Have you ever had those days where you feel like you just need to START?
And yet, you really are so overwhelmed you don’t know where or how?
You know, those times where you are feeling a little behind, possibly a little down. Like that cute little hamster on her wheel just trying to get ahead?
Those times where you look around you and are taking stock of your bike rides, your nutrition, your job, your LIFE and you are just feeling like you are dropping the ball EVERYWHERE.
You are doing everything for everyone else, you aren’t focusing on yourself at all and you STILL feel like you are failing everywhere.
I am here to tell you that you are not alone. All female cyclists feel this way at one point or another.
We have so many roles and identities that we are juggling and trying to keep up in the air.
Sometimes we don’t even know what hat we are wearing at any given moment, or we are even wearing several at once.
When you are a wife, a mom, a cyclist, a friend, a co-worker, a sister, a daughter…there can be so many things you feel like you SHOULD be doing at any given moment.
It’s not at all surprising that we have moments when we feel like we aren’t doing any of them well.
Sometimes it can even be tough to celebrate our wins or our triumphs in one aspect of our life because we feel like we are ignoring others.
If you have ever felt this way (and I am guessing if you are human and a woman you have!), then I am here to simply remind you to meet yourself where you are.
What does that even mean? And how on earth do we even do this?
It means giving yourself grace.
It means forgiving yourself for not being perfect.
It means to step back, take stock of everything that is good and meet yourself where you are.
We can’t do everything, 100%, all of the time.
Bu, what we can do is be mindful of where we are at right now, and focus on different aspects of our cycling and our lives one thing at a time.
Tip #1: Take an Honest Look at Your Starting Point
Your starting point is, quite simply, where you are.
Take an honest look at this.
Where you are isn’t good, or bad. It just is. It’s neutral.
Consider your cycling workouts, your nutrition, and your daily habits.
Be kind to yourself, but also be honest.
How often are you riding? Do you have a plan for getting your rides in?
Do you have a plan for your nutrition? Are you sticking with your plan at least most of the time?
Have you scheduled time in your day, in your week, for yourself to focus on YOU?
Instead of listing all of the ways that you are failing, that you are feeling deficient, just focus on taking a neutral and honest look at where you are.
This starting point is everything.
It will allow you to see where you are at and decide the areas of your life where you would like to make some changes.
Maybe you want to change up your rides a bit and do more intervals or hills.
Perhaps you want to focus on giving your body the nutrition it needs to fuel those rides.
It’s possible that you are looking at your life, at your commitments, and realizing that you haven’t set aside the time for yourself to do the things you need to do for YOU.
Being real with yourself about all of this is the first step. This is where you are. This is your starting point. It’s where you want to meet yourself.
It is from here that you can decide where you want to focus your energy and attention.
Tip #2: Pick One Area of Your Cycling/Your Life to Focus on Right Now
Once you have taken stock of where you are at, you need to decide where you want to focus your energy.
Spoiler: it truly can’t be everywhere, all at once.
You Don’t Want to Multitask
Studies have shown that we humans actually suck at multitasking.
I remember in the 90s/early 2000s when it used to be considered this amazing ability to claim you are a multi-tasker and can do all of the things at once.
Now we know better. We know that our brains just don’t work that way. That it’s much better for us to devote all of our attention to one task before moving on to the next.
According to this article from Cleveland Clinic, we aren’t actually multitasking when we think we are.
We are simply switching rapidly from one task to another, and the end result is that we are probably not doing any of the tasks we are working on very well.
This happens to me ALL OF THE TIME when I am doing chores. I will be doing the dishes and hear the chimes of the washer go off.
I abandon my dish-washing task to switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer, and then realize I have to hang up some clothes in the bathroom.
In the bathroom I realize that the sink needs to be scrubbed, and I grab some cleanser to do that.
As a result I often end up forgetting to start the dryer, and find myself wandering back into the kitchen an hour or so later all confused about the dishwasher being wide open.
I mean, it’s comical really. I just have to laugh at myself in these situations (otherwise I might cry, and who really wants to cry about DISHES!).
The bigger issue is that for the longest time I took this same approach to my cycling and my health.
Not too surprisingly, it was a complete disaster.
I would get frustrated with my lack of progress and decide that I need to eat better, ride more, and go all out with both of those things immediately.
I probably don’t even need to tell you what this looks like! You know, I would decide that I am going to ride every day, and eat super healthy, and fit in a bazillion or so strength workouts, and never have dessert or ice cream, and it would all be awesome.
It was NOT awesome.
I would get overwhelmed, make mistakes, decide that I failed, and then just throw up my hands.
I started skipping rides, eating tons of snacks, etc.
Instead of making progress towards the cyclist I wanted to be, I actually went backwards because I didn’t meet myself where I was.
I tried to just change everything all at once, and it broke me.
Change Your Habits Around ONE Thing
Once I committed to changing my habits around one aspect of my life at a time, I started to truly see a difference.
I started with committing to my cycling and creating a base level of fitness for myself.
Above all else I wanted to be able to get on my bike any day, at any time, and be able to ride a pretty considerable distance without…you know…feeling like I was going to die.
In terms of food I made sure that I was eating when I needed to eat to fuel my rides.
I didn’t restrict my food, count calories, or really pay any attention to my nutrition other than making sure my body at least had what it needed to ride.
I focused on fitness first.
Now this base level fitness thing was no small feat. It was not something I had ever had before.
I got winded going up the stairs in our house, for crying out loud.
But, I found that achieving base level fitness was so much more manageable if I wasn’t trying to change everything else in my life at the same time.
I met myself where I was. I focused on riding and making gains in my cycling fitness FIRST.
I wanted to get stronger and get up those hills!
I started increasing my distance and intensity over time, and did a basic cycling fitness program on my indoor trainer using the app Trainer Road.
It felt incredible to finish that program and become a stronger rider in the process.
Now I can’t even imagine a life where I don’t have base level fitness. In my life I can go for a walk or a hike without worrying I will get winded and won’t be able to keep up.
I am strong, and I am confident in my fitness. It feels amazing to truly believe that, and believe that my body can do whatever I set my mind to.
Tip #3: Meet Yourself Where You Are By Brainstorming Simple, DOABLE Ways to Advance Your Goals or Dreams
Now that you know where you are at, and what you want to focus on, brainstorm some ways that you can move towards your goals or dreams.
Once I met myself where I was with my cycling fitness, and developed a base level of fitness to ride my bike, I then decided to make some changes to my nutrition.
Note that I did NOT try to do BOTH of these things at the same time!
I realized that I could get up hills faster if I weighed a little less.
I found that once cycling regularly was an integral part of my life I could kind of put that on “autopilot” for a bit in order to focus on my nutrition.
As a result, a couple of years ago I lost almost 50 pounds riding my bike.
I did this by meeting myself where I was and not trying to change all the things related to my nutrition all at once.
I just started making a simple meal plan each day and sticking with it. I took a look at what I was eating, and made a doable and reasonable plan where I wrote down what I would eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert.
You can bet dessert is on the plan!
We are talking about spending maybe 5 minutes each morning intentionally making decisions about food.
That was it.
I wrote down what I was going to have, and ate what I wrote down. I didn’t try to do keto, or paleo, or any kind of anything that made me feel like I was depriving myself.
If it was something that made me feel like I needed what weight loss coach Corinne Crabtree refers to as a “last supper” I knew it wasn’t the plan for me.
I plan foods that I like. Foods that I would want to eat anyway.
At first I even planned more food than I thought I actually needed just to get in the habit of sticking with what I planned.
Over time I realized that by being in control, I could eat the foods that I wanted. I stopped depriving myself and stopped labeling food as “good” or “bad”. All food is good! Some just happens to be better for you and helps you meet your goals.
Writing it all down gave me the confidence to make some changes, to “uplevel” my food, and make more choices that would bring me closer to my goals.
I met myself exactly where I was. I didn’t try to cut out all of the things that I love. I didn’t try to use willpower to get through my days. I simply planned my food in advance, and stuck to the plan (most of the time!).
I am finding now that certain foods make me feel better than others, so I eat more of them! It’s really that simple.
Certain ones make me feel more sluggish or tired, or upset my stomach. I eat those foods less frequently.
By meeting myself where I was with both my cycling and my nutrition, and giving myself grace along the way, I became a stronger cyclist, and lost almost 50 pounds.
Ultimately, find the Joy in Meeting Yourself Where You Are
I found so much joy in just meeting myself right where I was.
Appreciating my body, appreciating my ability to ride a bike.
Not expecting that I should be able to change everything about my habits right away.
The whole entire process of getting stronger and losing weight was actually fun. It didn’t feel like work.
I was curious about where I could go with my dreams, and truly believed that being stronger and losing weight was possible.
Letting go of counting calories, counting points, putting pressure on myself to complete rides that I wasn’t quite strong enough to do was everything.
I encourage you to consider meeting yourself where you are.
Give yourself and your body kindness and love.
Trust that you and your body will do what it needs to get to achieve your goals and dreams.
When you have a day where you skip a ride or eat off plan tell yourself that it’s OK.
Be curious about it, forgive yourself, and brainstorm ways to set yourself up for success tomorrow.
When you meet yourself where you are, support yourself, and lift yourself up, each day you will actually WANT to do better.
You’ve got this. You can do this. I believe in you.
Meet yourself where you are. Start today.