I’m a former program and challenge junkie. I was addicted to the promised results of a program whether it be losing weight, achieving a certain aesthetic, or even experiencing certain health improvements. Because I didn’t feel or look amazing all the time, I was invested and dependent on the promises made. Over the past several years, I’ve felt a tug to listen to ME more, rather than the creator of a program or diet. However, the guilt and a pang of failure I felt for not following a program was overwhelming.
That’s when I knew I needed to break up with the program or challenge mentality.
I did the math: I’ve tried a minimum of 12 different diets (multiple tries for different amounts of time), and completed at LEAST 31 at home workout programs (not included is how many times I repeated programs).
For many years it was my JOB to do this. To follow a program from start to finish, check off the workout that's on the calendar, use the containers I was supposed to each day and whatever other 'rules' I was expected to follow. Now this wasn’t a totally BAD experience and this is NOT a program/challenge hating blog. But I began to tie my worth and health to whether or not I could be PERFECT during a challenge and it began to put a sour taste in my mouth. I couldn’t keep up. I felt pulled in another direction. A direction where I was more empowered and knowledgeable about what my body needed than a random person creating these workouts or nutritional rules!
This began truly shifting when I began learning about hormonal health for female body. It literally shook the foundation of what I had spent 8 years teaching and preaching. I had spent YEARS encouraging women to push through a workout even if they are on their period. To never miss a day. To just stick to the designated meal plan. JUST SUCK IT UP!
Little did I know that women go through 4 different phases in a month’s cycle- each requiring different calories, movement and this is especially the case if they are experiencing hormone imbalance. I created a program called Feed Your Phase which teaches this information as well as how to implement it into your own life.
Learning how to feed, exercise and output energy in sync with my female physiology changed my whole outlook on how to listen and trust your own body as well as being it’s best advocate. Slowly but surely I found myself not finishing out workout programs, or doing them on my own timeline and adjusting any previous cleanses or nutrition programs I was participating in.
I felt GUILT for a long time. Maybe because I knew this was the dwindle of my coaching career with a particular company, maybe because I thought I had let people or even myself down. I am a Cancer sign and we are loyal to a fault, and I could no longer be loyal to something that wasn't aligning with my values anymore!
Just like a relationship that is no longer serving us, I broke up with the idea that I had to do the next program coming out or follow a meal plan to be successful. The moment I gave myself permission was AMAZING.
I felt free.
Like I mentioned earlier, this isn’t a program or challenge hating masterclass. I want to point out 6 BENEFITS of doing a program or challenge:
Instills discipline and creates motivation
Can give you feedback about what you like or don’t like
Something such as an elimination diet can help show what your body NEEDS or prefers
A way to build community
Shows that you can do something start to finish
These are all IMPORTANT things to have in life. It’s valuable for a period of time depending where you’re at. Everyone should try SOMETHING to give themselves the intel and information their body needs to run optimally, right?!
Here are 5 signs that you may want to re-evaluate constantly doing programs or challenges
You’re only seeing results if your following a challenge or program
You binge or revert back to old ways when you’re not ‘following’ something
You have anxiety around life events such as vacation or weddings because it doesn’t fit into your ‘rules’
If left to your own devices you feel like you couldn’t make a decision on what workout to do or how to eat
The all or nothing mentality has taken over and you feel burnout from constantly being ‘in’ or on some type of challenge
So where do we find a balance?!
How can you not be following a program, yet still see results and feel awesome?
I’ve been practicing this for the past few years and here is what I found helps:
If you love the ‘program or challenge’ mindset, instead of following everything to a T- choose one thing you really enjoyed from what you’ve tried in the past, and just keep up with that. It could be the times of day you were eating or moving your body, the amount of veggies you were consuming, or the routines you were setting up. I’m sure you’ve gone through a program or challenge and thought “I really loved this but not that” DO WHAT YOU LOVED and forget what you hated (no matter how ‘good’ it is for you)
Pay attention to YOUR body. How did your body, mindset and energy respond to programs or challenges you’ve done? Did you feel better during certain times of the month and less than great other times (again that’s normal if you are a female! That’s what I teach in Feed Your Phase). Take note of how your currently feel and implement what felt good at that time
When the all or nothing mindset creeps in-SMASH it! I am the queen of FUCK IT or YOLO. I'm a rebel at heart. In the past I’d get caught up in the fact that if I didn’t get my scheduled workout in then I wouldn’t do it at all, or worse I would double up the next day instead to just stay on ‘schedule’. A walk was not considered something to count towards my progress or success. I was so hard on myself and it was debilitating and ended up hindering my LONGGG term success. So even if you have 10 min get some movement in. Even if you’re out to eat at McDonalds-order a side of veggies. Even if you sat on the couch and did nothing all day, do a little self care at night with a skin routine to show yourself LOVE. Every ounce matters.
Change your mindset from short term to long term. There is no denying we are in a world of instant gratification. Yes- there is a balance between YOLO and long term success and you should dance on that line. YOLO everyday all day is not helping your future self out. Often throughout the day I think ‘will my future self thank me or hate me for this’. This could be about food, workouts, self care, etc. Many times just taking that moment to PAUSE and reflect helps me make the best choice at that moment. And yes- sometimes the answer is 'she may hate me a little but she’ll survive' and that's OKAY!
Trust yourself. You’re a full fledged adult. You know when the fun is over. You know when you could make better choices, instead of thinking you need to start a new challenge or ‘get back on the wagon’, just START! Chug some water, put on your big girl pants and make those decisions you know will make you feel awesome. It may take time to build trust in yourself but it only happens when you take those little actions every day.
How does this information sit with you?
Are you still nervous to break up with your workout programming or food challenges?
Maybe they are still something you implement into your life, but with better intention. That's a HUGE step in the right direction.
No matter what you choose to do, taking the time to ask WHY- with anything we do in life- will help bring awareness and help you make the right decision that is aligned with your values and long term goals.
If you are wanting to channel what your inner female energy needs, I highly suggest joining me for the NEW session of Feed Your Phase. This is not a challenge or program but more of a course filled with information about how our female body works and WHY things like food or workout programs feel stressful (hint: because our cycle is NOT taken into account by the creators of the programs you do). For more information on that click here.