And Then What?

I’m just over a month away from turning 28. Is that too early to feel like I’m going through some serious self-reflection/mid life crisis stuff? Maybe because 28 is so much closer to 30… and for some reason my whole life I thought I would have it all figured out by the time I turned 30. The decade of the 20’s is the one for figuring it all out and the 30’s is when you get to enjoy it all, right? Isn’t that how it works?

See, the problem isn’t where I am. As I stop and look around I am really super duper happy and blessed to be where I am. The problem is where I thought I should be. the problem is the expectation of what “arriving” or “achieving a goal” would look like.

 

A photo posted by Courtney Norman (@courtnorm) on

this isn’t just with life in general. it has happened in marriage, parenting, weight loss, nutrition, finances. like we spend so much time and energy chasing a goal and then we get there and then what?

in my head i would get there… achieve this goal… and then what? it would be smooth sailing, of course. I have absolutely no problem clawing my way to a goal. I set my sights on something and then sprint after it. and then all of a sudden I have it. and I want to sit there and bask in the moment. but then what? that goal becomes a moving target and I’m forced to chase it again. it’s like I thought if I hit that goal it would stop being so hard.

but it doesn’t.

goal

I lost a good amount of weight, but it doesn’t just stay off because I reached a goal.
I thought because I got to a “comfortable” place with my body I wouldn’t have to think about what I ate, but I do.
We both got laid off of really good paying jobs right when we first bought our house. We clawed our way through some dark financial times and ended up starting our own businesses (yes, multiple. we are crazy). We aren’t doing bad, but finances still require hard work to manage properly, More money doesn’t mean less problems… it means more work.
I thought that finding the right person to marry would be the hard part. that marriage brought pixie dust and butterflies and rainbows. and sometimes it does. but it requires tough conversations, uncomfortable vulnerability, and lots of hard work.
Pregnancy is hard. Labor and Delivery is hard. and yes, the long nights of feedings and diaper changes are hard. but answering tough questions and being responsible for shaping the world view of this little girl… it is hard work every day.

And I’m not really scared of hard work. but somewhere in my naive little mind I thought some day the hard work would end. Like this fairy tale would all come together on its own. that I would reach my goals and get to just be for a little while. I knew I’d make new goals. and I was ok having to work hard for those. I guess what I wasn’t expecting was to have to work so hard to maintain what I thought I’d already achieved.

The catalyst for this post was realizing it has been almost 6 months since my abdominoplasty/skin removal. And yes vacations and holidays and life have happened since then… but I was up 10lbs since surgery day. Since realizing that and reluctantly getting back on a structured meal plan I’ve lost a few pounds and am now just 6lbs heavier.  They removed 8lbs of skin and fat. and I know the scale isn’t the only judge of progress, but I also feel a bit softer in the middle than I’d like. I wasn’t eating stupid or anything, but I was being a bit more lax than I was before. I was happy with my body and loosened the reins a bit. I explored what “maintenance” would be like and ended up gaining. And I kinda sulked about it for awhile. I finally got to a place where I felt good about the body I had worked so hard to achieve, it couldn’t be too hard to keep there… but apparently it was. Do I want to eat chicken and rice and green beans for the rest of my life? No. But do I need to have dessert every night or a “cheat meal” every meal during the weekend? No, I don’t. I had to realize that once you reach a goal doesn’t mean you get a get out of jail free card for that particular goal for the rest of your life. You still have to put in the work.

this isn’t just for weight loss. or fitness. but for relationships… finances… life. i was overwhelmed at having to try so hard. to put in so much effort. but not because i hate hard work, but because somewhere along the way i adopted the mindset that it wasn’t supposed to be this hard. regardless of what it is supposed to be or not supposed to be, this is what it is. hard work. that is the then what. it’s hard work. and now that I realize that, it’s time to do it. live the then what.

Have you ever struggled with the “then what” part of the story?

The 5 Limiting Factors That Can Stop You From Reaching Your Fitness Goals

Happy first Monday of the New Year! I know it is just another day, but motivation and resolve seems to be at all time high on Mondays. and first Mondays are even better. The best though… the best is when the 1st falls on a Monday. I’m not alone, right? My OCDish personality loves it when that happens. I am particularly excited about today because I finally started to feel better. After about a week of battling a sore throat, cough, and congestion I’m finally starting to feel somewhat human again. Aside from feeling better, I’m also really excited to get back to a sort of normalcy. I enjoy the holidays, I really do, but I also really love the rhythm of a well created routine.

This is my life.

A photo posted by Courtney Norman (@courtnorm) on

That pretty much sums it up.

As we dive into a new week… month… year… Goal setting is at its peak. I love having goals, giving me something to strive towards. Many people have set goals related to their health. It may be the first time you have resolved to change your lifestyle or maybe it is the 100th time. Either way, let’s make this time different. The best way to reach your goal is to pin point what has been stopping you from achieving that goal and remove that obstacle. When we are talking about your ability to live a healthy life there are 5 major limiting factors that stop you from reaching your fitness goals.

5limitingfactors

Genetic Makeup

This was one of my fall back excuses for a long time. I was convinced that my genetics prevented me from losing weight. A good portion of my family was overweight. After my mom lost a huge amount of weight when I was in my early twenties that excuse crumbled for me. If she could do it, I could to. The truth is most people don’t come close to realizing their genetic potential for health and fitness. No, you may not be a Rich Froning… he is a genetic freak. But your genetics typically allow for improvement in health, fat loss, and muscle gain.

Physical Activity Patterns

This is one that we often acknowledge. If you live a pretty sedentary life that could be what is holding you back from reaching your health and fitness goals. The recent influx in popularity of fitness tracking gadgets has helped many people become more active simply by making them aware of their inactivity. Even though I coach CrossFit, I still have a desk job that has me sitting for hours at a time. If I am not purposeful about my exercise and activity it doesn’t happen. Start wherever you are at. You don’t have to go from sedentary to marathoner overnight. If you want to get fitter, leaner, and healthier you are going to need to pursue an active lifestyle as well as purposeful, regular, and intense exercise.

Physiology

This is one I will preach about until I’m blue in the face. While exercise and nutrition are important, there are certain physiological imbalances that will severely impact your ability to reach your goals. This includes all kinds of things like thyroid problems (Hello, Hashimoto’s) and hormone imbalances (oh, and hey there estrogen dominance). These may not be issues with every person who struggles to lose weight or get fit. They were, and still are, very real issues with me. You know your body.  You know when it just doesn’t feel right. You could very well have some physiological limiting factors, but please please listen to me very closely here… While these may be limiting factors, they are not excuses for not trying. Yes, I’ve had to work twice as hard for half the results in some instances. Yes, I’ve felt like my body was fighting me every step of the way. But I did not let it defeat me. It may have been the medical reason why losing weight was hard…. harder for me than others…. but it did not stop me. I identified it as a limiting factor and did my best to remove it, or manage it. If you think your limiting factor may be physiological, find a team willing to help you get to the bottom of the issue. A good doctor, trainer or coach, and nutritionist. It’s worth the fight.

Mindset

Maybe I should have put this at the top. Having the courage to believe you can is the biggest part of the battle. After being overweight the majority of my life it took a lot of courage to step out and say maybe I can change this. Getting to that point is huge, but it isn’t the end all to the mental battle. Once you believe you can you must have the mental strength to stay in the battle once the feel goods fade away and all thats left is hard work. Getting up early to work out, eating healthy, and most of all staying consistent is not always easy. Your mindset is critical in determining if you will reach your goals.

believe

Nutrition

Ah, yes. This is the one. The one that more often than not will hold people back. It could be from lack of knowledge, lack of implementation, or being inconsistent. Nutrition is almost always, if not one of many, the most important limiting factor. It can be overwhelming with so many different points of view on nutrition. There is no right or wrong answer. There is no one best diet. You have to do something that works for you! Fad diets may help you for awhile, but what you need is something you can sustain for a lifetime. You can’t out exercise a bad diet. The truth is most people who think they have a generally good diet, but are still unhappy with where they are in regards to their fitness probably aren’t eating according to their goals. Regardless of what your goals or what “diet camp” you find yourself a part of there are a few things that all types of healthy eating philosophies have in common like making you aware of what you are eating, focusing on food quality, help eliminate nutrient deficiencies, they help control appetite and food intake, and they all promote regular exercise. So regardless of what route you take to get there all the popular healthy eating philosophies will help you reach your goals in similar ways. Stay consistent. Don’t give up because you mess up. Nutrition will be the make or break piece of the puzzle on your journey to health. If you’re looking for some one on one coaching to help you figure out this nutrition stuff, check out the  Precision Nutrition Coaching Presale List. this is the company I am doing my certification through and they offer a year long coaching program to help you reach your fitness goals.

Now that you know what the top 5 Limiting Factors that stop you from reaching your fitness goals you can see which of these may be problem areas for you and start making a plan to remove them so you become an unstoppable fitness force! For me it was a combination of many of these factors. Once I identified the problem, reaching my goals became just a matter of time, hard work, and consistency.

Do you struggle with any of these limiting factors? If so, which one(s)? 

 

Learning Balance, Finding a Healthy Relationship with Food, and Loving My Body

As you all know, I’m a big dreamer. I love to set big goals. For the longest time my main goals have been either weight loss or body image related. Lose XX number of pounds, fit in a size 12, be “normal” on the BMI Scale. Even though my goals have gone from get skinny to get healthy and from “weight 175” to “be strong” – It still all relates back to my personal body image. Almost everything I have done for the past 4+ years has somehow been related to these goals. Heck, I even turned it from a hobby into a full blow job! I guess what I’ve really been thinking about is where is that line? When do you go HAM on reaching a goal and when do you say ok I’m just going to be ok with where I’m at?

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. I see some of the fittest people I know come into our CrossFit box. People who workout hard 5 days a week, eat strict meal plans most of the time, are the picture of health and fitness… and they still aren’t happy. They want abs like so and so, or a butt like Stacie Tovar (I mean, who doesn’t?! #strengthisbooty after all…) I’m guilty of the same thing from time to time. I am guilty of negating the progress I’ve made by focusing on the things I’d still like to change.

When I first started out on this journey I was morbidly obese. I needed the structure and discipline of adhering to a strict plan. I was motivated and had a lot of fat to lose. I had specific health related milestones I wanted to reach. I went from one side of the road to the other. I used to eat whatever I wanted, and that’s what got me to 50% body fat! I needed some intervention to turn that train around. And I did (for more about my journey check out my “Before & After” page)

Read how my health journey has helped me learn balance, find a healthy relationship with food, and love my body.

Even before my surgery, I started to realize I was happy with myself. The surgery was just the cherry on top of my body acceptance sundae. It just helped me to be able to see the body I had built underneath all that skin, and that body is beautiful. And when I realized that I was happy with my body, all size 14 and 200 pounds of it, instead of being happy I felt confused and slightly panicked. What am I supposed to do now? Where do I go from here?

After over 4 years, I was suddenly on the other side of the spectrum. I had gone from 50% body fat to 20%,  I went from not being able to do a proper air squat with my own body weight to being able to load up a barbell with my body weight and back squat it. Throughout the last few years I went through strict Paleo, Whole30, and spent the better part of the last year on detailed meal plans through a nutrition coach. It was a lot of restricting. Suddenly foods became “good” or “bad” and meals became either “on plan” or “off plan.”

Food isn't good or bad, it's just food. How I learned balance, found a healthy relationship with food, and started to love my body.

I had become one of those Diet Martyrs… “Oh, guess I”ll have to skip the Christmas cookies this year” or “Man, I wish I could eat that” or “I can’t believe I ate that!” followed by a big serving of guilt and shame. While I never thought I had a full blown eating disorder, I saw an article about Orthorexia and found myself nodding my head in response to the list of possible symptoms. I had some disordered thinking and unhealthy mindsets when it came to my relationship with food. I was in the mindset of I can’t have it because It’s not on my meal plan. I followed a specific meal plan, eating the same safe foods over and over again. I was afraid to stop counting calories, measuring portions to the ounce, or following a rigid meal plan. Because if I didn’t have a plan it meant I would gain back all the weight I’ve lost and suddenly be fat again *eye roll*

How losing weight became less about the number on the scale and more about how I felt about my body.

I guess what I’m saying is I am finally happy with my body. I feel a sense of peace with where I’m at right now. I’m healthy, I’m fit, and I’m happy. Society still tries to tell me I’m plus sized, so what. This plus sized girl rocked a bikini in Florida last month! I still have stretch marks and squishy areas. I know that if I want to take my body to the next level it would require more restricting and while I know I could do it, I’m not in a place where I’m willing to do what it would take. Could that change next month? Absolutely. For more about the cost of getting lean check out this article from Precision Nutrition.

 I’d like to challenge you to take a look at yourself and your goals. If you are restricting yourself or beating yourself up about your body or how you’re eating, why? What are your goals? If you have a hard deadline goal like doing a bikini competition, by all means eat according to your goals this holiday season. If you have serious health risks that are obesity related or a history of unhealthy binge eating than maybe you need to structure your eating a bit more. Whatever you do, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and in a healthy way. Super restrictive diets aren’t great for your mental health. Food isn’t something to fear. Take time to Learn balance, find a healthy relationship with food, and love your body.

You are worth it.

Do you struggle with Balance or a Healthy Relationship with food?
What are some things you can do today to love your body?