which will help with my running. I actually do work up a sweat in the 10 minutes, and feel it later!
So, that's what I'm up to: recognizing my poor motivation, making adjustments to my goals, and carrying on. If you see me in person or online, please ask me how I'm doing with my workout and nutrition goals. I could sure use the support…and I'm happy to return the favor.

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