Operation Beach Boot Camp is now complete, and this post is coming to you post-Nicaragua! I can’t wait to say more about our trip, but first I wanted to fill you in on the results of my pre-vacation boot camp, and share some insights that might be helpful for you (‘shiny pearls of wisdom’ just sounds more exciting though, right?) You can read the details of my 6 week fitness and nutrition plan in Part 1 of this post.
I hit my exercise goals 60-70% of the time across all the categories, averaging cardio 3-4 times per week instead of 5, and so on. I stayed very much on track the first few weeks, but my enthusiasm definitely waned in the final two weeks when I came down with a cold, and when it began to look unlikely that I’d hit my goal (below).
I aced a few of the nutrition categories, but others were more challenging. I still eat too many filler snacks and need to focus on eating 3 quality meals daily, which means I need to be more consistent with meal planning. I do drink lots of water, and eat salad and lean protein every day, but I didn’t limit my grains as much as I had planned and I could probably still be eating twice as many vegetables.
I had gained about 6 lbs. over the holidays and was hoping to take them off in 6 weeks. I ended up losing about 3.5 lbs. It’s possible I’ve put on some muscle along the way, so I know the scale isn’t the only indicator of success. Overall I feel stronger and less “puffy” than I did after my pecan pie and margarita-fueled holiday season.
And now, for some of the new insights I gained in the process…
- Running is… fun?? I have always shied away from running — it just didn’t seem like it could be fun — but I ended up enjoying it! It got me outside during a time of year when we tend to hibernate, and when the blood started pumping, the winter air didn’t seem so cold at all. In the past I hadn’t enjoyed running, or found it took a long time to get into the groove, but this time I enjoyed myself almost right away. One important key for me was having a good playlist to get me going.
- Tabata is the best kind of horrible
I am SO glad I discovered the Iron Tabata classes at Equinox! They SUCKED for the 50 minutes I was in them, but really got the job done and I left spent every time. The basic principle of a Tabata class is that you do one exercise at high intensity for 20 seconds then take a 10 second break. This is repeated 8 times, and then the next exercise is introduced, for a total of 8 exercises, each times 8. Knowing that there is always a break just 20 seconds away makes the challenging exercises feel manageable, and you leave feeling like you can confidently check off the cardio and strength workout from your to-do list.
- Aerials are one of the most fun and best workouts ever
OK, technically I already knew this, but still, come try it with me?
- Veggies are the answer
The more veggies I eat, the better I feel. Truth. Buy the BIG package of greens (our family usually goes for the organic Spring Mix) — if you’re worried about it going bad, just hurry up and eat it! Throw some greens in your breakfast smoothie! Roast up a big batch of vegetables and have on hand to use at breakfast, lunch, dinner. (Some great suggestions here.) One of my favorite things to eat for lunch now is this kale recipe! I keep hearing the advice to make 50% of my diet come from vegetables. Sounds great… I’m working on it!
- Instead of empty carbs, start the day off with eggs and vegetables
Mini-frittatas can be made ahead and frozen, then popped into the microwave for a healthy and quick breakfast. If you’re a caffeine drinker like me, add a cup of black tea and skip the expensive coffee shop. This recipe is a starting point, but you could play around with substitutions. If you’ve already roasted some veggies, you could just throw those in and save time. I wanted to use Martha Stewart’s recipe because she’s a badass ex-con, but really we don’t need all that cheese, you could leave it out or go lightly with your favorite kind of cheese if you want to include it.
- Accountability is key
I stuck to my eating plan as long as I was emailing my food records to my friend and nutritionist Julie Starr-Wood. On the days I didn’t email her, I strayed off course. I’m not sure what to do about this, since I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want to read about what I ate for the rest of my life. Some of the healthy habits have become second nature now, but old habits are still lingering. Writing down what you’re eating and when you’re exercising is a great way to stay honest with yourself about how healthy your choices are. If you have a friend (or professional) you can share these records with on a daily basis, this is gold. I guarantee it will make a difference in helping you stay on track.
Now that I’ve completed this challenge, I’m not going back to an “off” cycle (at least not yet)! I look forward to carrying healthy habits into the spring.
What nutrition and fitness discoveries have made a difference for you? Favorite recipes or tricks for staying on track? What challenges seem to be stopping you from having the healthy lifestyle you want? I’d love to hear from you and work to support each other as a community!