Over the past 6-8 months, I've fallen into a lot of bad habits that affect how I feel in my body. I want to improve, but there is so much that needs improving that I'm not sure where or how to start, and I don't have a lot of motivation. How do I begin to turn things around?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Over the past six months or so, I've left one stressful job and started a different one that I like a lot more but that requires me to develop a lot of new skills -- so it's challenging in unfamiliar ways. I seem to have coped with this big change by abandoning some good habits I'd developed and falling back into some old destructive ones. As a result, I'm feeling sluggish, uncomfortable in my skin and clothes, overtired, and just overall gross.
I really want to turn this trend around and get back into a better place, but there are so many variables I'm not sure where to start:
1) Diet. I lost about 25 pounds last year by tracking my portion size and limiting sweets intake (I have a major sweet tooth). Once I reached my goal weight, I fell off the wagon in a big way and gained all the weight back promptly, plus 10 pounds. I barely fit in my work clothes and can't afford new, bigger suits. I don't like the way my body looks or feels. I feel like my eating is totally out of control and want to regain that sense of control and moderation. When I'm hungry, though, all thoughts of moderation go out the window, and I end up stuffing my face. I barely drink any water during the day, even though I bought cute water bottles to try to make drinking water more fun.
Related to diet is cooking. I really enjoy cooking and when I was eating better I would cook a lot, but I've fallen out of the habit and have been eating a lot of packaged foods. It doesn't help that my partner buys a lot of junk food and doesn't cook himself. I don't want to limit what he buys; I just want to rediscover the willpower that used to allow me to leave his snacks alone.
2) Exercise. I've never been a huge exercise buff, but for a while I was going to a yoga class once or twice a week. I haven't been in months. Embarrassingly, one of the reasons I haven't been back is because my favorite yoga instructor complimented my slimmer body shape last year and I'm embarrassed for him to see that I've gained it all back. I'm sure you'll tell me he doesn't care, which I know rationally is true, but... the thought is still there.
I also have a gym membership that I barely use. I have a knee condition that makes nearly all cardio beyond walking very painful, and so going there to run on the treadmill or use the stairmaster is not an option.
3) Smoking. I'm most ashamed of this one. I quit smoking about 6 years ago, but fell off the wagon big time about 6 months ago and have been smoking about 2-3 packs per week for the past few months. I do feel motivated to stop this, because I know how bad this is for me, but it's hard to resist the cravings. I bought nicotine gum to help me reduce cravings, and it's helping a little. I haven't smoked at all today (yay!), because I finished a pack yesterday and have managed to avoid buying any more, but damn I want a cigarette.
4) Sleep/caffeine. I've had insomnia for years, and have an Ambien prescription. I also drink 1-2 cups of delicious coffee each morning. I know that the quality of my sleep is at its best when I drink no coffee at all and take no Ambien. Currently, I'm back in the vicious cycle of needing coffee to wake up and Ambien to sleep. Several years ago, I broke this cycle by doing a total detox. I want to do that again, but I'm worried my work (which demands a lot of attention and focus) will suffer if I quit drinking coffee. [Note: my primary care physician is not concerned about my nightly Ambien use, but I know that I'm not functioning up to par.]
So: My ideal me is someone who cooks healthy food, eats in moderation, gets regular exercise, is at a healthy weight, doesn't smoke, and is awake, well-rested and energetic without coffee or sleep medication. That is...very far from where I am right now, and I don't know how to get back there. Should I try to fix everything at once? That seems doomed to fail. If I should take baby steps, where do I start? What should I try to fix first? And how?
I'm looking for suggestions, recommendations, and gentle advice from people who have struggled with any of these challenges.