Body Image

Update // My Motivation-less Diet

Sorry for the crazy white leg pic. It’s been a cold spring here in the beautiful state of Michigan.

So, back in February -I know it seems so long ago on this warm, stormy day in May- I wrote a post titled “My Motivation-less Diet” where I swore of everything motivation, “all-or-nothing” driven health choices and tried to focus on the steady mundane of regular, everyday habits.  Well, I told you I would update you on my progress and it’s been 3 months without a word.  I feel it’s time to fill you in on how I’m doing.

I love not being motivated.  It doesn’t strip me of my mental energy.  It’s not that I have been lazy these past 3 months.  No, I have a pretty regimented routine.  Although some weeks are different than others and there is just no time for a quick 30 minute workout, I have still found the past 3 months of motivation-less living to be successful.

Since October, I had been using My Fitness Pal to keep a log of everything I put into my mouth and my daily activity.  But after a while, I became acclimated to the amounts of food and kinds of food I needed to eat in a day to provide my body’s basic nutritional needs.  After 5 months I had established a relatively healthy eating habit.  So, to continue on my journey towards zero motivation, I dropped My Fitness Pal altogether, except to keep track of my stats (weight, inches, etc).

Also, since the weather has become drastically better since February, I have been able to do regular kinds of things outside to remain active.  There’s lots of chasing Willow across the yard and more frequent dog walking.  Nike Training Club is still my best friend and I have began running more frequently.  But you will never see me try and psyche myself out before a workout.  I just go because that’s what I need for my life to feel whole, because it’s become a habit. If I get tired, I walk.  If my legs can’t take another squat, I take a 10 second break.  I am kind to myself, because my body does absolutely, amazing things and is beautiful.  No hatred.  No abuse.   No pressure.

On the plus side, I found my way back to my pre-baby weight.  I am in much better shape and eat foods that are more colorful and tasty.

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I have a new twist on my motivation-less diet.  I have added another habit by cutting out all refined sugar and flour from my diet until at least my birthday at the end of June.  Because I’m turning 30.  It just seems right to enter into, what I have convinced myself is going to be the best decade of my life, feeling good about my lifestyle and habits.  Because I wasn’t feeling good about the refined  and processed products I was putting into my body. I knew they were not good for me. It has been almost 3 weeks since I started and I feel superb.  I am seeing my body change for the better  in numerous ways, more than just weight loss and inches.  More updates and some delectable recipes to come.

Of course, I understand that not everyone is like me.  But my theory that a motivation-less diet, one built on habit and ritual, is more sustainable and healthy than one built on mentally pushing ourselves to the max, still stands. Yes, using only my own data is really bad research, but in the end the only person I’m trying to change is me.

What methods have you found to be helpful in maintaining and sustaining a healthy lifestyle?  What’s the story of your journey towards health?  Contact me or comment below to share what’s worked for you.

Until my next update, stay motivation-less.



Body Image

My Motivation-less Diet

I am not sure what it is about motivation that I am so put off by.  I know, it is a strange aversion. Maybe I’ve been scarred by the plethora of motivational speakers and cheesy posters I grew up with as a child of the 90’s, I’m not sure. But there is something about the “go hard all the time”, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality that I just don’t find compelling. This is particularly true when it comes to health and fitness.  While there are many who find themselves needing to be like Jillian Michaels, drilling themselves heedlessly in order to stay fit and healthy, I just want to be myself. And “myself” is a pretty chill, go with the flow person.

But my biggest theory…motivation doesn’t work.

Motivation isn’t sustainable.  It might get you started but to be in a constant motivated state is just exhausting.  Shouldn’t something like a healthy diet and exercise be part of a normal daily routine?  When was the last time you said to someone, “I really need the will power to brush my teeth in the morning” or “if I could find the motivation maybe I would actually pay my bills every month”?  Hopefully, these things aren’t an issue for you.  You don’t need to be motivated to do them.  Somewhere along the line, you found yourself motivated to have fresh, minty breath throughout the day.  That desire drove you to brush your teeth everyday.  But the desire doesn’t keep you brushing, habit does.

The past four weeks I have found myself feeling quite apathetic about what I eat and how I move.  I have been blaming it on the feet of snow on the trail I normally run on–which I have convinced myself is a legitimate excuse.  I want to pick up the pace again, but this time I am going to experiment with the idea of relying on more than motivation.  I want my healthy lifestyle to move beyond desire and become habit.  Isn’t working out hard enough?  I would rather put the effort into all those squats rather than getting myself to get up and but my gym shoes on.  Ironically, my motivation for such an endeavor is the infamous Nike slogan, that I think encapsulates the epitome of what I want my healthy routine  to look like.

Just do it.

This experiment may utterly fail, but it seems worth the risk. I’ll keep you in the loop with how it goes.

Here is to having as little motivation as possible and drinking lots of water.  

Please note: I am not a professional in either health or fitness. I am rust a rambling laymen trying to figure out what works for me.

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Keeping Willow by Stacy Feyer-Salo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Body Image

Baby Steps

It’s that time of year again.  The time when you bury yourself in guilt and grief for all the bad habits you promised to displace from the year before, but somehow still cling to like a barnacle to a sunken ship.  Rather than revel in your accomplishments you tend to steep in resentment and grief because you are not the person you wish you were.  But a new year is coming, and there is hope that you can change for the better.  And if health is one of your goals –and for most of us it is– you may have already used your Christmas money to buy new running shoes and a discounted gym membership, because this year, you are going to get in shape, make time for yourself, eat healthy…et al.  You may have made this resolution before, many times even.  High on your zeal of the opportunity of a “new you”, you start running 4 miles every other day or visit the gym 3 times a week.  All of a sudden carbs are evil and you swear to your friends and family that it’s not a diet, it’s a “lifestyle change”.  But somehow, your zeal doesn’t hold up and you won’t make it until 2015.  Somewhere along the way you will fall flat on your face.

Willow is just learning to walk.  When she first started, she would almost try to sprint into my arms and I would have to dive to keep her from all out face planting.  But over time she has learned to slow down.  It started with just one or two steps at a time.  Then a few days later she could take three or four steps.  Now she is walking halfway across the room without anyone there to cheer her on.  And making drastic changes in your life, is a lot like that. It’s like learning to walk all over again.  And, like learning to walk, making changes permanent is most successful with baby steps.


Now at this point you are rolling your eyes at the screen and smirking a little because all you can think about is Dr. Leo Marvin introducing the idea of “baby steps” to his obsessive compulsive and manipulative patient “Bobby” in the classic 90’s cult classic, “What About Bob?”. Imagining yourself walk around saying “baby steps onto the scale” is enough to make you want to throw the “baby steps” out with the bath water. Here, let me refresh you.

Every so often we discover this motivation from some dark, secret place in the universe and it propels us to change our lives in drastic ways –usually for the better– and then we go buck wild, much like my daughter Willow, flailing as fast as we can toward whichever goal we aspire.  And maybe it works for a little while, but most of the time, something comes our way and throws us off course or we get burnt out or injured or just plain hungry.  And this is my story, many times over.


But recently, I have taken a different approach to health. The practice of spiritual disciplines can be slow and mundane, seeing little to no results in the present, but one year later you look back and you realize that the act of small, simple rituals has made you a completely different person.  This is how I view movement towards any kind of lifestyle change. I believe the small choices I make in the present will add up over time.  I have taken it slow and have introduced healthy routines gradually.

Currently, I run 3 miles twice a week and workout with Nike Training Club twice a week, recently upping the intensity. But I didn’t start this way.  I started with one walk, twice a week.  Then I started doing Nike Training Club once a week for 6 weeks.  When I could accomplish that without feeling like I was going to completely die, I added jogging every Saturday morning.  And so on.  Rather than making an abrupt diet change, I just started recording what I ate for every meal, everyday using MyFitnessPal.  If I went over in calories, that was fine.  What was important was the ritual of recording it daily.  But that ritual made me aware of what I was putting in my body.  Then slowly I made small changes in my diet in order to stay under my daily calorie allowance.  Once I had been successful with that I started looking at the nutritional breakdown of what I was eating.  I realized I was eating twice as much sugar as recommended and not nearly enough iron and potassium. But rather than doing this in a week, I spent several months tweaking my habits and choices.


Bobby is right, “baby steps” do work.  But you don’t need a new year to take a small step towards a life full of health, you just need one ordinary day.  Maybe now you can use your New Year’s resolution to love yourself better or get rid of all of the junk in your house or spend more time with your family or donate time or money to a fitting cause.  And next year you will look back and wonder how you have become a changed person.


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Keeping Willow by Stacy Feyer-Salo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Body Image

Getting Back in Shape…and Failing

I had been doing weight watchers for about a month,  exhausted from carrying around a 5-month-old and general lack of sleep, when I sent my best friend Lauren,  the text.

“I’m fat, and I’m killing myself inside about it”, pretty much sums up what I said.

I was 15 lbs heavier than my pre-baby weight and I was brutally beating myself up about it.  The kind of self-loathing  I was putting myself through was akin to chaining a cannon ball to my ankle and jumping into the deepest part of the ocean; I was suffocating and I was stuck.  Every time I looked in the mirror I told myself something horrible. It didn’t help to see women around me lose their baby weight without lifting a finger (thanks facebook).  And I tried everything. I tried going vegan (like healthy vegan, not oreo and french fries vegan)   I tried cutting out bread.  I tried cutting out grains.  Obviously, I tried Weight Watchers, and over the 6 weeks I paid to try and lose weight, the number on the scale NEVER dropped.  I tried to exercise but with our living situation at the time and a husband that worked 2nd shift, it was very difficult, and I was exhausted just from everyday life.  I was failing.


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Now I am going to put myself out there and assume that at some point in your life, maybe your whole life, my story has been your story.  Whether you are a man or a woman, had a baby or not, fit or overweight,  at some point you have beaten yourself up about how you look as well.  And I am going to assume that this ‘self vs. self’ boxing match produced very few results.  But, my story doesn’t end here. My story is not only about weighing myself down with hatred and pummeling my spirit with insults.  It’s also about freedom.  And if your story is like my story, then it isn’t over, and there is still hope.

Willow had just turned 9 months when I met a young woman, who like me, had struggled losing weight after having a baby.  Only, she had gained a lot more weight than I had, and she had found a way to start losing it.  She looked fantastic.  I nonchalantly asked her how she did it, trying to pretend like I wasn’t dying to dump my hurting soul all over the car and beg that she tell me her secret or I would kidnap her until she let me know.  But I didn’t need to know what she did.  All I needed to know was that she did it.  The encounter with another human being -not pinterest, not health magazines- who was going through the same thing I was but had found success gave me hope that I could too.

It has been three months since that conversation.  I am not beating myself up (as much) anymore.  I started running.  I eat good food, food I like, food I use to nourish my body rather than comfort my soul.  I have lost 12 lbs and fit back into my pre-baby clothing. I have learned to take the energy I used to think poorly of myself and use it to empower myself to move forward. I have learned to love my body no matter what stage of health I am in.  And how it started, my journey towards health, both body and soul, was with someone else’s story. So, I am going to share my story, my promenade towards health.  I want to share what is working for me, how I am struggling, where I find the strength to move on, because if I can do it, you can do it.  Because our stories can inform someone else’s stories.

Here are the first two steps I implemented that are really working for me, and they’re both apps and they’re both free:

My Fitness Pal image (11)   You may have heard of this before.  I think I may have jumped on the band wagon a little late, but this app really helped me take control of my eating habits.  The app helps  you configure a daily calorie target based on your weight and goals and you can easily keep track of how many calories you have consumed in a day.  You can also keep track of your activity.  Let’s say you burn 400 calories jogging, you are then able to eat an extra 400 calories that day.  You can add recipes, keep track of your weight and measurements and observe your nutritional intake.  There is also the option to sync with all kinds of neat gadgets that make the entire process a little easier.  Don’t have a smart phone?  You can also sign up on their website and keep track from your computer.  I will be talking about this handy dandy little tool more in the future but if you want to look a little more into My Fitness Pal, check out the link here.

Nike Training Club

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Having a newborn baby makes getting out of the house for a jog kind of a task, and don’t even think about the gym unless you have an extra 3 hours to spare.  Nike Training Club provides an intense 30-45 minute workout you can do in your living room.  And it’s hard.  Really hard.  So hard my cut, high school wrestler of a husband only made it half way through an advanced workout the first time he tried, and it’s designed for women.  This app is like a personal trainer in your pocket.  It builds athleticism, balance and strength.  It has helped me run longer and faster.  It also shapes my body in a way that going for a jog cannot.  Very little equipment, if any, is needed.  And seriously, it’s really hard, –I used to train for triathlons and I gave birth, I should know– so take it easy at first and be gracious to yourself.  To read more on Nike Training Club you can visit their website here.

This is the beginning of a story of empowerment and strength; it’s my story, and it isn’t over.  In fact, this post is timely as it has been hard to stay in the groove with all the snow and activities going on in my life the past week.  If you need encouragement, feel stuck, are continually putting yourself down or just like health and fitness, I hope that my story gives you the power to change your story. If you’re hating yourself, I hope it helps you love yourself better.  If you feel like nothing is working for you, I hope it can be a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.  If you are failing, I hope it gives you the courage to get up and try again.