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Labor of Love

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

"You might have to sacrifice some sleep, social media time, gossip time, whatever it is, there is something you could sacrifice to love on yourself for 30 minutes a day, if you so choose."

Labor of Love

Taking care of my mind, body, and spirit have become extremely high on my list of priorities. One of the best ways I do this is by working out, and spending time loving on me every single day. I do it right at the start of my day to center myself, and usher in the positive energy that I’ll need to get through the rest of the day. I’d always been one of those people to try to pull it together for a trip right quick. If I knew I was going somewhere, I’d do a crash diet 30 days in advance. If I were really feeling fancy, I’d make it 60 days. At the time, that worked for me….at least to look decent in a bikini for a photoshoot. It appeased the desire to look good, temporarily. It didn’t do anything for my mind, spirit, or my health.

Nearly three years ago I hit a brick wall where nothing seemed to be going right. I’d moved across the country to chase a dream, yet every plan seemed to fail. My business wasn’t getting the contracts that I thought we would. I couldn’t find a job, for the first time in my entire life. I was missing home and family more than I ever imagined I would, AND I was grieving my mom that year more than I ever had before….probably because I never actually took the time to do so previously. I thought I could out-busy grief.

Amid all those things, I started working out more regularly. I fell in love with the process of releasing all of my issues and burdens, in the gym. I was literally battling depression, while making the conscience decision to put one foot in front of the other, every single day, to commit to this new lifestyle. That is how it started at least. It gradually became my me time and my self-care. Eventually it advanced into me actually caring about my athleticism….how much weight I could lift, how high I could jump, how long I could balance on my head, how fast I could run, my stamina, my endurance, everything. I started developing little competitions strictly with myself. I’m not one to compete with the next person or try to find flaws about someone else to make myself feel better. I only looked inward. There was more than enough there.

Now if I’m honest, my intense workouts went on for almost two years without me changing my eating habits. So yeah, I was getting stronger and faster, but my physique really wasn’t changing all that much because I was not disciplined in my eating habits. It’s been exactly a year now since I’ve started eating clean consistently. This is the longest that I’ve ever eaten clean. Working out isn’t hard for me. I enjoy it. But clean eating truly took some discipline, and still does some days.

I lost 26 pounds over the course of four months. I followed the nutrition plan from my coach, worked out hard each day, did at least 20 minutes of cardio each day, and it was still hard. This was the first time I noticed that the weight didn’t just fall right off me easily like it used to. I had to accept the fact that I’m now over 30 with a post kid body…..two kids. It was different! My regime was two Herbalife protein shakes, two meals, and two healthy snacks. Breakfast meals were usually oatmeal with nuts, or egg whites and protein. Snacks included Greek yogurt, fruit or nuts (cashews or almonds). Meals were always lean protein, veggies, and sometimes brown or jasmine rice. That’s it. No cheat meals, no weekend fun, no nothing. And before you ask, the answer is no, you can’t drink alcohol while you’re trying to lose weight! Lol I’d be rich if I had a dollar for everyone who asked me that question.

The first couple of weeks were hard. Then I noticed it started to become easier. Now, I maintain a similar regime Monday-Friday, and I eat pretty much what I want on the weekends. It just so happens that I don’t want a lot of the same things that I use to want. We’ve been in quarantine without a gym for six full months, and I’ve been able to maintain my weight and muscle tone through home workouts and clean eating. I had planned on putting on 10 pounds of muscle, but operations slim-thick must hold off until I can get to a gym again.

My snack options have changed drastically. Instead of chips, I go for baked lentils. Instead of Oreos, I go for the Fiber One Oatmeal Raisin cookie. Instead of candy, I go for fresh mango….yummy! If I want something other than actual water to drink, I go for ICE flavored waters. My favorite flavors are cherry limeade and pineapple coconut. Check them out if you’re anything like me. I can’t rationalize drinking my calories, but that’s a personal thing. Point is, your diet doesn’t need to be perfect, mine isn’t. But you’ll notice real results if you start making subtle changes consistently. After a while it becomes second nature. Once in a blue if I want a brownie, then I’ll have a brownie. It’s definitely not about depriving yourself. It is however about discipline, structure, and consistency. One thing for sure though, if you can develop discipline over your food choices, you can have discipline with anything!

I’m a woman, a mom of two, 35 years old, and I can still see my abs after six months of quarantine. I remember somebody laughing at me when I made a goal of getting abs. They told me it wasn’t possible. I was too old, and already had kids. Not only did I prove them wrong, but I was also able to get completely off blood pressure medication that I had been on for years prior. I justified it to myself by believing that this was hereditary. My mom, grandma, and aunties all had it, so it was no big deal for me to have it too. That was a complete lie! After about six months of consistency, my doctor told me that I have the vitals of a teenager and he ordered me completely off the medication. A year later, and I’m maintaining teenage vitals just fine, just by making better choices.

What are you willing to sacrifice? For me, I sacrifice sleep. I have to wake up 1-1.5 hours earlier to workout at the start of my day. That means 4:30am. When people tell me they don’t have time, it’s laughable. I’m a mom like everyone else, I work a really demanding job, I manage a thriving business, and I still make myself a priority. There is always time, but something else will have to go. You might have to sacrifice some sleep, social media time, gossip time, whatever it is, there is something you could sacrifice to love on yourself for 30 minutes a day, if you so choose. Anything else is just an excuse and frankly, I’d rather you tell me you’re just lazy, than to say you don’t have time.

If you’re looking to get started, I’d recommend five easy steps:

1) Just start. Start by creating a plan and sticking to it. Start at your level and do what feels right to YOU! If you don’t want to run, start simply by walking.

2) If you fall off, just get back on. Too often when we fall off, we want to wait until next Monday to start again. Don’t! Start back up right away.

3) Don’t expect change overnight. It took years to develop the unhealthy eating habits and to store the fat in all the places you didn’t want it. Don’t beat yourself up when it doesn’t fall off in a week or a month.

4) Throw the scale away! The scale doesn’t matter. Focus on how you feel in your clothes, how your body feels, your energy levels, you skin, all those details that don’t lie, because the scale can be misleading.

5) Don’t try to look like anyone else. It’s fine to have goals to aspire to, but genetics play a large role in the shape of our bodies and how we put on or takeoff weight. Putting too much pressure on ourselves to look like a body type that we will never attain naturally is toxic. They probably didn’t attain it naturally either. And that’s all I have to say on that topic.

I’ll give you a bonus just because I love you so much, but this trick works for me. Observe the people you see eating the pizza and donuts at work and ask yourself if you want to look like them. This seems judgmental, but hey, it works! Honestly, the answer 99% of the time is no, we don’t want to look like who we see eating the donuts. So, with that, take care of your body. You only get one. That’s the best labor of love any of us can ever accomplish. Happy Labor Day!

With Love,

Michelle L.


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