For the record, you’re beautiful. Whoever you are, where ever you are, and at whatever point you are in your fitness journey … you are beautiful. You are enough. But if, like me, you are hoping to drop a few pounds (for whatever reason) and need ways to hold yourself accountable while trying to lose weight, perhaps we can stumble through this together, eh?
If you know me, you probably know I struggle with a condition called PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome. I was first diagnosed around 10 years ago, when I moved from Hawaii to Connecticut and inexplicably gained 40 pounds in one year. At the time, although my sister had recently been diagnosed with PCOS, I didn’t connect the dots. Rather, I joined a gym and got a personal trainer. After months of intensive cardio and strength training along with a very strict diet, my trainer suggested I go see an endocrinologist. The rest, as they say, is history.
PCOS causes all kinds of pesky symptoms, ranging from weight gain and trouble losing weight to acne, excessive hair growth, and infertility. Fortunately, for many years I was treated with a birth control that managed my symptoms — the first year I was on it, I dropped all the weight I had gained initially and kept it off for several years.
Until I had kids.
I had to go off of the birth control that had so effectively managed my symptoms because, you know, that’s how you get knocked up and all. While I was able to lose most of the weight after having my daughter, I got pregnant again when she was around 10 months old and start putting the weight back on. My son just turned three in December, and I still haven’t lost all the weight from my pregnancy with him.
I say all of this because I need help sticking to my proverbial guns. When you live with PCOS, you have to be extremely disciplined with regards to your diet and exercise. You just do. It’s part of your reality. But it can be very frustrating to work so hard and see so little results, which is generally the point where I tend to slip back into bad patterns like not getting enough sleep, skipping meals, and putting carbs on a pedestal (all things which cause my body to rebel against me).
So here are a few of the new habits I’m trying to develop in order to help hold myself accountable while trying to lose the weight.
Join (or Form) a Support Group
This week, my sister suggested we start a Biggest Loser-style Facebook challenge with a group of girls we play Keno with every month. Since these particular ladies are such an empowering and positive influence in my life anyway, it made so much sense. I set up a secret group page for the those who expressed an interest in participating. We are each ponying up $10 (although you can pick just about any amount, with higher antes leading to bigger rewards), and whoever loses the highest percentage of weight at the end of 12 weeks will win the whole pot. In the meantime, we’ll be logging weekly weigh-ins and encouraging each other along the way. To help kick things off, I created this fun 30 day “Buns, Guns & Abs Summer Body Challenge.”
Download a Fitness App
My phone came pre-programmed with an app called S-Health, and I love it. I find that I am much less likely to veer away from healthy eating habits if I have to actually look at the daily log of everything I’ve ingested, haha. The great thing about this app is that it also serves as a built-in pedometer, so if I’m carrying my phone around during the day I am always aware of whether or not I should be moving more. I can keep track of things such as sleep and water intake, too. Plus — and this is especially fun — the phone will scan my finger to measure things like heart rate, oxygen saturation, and stress level. Other health and fitness apps I have found helpful include Spark People and My Fitness Pal.
Make Friends with Your Tape Measure
Some people swear by weighing in every day, and it makes some people want to throw their scale out of the window. For people who fall into the latter category (like me on bad days), I think it largely has to do with the fact that the number on the scale can fluctuate — or not — for myriad reasons. If you’ve been busting your butt, hop on the scale, and you see you’ve gained half a pound, it can be maddening. That’s why I’m a big fan of the tape measure. When you track the measurements of your arms, bust, waistline, hips, and thighs, you get to see tangible progress. I always try to remind myself that muscle is more dense than fat, so sometimes you just don’t see progress on the scale like you do with a tape measure.
Chart Your Workouts
Most fitness apps will do this for you, but I kind of prefer to put big ol’ conspicuous “x” marks on a print calendar every day I workout or do something similarly physical, i.e. walk the beach, play tennis with the kids at the park, etc. It’s hard to ignore the fact that I haven’t squeezed in a workout in three days when the evidence is staring right back at me in black-and-white. To stay upbeat, I whipped up this customizable motivational workout calendar to inspire me to keep on truckin’.
Be Honest With Yourself
This one goes without saying, right? But it’s obviously easier said than done. More days than not anymore, I tell myself there is no way I could have eked out a workout. With two steady contract writing gigs and several other freelance ones — not to mention the two tiny humans home with me all day, every day while I work — sometimes I feel like I barely have the energy to collapse into bed at night. Such is life, though! If I’m really being honest with myself, I know that at the very least I could have hammered out a 10 minute mini-workout at some point throughout the day. Or, you know, not have devoured a massive hunk of cheese at midnight.
Images: Pixabay; Julie Sprankles/The Squeeze; Giphy (3)