As an adult I have struggled with my weight.  I grew up healthy, active and lean.  Many things have impacted my eating & activity level over the years.  Beginning in December of 2011, I decided to make a conscious effort to achieve a goal (competing in a bikini competition) and become healthier, leaner, & fitter.  I have done many fad diets including weight watchers and Atkins & while I experiences some success, it was short lived and I never made the progress I wanted too.  I was irritable and had limited energy levels in trying many of them.  So in December 2011, I set out and found a coach to help me on my path.  I have to admit, I didn’t realize completely what I was getting into nor how hard it would be to change some habits, not for the short term but for the long term.

I have begun to realize that I can no longer go on a diet.  I must make a lifestyle change if I want long term success and although I have some to this realization, I still struggle with the diet way of thinking.  I get caught up periodically in weighing myself on the scale instead of focusing on how my clothes fit.  Or I think well if I only have a few bites of this than I can have this.  The diet way of thinking is a difficult one to break but I am going to knock it out for good.

One of the things I have learned & believe to be true is “whatever you do to lose fat, get lean, fit & healthy, you will need to maintain & continue for your lifetime.”  I have believed this for a long time and it is something that I am still working on internalizing, i.e. putting into action.  Partly because like everyone else, I want “FAST” results that will be effective and stay long term.  However I have learned that “fast results” DO NOT EQUAL long term results/success.

I really saw this when I trained for my first bikini competition.  I weighed approximately 186lbs & had about 31% Body fat.  I lost 30lbs & measured in at approximately 23% body fat with hardcore dieting, and workouts.  This was totally not sustainable  – I was working out approximately 3-4 hours a day 6 days a week and working full-time.  It was craziness for me and my husband (my boyfriend at the time).  However I wouldn’t change a thing and I would do it again.  Anyways, it has been over a year since my competition and I now weigh approximately 184 with a body fat of 28.5%.  It took me almost a year to get back to this weight with planning a wedding in the mix.  I was able to stabilize my weight at 175 and about 26.5% for quite a while however with the stress of planning a wedding – I jumped up a bit.  In addition, to an increase in my stress, I had little time to workout because I had many wedding things to handle and that was my priority at the time.  I also wasn’t making the healthiest food choices.  However, with all that said – I am still leaner than I was a year ago and smaller in overall inches and body fat, even though the scale is relatively the same.  The big lesson of the past year or of 2012 was that I need & want to adopt a balanced & sustainable lifestyle that works for me.  One where I am happy where I am, not where I think other think I should be including my doctor.

So you might be wondering, “How do I create a healthy, balanced & sustainable lifestyle?”  Well me too 🙂 seriously though, this is a personal process and my lifestyle might look very different than your lifestyle and that is perfectly okay! You may also be asking “what is sustainable?” Well to me sustainable means something you can continue to do your entire life, even when you are 100 years old. Again your sustainable will be different that mine – we are unique.

Even though the answers to the above questions are as individual as you and me, I have identified 6 questions that will help you start reflecting on what your sustainable lifestyle might look like.  This is something that is dynamic and will change as you change so you may have to periodically reflect on these questions and ask yourself them as you become married, have children, get a new job etc.

1) What is My Goal? Try to stay away from the # on the scale, as it doesn’t tell you much. (Learn why you need to ditch the scale to measure your success)  Focus on what you want to achieve.  Do you want to be stronger, leaner, have lower blood pressure, lose body fat, fit into those “skinny” clothes you have in the back of your closet, or have more energy.  Take some time and really explore and focus what you want to gain.  Write it down and list your why’s (why is this important to you.)  Knowing your why is a key of achieving your goal, you will be able to tap into it for motivation.

2) What am I doing right now to reach my goal? Many times we start to make changes when we decide we want something different.  Sometimes we don’t even know it but usually it is something.  For me I started looking for a coach because I knew that I needed help to reach my goal.  So think about it what have you started doing?  Have you been reading more about how to become healthier, are you following blogs and have you changed your eating habits – sometimes we give up fast food first.  Really take some time and look at what are you doing to help yourself right now, because you are doing something.

3) What have I tried in the past? If you have tried something than you really need to exam what worked and what didn’t including what you liked and what didn’t you like about those plans.  For me weight watchers was easy because I didn’t have to think too much about food – they told me everything I needed to know about points however it didn’t provide the results I wanted & I wasn’t happy with the results I got. Take some time to explore this question.  If you tried something did it work the way you expected it too, is it a good decision to go back (my answer was no) or is there a better way for your? (my answer was yes, I needed something new and different).  The other question that is important to ask “was that something that I can sustain and do for the rest of my life?” and even “Why did I stop doing it if it was working?”

4) What do I enjoy doing physically?  Is there anything you hate?  For me I hate hate running long distances, ever since grade school and we had to run a mile.  I was always the last person done, my body was in pain the whole time and it was NOT enjoyable to me.  However I liked track and field specifically sprinting short distances including the 4 man relay, and the hurdles.  I loved to try to be the fast runner in the 100 meter dash when I was in gym class.  I also have always loved dance, boxing, martial arts, and weight training.  So I bet you can imagine what I love to do now for training.  Boxing makes me feel powerful and strong like I can take on the world. Ain’t nothing gonna knock me down and and if it does I just get back up ready to fight.  Martial Arts (Kempo is the style I practice) gives me focus and discipline, I really have to concentrate and think things through while not thinking – just react with intention and focus. Weight training makes me we strong and confident, and I feel super sexy especially when I start to see new muscle definition.  Lastly, dancing gives me freedom to express myself a in any silly and ridiculous way I want, it nourishes my creativity and my soul.  The point of this question is to find out what you love to do, enjoyed when you were a kid or have always wanted to try. A major part of sustainability, is doing things you enjoy.  If it isn’t fun you won’t keep doing it. (If you have every wanted to train like a boxer – then pick up your copy of Train the Beautiful Knockout Way – you can train in the privacy of your own home).

5) Am I willing to make changes to my food to reach my goals?  Many of us are lead to believe things are healthy that truly are not – basically its false advertising and not real food.  So to reach your goals, you might need to make some changes to your diet.  When I started on my journey, I never thought I could give up dairy or starchy carbs.  Well let me tell you it was hard but I was able to do it for 3 months, yes three whole months and I felt great.  After the first couple weeks I didn’t even really crave much of that food as before.  I have never fully returned to eating dairy or grains like I did prior to the competition training for a variety of reasons.  Mostly because I was able to see what impact those foods had on my body.  Many grains, actually make my stomach upset and give me major indigestion.  Something I never experienced before the competition diet.  As for dairy, my stomach did fine once I added it back however I noticed that it had a major impact on my skin.  So now I am much pickier about what type of dairy I eat and only have it on rare occasions.  As for grains, I pretty much have gone grain free although I still do enjoy every now and again however not every day.  I am not saying that you need to give up dairy or go grain free however it could help.  What I want you to do is focus on figuring out what you are willing to change to reach your goals.  This may mean you cut down on certain types of foods or even replace/substitute foods.  We no longer eat pasta in our home, in fact my husband prefers spaghetti squash over spaghetti noodles. We also have switched from milk to unsweetened almond milk – this took a little while to transition but we did it and now he prefers almond milk.  It is important to be willing to make some changes to get different results however you may have to move slow when you do this and that is okay.  Try cutting out certain foods for a week or two and then add them back in and see what happens with your body.  You have to decide can you live without xyz in order to reach your goal.  It doesn’t mean you can never have it, but it might move from daily to once a week.  If you need some help with nutrition and what to eat – pick up a copy of Eat the Beautiful Knockout Way, where I help you discover your relationship with food and also provide you with guidelines to eat like a Beautiful Knockout.  Plus there are over 30 recipes with some simple swaps so you can still enjoy some of your favorite foods.

6) Am I really ready to make a change?  This may sound like a silly question but I assure you it is not.  Just because we recognize the need to change, want to change or try something new, doesn’t mean we are ready.  So you have to asked yourself “Am I Ready?” If the answer is yes great – ask it again “Am I really ready?’ and if the answer is yes perfect you are on your way to making a lifestyle change.  However if your answer is no or I’m not sure, this should be explored.  Many times we set up road blocks and sabotage ourselves before we even start to make a change because we are scared.  Scared we might fail, scared we might succeed, scared what others might think, etc.  Don’t let your fear stop you from achieving your goals. Face them head on and knock them out with a hook uppercut combination.

Remember that creating a lifestyle is a process, a journey and there will be road blocks, detours, and potholes.  The goal for your is to keep trying, if something doesn’t work, that is great information for you.  Use that information to further create your lifestyle.  Incorporate what works and don’t keep trying what doesn’t.  Another piece of creating your lifestyle is become your own expert. This can be scary at times however the more you embrace the idea that you are an expert on your body and what works for you the more empowered you will be to create a sustainable lifestyle.  Again you may have to reflect on these questions as your life changes and as you become more mindful of yourself and your goals.  This is a dynamic and fluid process and there are no right and wrong ways to create a sustainable lifestyle as long as it is something you can do for the rest of your life!!  Of course there will always be adjustments but it is importat to ask yourself, can I train like this when I am 80, will I enjoy eating this food in 5, 10, 30 years?  If the answers are yes, than you are on the path to creating your sustainable lifestyle.

You have the power to change ~ Amanda oxox

drivers license pics
Left side – 175 and 30 years old
Right side – 184 and 37 (plus tanner) – its amazing how much thinner I look – plus 1 year after my competition