I’ve had a body goal for over 5 years. I’ve worked with a handful of coaches to get there. In my recent goal, I decided to become “Fiercely Fit by Forty,” which is February 4th. I wasn’t doing this to finally love my body – I fell in love with her back in 2007 – but to push my body to see where it can go.
I have an update for you: I quit.
Here’s the deal. I believe that “being fit” is just more than having an Adonis body. Fitness is a multidimensional approach – having a healthy mind, soul, body, and spirit.
If I were to continue becoming leaner by the time I turned 40, I would be totally trashing all my other goals. I’m at this point where I’ve realized my copious amount of stress dictates where I need to go. And I must listen.
And often, when a person is super stressed out, they are not sleeping well, their mood is off, and there is no way they can’t put any more things on their plate. Do you feel that in your soul?
Dieting – even if it’s only minimally restricting the amount of food you eat to lose a little bit of fat isn’t the best idea. Not just don’t fad diet but one that limits the amount of food you eat.
And that’s where I’m at – I do not need to be on a diet. Being leaner doesn’t make me more worthy of love.
I do not need to restricted calories. For the record, when I say restrict my calories – it is the minimum effective dose. I was eating around 2100 calories before I started this phase and got down to 1750 calories. On days where I don’t workout, my calories were a little bit lower than that.
As you can see, I was still eating quite a bit. I often know when people hear the word “diet,” they think fad diets or restricting to 1200-1300 calories. That wasn’t my diet – that’s actually not been my kind of diet for over half a decade. Because honestly, I would probably stab someone in the eye if my food was that limited.
Back to the stress – my environment is one that is filled with stress. Stress that I can’t control and some that I can. And that load is dictating what I need to do next.
I spoke to my coach. I told him I need to walk away from my “Fiercely Fit by Forty” body goals to preserve my sanity and do what’s best for me. I know in my heart of hearts that I need this period of release and refresh. And that won’t happen in a diet and eating less food. My stress hits all angles – mentally, emotionally, and physically. I need to do what’s best for present and future me, which looks like not dieting and dropping the body goals. Gulp. More about that later.
I don’t care who you are, what you have going on, or how many pounds you think you need to lose right now; if your environment isn’t set up for you to thrive and if you are making changes out of hate…then what you are doing won’t stick.
Trust me, I know from experience. Read about it here: Prioritizing Spiritual Growth
Here are four things you can do now that will really give you a ton of bang for your buck. Plus, nailing these 4 pillars down will set you up for long term success.
NUMBER ONE: SLEEP
Getting more quality sleep, seven to nine hours will prove ridiculously beneficial for you, everyone around you, and all the things you do. Not “hey, I was in bed for seven hours” because I bet you more than anything you are not sleeping those full seven hours. But 7+ hours of oh my gosh, I slept so good sleep.
To do this, you may need to set aside more time for sleep and manage your evenings better. That way, when your alarm goes off in the morning, you feel rested and can spring out of bed. Yup, I said spring – with sleep, you will have energy, sister.
NUMBER TWO: FOOD CHOICES
Cleaning up the foods that you eat is always a great idea. Adding in more whole foods is a significant plus, no matter your goal. Eat foods that bless your body.
I like to use this example when my clients go into a fat loss phase, where they may need to restrict calories to create fat loss results. It’s like casting a net to fish. When you aren’t limiting your food, you get the biggest net. In other words, you have the opportunity to eat more foods that can give you a ton of nutrients. Your body will feel so good. Score.
However, when you go into a diet, your casting net gets smaller. Less food equals less opportunity to bring in nutrients. Sometimes leaving your body feeling less than stellar, which can be expected.
If before you even start to diet, you aren’t good at eating high-quality whole foods – think shopping the grocery perimeter, then going into a diet could leave your body even more deficient of the nutrients it needs to function as you’d like. Ah-hem, fat loss will be trickier.
NUMBER THREE: WATER
Getting on the water train is always a good idea. Seriously – drink your water. Aim for half your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 140 lbs, then drink 70 ounces a day.
I know it’s simple. It’s easy. Some people hate the task, but it is so important.
Your hydration level affects your energy levels, brain function, digestion, and can aid in fat loss. Water is good, ya’ll.
Your body works well when you give it the things you need.
NUMBER FOUR: STRESS MANAGEMENT
I mentioned sleep, food, and water already because those things really help you manage stress. If you’re dehydrated, if you’re sleep-deprived, or if your body’s in a constant deficit, that is stress. And when we have too much stress or prolonged periods of stress, our bodies switch over to survival mode. Survival mode is not ideal for fat loss.
You can control some stress, and then there’s some that you might have little to no control over—things like relationships, work, finance, kids, school, etc.
The goal here is to create habits around managing stress: letting go of things you can’t control, practicing self-care, taking walks, eating whole foods, and creating habits that support a healthy body, mind, and soul.
“Control the things you can. Cope with what you can’t. And concentrate on what counts.” -Craig Ballantyne
Before you go into any diet, cut back on the amount of food you eat, kick up cardio, or whatever you want to do, work on making sure you’re sleeping well, drinking enough water, and eating foods that really bless your body, and managing your stress.
If you are thinking, “oh crud Sarah, that sounds like a lot of work!”
Know that it’s a gradual progression. Do not try to do all these things at once. Small steps create a significant impact.
Don’t get caught up in the overwhelm. Stop thinking a diet is the answer to your “body problems.”
The truth is you don’t need to go on a diet, but you need to treat your body with love and respect and honor her.
Even if you’re thirty plus pounds overweight and you want to shake me and tell me BUT SARAH, I HAVE TO GO ON A DIET! And think I’ve got to do this, that and the other to be successful…to finally get the results I want…to finally love my body.
Look at all the things I just mentioned.
Those will be part of an excellent and long-lasting plan that will get you the transformation you desire.
Without a diet in mind, start working on those things now. When you are in a place that you are sleeping well, have energy, stable mood, minimal stress, then you can look at restricting the amount of food you are eating or maybe adding in some higher intensity workouts.
Until then, get these 4 pillars set up to build on.
Pay attention to what’s happening in your heart and in your mind.
As I said, I’m not doing Fiercely Fit by Forty as a body goal only approach. But I am not giving up on working on myself – I am looking at how fit my soul is, how fit my mind is, my body, and my strength.
And you better believe I wish I fit in my jeans better because I do. I wish I was able to wear some of the clothes that I wore last year. I look at pictures from the past two years, and I think, “dang, I’m not there.” It’s true. I’m in a different place, and sometimes I struggle with it.
So if you’re over there comparing yourself to another person or a former version of yourself, I hear you. I’m there with you. But here’s what I want you to know right now as you look at yourself in the mirror…where you are right now is where you need to be to go where you want to go.
God doesn’t make any mistakes. He’s positioned you with care.
He can use everything you’ve ever been through to get you to the place He created just for you.
For me, that looked like a decade worth of being afraid of carbs. It was me being thirty-five pounds overweight when Kyle proposed to me. It was losing that weight. It was gaining and losing between 40 and 60 pounds with every pregnancy. It was having crazy relationships with food. It had this nasty addiction to working out. It all played a roll in making me me.
Now I’m on the other side. And I know that all of those things that I went through are so I can stand here today and say, “sister, it doesn’t have to be about diets or doing endless work to gain a body you love.”
There is a whole new approach, one that is grounded in love.
One that isn’t filled with if-then statements like:
- If I workout, then I will love my body.
- If I restrict carbs, then I will like what I see in the mirror.
- If I see a certain number on the scale, then I will have worth.
What if love was the driving force behind your actions and not hate?
What if you let love allow you to look at yourself in the mirror and change what voices are in your head? What if you see yourself and think, “God, I am so thankful for my body. I am thankful that I can breathe with my lungs. That you gave me a heart that is beating. That I have family, friends, children, and a spouse that loves me. That I am loved and worthy by my Creator.”
There is a much better place than hate and thinking that you have to reach a body goal to gain worth.
Aren’t you so thankful that you don’t have to achieve worth? That your body doesn’t have to be changed to be loved by you?
Yes, I would love for you to be the healthiest you that you possibly can be. That way, you can spend your life showing up with your best self every single day for those who love you.
However, please remember, as you are right now – in this exact moment – you are perfectly and wonderfully made. Sister, you are radiating beauty.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows once you make a choice to love. Heck, I have moments where I struggle saying that to myself, but I remind myself over and over and over again that God doesn’t look at me in the mirror wish He saw someone else.
He made me, he made you, we are His children that He adores.
I think I would be doing a giant disservice if my update was like this: All right, guys, fiercely fit update: I am stressed out as all get out, but I am pushing through with this diet. I must get these results to be successful. This has to happen for me to get to 40 with my head held high.
Instead my update is one that is covered in love. It’s the message and program that is changing the way women show up for life…..
I guess all this is to say I’m not going to be Fiercely Fit by 40 in a “competition bikini body” sense.
There will be less alliteration in my life, but more joy. More sitting down to eat with my family, and less time thinking about food. There will be more grace, and less judgement.
The next time I choose to challenge my body it won’t be because of an arbitrary age or societal pressure. It won’t be about hitting a certain weight or dropping a pant size. It’ll be because I’m ready to see what she can do again. It’ll be because I’m ready to honor the body God gave me and push myself in a way that respects and nourishes it.
I may not be Fiercely Fit by 40, but I am wholly loved and what a blessing that is. Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday to me.