Health April 18, 2019

Health is Hard

Weight loss is hard, amiright? Health and fitness is truly a lifelong battle, and one I struggle with daily. To be successful, you truly have to make an appointment with yourself every day, and make your fitness a priority. Lately, I have been struggling to do that. I went from a very regimented, consistent schedule, to not knowing what to do when I roll out of bed. By the time I am ready to go to the gym, my clients are getting off work, and I am cancelling my scheduled appointment with myself to accommodate them. I LOVE my clients, and my job, but this is a sign of my lack of discipline, and I am not sure how to build that up anymore.

When I was young, I played softball. That activity kept me in relatively good shape until I quit as a Sophomore. Once I stopped playing softball, I took up weight lifting. I am SO grateful that I took those classes in high school. Without that experience, it would be very difficult for me to approach fitness in my adult life. Of course I never considered myself skinny or fit, although, I was probably in the best shape of my life.

Between the ages of 19 and 20, I finally felt comfortable in my own skin. I was wearing clothing I would never have felt comfortable to wear in high school. I felt confident for the first time really, ever. My favorite jeans at the time were these low-rise True Religions, a size 29.  They were skin tight, super comfy, and made me feel really sexy. At this same time, I was obsessed with Abercrombie & Fitch, so I wore a lot of their t-shirts. They were also very form-fitting. I don’t recall a time prior to this where I actually felt good in my clothes.

Looking back, I wish I had appreciated my body, and this time in my life. My husband and I had just moved in to our first apartment. We were so young, and just learning how to live life together. Life was simpler then, and I feel like I didn’t enjoy it like I should have. My negative body image really played into my happiness. I felt like I had gained so much weight since high school. None of my old jeans fit, but again, I was in better shape than I am currently so…

During this time, I left my job as a barista and entered the corporate world. Leaving my incredibly active job for something more sedentary had major effects on my body. Coming off of some pretty traumatizing life experiences, I was soothing myself with yummy, and incredibly unhealthy foods. The weight quickly packed on, and within three years, I would say I gained 50+ pounds. I hardly recognized myself, and was quite frankly disgusted by my reflection.

Knowing I wasn’t ready to take the steps to change my physical appearance, I tried to keep my complaining to a minimum. I continued to grow out of my clothing, bras and underwear. As I felt those things happening, I never once said I was going to get in the gym and change it. I wasn’t motivated to. The last thing I wanted was to get a gym membership, and abandon my plan within 30 days. So I waited… and waited.

At the end of 2016, Conrad and I told ourselves we were going to get back into shape and start eating healthier. He grew up in a home where he ate a lot of healthy foods, foods I honestly wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. It wasn’t unusual for him to eat chicken, rice, and asparagus for any given meal. I grew up eating a lot of frozen foods, and hamburger helper, so it was particularly difficult for me to create healthy eating habits.

In the midst of my weight gain, I spent a lot of time studying healthy eating habits. I knew exactly how to train in the gym for my goals, but food is a completely different beast. I looked up tons of different recipes on Pinterest, I follow more than a handful of fitness influencers on instagram, and tried to wrap my head around what it would look like to create healthier eating habits. Macro counting came up often in my research, and seemed like something I could tackle. Macro counting involves eating an amount of calories that are sustainable for your specific weight, and fitness goals. When you ‘count macros’, you are tracking the number of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you are consuming. While I didn’t strictly count macros for very long, I gained so much knowledge from this practice. If you don’t already, I would highly encourage you to look at the labels of the food you are consuming, and learn what portions of those foods are an actual serving. It’s incredible what an actual serving of rice, or peanut butter looks like if you have never weighed it out before. Taking it one step further, I would encourage you to purchase a food scale. For a short time I actually weighed out everything I ate – I know, it sounds extreme. But it helped me to be more precise with my food intake, and I learned a lot from it!

This brings us to February of 2017. I finally made a commitment to get a gym membership, and clean up my eating habits. It was a small commitment – five to six days a week of doing just 30 minutes of cardio a day, that’s it. I also exclusively ate fruit and protein smoothies for breakfast, and chicken and vegetables for lunch and dinner. I never expected to stick to this plan or even see results from it. Three months later, I had lost 25 pounds. I remember putting on one of my workout tops, and it was seriously a dress. One of my favorite pairs of leggings was falling down while I exercised. My bras were getting to be too big. I was addicted, in a good way.

At that point, I joined an online fitness challenge. It provided me with free workouts, and nutrition advice. I felt ready to step back into the weight room and train the way I really wanted to. I felt so insecure walking into that room. All the mirrors all over the walls just reminded me how far I had to go. But I stayed the course. By the end of the summer, my reflection was a lot different than it was a few months earlier.

This momentum carried me into the beginning of 2018. I was eating the same foods daily,  and working out consistently 4-5 times a week. By my one year anniversary, I had lost 60+ pounds. I felt good, I was happier than I ever remember being before I started living this healthier lifestyle. Buying clothing was exciting, and I was constantly updating my wardrobe. All of my clothing that was too big was donated. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I did it. It feels like something someone else did. There’s no way that is MY accomplishment. I am so proud of my weight loss. My outlook on life was completely different as a result. I truly believe it’s the reason I decided to leave my job and become a full time Realtor. The sense of accomplishment that experience provided me made me feel like I could do anything I set out for.

Unfortunately, when life changes occur, it’s easy to lose sight of your other goals. As 2018 came and went, I gained about 10 pounds. Now, most people would say that really isn’t a big deal, but it is for me. As hard as I tried to keep my health goals in sight, it was incredibly difficult. My visits to the gym became less frequent, and I am fairly certain Conrad and I ate out more than we ate at home. This has had an incredible impact on my mental state. Some of you know the severe anxiety I tend to suffer from, and I know a gym routine could help ease that. It’s just not that easy when you’re in it though. You know what’s logical, but that logic doesn’t always help you to see through the fog.

In my line of work, mindset is everything. Any business owner can probably attest to the fact that if you don’t feel good about yourself, your business struggles. Well, we can’t have that now, can we? Even when I mess up, I try to wake up the next day and make better choices. When I find myself sitting at home doing nothing, I try to get motivated to get into the gym. If I can start my day off right with a high protein breakfast, that usually helps tremendously with staying on track during the day. But I certainly have my days. I literally just threw away a cookie as I sit writing this, so that tells you where I am at.

If you are one who struggles, I am right there with you. If you are having a hard time getting started, just keep trying. I really don’t think I could have lost the weight if I wasn’t really ready but keep it a priority and set yourself up for success. Don’t buy the foods that tempt you. Put your workouts in your schedule. Visualize yourself losing the weight; buying new, smaller clothes; feeling more confident. Even when it feels like it’s impossible, just know that you can do it. My best advice of all? Find your WHY. Why do you want to be healthy? Is it for your kids? Is it for your husband? Do you have health risks to be mindful of? For me, it was for my health and my husband. I don’t want to be 60 and unable to do the things I love. I want my husband to be proud to call me his wife. Every day I try to remember that I’m not just working out and eating healthy for the physical aspect. It’s so much more than that for me.

Ultimately, your health journey will bring more joy than you initially set out for. As you scratch and claw to achieve your goals, remember that your return is going to be so much more than you hope for.

If you feel like this resonates with you, I’d love to have coffee! Or if you feel like an accountability group might be something you could benefit from, I’d love to try and put something like that together for those interested!