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Looking for motivation and accountability

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Hello all,


So I've recently decided that I need to make a change.  A real one this time.  In real life.  In real time.  Not just in my head, not just as I'm drifting off to sleep making promises about what I'll do better tomorrow, but in the waking minutes and days when those better decisions have to be put into action.  So here I am.  I used a forum like this to make a major life change a few years ago, and I miss the camaraderie and accountability that was available there, so here's hoping that exists here too :)


A bit about me: I'm looking at 40 in the next 18 months or so; but realizing that I feel closer to 60 and have acquired the same walk as my 70 year old mother in law who needs both knees replaced :disgust:  I've never been thin, at least not since I had to have back surgery at 18.  For a brief window I was even in half decent shape and ran a few half-marathons.  But I've always been classified as overweight (flirting with obese based on BMI) and I've always dealt with back pain.  The advice I've heard constantly is to exercise more in order to lose weight, which will in turn alleviate my back pain.  But even when training for half-marathons and being careful about what I ate, I didn't drop more than a few pounds.  And now after a big international move and 2 pregnancies, I realize that I've lost whatever good exercise habits I ever had.  My body is stiff and hurts and I'm afraid that my kids will grow up with an invalid for a mom, rather than someone who's active and involved in their lives.  I know it's not too late, but I also know I need to start NOW.


During my first pregnancy, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism - no doctor ever thought to check for it before, as the assumption always seemed to be that the weight wasn't coming off because I was too lazy.  However, even when that's well controlled now, I'm not losing weight, so much for that magic cure :rolleyes: Within the last month, I've discovered that I have one leg shorter than the other as well as osteoarthritis in my spine (which, as the doctor is happy to remind me, can't be replaced, so the goal is to limit the progression as much as possible). After a few days of walking with insoles to adjust the leg length, my day-to-day back pain has greatly subsided, but the stiffness and flare-ups are still there.  My doctor here has barred me from running as that will make my back worse.  I admit I was angry at first, because all of the advice of exercising more was probably making the pain worse rather than helping; but I'm over that and trying to figure out what I do know with the cards I've been dealt.  The problem is that I now find myself on a somewhat tight budget, 2 small kids (2.5 and 1.5 years old), a full time job and a husband's career that requires more flexibility than mine, and I feel....lost.  Like I don't know where to start, or what I can expect to be able to do or maintain.  Gym is out, as I don't have the flexibility time wise to go regularly, plus I hate gyms, so I know I won't go at 9pm when my husband is home and I can finally get out of the house.  I've tried to start doing some simple exercises at home (including the bodyweight workout I found on this site), and I realize how unbelievably out of shape I am!  I'm not the heaviest I've ever been, and not even at my unhealthiest diet-wise, either, as I live in a country where healthy food is more the norm than junk food, and do much of our shopping at weekly farmer's markets;  But I'm definitely the most out of shape that I've ever been and I hate myself for letting it get this bad!  


Ok, so enough of the whining and what am I planning to do about it? 


1) I joined this site, and this forum to hopefully find some people to buddy up with, encourage each other and be accountable to.  That's something that's missing in my regular life as all of my friends either have time to exercise that I don't, or think that I'm already healthy and don't understand my frustration.  My husband is 100% supportive, but more overweight than me with bad eating and non-existent exercise habits, with a real mental block about the need to change. I nag him, and bug him, and cajole him, but he's a grown man and I can't force him.  He supports me, but in his eyes I'm wonderful and perfect and doing everything just fine, so he's not exactly a very tough motivator :)  So anyone who can relate and is looking for an accountability partner, here I am!  I can be a real pain in other peoples' asses about what they *should* be doing, but I need that same approach turned on me!  


2) My husband (who loves me more than I deserve) is in the process of buying a used workout bench, which hopefully he will pick up this weekend and install with his dad when he's in town next week. I've already started moving the freeweights from the basement to the bedroom where the workout bench will be, so that I can start using it when it's ready.


3) I bought a membership to the local pool, and have been going 1-2 times a week to do laps.  The agreement with my husband is that Wed or Thurs afternoons he picks up the kids so I can swim, and Sunday morning I go to the pool; of course, sometimes life gets in the way and things don't go as planned - i.e. was supposed to go yesterday but my daughter was sick so had to work from home to be with her; husband already had appointments booked this afternoon as he had given me the Wednessday so no mid-week swim for me this week :( But I can honestly say that I have been doing my best to go when I can and not falling prey to BS excuses.


4) I've set up a stepper and stationary bike in front of the TV. I even got pretty good about using them regularly (2-3 times per week), but then we got hit with massive heat waves and without AC, it's not possible to do cardio in the house anymore


5) I try to take every opportunity I can to walk somewhere - to pick up/drop off the kids from the nanny when I'm working from home, to various appointments here in our small town; to the store when I only need to pick up a few things.  The biggest obstacle here is that these things take more time than driving, and are only possible when I'm working from home, which isn't everyday, or don't have the kids as they can't walk very far yet (and I threw out the double stroller because it was a horrible pain to maneuver, but that's a whole different story).


 6) On the working from home front, I'm trying to become more disciplined to get into the habit of being as productive at home as I am at the office. I have a job that I can do largely from home, and my plan is that as of September (start of the new school year), I will work from home 2 mornings a week, which will allow me to do a workout in the time I would normally spend getting ready and driving to the office.


7) I'm trying to make small tweaks to my diet, as although it's not bad, I know my weaknesses (Did someone say chocolate?!  in the evenings?!  Why yes, that IS my happy place!)  I'm trying to go semi-vegetarian (more for personal reasons than health or weight loss), incorporate more fish and legumes and experiment more with new veggies, which are probably the thing that I neglect the most (I eat them, but usually the same old thing and then get bored of them easily).  The biggest problem, if I'm honest, is that I live in France.  FRANCE, people. Let that sink in for a moment.  And yes, everything you've heard about the cheese and baguettes and croissants here is TRUE.  There is no such thing as "low fat cheese" in the supermarket, at least not one that's edible.  The croissants I can avoid, bread I'm trying to be reasonable with, but the damn cheese gets me everytime.  And of course all the naturally thin French women eat it regularly and don't see why good French cheese should pose any problems whatsoever...sigh :frown-new:


Ok, that's about all I have time for but here comes the fun part: I want to hear ideas, critiques, anything you got!  Any hidden excuses in what I've written that I'm not seeing ? Any ideas as to what I can try?  I promise to be as open minded as possible (as long as it doesn't involve giving up French cheese..I moved here for a reason!) and appreciate any and all feedback!


Have a great day everyone!


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Sounds like you're coming into this with a great mindset! That's awesome, because honestly, that's half the battle.


You are a prime candidate to benefit from weight training - the bike, stepper, and swimming are all perfect choices. But resistance training is what's going to help you gain strength, confidence, and even help you lose fat! I'd recommend avoiding traditional barbell lifts because of the spinal compression, but here's a great list of potential exercises to start with: https://www.t-nation.com/training/exercises-for-injury-free-mass  Please ignore the 'bro branding' on that website, the author is a very reputable trainer with a PhD in Sports Science. If that's too intimidating to start with, the bodyweight routine you mentioned is a good option - personally though, I prefer using weights because it's easier to make fast progress. If I had to start with a routine that had pushups, I probably never would have continued working out. ;)


In terms of diet, as a former vegetarian/sometime vegan, I know exactly where you're coming from. Sound like you're still keeping eggs, dairy, and fish? You have LOADS of options with those still in the mix. Personally, I like to suggest that you aim to eat a minimum of 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight a day (https://examine.com/nutrition/how-much-protein-do-you-need/) - which for a vegetarian, means that you're going to have a fairly intimate relationship with legumes & pulses. At least 2 eggs, and a large portion of fish every day will likely also be your new norm. Cottage cheese (or quark, if that's easier to find?) is a fantastic dairy protein option too. Use an online calculator to figure out your TDEE, subtract ~300kcal/day, and you're away to the races for slow and steady fat loss.


Between the calorie restriction and protein goal, I suspect everything else will fall into place pretty quickly. If you're eating 1-2c of beans/lentils a day, I'd be shocked if you have many issues with hunger, even with the lower calorie intake. I use an unflavoured unsweetened protein powder (both whey and casein) daily to help me reach my protein goals. Setting a minimum vegetable goal is another great strategy: eg. you have to eat at least 4-5 servings a day (ie. 1 with breakfast, 2 for lunch, 2 with dinner). Don't forget to drink at least 1L of water a day too, especially in the summer!


I just recently discovered a nifty site that can help with menu planning and recipe ideas: https://www.eatthismuch.com/diet-plan/1600-calorie/high-protein/.  You can also search online for 'slow carb' recipes, which is a meal planning guideline from 4hr body that uses lots of beans, with a very strong online presence for resources.


Now, the downside: 'treats' like bread & cheese will likely become occasional indulgences (eg. no more than once a week), unless you build them into your calorie count - you're not cutting it out, but you'll need to moderate the intake. Also, if you WEIGH the cheese rather than just eyeball amounts, you'll get a good idea very quickly of just how many calories that little schmear actually has. :/


Welcome to the forum, looking forward to seeing you around!

...but I'm adorable! Ask anyone who doesn't know me...

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I'm happy you are finding time to swim. I used to swim regularly, and I miss it now.


Is Pokémon GO available on your phone where you live? I know it's in Europe, so I imagine you won't have trouble getting it working in France. I've picked it up after a couple years off and it's REALLY motivated me to walk. The difference is night and day! I feel so much better now than a few weeks ago when I started.


I'm limiting sugary treats as well, but I allow myself VERY DARK chocolate every day. It's only one or 2 squares, so it's not huge indulgence, but it always feels like a treat. The flavor is so intense you don't need much. I'm talking in the high 85-90+%. Supposedly dark chocolate is good for you too, so if you can replace heavier treats with this, I think it would be good.


And like Defining said, weight training is SO GOOD FOR YOU, building those muscles up so they do all the fat burning for you. I need to push myself to do more myself!

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