gymIt’s a life-long battle – staying healthy and staying fit. Being healthy is not just something that happens because you want it and wish it to happen – you have to make it happen and you have to keep at it. I am only saying this because I have failed so many times – but that hasn’t stopped me from trying again. After gaining more weight on top of my already too heavy self I realized that something needed to change. Below is the story of how I came to realize that enough was enough already. After that I have some tips that I have learned on this life-long journey to keep you exercising and focused on staying healthy . . .

Before coming to the UAE Scott and I were both heavier than we wanted to be. One of the main reasons was stress – after getting laid off I became a stress eater (well I’d always been a stress eater! lol), and the fact that we couldn’t afford our gym membership anymore didn’t help either. After almost a year of searching for a stable job I finally found one – and promptly ate food to celebrate! We had all these new goals for our future life in a foreign country. We kept telling ourselves “It will be different in the UAE, we will change our lifestyle, we will magically be healthy once we get there!” But the fact remains that we didn’t make healthy living a priority in the States and so the bad habits traveled across the sea with us. Changing our location didn’t solve our health problem because our problem wasn’t our location – our problem was our habits . . .

DSCN3775While in the UAE we discovered that the culture we entered did anything but encourage healthy habits. Everyone drives everywhere – there are few sidewalks. Most everything is indoors (especially in the summer months when it is hot). And junk food, fast food, fatty food abounds. If we don’t feel like cooking we can call any fast food or restaurant chain and they will deliver food right to our door! We literally don’t even have to life our fat lazy buts from the couch! Also, at school we have a joke that “no one in the UAE loses weight.” Whenever anything happens – a baby, a graduation, a marriage, a promotion, a new car – a tray of cookies and chocolates gets walked around the school and teachers are encouraged to take not just one but many cookies and chocolates – and having no will power doesn’t help! Any event that involves a meal is loaded with carbs – bread stuffed with spices, bread stuffed with cheese, cakes, sweet honey drizzled donut balls, pasta, etc. Can I get a vegetable? But really lets be honest I wouldn’t be reaching for the vegetables even if they were there! So we added pounds to the ones that were already bulging over our waistband.

The pool at the gym

The pool at the gym

Two months ago we finally decided to get real, face the facts, and lose some fat! We could make all the excuses in the world but when it comes down to it, excuses don’t lose weight, they just keep the weight on. So we did – we joined the gym! We started slow – playing tennis, swimming, walking on the treadmill. We started by just going 2-3 times a week and we found that going to the gym did two things for us: (1) we had more energy, we wanted to be more active and our bodies weren’t content with just sitting on the couch and (2) we found the gym to be a great place to clear our minds. The gym we joined is part of a hotel, so going there each time feels like a mini-vacation. The workout machines overlook the pool and the landscaping and palm trees take our minds out of the desert and into a lush, inspiring get-away. Leaving the house to go to the gym breaks up the monotony of the week and the stresses of the day.

gym 1So enough about me . . . Here are some tips I have found that have kept me healthy these past two months. And I intentionally say being healthy instead of losing weight because finding that perfect number on the scale is not what it’s about – twice I’ve found that number and thought that the battle is over so I gave up and gained the weight back again. But the battle of staying healthy is a life-long one and is measured by more than the number on the scale. Yes the scale is a good tool to use but it does not tell you everything. I put these tips here because I need them just as much as a reminder. It is so easy to be lazy and so easy to just forget about being healthy. You can ask my husband – I tell myself constantly to not give up, to be patient with myself, and to keep going.

1. Do NOT compare yourself with others – this point is my number one for a reason and I think its the number one reason why so many people quit! Sometimes I find it hard when Scott and I are both exercising, both eating healthy and he loses more weight than I do and sees results quickly. I am neither a male nor Scott. My body is different and will respond differently than someone else. I also have a Thyroid issue – I can chose to make that Thyroid issue a crutch and blame it or I can accept it and know that I have to work a little harder and my results will be a little slower. But having a thyroid issue is no reason to just give up. Also I cannot compare myself with someone on t.v. or some model because my height, body shape, etc. is different. I have to be confident that I am doing the best for myself.

2. Love yourself AS YOU ARE – insulting yourself only brings you down more, and – as has happened with me too many times – leads you to give up on being healthy and reach for that tub of ice cream. Even though I am trying to look slimmer, be strong, and eat healthier I need to look at myself every day and say “Hey good-lookin’!” Because I am beautiful and so is every person no matter what size. So even if you do not feel all that “skinny” or are embarrassed by how your cloths now fit still understand that your size does not define your beauty. And a smile to your outfit because it not only makes you feel better but it makes you look more beautiful. The more positive you are the more momentum you will build. Think, “because I am beautiful I want to eat healthy things.”

2. You’ll never regret exercising – you’ll only regret NOT exercising – boy is this true! If you are even in doubt about going for a walk, going to the gym, or doing an online yoga class just go for it! I’ve never been sorry for working out (although my weak muscles tend to complain!)

3. Exercise begets more exercise – now Scott and I are going to the gym about 5 times a week! If you start to exercise regularly (even just 2 times a week) you will see that your body looks forward to that and craves more exercise. So, don’t let laziness win!!

4. There are more benefits than seeing a smaller number on the scale – When I see that Scott is looking thinner and seeing the number on the scale go down and I am staying the same I need to remember the other benefits to exercise. (1) I have more energy throughout the day. (2) I wake up more easily in the mornings. (3) I feel more creative and inspired. (4) I feel stronger. Don’t let the number on the scale cause you to give up.

5. Please please please don’t let yourself give up – because giving up is so easy isn’t it?! Each day we have to chose to eat a healthy breakfast, a healthy meal, and to go to the gym. And don’t let one bad day of eating to cause you to give up altogether – it was just one day, be healthy again tomorrow!

6. One step at a time – be empowered by the little picture and remember where you come from so that you don’t miss the success you already are. What do I mean by that? Sure I haven’t lost as much weight as I would have wanted by now but I am eating less calories than I was two months ago – and healthier calories. I enjoy eating grapes with my lunch! I am going to the gym 5 times more than two months ago and twice as much as I did one month ago. I used to only be able to do 5 minutes on the stair-master and now I can do 15!! I am making accomplishments along the way and recognizing them helps me to continue.

7. Don’t get bored – try new exercises, new machines. Once you get bored you slow down and once you slow down you’re unmotivated, and once you’re unmotivated you think about quitting altogether. Trying listening to music while you work out, or my personal favorite, try reading your kindle – just pop it up on the screen. Then you are focused on the book and not the time. I also have started doing pilates on the days that I don’t go to the gym. I found these awesome pilates workouts online. Cassey from blogilates is intense and so positive. I have seen definition in my legs and upper abs and I’ve only been doing this for two weeks! She has tons of videos and you can chose to focus on different areas or do whole body workouts. She has so much to chose from that you will not get bored! If my links don’t work just search POP Pilates in YouTube and you should be sure to find something you like! You could also try yoga or kick boxing or dance workouts!

8. Know your weak points – For me the weak point in my day is when I come home from teaching. I am ravenous and want to eat everything in the house. Because I know that is when I want to eat I have a smaller lunch and use the calories I save for my snack when I get home. Also we started eating dinner sooner so that I feel like I have to gorge. Also I know that baked goods are my weak spot as well. So whenever I go into a Cafe I don’t even let my eyes look at the lovely display case! If I really want something I allow myself to enjoy it and be super healthy the rest of the day.

I’ve learned too much about failing to not succeed now! I hope something here inspired you to go out to the gym today or eat a little healthier. I think I’m going to have to read this post several times to remind myself to stay healthy!

I’m considering making this post a weekly thing – because lets be honest, when it comes to being healthy we all need all the support and encouragement we can get! With that being said if you have any tips about staying healthy and staying positive while changing your lifestyle habits please share in the comments below!! I’d love to hear them . . .