I’ve talked pretty openly about how I feel about my body before, but I had a moment of clarity a few weeks back and came to the realization that it has always been more about what I saw staring back at me in the mirror and less about how I actually felt, you know, physically.
So, what does this have to do with pushing past plateaus? Everything, if you ask me.
It seems like everyone has an opinion when it comes to food and diet and which workout is the best, and it’s easy to get caught up in what you think you should be doing/eating instead of honing in on what actually works for you and your body. Up until now I’ve been following everyone else’s lead, opposed to simply listening to my body. What a novel idea, right?
How does my body feel when I go for a long run? How does my body feel when I take an hour-long HIIT class? What about a spin class? How does my body react when I eat this food or that food? You get this gist.
I mapped out the things I’ve been doing to push past the plateau I recently found myself standing on and ultimately, feel my best!Nourishment – I describe myself as someone who is painfully picky. It’s honestly one of the most frustrating things when it comes to taking care of my body, not to mention it’s embarrassing. “Hi, yes, I’ll have the grilled cheese off the kid’s menu, please.”
Because of this, I set out to try one new food a week. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I’m all about baby steps. I tried homemade sweet potato fries (yes, this sounds just as ridiculous to me as it does to you) and guess what? I actually liked them. The sausage I tried at my first Cubs game? Not so much. And that’s okay!
I’ve also been paying more attention to how the foods I’m eating make me feel after I eat them, and I’m surprised by what I’ve found. I think I have a slight intolerance to some of the things I’ve been consuming on a near daily basis. I picked up black tea (read: caffeine) habit at the end of last year and I noticed I feel bloated after drinking more than two cups. At first I blamed the discomfort on the large handfuls of raw spinach I add to my smoothie each morning (thanks to Google). Listening to what my body is telling me has proven to be far more informative! I get the same feeling after eating hard-boiled eggs (scrambled eggs, which I eat everyday, seem to sit just fine with me. If anyone knows if there is any science behind this, do share)! All I know is that eliminating these things are easy fixes to help me feel better as a whole. Pushing harder – I’ve been showing up to five or more workout classes a week since last November (give or take the weeks where I was traveling) and my body has adjusted to the workout routine I’ve settled into (hence, the plateau I’ve found myself facing). Instead of just going through the motions, I’ve been focusing on pushing myself harder on the rower, setting my speed a few decimals faster on the treadmill, and I’ve been (slowly) adding heavier weights to floor sets, while also making sure I’m striving for good form over number of reps. I’ve also taken a few advanced classes that are proving to be the push I need to get me out of my comfort zone! Basically, going in with the mindset that I don’t want to do the bare minimum just to get through the 45 or 60 minutes. There’s only so much a trainer can do for you to help you get the results you’re working for!
…But also making time for rest and recovery – This includes foam rolling (which I talked more about here), using my lacrosse balls, lots of stretching, and yoga once or twice a week. It can seem time consuming, especially after committing an hour in an already jam-packed day, but I can assure you it’s worth it. I touched briefly on the fact that it’s cut my recovery time down tremendously in this post!Shut-eye – I used to be really, really good at sleeping. I was almost always in bed before 10 and soaked up every last minute of the 8 hours of sleep my body needed to feel rested when I woke up the next morning. In December of last year my sleeping habits went haywire (which can be attributed to the stress of a big life change) and have yet to fully recover. Some nights I get four hours of sleep, other nights I get six and a half and I almost always wake up several times and am up before my alarm most mornings. I know sleep is such an important factor in maintaining a healthy body and mind, so I’ve been making an effort to shut down when my body tells me to, no matter what’s lingering on my to do list from the day.
Cocktail refresh – It’s no secret that I enjoy an adult beverage (craft beer, margaritas, rosé, you name it), and I know they are sabotaging the extra work I’ve been putting in at the gym. I love this post Melanie put together on healthier alcohol options. It doesn’t mean I’m swearing off beer for life or never indulging in my favorite speciality cocktail – just making better (lighter) choices all around!Are you working towards any health and wellness goals right now? I’d love to hear!
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Photos by Julie Kennedy