I have to confess to you, I have often had negative thoughts and fears about starting this blog in the name of health and wellness. Because I am not one of those lovely ladies you see on the fitness photos with the perfectly glistening abs. Not even a little bit. My diet is far from perfect, my muscles are not really visible, I don’t even come close to winning the races that I run, sometimes I take more days off than I should, and I certainly haven’t cracked the secret to feeling well all the time. So why should I be telling anyone what to do when it comes to diet and exercise or health and wellness? Even though I’ve learned a lot as a nurse practitioner, I have not personally reached my goals yet. Who the heck am I? So this is my fear. That I am an imposter.
But the reason that I chose anyway to launch this blog, to voice my opinions, share my experience, and even offer my advice, is because I am in it with you. Wellness is a journey and I want to share mine with you. Sometimes the path is steep and uphill and sometimes it is slippery and it backslides, and other times it plateaus a bit, and everyone is at a different place on that path. Instead of reaching the top of the hill and then sharing my experience with you, I am swallowing my fears and sharing it with you as it happens. In real time. Because I am a real person and this is real life and sometimes the road is smooth and sometimes it’s bumpy as hell. But in the end, I hope this blog is a platform for us to inspire each other through all of it, because it’s nice to know we’re not alone.
So in this blog, I’ll be sharing my journey with you. I’ll be checking in with you every now and then and let you know how it’s going. When I find awesome things like yummy low calorie recipes, I’ll share them. I hope that I inspire you and I hope you inspire me and I hope to let you know that you are not alone on this journey.
So here is a little more about me. This is my story so far, in as much of a nutshell as I can manage. I have struggled with my weight for a very long time (somehow I feel like you won’t be surprised to hear this). I think I remember the first time it occurred to me that the way my body looked was something to worry about. I was about 8 and I was wearing a bathing suit and looking at myself in the mirror turning sideways, noticing for the first time how much my butt stuck out. My older sister caught me, and casually and without malice commented, “You got the family butt”. It was a simple enough observation, but it wasn’t a compliment. We got big butts in this family. Ever since then it has been years and years of self-doubt, guilt, restricting and bingeing. Never to any avail of course. I was athletic in high school and never thought out of myself as “fat”, but never felt confident. I would always say, “I’m not fat but I have fat to lose.” A total cop out. Of course having a healthy body image and having a healthy body do not always go hand in hand do they?
In college, I gained the freshman 15 and then another 15 for good measure. Then I got married after college and gained the newlywed 20 (not sure if that’s a thing, but it is now). I was no longer athletic and wasn’t really paying much mind to nutrition or calories, and it was showing. At one point, I was having such recurrent lower back pain that I went to see a physical therapist, knowing that my pain was mostly related to being overweight and out of shape. He got me working out and going to the gym regularly, which felt great. About a month in, I frustratingly told him that even though I felt like I was working out all the time and eating healthier foods, I hadn’t lost any weight. He asked me how many calories I was eating. I said “ummmmm….????” He suggested that I download an app (the first one I used was “Lose It!”) to help me track my calories and pointed out that, when it comes to weight loss, it doesn’t matter that you’re eating healthy food if you’re eating it in huge quantities. With the help of the app I quickly realized that he was right and my calorie intake was still high.
I continued using the app to track my intake and usually kept it around 1300 calories per day, and a few months later I decided to sign up for a half marathon (more on that crazy decision and training here). I was serious about the calorie tracking, but I never felt obsessive, and I allowed myself cheat meals usually once per week. I know that exercise was important, but I also believe that watching that calorie intake was responsible for the majority of my success. I lost almost 45 pounds over the course of about 6 months and it.was.amazing. I felt so good and actually attractive. For the first time ever, I enjoyed going shopping and felt like I could buy clothes based simply on whether I liked them, and not based on whether they were the right color and shape to hide my body. I was in shape, and I was eating healthy foods but also indulging sometimes. I wasn’t ashamed. I maintained that weight for over a year, and then decided to go back to school to be a nurse practitioner.
At first it was ok, but then it wasn’t. I was still working full time, and the stress hit while I felt like I was running out of hours in the day to do anything for myself. I stopped meal planning and for the most part, just ate whatever to get by. I stopped tracking my calories because I didn’t need or want an app to tell me that I was eating too many. I held on to working out for a while, but that habit eventually gave way too. By the time I graduated, I had gained nearly all of it back. My fitness, endurance, confidence, and overall health took a huge hit. I was (sometimes still am) so mad at myself.
I’m trying to put those feelings of frustration with myself behind me, because they don’t help. I am thankful that I have had success with weight loss in the past, because I know what works for me. I spent a lot of time before that figuring out what didn’t work for me and I don’t have to do that again.
Now, I have been reinstating all of those old healthy habits. I meal plan and food prep every week (check out my tips about how to make meal planning work for you here). I am working out again, usually 5 days per week, and I signed up for a 5 mile Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, which I’m training for now. I am watching that calorie intake again and though I do not obsess over macros, I do try to make sure that the source of those calories is well balanced. After all, that’s the best way to get more food out of less calories, and I’m all about more food. I am back in the zone, but life still makes things difficult sometimes. Even still, it’s what you do 90% of the time that matters, and I’m happy to say I’m already down 10 pounds!
Before I wrap this up, there is something important to be said here for self-confidence and body image. Even at my lowest weight, I didn’t have those glistening abs, but I was happy. Even then, I still hadn’t reached the end of my road, but I was delighting in the journey that I was on. Even then, I didn’t feel like I could strut around in a bikini, but I still felt sexy. I felt like I was in control of my decisions and I was proud of what I had proven to myself that my body and my mind could do. And I’m finally feeling those things again. The lesson here is that it doesn’t actually matter what we weigh or what size we wear. It is not what defines health, and it is certainly NOT what defines us, our wellness, our beauty, or our happiness. The confidence comes from doing something that we can be proud of. Things like reaching small goals, creating new habits, sticking to our guns, surprising ourselves. You don’t have to be a model or a body builder to have confidence. You don’t have to (you shouldn’t!) deny yourself feeling happy or good about yourself until you see a certain number on the scale. Believe in yourself, do something (anything) that you can be proud of and brag about (even if it’s just to yourself), and let yourself feel that pride. Being proud of yourself leads to better confidence and confidence is beauty my friends.
What’s your story? Where are you on your journey?
PS: In case you didn’t already notice, I said journey a lot in this post. I don’t think proposing a drinking game is really in keeping with the concept of this post, so just go back and do a push up for every time I say it. Your arms will be sore tomorrow 😉