Enjoying Healthy Habits

Seven years ago I began my health journey. For a long time I believed it began when a friend offered to help me get healthy. However, as the years passed I’ve realized it truly began with my desire to change my life. Without that, nothing else matters.

The years passed and I’ve gained and lost and gained again. I lost my desire to be healthy, instead choosing to fall back into old habits. So many factors go into getting healthy. Time,money and knowledge as well as desire.

I’m grateful for my friend all those years ago because I learned so much about exercising. For the first time in my life I began to understand what my body was capable of doing. Today, I understand so much more. I’m older now, therefore my body will react differently now. But it will react, I will learn new things about my body. New ways to care for it.

I’m also in a better place spiritually and mentally. I once believed that by losing weight I was doing something that warranted a reward of some kind. What I missed was getting healthy was the reward. I was obsessed with the number on the scale, that being at my so called ideal would bring so much joy. Instead, it brought me so much anxiety. I worried about every morsel of food I ate. I constantly compared my stomach bulge to other women around me. (Something I know understand is a natural consequence of simply sitting down).

I went from caring too much to not caring. I ate badly and often, exercising became a sometime habit. The reality is life changes and adjusting to that can take time. Seven years ago I had more free time to work out twice a day. Today, I have more responsibility and less free time. I still however, have time to workout and meal prep. I have to set aside time to do it, be proactive.

I just didn’t want to have to think about it so much! Figuring out what workouts to do and foods to eat. I needed to get out of my rut. Honestly I felt bored and underwhelmed about getting healthy.

I also do better when it’s a challenge. I did well with Whole 30, it had clear guidelines and an end date. I also did well training for my half marathon a few years back (something I aim to do again).

If I’ve learned anything it’s better to do it within community. I have an awesome church community, and now I’ve joined an online community called Fit Girls Guide. I’ve followed them for a few years and decided to go for it! They provide a workout plan, grocery list and menu and most of all a community of women cheering each other on. Bonus, it’s made me excited to get healthy again!

If your someone getting back into healthy things, whatever form this may take, I hope it excites you. I hope doing it brings you joy. There is no one right way to get healthy. If you try something and it’s not for you, try something else. If you start and life happens, have grace for yourself. If your in a place of not yet but soon or even not at all, don’t let others overwhelm you with advice. When you’re ready, you’ll know and you will kick booty!

Finisher Medal

Running, Round and Round

Five years ago I ran a half marathon. This was about a year after I began to run regularly. I went from being someone who found the idea of starting to exercise daunting. I wasn’t sure HOW to begin so therefore I chose not to.

Until a friend offered to help me and began working out with me. We started with walking laps, then eventually working up to full on running. In a few months I was out there on my own, running five to six days a week.

Signing up for the half marathon was a way for me to keep working towards a goal. My first goal of weight loss had been attained. Without setting goals, maintaining health and fitness gets boring. I needed a new challenge and it was needed.

In the ensuing years, running became my on again, off again relationship. Seasons of being gung ho and excited about it and other seasons of feeling meh about it. But I return to it again and again for many reasons.

It’s cheaper to run than to join a gym. I only need to invest in a good pair of sneakers and off I go! I’m lucky to live in a community with several parks and at least one with lights perfect for evening runs.

Staying consistent with running has been a struggle without having a goal. I’ve decided to start setting new goals, in this vein I signed up for a 5k this Thanksgiving morning. Next I hope to do a 10K then perhaps another half marathon.

Paying for these races is an investment and an incentive to meet these goals. I desire to take care of this body as well as I can. Running has taught me so much about the things my body is able to do. It has taught me about how I can want to give up and the benefits pushing through that.

Those lessons are invaluable.

My Health Journey

Six years ago I learned how to be healthier and that running isn’t the devil. But so much can change over time, mindset, metabolism, schedule and motivation. I’ve found what works for me, what foods or moods can trigger me. That just because I know how to make better choices when it comes to my health, it doesn’t mean I will or want to.

The things I have learned about my body over these six years are numerous. I will continue to learn more as I get older. I’ve learned what I don’t want just as much as what I want.

Why I Don’t Stress My Weight

It’s not that I don’t care that my weight is where it is today. At my “ideal ” weight, I was the least joyful. The process of losing weight was easier in some respects than maintaining my “ideal” weight. Losing weight, I had a goal to meet. It’s the same as when I did Whole 30, I also had a goal to meet in doing that. I do well with goals it seems, especially if they are public ones too.

But maintaining an “ideal” weight that in the end isn’t so ideal isn’t healthy either. Nor is letting my continued apathy towards where I am right now. How will this look in my life as discover new goals? I honestly don’t know yet. But I do understand better that ideal isn’t necessarily a number on the scale.

Where I am today and where I would like to be has a ways to go.

Lacking Motivation

I also lack the motivation to do what I need to do to get there. When I lost the bulk of my weight, I was doing two intense workouts a day, seven days a week (I learned later on about rest days). It wasn’t something that can be maintained in the long run.

I also don’t want to stop eating the way I have been. There, I said. It’s been a stressful time with my move and moving into a new role at work but it’s also been my choice. It’s not that I eat nothing healthy but ending each day with ice cream doesn’t help that.

A New Start

I know what I need to do. It’s about owning the choices I have made to get here. To understand why I have chosen to eat the way I have ( tastes good, makes me feel good, convenient).

Previously as I posted about healthy eating or a motivational picture, I was not always following my own advice. That is the reality of blogs, social media et al. It’s not the entire story.

The reality of getting healthy is that it’s something that can fall away. I didn’t believe I would end up making the same choices that have lead to my weight gain when I was in the midst of losing it. But here I am and the reality is at times it can feel easier to fall back into the habits that I know. Instead of habits that are good for me.

This takes routine as well as motivation. But life doesn’t adhere to routines, at least not for long. Things shift, an illness, a change in jobs and *poof* it changes. Sometimes it’s easier to get back into it. Other times it takes longer, or even not at all.

This is where I’m at right now. Trying to make the better choices, owning when I don’t and meeting myself where I am. And most importantly, not comparing myself to others. The other day as I went out for my run/walk, a gentleman ran circles around me at the park. It hit me that I too had been at the point where I could run laps nearly non-stop. One day I may be there again but I have to want it and work up to that once again. That’s what I mean by meeting myself where I am.

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…