As I've been mentioning here and there, I've been traveling a bit for work but I haven't really explained how I got to that point. Back in the beginning of November I was at my breaking point with work. I was beyond miserable and had stayed about 4 months longer than I probably should have. Finally, with the support of my amazing husband, I decided "that's enough" and I turned in my notice without anything lined up. That was the most terrifying thing I have ever done but I had this calmness when I did it that everything would work out how it was supposed to. The next day (Guys... God, or whatever higher being you believe in, is AMAZING and His timing is perfect!), I got a phone call asking if I'd be interested in doing some interim work, effective immediately. Yup, I was available! Sure, it wasn't ideal but it would hold me over until I found something more permanent. From November until yesterday, I was filling in at a couple facilities in Illinois. The first was a little over an hour and 20 minute drive (and throw in a time change for extra fun and complications). I started out driving the commute everyday to see if it was something I would be interested in doing long term (Answer: It wasn't). Before I knew it, by the end of December I had over 13,000 miles on my Honda CR-V I had just purchased in the beginning of September. Yikes. I had the option of getting either mileage or hotel reimbursement, so after some discussion, Camron and I decided I would start staying in a hotel throughout the week to save some miles on my poor little car.
THANK GOD the new facility I started going to on January 5th had a rec center in town. $8 for a day pass - yeah, that added up quick. But the only hotel in town was a Super 8 and they didn't have a fitness center (not that you can get a ton done with the standard 10 lb dumbbells, cable tower with limited handle attachments, treadmill, and sky high stack of towels anyway; yes, it is doable for a day here or there, but 2 months straight would be tricky. And I can get pretty innovative on a cable machine). Anyway, I hit up the rec center almost nightly and even started accidentally referring to the Super 8 as home - okay, it happened ONE time, but still - gross . The first week of February, after settling into my little routine at the Super 8, I decided I wanted to start a mini cut. Basically I wanted to slowly cut some fat while maintaining muscle; so I lowered my macros slightly, increased my cardio, and increased the volume of my lifting sessions.
I'm not going to lie, it wasn't easy. Every Sunday night I packed up my work outfits, my gym outfits, accessories, shoes, and everything else I need to get ready (cosmetics, toiletries, etc). Monday morning I would pack a cooler with a week's worth of all my meals I had prepared the night before: usually a carton of egg whites and a loaf of Ezekiel bread or protein oats for my breakfasts, a big salad with chicken and guac for lunches, turkey and jasmine rice for my pre-workout meals, protein shakes for my post workout meals, and a protein/carb/fibrous veggie combo for dinners. Ice packs, measuring cups, shaker bottles, utensils, cheese, and sugar-reduced ketchup were also included. It was a LOT to remember and it wasn't always perfect. One day I was pulling out of the driveway, going over the list in my head to make sure I had it all when suddenly I yelled [out loud] "MY CHICKENS!!!!"... meaning my ziplock baggies of prepared and pre-measured 4 oz chicken portions for my lunches. Had to run back in and get 'em. The following week I realized an hour and 10 minutes into my drive that I had forgotten all my post workout protein shakes. With only a local CVS in town, I decided not to buy an entire tub of low quality protein and settled on a pack of ready to drink MuscleMilk protein shakes. I made some mistakes, but I did it.
There were so many times I thought "forget (and other choice f words) this". There were late nights I struggled trying to wash tupperware in a tiny hotel sink. There were quite a few Friday mornings where I was lugging a purse, suitcase, heavy cooler and all my hanging clothes down a flight of stairs to check out before work thinking to myself "this would be a helluva lot easier if I didn't give a shit about this crap". Weekends were spent trying to relax as much as possible but Friday evenings required loading all of the tupperware into the dishwasher (it nearly took an entire load on its own) and getting some laundry going. Sundays were spent grocery shopping, starting the meal prep process, and packing clothes all over again. It was hard, but I made it happen.
So why am I telling you about it? It's really not to brag. It's not to say "look how great I did"; I realize even with all of this going on other people have way more hectic lives than me, whether it's a new born, kids involved in sports, traveling full time for work, etc. I also realize that fitness means different things to different people; I understand what I'm doing isn't for everyone, and just because I'm doing it doesn't mean everyone should be doing it. Maybe you just want to ride your bike outside every day, maybe you want to lose those pesky 10 pounds you gained last year. I'm telling you to let you know it is possible. I'm telling you to encourage you to get out of your own way. Stop falling victim to your own excuses. Stop using your excuses to hide your fear. If you want to make a change to your body (or hell, a change to your life in general) just do it! You are completely and entirely in charge of you. I was in my own way for so long. I had lost 25 pounds since college but then I just stayed there in a plateau, completely stalled. I was confident with my body, I was happy with my body, I had finally found the self love I searched for for years (read about that journey here) ... But I knew that wasn't the end goal for me. I knew I could take my body even further if I wanted to, but I was scared that I would try it and fail. I had never done it before. It would have been so much easier to use this period of my life as a crutch. It would have been easy to say "I'm away from my home, I'm away from my gym, I have no place to work out, I can't cook every night so I'm just going to eat out" and gained a few pounds. Hell, it would have been easy for me to say "I'm just going to try to maintain for these few months". Instead I said "It's time to kick it up a notch".
So if it's so hard, why even do it? Because I love it. I don't really know how to explain the "fitness bug". When you start eating healthy and working out you become so aware of how AWESOME your body is. You're so proud of it; you want to take care of it, move it, put it to good use. At the same time you get this passion to continue bettering and improving yourself. At some point in time a hobby I enjoyed became something I admired so much, it seemed wrong not to take it seriously day in and day out. As of this morning I have lost 9 pounds in a month on my mini cut (bringing my total weight loss to 34 pounds). I'm finally in the 120's for the first time in my adult life, which wasn't even a goal of mine as I really don't care what the scale says. There was no cleansing, no starving, no crazy diet, no shortcuts. I still had my treat meal once a week (most recently cheese stuffed pasta shells and chocolate chip cannolis for dessert). I still ate my five nutrient-dense meals a day; I just watched my nutrition with a more meticulous eye than ever before, focused on nutrient timing, and killed it in the gym. I'm nowhere near done.
I'm happy to say that as of last night I will (probably) never stay at the Super 8 hotel in Paris, IL again. Even happier to say that I start my new, permanent job Monday. I'm the MOST happy to be back home, snuggling my husband and puppies every night, and I'm ready to continue killing it in the gym with a desire and passion that's stronger than ever. Be stronger than your biggest excuse.