I rarely get awards for anything these days. Since I don’t hold a corporate job, I don’t have a workplace where I get recognized for excelling and hitting performance metrics. I don’t race much either, so my days of collecting podiums are few and far between. For the most part, I know my worth and what I’m capable of anyway.
But if you’d asked me 10 years ago if I ever aimed to win an award for being a fitness inspiration, I would probably have laughed in your face. Ten years ago, I was trying to lose “the last five pounds” after having ballooned to nearly 20 pounds overweight while getting my bachelor’s degree.
(Fast forward to now and I’m still trying to lose those last five pounds, hahaha!)
I never thought the weight loss and getting into being fit was something award-worthy; it was just what I needed to do to improve my quality of life. I never thought getting into running and doing triathlons was out of the ordinary; it was just the path I personally took because I was getting bored of just exercising at a gym. And I certainly never got into blogging about fitness just to become an “influencer”; I did it because writing and sharing my experiences is something wired into my very core.
So I never take it as a given, or for granted, whenever people tell me that they’ve been inspired by my story. I am by no means perfect (and the pressure of trying to seem perfect is something I’ve collapsed under in the past years). In fact, my story is a continuing one in which the only consistent plot point is the possibility — the hope — that we can be better than what we used to be and that we can try again even after failure. And that’s what I’m really proud of and thankful to be recognized for.
Now, given that I’ve just started a new training regimen, there’s really nothing to report. But talking with a few people at House Manila’s ReGram awards event, I got a lot more food questions than I did exercise ones. So here are a few thoughts about how I stay sane and still enjoy food.
Please take note these are my personal thoughts and experiences on the matter, and I always emphasize that what works for one person may not work for another!
- I make low-carb food choices whenever possible. Because I work from home, I’m able to eat home-cooked food most of the time so I can choose not to cook pasta, or rice, or potatoes. However, I know it’s not possible to eat this way all the time, especially when at an event or at someone else’s house or party. I will try to eat around high-carbohydrate foods, but understand that avoiding them may not be possible (i.e. when there’s no other food and you don’t want to be a burden on the host). In those instances, I bite the bullet, maybe eating a smaller portion while simultaneously promising myself to get back on track the next day.
- When traveling, I switch to managing portion sizes rather than avoiding carbs. Part of the joy of traveling is getting to try out foods and cuisines. So yes, absolutely, bring out the noodles and the sticky rice! But then I manage the portions. After all, you can enjoy the taste without gorging yourself.
- I eat low-carb because it works for my lifestyle. Back when I used to train more, I could eat starches and grains because I would be able to make quick use of them in sessions. However, carbs spike my blood sugar and cause cravings and hunger pangs. Couple that with a more sedentary lifestyle, and I’ll end up consuming more calories than I burn. So a low-carb diet keeps me on an even keel and I’m able to eat appropriately-sized portions at mealtimes. I do still get occasional cravings for sweets but I find one tablespoon of Peanut Better Peanut Butter is enough to sate both my craving as well as any hunger pangs between meals.
- I don’t schedule cheat days. Knowing the way I think and act, I know that if I make one day a week my cheat day, I will probably over-indulge on that day habitually. Instead, I eat well when I can so that I know I have a sort of buffer for a bit more carb consumption on occasion. This lets me be disciplined but moderate instead of absolutist in the way I eat. I realize that it doesn’t work that way for other people, but this is what works for me.
I find that motivations for diet and exercise are highly individual and personal. People also respond to diet and exercise in different ways. So on your own fitness journey, take note of what works and what doesn’t. We’re all an experiment of one; what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.
The one constant in anyone’s fitness journey is the possibility and the hope that we can be better than we were, and can always try again.