I eat a few vegetables every day, so I’m healthy… right? I have been in major denial about my unhealthy eating habits for a long time.
Like many mamas, weight gain and low energy have plagued me over the years. When I picture my future self, I see a healthy, active, happy person who is living her life to the fullest well into my 60s and beyond. If I want a decent chance at that version of myself, all the trips to the drive-thru, excuses for food and drink treats, and stress eating needed to stop.
The Health Inspiration
My health spark came out of nowhere, on a regular Monday afternoon early last November. Nothing earth-shattering occurred that day – it was like any other pandemic-style day. Virtual learning, working from home, eat, play, repeat. The inspiration to make some healthy changes came out of nowhere. I felt it in my core and decided to run with it and see where it would take me.
That evening before bed, I researched some different apps, and downloaded one that I hoped would help me on my new endeavor. I went major cheeseball style and wrote down several positive affirmations that I stuck in random places around the house. I made an action plan and a promise to stay true to myself and my journey. When I woke up Tuesday morning, I was all in. And I’m here to tell you – it’s now mid-January and I haven’t looked back.
The thing is, I have attempted to focus on my health many times before. I have tried to improve my nutrition and lose the extra pounds, without much success, more times than I care to admit. What is different this time? For me, it’s a few things.
None of the steps I have taken so far would have worked for me if I wasn’t ready to make a change. Without that spark, I don’t think I would have been successful. I needed to get out of my place of denial and into a place of acceptance in order to start the process.
Strangely, this crazy pandemic lifestyle has been a major contributor to my success so far. So many of the usual tempting situations have been removed from the picture. There are no parties, no break-room treats, no get-togethers with family or friends, no stadium sports, no fancy dinner dates. Of course I had to get through the holidays. By the time Christmas rolled around, I had already been flexing my self-control muscles for close to 8 weeks, and found it much easier to resist/moderate all the treats that showed up on our doorstep.
The health app I chose has been really helpful for me, as I’m expected to weigh in every day and log every meal and snack I eat. Tracking these things diligently has been vital to my success. If you follow the author Gretchen Rubin and know about her Four Tendencies, I am an obliger. This means that I need outer accountability in order to meet my inner expectations. Aside from tracking with the app, I often turn to my future self. I think about how bummed I’ll feel at dinner time if I only have 200 calories left in my daily budget, and this helps me to moderate my intake throughout the day.
I’m not really the type of person who likes to shout her life from the rooftops. In the beginning of my health journey, I was hesitant to tell anyone – even my husband! I have tried and then felt like a failure so many times, and didn’t want to play that broken record again. But – You can’t hide from those you co-habitate with, and my husband noticed pretty much right away that I was making very different food choices all of a sudden. He has been a great support, and I’m noticing that many of my healthy shifts have started to rub off on him too! There are also a few select friends I chose to share with, who have been very supportive.
I have been making steady progress toward my goals, and WOW does it feel good. I have never felt so proud of an accomplishment in my LIFE. I’m committed to something that I want to do, and I’m actually doing it! This alone is enough to keep me going because of how amazing it feels to succeed. That’s not to say that it’s all sunshine and rainbows. There are days – sometimes weeks – that I struggle to remain positive and see the bigger picture. Hormones, sleep, stress – they all play a role in how I feel. For those times when the going gets tough, that’s where I really lean in to my accountability and support buddies.
Because I need my accountability, I have had a plan in place for staying active for a while. I have two different friends that I get up early with and meet for long walks twice a week. I also meet a group every Saturday (virtually right now) for a challenging full-body workout. In non-pandemic times, I paid extra for specialty classes at my gym, and that was enough to keep me going regularly. One new habit I’ve recently adopted is to just MOVE more in my daily life. If the kids are riding bikes in our cul-de-sac, I will walk the circle the whole time. If we walk down to the park, I walk around the playground while they play, instead of plopping down on the first bench I see.
There is no magic pill that will give us a shortcut to better health, as cool as that would be. Weight loss and improved nutrition are not easy paths to take. If you are on a similar journey, just remember that you are worth it! Think about what you want your future to be and to feel like, and then make it happen. As I like to tell my kiddos, you can do anything you put your mind to.