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My Five Year Check In

Five years ago I began my journey to a healthier lifestyle. In that time I learned that my body is capable of so much more than I had ever believed. I learned how to eat healthier and how to have a new mindset when it came to food. Exercise, once alien to me became near second nature. Dropping the weight was exciting, scary and hard. Hard not only physically but mentally and spiritually as well.

On my walk/run the other day I began to think about my journey. Five years ago, I was in the best physical health of my entire life. Mentally and spiritually however I was a mess. So much of the why I was doing it had to do with my desire for approval from others. Deep in my heart I believed that being loved and accepted meant meeting other peoples idea of who I should be. That by not meeting those ideas, I was a failure.

Losing weight revealed a lot of things that God wanted to shake me free from. It has been more than learning how to care for my body in a better way. It also been letting go of so much that I held onto over the years. Food and being overweight hid so much I hoped to keep hidden. Losing weight, being left without a place to hide left me vulnerable.

I got down to what was supposed to be my optimal weight but I was also miserable. For the most part I did not feel as if my body belonged to me. Today, I’m not at that optimal weight and I am so much happier. I am happy with my eating habits ( some days are better than others) and exercise routine. It has taken me these five years to get here too.

There were and are places I needed to grow, to learn, to be cared for in order to get to this place I’m at now. A much healthier place, physically, spiritually and mentally. I’m still a bit of a mess, but I know in the mess, God is there with me. Losing weight has long term consequences, not only what can be seen but what happens internally. Happiness does not come from the numbers on a scale, or a label size but where one is at on the journey. This is a journey I will be on for the rest of my life.

My Best Frienemy is Running

Running has been my best friend and my frienemy. My longenst on again, off again relationship thus far. Becoming a runner was not anything I had ever envisoned for myself over four years ago. It was by far the most convienent and accessable form of exercise for me. I only needed a good pair of shoes and a nearby park to do it. It also helped to have a buddy at the time also running alongside me, pushing me to run one more lap, then another. Running has taught me that so much, which is why it has become the habit I quite can’t quit. I go through phases of going hard at it, not quite the six days a week habit I had four years ago. Today it looks more like three maybe four days a week, but still I’m getting out there.

Other times it looks like ghosting. I ignore the reasons I need to run and end up doing nothing. There have been times when I have used my work schedule as a reason for not doing it, but the truth is I simply did not want to run. But I need it.

Running keeps me physically and mentally healthy. A good morning run not only starts my body off well but my mind. It helps to wake me up and prepare my mind for the day. Running for me can be medidative. In this I mean nothing else is going through my mind is getting through it.( That and the lyrics from the Hamilton musical and Mix tape).

It is cost effective. As I stated above all you really need is a good pair of sneakers to run. No gym membership fee needed. I can run solo or with a group ( something I haven’t been able to do yet but hope to soon) and those are free too.

I enjoy it. Despite how I sometimes dread going, I don’t want to get out of bed. Or after a long day the last thing I want to is go home to run or work out. If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it at all.

I’m also in a different state of mind about being healthy. For a time it became so all encompasing for me that I could think of nothing else. At some point it became too much for me mentally that I had to figure this out again. And again and again as my life has changed over time. I have less time for the intensive six day a week work outs but I can still get in a good run or a short but intense workout.

Tomorrow morning I shall put on my running shoes and clothes, turn on my app, press play on Hamiliton and go!

Still Learning Healthy Skills

I was uncomfortable in my body when I was unhealthy and that did not change once I was healthier. My mind had to catch up with my body. What I did not know yet was that it would take time. Even though I was at my thinnest ever in my life, I became obsessive about two things. How flat other women’s stomachs seemed to me and counting my caloric intake. Seriously, the majority of my thoughts focused on that alone. I would sit in a room during Bible study and instead of paying attention, I would find myself staring at other women and their stomachs.

[Tweet “Were theirs flatter than mine? I need to sit up straighter so mine doesn’t poof out as much. If my stomach was flatter that guy would want to talk to me….”]

Were theirs flatter than mine? I need to sit up straighter so mine doesn’t poof out as much. If my stomach was flatter that guy would want to talk to me….

Then there was the constant counting of calories in my head. Constantly going over in my head and My Fitness Pay how much I ate and when I ate it. Calculating how much of my workouts negated the calories I had consumed.

I was exhausted. I had gone from binge eating to binge thinking about food. How much I ate, when I ate and what I ate. I spent more time on the food app then anything else.

A huge motivation during my journey to getting healthy was that it would lead to my believed fairy tale ending. I was blinded by the idea that it would be my turn, finally my turn and nothing was going to move me away from this idea! But (and there is always a but with God isn’t there), God was showing me something more. He placed people in my life who continue to cultivate the idea of His love in my life. People who challenge me and force me to really take a look at my motivations behind my goals.

I also had to grow comfortable with how my body. The key for me was coming to terms that my stomach will never be flat no matter how many ab work outs and sit ups I did. That no matter how much I count calories, there will be times that I am off or just don’t care enough.

I have gained weight since meeting my weight loss goal four years ago. Today, I am in a healthier place mentally and no longer desire to try to fit into some mold that doesn’t work for me. Meaning I still strive to be healthy, working out and eating well ( for the most part) but not freaking out as I once did when I do not. Accepting my body for what it is, for how God has made me has been so freeing.

I encourage those of you to strive for your goals, to be healthy and see the amazing things your body can do! Also learn to accept the reality of what your body will look like. There will be a time when the choices you make will be to not work our or to eat that “forbidden” food. Just try to be kind to yourself during those times. You are not less than because of these choices. How you come back from them is what will define you. Gaining health is not about getting it right all the time. It is learning skills in order to be healthy. To live a well rounded life.

I am still learning how to be healthy, and some lessons take longer than others. The biggest lesson I have learned is to keep going, that life can get in the way. Or like me one can just want a break for a time from the work out grind. And that is just fine…

 

 

Mid Week Motivator : Over All Health

What is over all health? To be it looks like a balance in different areas of life working together as one. It looks like this for myself.

Mental Health: taking time out for myself. Sometimes this takes the form of a quiet day away from people. Or going for a workout, especially when I don’t feel like it. Other times it means allowing myself to feel my emotions, face them head on.

Spiritual Health : When I am distant from God, not praying as often or seeking His word my soul feels it. I am darker, more pessimistic and prone to anger. I don’t want to engage with people. Not in a self care kind of way but in a selfish way.

Physical Health: By working out and eating well, I feel good. I feel energized and ready to take on the day or task. I sleep better when I am consistent. My disposition is better when the food I eat is healthy and nutritious.

I can only be healthy when all three of these elements work together. When I lack in one area, the others suffer. It is important to be aware of my needs, recognize when I need more of one in my life.

 

Mid Week Motivator : Sleep

I have never had problems sleeping. I am also a deep sleeper, it often takes a lot to wake me up.

Sleep is important but it may also not come easy for everyone. If you have issues sleeping please seek professional help. This article is aimed towards people who choose to sleep less.

There seems to be a contest in this country about who can sleep the least. Bragging rights belonging to those who get “by” on X number of hours. The X usually being the least amount.

Getting the sleep we need is vital to overall health. Our bodies and brains need the maximum hours of rest each night. Without it our bodies work hard to compensate. One is food. The body is lacking energy, food creates energy, which leads to overeating.

Another is getting sick. By not getting enough sleep, the body has not had time to repair itself. Cells have not been able to repair themselves.

 

 

Mid Week Motivator: Water

It should be easy to drink water. I mean it is easily accessable  in our lives ( especially those of us living in the modern, western world). We are surrounded by places to buy water to our liking. Water fountains are in every public building we enter. Not to mention,(hardly ever) do we need to question how clean the water we are drinking, cleaning and bathing in is safe. Plus we have the option to further filter our drinking water if we so desire.

So why is it so difficult to get into the habit of drinking it?

All day long other beverages are consumed are they not? There are the sugary drinks and the various colas. Since it is still summer time, the choices added lemonade and iced tea. Let us not discount all the blended coffee ( or as my friend puts it, coffeeish) beverages.

But drink water? Just plain water with no flavor added? Really?

I mean, who does that?!

I do.

I enjoy water. I enjoy being properly hydrated. Have you ever finished a soda and felt, well thirsty still? I have and either wound up drinking more soda or a glass of water. I can honestly say I am no longer tempted by soda. While I do enjoy one from time to time.

I’ve had to recommit myself to drinking enough water. This became evident the other day as my friend and I had to end our run because of thirst. On other days I have underestimated the heat and humidity by not drinking quite enough water to get through my workout outside. In this vein I have purchased a snazzy new water bottle ( thank you Dollar Tree!) and am committed to refilling it at least three times during my work shift ( which averages around five to six hours). At home at least three to four more times.

Drinking water has helped me so much in staying away from other kinds of beverages ( as I stated above I still do drink them from time to time). Not to mention saving money by refilling my water bottle, I am not purchasing it.

Drink well my friends!

The Never-Ending Weight Loss Journey

This past week a few articles about the effects of metabolism can have on those who have lost weight years after their initial weight loss. While this article focused on former The Biggest Loser winners and competitors, it made a lot of sense to me. Since I lost weight four years ago, I have slowly put on weight. A lot of what I have been struggling suddenly made sense to me.

Essentially, the body is fighting to return to my previous state. While I can do my darndest to remain at that initial weight, my body it seems has other ideas. It was so used to the amount of calories and lack of exercise that it adapted to burn off these calories. Once I began to eat more mind fully and exercise, my body did not know how to process this, and so the pounds fell off. But once things settled down for with my weight and eating habits, it then began to recover. However what it was recovering was my old metabolism, having not adapted to my new lifestyle. After all I was now smaller so there-fore my metabolism slowed down.

The reality of maintaining weight loss years later is that it takes more effort than initial weight loss. Often times it means having to always to vigilant about the food I eat. Making sure I exercise at least six days a week in order to burn off those calories. And that is just not feasible for me right now. For one thing, constantly keeping track of my calories can be exhausting and stressful. It became all I thought about it. Tracking my intake with MyFitness Pal ( which is a great app by the way and very helpful!), adding and subtracting based on the amount of exercise I did that day.

I also do not have the ample amount of time to workout as I did a few years ago. There are days when I can squeeze in a quick workout. Honestly there are days where I just really do not care what I am eating, I just want it so I will eat it. The thing to remember is weight loss is unique for each person. Some go into this journey believing that by losing weight their entire life will change. Perhaps it will and perhaps only aspects will. This in itself can lead to disappoint and therefore a why bother attitude on continuing on.

[Tweet “The reality is that weight loss is a never-ending journey, one that has its highs, lows and valleys.”].

The reality is that weight loss is a never-ending journey, one that has its highs, lows and valleysThere are times when it is easier to say no to bad habits and other times when it is harder. So many factors go into getting healthy that it can be overwhelming. These studies will continue to come out, often saying the opposite of a previous study. Along with these studies will be those opinions to follow. The only ones that matter for yourself are your doctor’s and yours.

I know better today what I want for my goals, putting into practice the tools I already know to lose weight. But also not wanting to get down to a designated number. I know what works best for my frame and sanity. That being a certain number on the scale does not necessarily equal good health. Because if mentally you are constantly worried about how much you exercise and eat then it will only lead to exhaustion and burn out. Overall health is more important than maintaining an impossible weight.

Take your time in reading these kinds of articles and studies, resist jumping to some for gone conclusion. Examine what is working for you and what isn’t. Confer with your doctor and restructure your plan if need be. Keep going, keep running or dancing. Keep cooking and eating well and try not to be too hard on yourself when those days are not the greatest.

After all  starting this journey to health is about getting to enjoy this life more so than before. Remember that.

What has been your struggle with maintaining weight loss? Do you perceive the struggle is more physical or mental?

 

Washington Post article

New York Times article

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nutritionist or clinician. I am a woman who lost weight a few years ago through healthy eating and exercising.

 

Mid Week Motivator : Sometimes You Eat a Donut

For the past few weeks I have been getting back into my running routine. So far it is working out. This past Saturday after my run, I wanted to have donuts. And I did. I enjoyed eating them immensely too.

Sometimes, you just have to eat a donut. Or whatever it is you are craving. Enjoy it and then get back to your regular eating habits. Enjoying the odd donut now and again is important on your health journey.

Mid Week Motivator: Cutting out Excuses

I cut my hair after two years of growing it out. I loved aspects of having long hair. I enjoyed playing with hairstyles and most especially the excuse it gave me to not run.

Why? Because if I ran as often as I should then I would have to wash it. Honestly, I used this a reason to not run or even work out hard. Taking the time to wash it was just too much to deal with for me. I do not tend to use a blowdryer. It was just a convenient excuse.

My hair had become my hinderance. So it was time to cut it out. I chose to donate my hair to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths which provides for women going through cancer treatments. Cutting off the extra hair did not magically make go out and run. But it did give me one less excuse to not go.

Since cutting my hair, I have resumed my running ritual. [Tweet “The thing about excuses is that they can be so easy to believe. “]Just as getting into running is a habit, getting out of it is as well. It became easier to not go than to go. But I am changing that, I need to run. I have stated this in previous posts.

And so I begin again. That is what I am doing these days, running four days in a row, two days of static exercises and one day of rest. So far, so good I have to say.

I am enjoying my new short hairdo too!

 

 

Mid Week Motivator: Exercise Interuptus

Last week I hit by a terrible cold. It felt defeating as I had just gotten in three days of a new running routine. Just as I started to get into the groove of it, BOOM!

As I had to continue showing up for work I ended up with no energy left to run.

It wasn’t until yesterday  that I was able to get in a good work out. I’ve learned to not get caught up in negative thoughts during these times. Sometimes its just fine to push through and run. Other times not as much. I needed the energy I had to get through each work day.

Honor what your body is telling you. This is just so important in overall health and fitness.