If you've hit a plateau, you've stopped climbing to the top
How often can you say (speak the truth)
Wow, there is nothing that I'm not already doing for my body!
There is always something else you can add, do more of or do better. In my opinion, the climb to the top is endless – you can always go higher and even higher. And I call it a climb because, when it comes to fitness or wellness overall, it isn't always easy and there needs to be an ongoing upward progress. Having said that, last week I realized that I've been taking a nice stroll around the same spot instead.
So I made a pledge to challenge my body, my culinary ability and my mental stamina. And here's is how it went, the recipes that made it possible and how I made through it.
Since I started teaching Pilates full time, my body has been the most active it's ever been. But I realized that being active gave me the illusion that I am working out all day. In reality, I've been working people out all day (and I guess randomly moving around).
I feel healthier and I look better than last year, but I am not necessarily fitter. I finally got myself into a spinning class last week and realized that my numbers were not any higher than last year's! I've hit a plateau, or as I choose to see it, I've stopped climbing to the top.
1. Complete 1 full workout a day
Dedicate 20, 40 minutes or better yet 1 full hour to a complete workout
When I say dedicate, I mean really be there in body and mind for that whole time focusing 100% on what you are trying to achieve for your body.
When I am teaching, I feel like I am working out along with the class. I enjoy it and feel it vicariously through the deep exhales, the heat that takes over the room, the rosy cheeks on the faces around me, the team effort to keep going... Although it feels like it, I'm not working out. I am talking, looking around, demonstrating and maybe (hopefully!) doing it on both sides. My focus at that time is on your form, your fitness and how I can keep you going. So last week I decided that I will dedicate a full hour a day to my body. And if you don't already do that, so should you!
Make the time
Find the energy
The biggest challenge: Time
My wise Brazilian mother always told me, organize yourself, and you will find time for everything. Sure... a lot easier said than done. But I put it to the test last week, and if you really try, it's possible!
Give your fitness and wellness the priority they deserve
Exercising should be seen as something you normally do every day just as with eating and sleeping. You always find time for the last two, so in essence you should be able to do the same for exercising.
Schedule an appointment with yourself for your fitness and wellness
Go over your calendar for the week and add your workouts (think of it as an indispensable me-time) in any free space you can find in your calendar – once a day. Whatever you can commit to on each day is better than nothing. Once it's an appointment, that time is now committed, and you can't override it. It's on!
Wake up early
If you can't find time, make your day just a little longer by waking up earlier, even if it's just 20 minutes, and fit that workout in.
Don't let exhaustion (or laziness, coziness, the weather...) creep up on you
When you ask more of your body, you have to give back. So as you go, make sure you listen to it, stretch it and treat it with good food, lots of water and sufficient sleep.
Choose something you look forward to doing
Pick an exercise you enjoy or have been meaning to try for a while. You will be a lot more motivated if you're excited about it or if you know it will make you feel good.
Get it done early in the morning
You just had a night of sleep, your energy is recharged, and your body is ready for more. And once it's done – it's done! The whole day is ahead of you for everything else.
Eat well and nutritiously
Your body needs fuel to keep moving. So when you add more activity to your schedule, stay away from overly restrictive diets, such as juicing or crazy cleanses. Make sure you go for foods high in nutrition and stay away from those that might get you off track.
Cool down and stretch
Everything we put to work during a workout must be stretched and released. So if you're one of those who are always running out once the intensity drops, next time take advantage of those last few minutes in class to allow the body to release and reset. You want to make sure your body is ready for more the next time go.
Stay consistent and committed
Trying that new workout craze, the awesome deal that came up, or going once with a friend just for fun are great add-ons. But if your workout routine relies on random circumstances like these, it will be hard to make fitness a priority on your schedule.
Get a membership
It holds you financially accountable. It will always remind you that, if not for any other reason, you're paying for it! Besides, going to that same place at the same time on the same days allows you a rhythm of consistency that becomes habitual and easy to follow.
Find a workout buddy
It's always helpful to have someone that can motivate you and say let's go! when you're not feeling it or need that extra push. And you'd be surprised as to how nice and encouraging it feels to give that extra bit of motivation to your workout friend once the tables are turned.
Sign up early and show up
Signing your name up for a class is your statement (and signature!) that you will make it to that class. And it is especially effective if the facility holds you financially accountable for not showing up. Although it's minimal, the financial loss on top of that nasty feeling of breaking your commitment makes you do anything you can to make it to that class. This always kept me going when all hope for self-motivation was lost (or traffic was bad, I was a little tried...).
2. Make Every Meal, Snack and Treat From Scratch
Surprisingly, it wasn't as hard as it sounds. I am normally the first to vouch for convenience and efficiency, especially when it comes to cooking. And somehow I survived the challenge! I am by no means a cook, and no one should ever expect a dish from me that takes any longer than 20 minutes to prepare or that serves a higher purpose beyond healthily tasty nutrition.
And no, making all your meals (snacks and treats too!) from scratch does not have to mean giving up rich, complex flavors or going back to the absolute basics. It does take creativity – or good recipes, of course. I picked the latter. ;)
As for treats, yes I eat them. But I don't bake, cook or make anything I wouldn't want lying around the house for longer than a day.
Trying the Paleo diet with all of its challenges on treats and quick snacks (especially the salty, crunchy ones – did I mention that I desperately miss tortilla chips?) has taught me that there are quite a bit of treats and snacks that are easy to make and well worth keeping around.
All you need is easy to follow recipes and a little bit of planning. Enjoy!
Recipes that got my rare moments of sweet tooth going when I craved a treat a bit more decadent than fruit
I love these because they are super simple to make, take very little time and are actually delicious. I love raw goodies – they feel good when you eat them (well, to me anyways…).
The recipe that allowed me to throw my breakfast on a sandwich when I had to run
Honestly, this is the only Paleo bread I've liked so far. I won't say it replaces your good old bread, but I will say that it certainly gives you the texture and that fulfilling sensation you get from bread. It also gets extra points for being nut-free. In a Paleo diet one might find oneself eating way too many nuts.
Recipes that rewarded my taste buds with that indispensable salty, crunchy, compulsive snack
Disclaimer: this Zucchini recipe includes milk, cheese and bread crumbs (Paleo no-no's!) which I replaced with coconut milk and almond flour – and it was pretty yummy!
It's all about making it ahead and enough to last all week
As for the planning, I am not the best at it. That's the one New Year resolution I have yet to master. But the trick was setting one day to make enough of these goodies to last me through the rest of the week. And I must say, it was actually fun! And it kind of felt the same as buying enough from the store but better, of course once it was all done.
3. Enjoy Every Second of It
That's the easy part. Don't make a big deal out of it, keep going and enjoy the ride!
A place dedicated to the body, the mind and Pilates, where ideas, trials, errors and experiences come together in attempt to bring us closer to fitness and wellness in both body and mind. Visit this space to find my notes on staying fit and living mindfully and fully.