September Shape-Up Progress Update!

Whenever, I blog about a new personal resolution, I hardly ever write a follow up. This is mainly because I normally abandon the resolution quicker than it took me to write about it in the first place.

But, I’m proud to say that I’ve stuck with my September Shape-Up Resolution for the past nine days. I’ve been waking up at 6am and going to the gym every single day.

My goal is 21 days straight. No days off.

They say it takes eighteen days to form a habit and six weeks of diet & exercise to see a substantial change in your body, so my 21 day goal falls somewhere in there. I figure, if I can go to the gym every day for three weeks, why not six, or 18 weeks? Granted, snow is a powerful de-motivator. It’s doubtful I will be trekking anywhere in the snow that isn’t paying me to be there – or doesn’t result in me spending QT with my fiancée, friends or family. I’d love to be one of those dedicated people I see jogging rain or shine, but I am not there yet….so I’m sticking with the three weeks for now.

Early morning workouts are the best. I can be up, there and back before I normally even wake up in the morning. In fact (depending on how quickly I can pick out my clothes for the day), sometimes I get more done in the morning before work than I used to. By the time I get to work, I feel like I’ve been up all day.

A good thing about morning workouts too is that I am on a time crunch, so I can’t dawdle there all day and then use that to justify not going again for the next three days. I read somewhere that if you plan to give just an hour a day to working toward a goal, you’re more likely to accomplish it in a timely fashion. This is how John Grisham became a famous author. For exercise, this means getting dressed, getting there and back all in one hour or less. This eliminates my “I don’t have time” excuse and makes work harder at the gym because I’m aware that I don’t have that much time. I don’t even think it has to be a full hour. Give it thirty minutes. Heck, wake up 15 mins earlier and get some pushups, stair runs, crunches and jumping jacks in without leaving your apartment. Something is better than nothing!

Waking up super early is a piece of cake after day four. On Sunday, I didn’t have to be at church as early as I have to be at work, but I still woke up automatically at 6am.

Does waking up super early make me tired all day? Kind of. It definitely wakes me up initially, so instead of slowing around, groggy-eyed, getting ready for work, I’m wide awake every step of the way. However, I noticed that, though I’m not sleepy during the day, I do hit an energy dip at 11am and again at 3pm and if I sit down at 10:30pm, I’ll be asleep in 30 seconds. I figure my body will get used to the early mornings by week 3. Consistent exercise is supposed to give you sustainable energy, but I think it takes a few weeks. Plus, a little tiredness never hurt anybody – especially if it’s a result of a run before dawn.

My weight hasn’t changed much since I started, but I know that’s because I decided not to couple my exercise plan with a crash diet like I normally would. I’m eating like usual with a few adjustments. Sure, I won’t whip into shape as quickly, but I am also more likely to stick with it this way. I have noticed my body looks a little different — slimmer in some areas, more toned in others — but I didn’t measure myself before I started and the scale has barely budged. I’m not doing this for any particular amount of weight loss or gain. I just want to work out every single day for three weeks and see what happens.

I have been eating a little healthier though, as I mentioned. MyFitnessPal is awesome for counting calories. I don’t count every calorie though because calories are not created equal. (For instance: A 100 calorie banana is better overall than a 100 calorie pack of Oreos.) I do try to check out how many calories I am eating before I go out to eat. As a result, I have sworn off Chipotle tortillas and any size bigger than a small Dairy Queen Blizzard. Mostly though, I’ve just been trying to drink a lot of water and eat more fruits and vegetables. Nothing drastic, but I choose a grilled chicken sandwich over a crispy one. I choose a salad as an entree. I choose Orange Leaf frozen yogurt over Coldstone Creamery. I choose Almond Milk over 2% milk for my cereal. I expect small “how can I make this meal healthier” adjustments will go a longer way than my normal “nothing but fruits, vegetables, and water for a week” short-lived adjustments.

Unsurprisingly, it’s not the eating healthy or the waking up early that’s been the hardest. It’s my hair that has been the major issue. I’ve been growing out my relaxer since January and my roots aren’t exactly in agreement with my new workout regime. The first part of last week, I put my hair in a ponytail and wore a bandana – which lays down my roots and keeps my headphones in my ears while I run! After my workout, I redo the ponytail and wear it to work. Easy! But then I got my hair straightened at the salon. I didn’t want to wear a ponytail after paying (too much!) money to get my hair flat-ironed. So now, when I wake up, my hair is still in the wrap from the night before and I wear it that way to the gym. When I get home, I blow dry my hair (while still wrapped in the scarf) to dry the roots. It still ends up kind of puffy, but straight enough for me to comb it out of the wrap and not have to flat iron it every day. (By the way, I tried this method a few years ago when I wasn’t growing out my relaxer and it wasn’t puffy at all.)

Normally, anything that could mess up my hair would be a deal-breaker for me, but I decided that a little poufyness on the head is better than any poufyness around the waist. Also, like many other black girls, I hate wearing a scarf out of the house, but I realize I will survive being a mess for an hour if it means looking good for the other 16 hours I’m awake.

This workout plan is kind of fun and I like that it is tied to a 21-day goal rather than a number-on-the-scale goal. My frustration is eliminated, my temptation to crash diet is minimized and I am in complete control of meeting my goal. It’s tougher trying to be in control of how much body fat I lose. Besides, though I swear by my digital scale, I know that scales are misleading because muscle weighs more than fat.

Hopefully, I can stick with my goal. My fiancé is so sweet. When I told him that I went to the gym two mornings in a row, both times he said: “That’s awesome!” I remind him, it’s not “awesome” until it’s been a few weeks and I am STILL going. Haha.  Anyone can workout for a day or two. (His enthusiasm is much-appreciated though!)

Since I’ve been waking up and going to the gym, I feel like I can achieve other goals too. Like, writing on a consistent basis. Spending less money on junk. Wearing makeup more often. There’s something about forcing myself to get up early and exercise  that makes me feel like I can take over the world.

Nine days down. 12 to go!

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