That time my heart rate monitor died and I panicked

I want to share something with you that’s kind of personal.

I was going back and forth about pulling back the curtain on this because as coaches and fitness professionals, we are supposed to have our shit together, but … the more I come clean with you ladies the more I’ve been hearing “me too”. So, in 2017 I’m trying to be my most open and transparent possible. That’s my commitment to you, and I want to honor that.

For a good chunk of my fitness career I had some un-healthy obsessions.

I’ll never forget the day that my Polar Heart rate monitor stopped working in early 2015. I was getting ready to start a CrossFit class and the battery died. I remember feeling panicked. How on earth would I know how many calories I was burning? What if it was less than I would’ve liked? How can I possibly know if I’m burning off the calories I binged on last weekend?
I was diligent about using that thing daily. I wanted to monitor every single calorie I expended because I was out of control with my food intake. This was a habit rooted in the years of my bodybuilding and competing days that I just couldn’t shake.
The honest truth here is that I was using my calorie counter as a crutch. I was still struggling with occasional bouts of binge eating. Having the (perceived) control over knowing how many calories I burned, gave me a sense of how much of the damage I was un-doing.
It’d typically go something like this – binge on the weekend all while guesstimating with each bite how much I was depositing in the over-caloric bank.  Come Monday, kill myself trying to “work off” those calories by tracking via way of my heart rate monitor. As Friday would arrive I’d feel depleted and drained of all my mental and physical stamina so I’d repeat this cycle again.
I spent entirely too long in this vicious cycle. So long, in fact, that I wore down my Polar Heart rate monitor so much that even replacing the batteries did not bring it back to life. It was at that moment I gave it up. I knew that investing in a new calorie counter would mean investing in more of the mental gymnastics it was going to take to keep up that way of living.
Interestingly enough, looking back, I feel and look better now than I did when I was making calorie counting my full time job.
The reality of it is that I was overexercising which led to burn out, over the top cravings and using exercise strictly as a way to burn off my binges.
Trusting the process has, by far, been the most stress free and enjoyable way of living. It was not the easiest, as odd as that may sound. Yes, counting constantly “felt” like I was in control and doing something to prevent fat gain. Relinquishing that control meant that I had to trust that I knew what to do, and THAT is what was hard.
It’s that oh-shit feeling of having a grasp on one trapeze and being suspended mid air before your hand hits the next…total trust that you’ve got this.
Body freedom came unexpectedly when I stopped:
1- Weighing myself daily (why the scale is a liar HERE)
2- Long grueling workouts over an hour (I’d exercise up to 3 hours per day. Seriously WTF?)
3- Counting how many calories I burned
4- Tracking every calorie in every morsel of food I ate 
5- Exercising to punishing myself/body for my eating debauchery 
(you can read more about how my relationship with obsessive food counting served no benefit here. And, this is my approach to eating now)
Instead of continuing to enable the mental prison with the above tactics, what you can start doing is:
Wean yourself off the scale

Weigh yourself every other day for a week (literally set a reminder in your phone if you need to). Then switch to 1x per week for a couple weeks. Now, how about 1x per month? Removing yourself from this habit will bring more awareness to how much it’s affecting your mood when you do weigh yourself. If you prefer the “ripping the band-aid” approach, go toss it in the trash or tell a family member to hide it from you. 

Miraculously, you’ll likely notice that the scale won’t balloon up and, oddly enough you may begin to shed a few pounds.

I’ve found it’s much easier now to look at the scale number objectively rather than berating and judging myself when the numbers aren’t what I want them to be. You can get a more in-depth look as to why you shouldn’t rely on the scale here.
Exercise to love your body – My 3-tiered Strength, Sensuality and Sweat formula.

Instead of long, drawn out workouts, I’m typically done in anywhere from 20-45 mins 3-4 times per week with:

Strength- I still love weights. No denying the fat burning and muscle sculpting properties of adding resistance. The more muscle that you have on your body, the more fat you burn at rest. Simple enough. Include strength training at least 2x per week. Plus, there’s nothing like feeling strong AF.

Sensuality- Incorporating things regularly that also lower cortisol levels like sensual dancing, yoga and leisure walks are incredibly important for sustained fat loss, especially as we age. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. As simple as putting on some sexy music and moving your hips to a few songs. ‘Cause, there’s nothing like feeling sexy AF.

Sweat- Metabolic circuits. Quick, to the point, effective and enjoyable. This is my go-to for fat loss and strength gain. Theres gotta be some intensity there. Rather than long drawn out cardio sessions on an elliptical or treadmill where the calorie burn stops pretty much once you are done, metabolic circuits keep the calorie burn going longer. Annnnddd, then there’s the instant gratification of a good sweat session to make you feel BOSS AF.

Exercise should be done in a manner that enhances rather than detracts from our lives.

Go old school and trust yo’ self with RPE

I ditched tracking how many calories I was burning. This was hard, much like giving up the scale. But it had to be done. This forced me to be more mindful with my food, workouts and stress levels. Put your calorie tracking device out of it’s misery (caveat- FitBits and step counters are great motivators to keep you active- but don’t obsess!).

Be your own tracking device- be honest with yourself. You know when you are half-assing a workout. You know when you are pushing so hard you need to back off a little. Everyone’s fitness level is their own so aim to work at a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) that makes sense for the activity you are doing AND your current level of fitness.

Quit obsessing and get curious

I gave up counting every calorie that I consumed. I started eating intuitively which is something I never understood and thought was as real as seeing Casper the Friendly Ghost. This means you become a detective with your own body – “am I hungry, bored, thirsty, emotional eating, pms’ing?”. These are all real reasons I would overeat – and so would my clients I’d later find out.

I don’t adhere to the eat every 3 hours rule anymore. I sometimes won’t eat till noon if I’m not physically hungry. Occasionally I will do a 20-24 hour fast to give my body and digestion a break (NOT for fat loss reasons). All of this goes against dieting dogma which deserves to be challenged as it’s not the only way.

I know that this can all sound incredibly disempowering to relinquish control. Like, “Diane, but I need control”. I invite you to look at how much mental energy this desire for control is expending and, at what price. Is it working? Is being in control of all of these numbers giving you the results you’ve been chasing?
I think that some of these tools can be great motivators for people to get started, don’t get me wrong. However, oftentimes those that latch on have a hard time letting go and it backfires. What’s your experience? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

It’s been incredibly empowering to trust myself in knowing that I have the tools I need for success, I just have to implement them when the moment arises. This is exactly what I teach my Goddesses. We will be diving into this topic and many others that keep us from success in the #BeautifulBadass challenge starting April 3rd. Of course, I’d love to have you on this journey.

Join us for the 30 Day #BeautifulBadass Challenge here.

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