The Secret

I always expected to wake up one day and for it all to just click.

In this vision of my future self, I’d wake up just before my alarm, feeling well-rested and ready to take on the day. I’d crave organic fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch, grilled tofu for dinner, and maybe an extra piece of fruit and some almonds here and there for a snack. I’d chug water by the liter and my day wouldn’t feel complete without a 5 mile run outside. Social events would be no problem for me, as they are all about the company, not the food, so focusing on my friends and coworkers would be second nature by now.

I’m sorry to say that this day hasn’t yet come.

Sure, some days are easier than others, and there are a few days where I do wake up before my alarm, but more days than not I have to fight for it. I still have to make conscious decisions to be healthy; choosing fruit over cake for snacks, choosing to go for a run rather than sleeping in, or choosing to order a salad with my sandwich instead of french fries (because I know I’ll eat every last one).

I’ve found that the “secret” to staying motivated is to realize that the battle is never over. Every day for the rest of my life I’ll have make little decisions to stay healthy that will add up to the big picture of being healthy over time. Over time, these decisions do get somewhat ingrained so they become more habitual than they were before, but I’m never going to get to get to just stop trying.

Planning ahead takes a lot of the guesswork out of these decisions and makes it easier to stay on track, be that with food or exercise. I find that I eat well mainly because I pack my breakfasts, snacks, and lunches the night before. Doing this is one of the keys to success for me because it makes eating the healthy food not only the best option, but the easiest one.

This became quite apparent to me a few weeks ago when I had a doctors appointment in the morning before work. It was my yearly physical, so I was having blood drawn and couldn’t eat beforehand.  As I walked out of the doctors office onto the street, I was completely overwhelmed by the world of possibilities of what I could eat for breakfast.  I suddenly realized that I was starving and without my usual packed breakfast, I reverted back to my old stand-bys.

Should I go with an egg sandwich on toast with homefries from the deli downstairs from my office?

Or wait, should I get a bagel with cream cheese from Au Bon Pain? 

Better yet, I’ll be walking right by Cosi on my way and they have really good breakfast sandwiches!

It’s almost scary how easy it was to fall back into my old mentality, but luckily I was able to snap out of it and return to sanity before any damage was done.  I knew that this situation didn’t really warrant a special, super high point (calorie) breakfast, and that I was just trying to quickly get some food.  There are of course times for celebration and times when you need to give into cravings so you don’t go crazy, but this breakfast was not that.

Instead,  I ended up going with the Starbucks oatmeal (plus a banana) and had a Venti Americano to reward myself, since I love that drink and rarely get it.

One of the best lessons I’ve learned since deciding to get healthy in 2009 is that it’s all about the little, everyday decisions. It’s important for me to continue to take it one meal at a time, one day at a time, one run at a time. I used to get so overwhelmed at the thought of all the weight I had to lose, and even today, I get overwhelmed at the idea of having to count points or track my food for the rest of my life. When I find myself falling into that mentality, I try my best to snap out of it and focus on the small decisions at hand.

Maybe at some point it will all just click and the healthy behaviors will become second nature, but for now, it’s something I do very consciously and something I fight for

What’s one small thing you want to focus on today? I’ve been majorly slacking in drinking water, so my goal for today is to drink at least two bottles of water while at work today (48oz).

46 Comments on The Secret

  1. kerrycooks
    May 11, 2011 at 8:55 am (9 years ago)

    Hey Beth ! New reader and I’m loving your blog! This post really resonated with me – I think I too always had a vision of a future version of me who would be healthy and fabulous in a very easy and automatic way! Its hard to come to the realisation that hitting a certain weight doesn’t equal healthiness – it is each and every little decision you make, for the rest of your life (which can feel quite overwhelming as you said!).

    x Kerry

  2. Holly @ The Runny Egg
    May 11, 2011 at 8:55 am (9 years ago)

    Beth I totally agree that small decisions and changes make a big difference! One thing I need to focus on today is getting up to move every once in a while at work. I tend to sit for so long and that is not good for my back. My plan is to get up and walk around each hour for at least 5-10 minutes.

  3. Amy @ Second City Randomness
    May 11, 2011 at 9:03 am (9 years ago)

    My thing is snacks. Sometimes I need them, sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I’ll eat them even if I don’t. I’m really focusing now on making sure that I actually FEEL hungry before I just absent-mindedly grab…

  4. Megan
    May 11, 2011 at 9:15 am (9 years ago)

    I completely understand and sympathize with you! Every time I’m on the road (DH and I travel up to PA almost bi-monthly), I want to stop at Arbys, or Wendys, or my husband’s favorite – Burger King. I tried to start packing snacks, but who wants yogurt when you can have a burger?! It’s really hard, and I long for the day when I can wake up the same as you imagined – ready to go, run, craving fruits and vegetables.

    And thanks for being honest. It’s nice to know that even though you’ve had so much success, you still struggle.

  5. Mindy
    May 11, 2011 at 9:17 am (9 years ago)

    This month, my focus is no soda. It became far too frequent of a drink over the past few months and as a result, I started drinking less and less water. Bad news bears!

  6. kerrycooks
    May 11, 2011 at 9:22 am (9 years ago)

    @ Amy – paying attention to when I actually FEEL hungry as opposed to eating at 12 because its lunchtime, eating my afternoon snack because its there is something I really struggle with! It sounds SO simple but it isn’t!

  7. Alexis
    May 11, 2011 at 9:25 am (9 years ago)

    This post came just when I needed it. Thank you so much for your honestly and for enabling us to be inspired so much! Have a lovely day 🙂

  8. gracefulfitness
    May 11, 2011 at 9:31 am (9 years ago)

    What a lovely and honest post, thanks! I’ve been slacking on water drinking the last few days too and have really felt it, yuck!

  9. EatMoreMeatLess
    May 11, 2011 at 9:31 am (9 years ago)

    I absolutely loved this post this morning. I am really going back and forth with my weight and eating lately and not feeling good about it.

    Water is usually not a problem for me – I recently got a water bottle that really helps and I think you will love too! I know you like to use your CamelBaks on long runs – CamelBak came out with a water bottle that makes drinking water so easy. I’ve copied the link below for you- you can find it in some stores too now.

  10. Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life
    May 11, 2011 at 9:54 am (9 years ago)

    I’m trying really hard to focus more on mindless snacking. Lately, since I’ve been laid off from my job, I have a lot more free time to “roam” the kitchen. I’m working on making a conscience effort to curb those snacks when I’m not really hungry!
    Great post! I’m still waiting for that “click” too…let me know when it happens 😉

  11. Christine @ Merf In Progress
    May 11, 2011 at 9:54 am (9 years ago)

    Wow, Beth, you pretty much just described my fantasy as well, with the addition of two children who race downstairs screaming about how they can’t wait to have oatmeal with almond milk and sliced berries on top. But no, demands are still for toaster waffles with extra syrup.

  12. Jennifer
    May 11, 2011 at 10:02 am (9 years ago)

    I’m so impressed that you were able to change your mind and choose a healthy breakfast option. I’ve faced that decision many times and sometimes I choose wisely and other times I say whatever and do it anyway. I need to recognize that eating out (which I do often) doesn’t mean it’s a free for all, and to save it for special occasion eating out situations. Today I want to focus on eating on what I brought for lunch, not other unplanned snacks.

  13. delightederin
    May 11, 2011 at 10:08 am (9 years ago)

    I am trying to not snack after the boys nap … for some reason I am really tired (something to do with not getting a full nights sleep for 7 weeks now … thanks to Little Issac) …. and I go crazy before dinner … I am able to stay with my points but it is not cool … one night I had to just have a piece of fruit because I ate such a huge snack ….

    So my goal for today is to NOT have a snack attack at 4 … the way I am gonna stop it is I am going to have an apple at 4 …

  14. Leah (The Kind Weight Watcher)
    May 11, 2011 at 10:10 am (9 years ago)

    Great post! This is a life-long process, getting healthy. Sometimes it’s scary to think about! But what could be scary about health? 🙂

    Today I will focus on relaxation. I feel like I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard the last few weeks, and I deserve a night completely off from everything.

    That being said, my muscles are so tight and sore from this morning’s workout that I think some yoga stretches would be beneficial, alongside a piping hot epsom salt bath and a favorite DVD.

  15. Kate Walsh
    May 11, 2011 at 10:13 am (9 years ago)

    Great post Beth – you really hit the nail on the head with the idea of waiting for the magic feeling to begin. There are many times when I feel like that will happen, and I am one of those people that has lost and gained back lots of weight many times. So, I know how easy it is to fall back into bad eating habits. So easy. Good for you recognizing it and changing your patterns. I love your balanced approach to eating. Keep up the great work!

  16. ihearteggs
    May 11, 2011 at 10:16 am (9 years ago)

    I so understand this! It’s a constant struggle to remind myself how easy it is to slip into old patterns, ESPECIALLY when I go out to eat. Just becuase I’m having someoen else cook my food doesnt mean I have to order the worst thing on the menu… and plow through it!

  17. Gretchen @ Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!
    May 11, 2011 at 10:21 am (9 years ago)

    Great post, as always Bethers. 🙂 I think that the biggest thing is just being aware that for some of us, we are ALWAYS going to have to make a conscious effort to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. The danger comes when you embark on a journey to lose weight and think that once you’ve lost your extra lbs you’ll be able to revert to the way you were living your life before. But hello! That will only get you back to your old weight and old life. The point is to change. I hate when people say “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change” because it’s so corny but it’s TRUE. Accepting that is the first part of really changing.

  18. Valerie @ City|Life|Eats
    May 11, 2011 at 10:31 am (9 years ago)

    I can really relate to this post – btw, I think I have commented here before, but if not, hi! I have been loving your blog since I discovered it a couple of months ago – but yes, planning is key. And honestly, bloodwork mornings are a nightmare for me – I think a lot of it is being so hungry and having my routine disrupted but everything looks great to me, plus I really need more than my usual small breakfast after fasting. I get my bloodwork done at 19th and L so I usually pop up to Java Green and get a tofu scramble wrap after, along with a green smoothie. Some bloodwork mornings, I pack my breakfast, but I find that can make me more hungry. Oh well.

    • Beth
      May 11, 2011 at 10:33 am (9 years ago)

      That’s exactly where I get my blood drawn – actually, all my doctors are in the same building on 19th b/w L and M. I’ve NEVER been to Java Green. I wandered in their once and was so overwhelmed by all the choices that I left. I am weird like that.

  19. Shannon
    May 11, 2011 at 10:36 am (9 years ago)

    I had this very feeling about running the other day. I was struggling through my last running interval, getting side stiches with sweat dripping in my face while my lungs burned and I felt like I was ready to puke and I thought when will this get easy? When will I be effortlessly able to run even 1 mile and be as graceful and at ease as all those other people on the treadmill.

    By thinking that way, I instantly recognized I was at risk of stopping running altogether. Because the only way it will get easier is to keep choosing to go and to get through the hard part.

  20. Karen
    May 11, 2011 at 11:18 am (9 years ago)

    Everyday is truly created by every decision you make. Sometimes it’s easy to pick the healthy option, and others, it feels like the most difficult thing in the world. Perspective on the grand scheme of life really helps. You are doing such a great job Beth, and your posts are always so down to Earth and REAL. I absolutely adore it. I need to start drinking more water too, Bob Harper’s FB post just said to aim for 8-10 glasses today and my first thought was “I don’t wanna have to pee all day!” Keep smiling 🙂

  21. Victoria (District Chocoholic)
    May 11, 2011 at 11:25 am (9 years ago)

    I do think that eventually, you’ll begin craving fruit and veggies more often. I experimented with cutting out most starchy foods this fall and found that I generally didn’t crave bread, fries, etc – I wanted fruit and veggies instead (honestly). And then my life turned upside-down in March and I strayed away from that. Now I crave starches again, but I’m trying to move away from that and back to more fruits and veggies – I feel better that way anyway.

    • Beth
      May 11, 2011 at 11:33 am (9 years ago)

      I mean I DO crave fruits and veggies, its just that I also crave cookies, brownies and ice cream. 🙂

  22. lauryn
    May 11, 2011 at 11:33 am (9 years ago)

    For me water isn’t the problem, I have the camelback someone posted above and I drink about 4 of those refilled at work plus 1 at the gym in the am. **I highly recommend spending the $15 bucks on one!!**

    Today, I’m going to commit myself to going to Hot Yoga- it’s 37 miles (ONE WAY) from my house so I rarely go + I’m driving 3.5 hours tomorrow for a graduation but I know I’ve had extra cals/sodium/sugar this week and will benefit from it. Here’s to one day at a time tracking points- we can do it!

    • Beth
      May 11, 2011 at 11:34 am (9 years ago)

      Wow 37 miles!!! That is FAR. I’m having trouble convincing myself to drive the 20 minutes to my Bikram studio… But now I think I will go tonight!

      • lauryn
        May 11, 2011 at 12:02 pm (9 years ago)

        I know it’s ridiculous! I live in Warrenton so there are no Hot Yoga studios around here, there is one in Fairfax but despite it saying Hot- its luke warm- ugh. So I drive to the Dancing mind yoga studio in Falls Church which is annoying BUT i love the studio and the instructor (that I had the last time- hopefully again tonight!)

  23. Lisa
    May 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm (9 years ago)

    Nope! The battle is never over, but sometimes it gets easier.

    With the way I lost my weight, it was a lifestyle change. Meaning: not a diet that I was going to quit once I lost the weight. It was something I had to maintain the rest of my life. It’s worked so far!

  24. Jamie
    May 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm (9 years ago)

    My goal for today is to try not to indulge in negative self-talk. I have been really mean to myself lately and I get so obsessive about the fact that I still have 10 pounds to lose. I need to look at all the positive things in my life and stop!

    • Beth
      May 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm (9 years ago)

      i love that goal! =)

  25. Rebecca
    May 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm (9 years ago)

    I have been reading your blog for a while now and must say you are such an inspiration! Thanks for always being so honest and open. It was nice to know that you still have struggles. I still have about 30lbs to lose and know I will get there one day! You are amazing 🙂

  26. Caroline
    May 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm (9 years ago)

    Great post – it’s a major change in approach that many of us struggle with. I have been reading a great book about eating whole foods, and the author recommends drinking 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water – so if you weigh 150lbs, drink 75 oz of water a day. I am finding it much easier to do that by starting my day with 20 oz at home. No coffee or tea allowed until at least that first 20 oz is in. Then if I do get decaf at work, I get another 20 oz of water and drink that as well. By lunchtime I’ve gotten over half of what I need. I find that the more I drink, the more I crave water, where I never did before. I often choose a water over diet soda or other choices.

  27. Lori
    May 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm (9 years ago)

    I get the question all the time of “How did you know that this time was *the* time”. The problem is, I don’t know that. I could easily regain all the weight. It’s never a done deal. Some days are better than others, but if I keep more better days than non better days – I should be okay!

  28. Cait @ Beyond Bananas
    May 11, 2011 at 3:15 pm (9 years ago)

    I want to concentrate on listening to my body when it is full> Too often.. I am eating mindlessly. I am full.. .I even KNOW I am full. .but continue to eat.

  29. Lisa (bakebikeblog)
    May 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm (9 years ago)

    I think you summed it up just perfectly when you said “I’ve found that the “secret” to staying motivated is to realize that the battle is never over” :)Too true!

  30. Jenny
    May 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm (9 years ago)

    Beth this post is so real. I have days of anger, pure anger, and I work at letting it go. It sucks that I will always be on a journey and that I will always have to work at being healthy but it’s so much better than the alternative. I hated being heavy. I love brownies and cake and all things chocolate and will never be happy eating beets. Every day I have to decide – healthy smart choices or caving in? Caving in never makes me feel better in the long run so I will myself to fight those cravings. I so wish it was automatic like you pointed out. It’s encouraging to have you and others as support. Thanks!

  31. Robin
    May 12, 2011 at 7:23 am (9 years ago)

    Great blog post. The place I get my blood work taken is directly behind a Burger King. Unfair! I hope next time I’ll think ahead and pack a breakfast so I don’t end up with my usual sausage biscuit.

  32. Shannon (in VA)
    May 12, 2011 at 8:31 am (9 years ago)

    My goal is to overcome this mental hurdle I have. I want to start running. Three weeks ago I finally got my shoes on and gave it a try. I walked for two blocks to warm up, then I jogged. For about half a block. And I had to walk again. I was so discouraged that I haven’t tried since. Deep down I know if I stick to it I would get better, but that mental hurdle gets in the way.

    • Jenny
      May 12, 2011 at 10:53 am (9 years ago)

      You can run! Just keep at it and before you know it, one block leads to two blocks and you’ll be at a mile in no time.

      Believe me – I was never a runner. Weighed over 200 at my heaviest and began running when I still was around 200. I could barely get through a quarter mile. I’ve since knocked minutes off my pace, finished 2 half-marathons, a 10 miler, etc and am training for my 3rd half.

      I know the mental part is hard but just push it away and keep trying!

      • Beth
        May 12, 2011 at 10:56 am (9 years ago)

        Same story here! I started running when I was still over 200 and couldn’t go for very far.. i seriously almost threw myself down on the pavement Look at my post called “How I started Running” (its under top posts). A lot of people assume I’ve always been a runner, but that is SOOOOOOO not true, and I still struggle with calling myself one!

  33. definediana
    May 12, 2011 at 9:25 am (9 years ago)

    Beth, this was such a great post. I have been hiding from blog land because I have been on a horrible binge for over a week now. I feel the same way as you, when will it just click?

    Well today I made a pledge that I am going to track everything. I am also going to try to make good choices to day (tracking may help with that).

    You hit the nail right on the head when you say its a battle, because it really is sometimes.

  34. Parita
    May 12, 2011 at 11:59 am (9 years ago)

    I love this post! It’s been a long time coming but I think I am finally in the right mindset when it comes to healthier eating…the one day at a time mindset. I still have trouble around chocolate, but I am human afterall! 🙂

  35. Heather C
    May 12, 2011 at 7:20 pm (9 years ago)

    This post is great, for so many reasons – but mostly because of its honesty. 🙂 I recently had a conversation with a friend (via e-mail, he’s in DC) about suddently having that AWARENESS that it’s all a balance. He finally found out how to eat healthy, be aware of his body’s needs (for running, for health, for weight maintenance), and treating each day as a clean slate – a chance to do well. This reminded me of that, of the way that you’ve become so aware of what it takes to succeed in your healthy ways, and keeping yourself happy!

  36. Jay
    May 3, 2012 at 12:34 am (8 years ago)

    Such a great post! I keep thinking that one day I
    will or should wake up and start intuitive eating healthy things and stop wanting the cakes and desserts that I love. I also tried giving myself as much as I wanted to see if eventually that intuitiveness will kick in. Sadly it did not and I’m realizing as u said that it’s a lifelong battle of balance. I will always love chips and chocolate and yummy food so it will be work to balance giving in to having them in moderation and sometimes saying no 🙂 Thanks for reminding me that the struggle is normal!


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