Behind The Why of Fitness

This time of year is a boon for the fitness industry. People decide to take care of their health and in droves join gyms, subscribe to a new eating plan and at some point in the month all enthusiasm is lost.

If you feel stuck or discouraged right now, take a moment to reassess. Find out your Why behind wanting to do it. Understanding the reason behind wanting to be healthy will help you succeed. Write it down, tell a friend. Doing so will help to stay on track.

It’s something I didn’t think through when I began my health journey six years ago. Though I had lost weight and achieved many goals physically I was still searching for my Why. As the years go on it keeps evolving. At the heart of it I want to avoid the health issues that my family tends to have.

But there are other things playing out. I believed that being thin would equal happiness. But instead it lead to an obsession with the amount of calories consumed or freaking out about getting workouts done.

I wasn’t able to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I had believed the lie that being thin would mean acceptance. My Why had been skewed.

What I had missed was that God made it possible for me to be healthy not for my own glory but His. I still miss it. Losing weight was needed, dealing with the compliments and attention was hard to get past. Because then it becomes all about the outside. The pressure I placed on myself then became I need to maintain this weight for acceptance. To not disappoint others.

I had to admit that a lot of my motivation was external. In hopes of being the right kind of person that would be loved. I longed for the compliments about losing weight. When I didn’t hear them as much it meant I had failed somehow.

In this journey I had to confront these motivations. As I did so, the pressure to be perfect began to fall away. My Why today is different from my Why if yesterday. Today I try to workout consistently and eat well not to gain admiration but to care for myself. Plus it’s a habit that keeps me balanced, physically, mentally and spiritually.

The Why is just as important as how one goes about being healthy.

Grief

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.

Girl Running

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: Ups and Downs

My relationship with food is rather complex as it so often reprensents comfort to me. As it does for so many and in times of stress is easy to run towards.

Which I did. Barely working out or not at all. Eating whatever came across my way.

Why? Because life had become busy and stressful. Eating all the bad stuff felt good, for a brief moment. Not working out made feel like I did skipping school as a teenager. Another brief moment of being bad but then comes guilt.

Getting back into the routine is hard. The body adjusts just as quickly to bad habits as to good ones. The good news is that now I long for the good habits. To eat better and exercise.

While there may times when we get off the health track, it does not mean we can not go back. Don’t allow a bad day or week to prevent you from being healthy. There will be ebbs and flows, ups and downs.

Keep going, keep moving. It’s worth it.

 

 

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.