Getting back to “after”

“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”  ~C.S. Lewis

This post is for those who have the before and after pics and who, for whatever reason, have found themselves back at the “before” picture. Unfortunately I encounter this a lot. In fact, I’ve been there before! Maybe not to the extreme of most, but I have absolutely been there. In college, I had my eating locked down. It wasn’t anything super strict but I was disciplined and balanced. I ate moderately, listened to my body, and I looked great. Then I started reading fitness magazines and following a bunch of fitness people and I lost my way. Instead of listening to my body, I blindly followed whatever newest “thing” that was supposed to give me that perfect body. Instead of making small reasonable changes, I tried to overhaul the whole system at once. It did lead to some weight gain, but even worse it lead to years of eating extremes.

beth burns fitness

Whatever your specific experience is, it’s one of the most disheartening and frustrating things. Add in the mind games we play with ourselves and the second, or third, time around becomes That. Much. Harder. So how do we do it? How do we get back to where we want to be and then stay there??

Here are a few things I’ve taken away from my experience…..

Learn from the 1st time

Learn to fail or fail to learn. ~Tal Ben Shahar

The only way the first experience becomes a waste is if you don’t learn from it and use it to help yourself make better choices this time around. Sometimes the answer is simple: you got hurt and got out of the routine. Sometimes it’s more complicated, but here are 2 of the biggest reasons I find when talking with clients:

1) The way you achieved your results was unsustainable for your life and enjoyment.

Maybe for a time, it seemed worth it to give up all your favorite foods and your social life. Until you achieved the desired results and started to realize it wasn’t enough and you wanted more out of life. Unfortunately, when you only know “on” or “off”, the only option is “off”. Find a plan that allows for some middle ground!

2) Your mindset.

Many assume they can go back to eating however they want after they achieve their desired physique. Maybe you never figured out how to make healthy eating and regular workouts enjoyable enough to keep them up when the going got tough. For me, I was so critical of myself. I never gave myself a win. I never learned how to appreciate and love my body, so I never felt like my results were good enough and that led me to keep searching for something new even when I was healthy, my eating was solid and balanced, and I looked the way I did.

I cannot even begin to tell you how huge and impactful working on improving my mindset has been for so many areas of my life. But I’ve definitely come to believe that it is absolutely necessary for a lifestyle that is both healthy and enjoyed.

Then LET IT GO

Learn from your experience, then it’s time to let it go.

Once I realized what I had had in college, I had a really hard time letting it go. Every time I slipped up, I thought about how I wouldn’t have had this problem if I had just stuck with it back then. It increased my already negative emotions and critical & harsh talk towards myself. I was “weak and stupid and undisciplined and didn’t deserve to be a trainer” and I reminded myself of this regularly.

The only way this served me was to increase my belief that I could never get back there.

The fact is that the present you is all you have to work with. Time to put on the big girl (or boy! 😉 ) panties and get to work. As the C.S. Lewis quote says, you just need to get back on the right road. You did it once. You can absolutely do it again! It’ll be a lot easier once you let go of what used to be and start telling yourself and believing that you can and you will.

Go back to the basics

One thing I kept trying to do was go back to the same things I did in college, but I couldn’t figure out why those things weren’t working for me anymore! The thing is I was in a totally different stage of life, so my priorities, responsibilities, hormones, stress levels, sleep requirements, and schedule were all different. The right road might not be the same road as last time. In other words, what worked for you the first time might not work this time around. It might be, but it might not be and that’s OK! If it’s not and you’re struggling with what to do…..

Go back to the basics. Be consistent with the basics. Build the foundation. Focus on the most important things first.

Keep in mind, for whatever reason, this is where God has you right now and He is using this second go-around to refine you & to make you even better. Don’t fight it. Don’t regret it. Keep pressing forward.

inspirational quote

13 Lessons I Learned In My 20s

It’s funny because the other day my brother called with an assignment from his health class. He didn’t tell me what it was about until after he had asked me the required questions, but it turns out it was a survey on exercise addiction. I’m happy to report that according to the survey I am NOT addicted. We laughed about the questions and then hung up. But it hit me that if he had given me that survey 7-8 years ago my answers would have been different. I was addicted back then.

Back then, I would get extremely upset if I didn’t get my workout in. I never listened to my body. I worked out as hard as I could every time and it would often determine my mood depending on how well it went. Sure I was small, but I didn’t have a period, I would get close to blacking out every time I stood up, and my hormones were completely out of whack. My nutrition was either really disciplined or balls-out cheats because I didn’t have the self-control to stop. On top of all that, I had very little self-esteem or confidence.

Fast forward to the present. I turned 30 this past Sunday. Then yesterday I went on a bit of a rant about moderation and balance. That and the above story are actually what inspired this little post on 13 important things I’ve learned in the last 10 years. Some of it is about health and fitness, some of it is funny, and a lot of it is about mindset. Oh, and if you missed the rant on facebook, no worries. I put it in here too because I think it’s just that important. So here they are, in particular order….

By the way, one thing about me: I LOVE quotes. So just be prepared cuz they be all over this thang!

1) Sometimes ya gotta preach rather than listen.

One of the things we’ve learned about the human brain is that the human brain believes what you say to yourself more than what anyone else says to you. ~Eric Cobb

Pretty crazy right? But I bet if most of you really think about it, it would ring true in your life. I also heard recently about a study that showed that upwards of 80% of most people’s thought life is negative. Unfortunately this was very true for me. I used to be so harsh; I never allowed myself a win. I focused on all the imperfections and the areas that needed improvement. I really beat myself down. My low self-esteem had nothing to do with my support group. My parents never made me feel anything but loved and supported. I never really experienced any bullying in school. It took me a long to realize what a powerful effect my own thoughts had on me.

**So start now my friends. Learn to preach to yourself rather than listen to yourself.

2) Learn to take a compliment!!

I don’t even want to admit how many years this took me to learn. I can still see the puzzled look on my mom’s face and the frustrated look on Joel’s after they would try to pay me a compliment. I always had a snarky remark or a reason I didn’t deserve the compliment.

*Needless to say, on those occasions when someone else wants to “preach” to you by paying you a compliment, TAKE IT.  Say thank you and shut up! Otherwise, people just might stop complimenting you altogether and believe me, that’s worse.

3) If you want something from your spouse, ask for it.

I know this might sound crazy, but my husband is not a mind reader and neither is yours. 🙂 And the sooner you can learn to stop playing mind games and just be honest and open with each other, the better. Instead of stewing cuz the hubby isn’t helping clean up dinner, just ask him to help. What’s the worst that could happen? 🙂

4) Get over yourself and realize that nobody’s got it figured out.

I’ve spent many years feeling very paralyzed by fear. Mostly fear of failure, especially failing in front of others. I never really knew why I was so afraid of it. Until I saw this quote the other day and was humbled to realize how well it put it into words…

It is pride’s hunger for perfection that paralyzes a heart in fear. ~Ann Voskamp

The only way I moved past the fear was by getting over myself and realizing that nobody’s got it all figured out!  I couldn’t let that stop me from trying anymore. Which leads me to this…..

5) There are worse things than failing.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” I don’t know who said that first, but I find it to be the only way to look at it.  Sometimes it bums me out how long I sat on the sidelines because I was afraid to fail. But even that I believe was for a reason. We learn and grow the most in times of trial. Luckily, I finally woke up to the fact that I was a lot more miserable not trying at all.

what if you fly

*You will fail. You will have trials.  You will fall down. But that is how we learn to fly.

6) Never wax your own bikini area. Just….Don’t.

I think that pretty much covers it. Yep.

7) Get enough sleep!!

Seriously, I don’t know what it is about today’s culture that we think running on as little amounts of sleep as possible is somehow commendable. Remember me mentioning that my hormones were all jacked up? Yeah, turns out all I needed was a good 8 hours of sleep each night. The benefits of sleep are far-reaching and really quite amazing. (I go into a little more detail over here if you’re interested.)

learn to love it people

learn to love it people

Ain’t no shame in needing sleep, so please, give your body the rest it needs and deserves.
 

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
  for he gives to his beloved sleep.  ~Psalm 127: 2

8) Being lean is NOT everything.

I really do love working out. I love feeling AND looking fit and strong. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. But is it everything? Absolutely not. My life is not exercise or a number on a scale or how hot I look in a swimsuit.

My life is my husband, my family, my friends, my dogs, and above all else, my faith. And if I were to tighten down on my nutrition and get super ripped and lean, I’d still be me.

*All I’m saying is be very careful of putting anything up on a pedestal and thinking that you will be happy if you could just have that one thing.

9) Sustainability is everything.

Moderation: the process of lessening or eliminating extremes; doing nothing in excess.

I get why people roll their eyes when they hear the term “moderation”. We either think it’s not “hardcore” enough OR we’ve decided that we are just the “all-or-nothing”-type personality. I personally used to put myself in the latter group. It took me a long time to realize that that mindset was exactly what kept me from really making progress. Let me explain…

As humans, I don’t think we’re very good at finding balance. The current culture doesn’t help, but our work/rest and self-discipline/grace ratios are so far out of whack. We try one extreme until we can’t bear it any longer then we swing all the way over to the other side. Deprive, binge, deprive, binge, and so on. But the thing is we are HUMAN. And while most of us would laugh if someone asked if we thought we were perfect, what we say with that all-or-nothing attitude is: I will be perfect or I won’t even bother to try! When I say it like that it sounds ridiculous, right?! But that’s what we do!

How do you think you’d feel if you started letting go of those impossible standards and thinking of it in terms of improvement instead of perfection? For me personally, I actually started making progress and ya know what else? I started enjoying it! So how about it?

Let’s work to improve our body instead of punish it. Let’s work on the discipline to say no sometimes, but also on giving ourselves the grace to mess up, to not eat perfect all the time, to figure it out as we go! Because the thing is, all-or-nothing always ends up back at nothing.

So if what everybody says is true, my metabolism will go to complete pot this year. But honestly, I’m not worried. Partly because worrying does nothing to help the situation, but also because I know I will figure it out.

10) Stop Comparing.

comparison*I know I’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s worth repeating. Comparison is you telling God that He did it wrong. And if you insist on it, it will suck all the joy out of life. The fact of the matter is comparison is a game you will never win, seeing as you will never be anyone but you, so why bother?

11) DIY projects are rarely as easy as pinterest makes them look and never as easy as HGTV makes them look!

nailed it

*Story. Of. My. Life…not even joking.

12) The little things add up.

It’s the little things, done day in and day out, that make up your life and who you are. Stop trying to find the ace in the hole. Work hard. Try to move forward in some way every day and leave the rest up to God.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. ~Proverbs 16:9

13) Don’t be anxious

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  ~Matthew 6:27

I know, easier said than done. But God has gotten us this far and He will bring us home. What a blessing He gives to us by promising that He’s got all of our tomorrows so that we can simply focus on today. Let go of that anxiety and worry. Don’t let the things you want cause you to forget the many things you have.

So there it is folks. I hope you enjoyed it cuz I enjoyed writing it. So far, I’m feeling pretty good about no longer being a 20-something…. 🙂

yep

yep  😉