I’ve had a lot on my mind these last few weeks. Maybe it’s because with the New Year comes new resolutions and these resolutions send the diet industry into a frenzy. Everywhere I look I see ads and messages and tweets and posts for what I deem as highly unrealistic promises to change your life in a very short period of time. This makes me so angry.
It makes me angry because I was once hopeless, desperate and broken. And these messages made me feel that a) fast (sustainable) results were possible and b) if I wasn’t achieving fast results then I was just a big fat FAILURE. Countless times I set out to lose weight and countless times I felt utterly defeated when after a few weeks I wasn’t seeing huge losses. I was obese; shouldn’t I be losing 10 pounds a week? Or even 10 pounds a month?
I didn’t know any better. And looking back on where I was when I started I am amazed I stuck with it. I truly believe the only reason I was able to make it past that place of feeling like I was fighting a losing battle was because when I started this journey the last time I was at rock bottom. I was hanging onto the tiniest thread of hope. But I knew that if I didn’t commit to changing my life fully I was signing my own death certificate.
And thankfully this time around I shared all of this with my friends and family instead of hiding it like it was something to be embarrassed by. In turn I ended up with the greatest support network that has guided my through this adventure. Not a day goes by without me feeling grateful for the constant outpouring of love and support I receive. It has helped me win this internal battle I was once fighting. The battle to find acceptance and peace with the person I am. The battle to not hate myself for who I was, or even who I am now, and instead love myself AS IS. Admitting to myself that I am and will always be a work in progress- and that is a GREAT thing.
When I started this journey almost two years ago I didn’t have all the answers. I definitely had unrealistic goals (trying to run at 286 for me was unrealistic) and really crazy eating habits. I was reading back on my first blog (thirtythreeandcounting.com) the other day, looking through some of my very first posts and do you know what? When I first started out I was dieting- I was supplementing two meals a day with Slim Fast shakes. What? Really! I don’t even remember that! Lol! But it’s true. Me, the crazy, in your face, whole-foods vegan was not only following some crazy gimmick I was downing two cans of liquid crap a day.
But how I started isn’t really important, is it? The important part was that I started.
So here is my advice to you. To anyone just starting out or anyone who is struggling on their journey I say this.
Start your journey knowing that you will make so many changes and try so many new things and that is ok. It’s really the best way. Find what works for you. And if something isn’t working don’t be afraid to stop that and try something new. Your path is not a straight line. Your path may even lead you back to your starting point but don’t give up. You are worth it!
Put yourself and your health first. You are and should always be your #1 priority. This is often hard to do but it is imperative you figure out how to do it. Strive to find balance in your life. Be active. Be social. Maybe even search for ways to do both at the same time like family bike rides or girls night out at a skating rink. Spend time with your family. Spend time alone. Have hobbies. Have passions.
Eat for fuel and nourishment. Listen to your body. It will tell you what it wants. Look to others for ideas but don’t feel you have to copy them. What has worked for me might not work for you. Be creative. Use your food to help you grow stronger and faster, to help you sleep better, to help you become happier. If you let it be, food can be your medicine. It can offer everything your body needs to thrive.
Get moving. Whether it is a walk in the park or gardening or spin class get up and get active. Be courageous and adventurous when it comes to physical activity. Search for the activities you love to do so this way it becomes a fun way to spend an hour- not dreaded torture. If you hate what you are doing you will find an excuse not to do it. We are not all runners, weight lifters, or dancers. We are all different. Just like food, it is equally important to find what activities work best for you. This is the key to making sustainable changes.
This is YOUR new life so fill it with what YOU want to be doing.
Get some sleep. Your body NEEDS it! 7-8 hours is ideal. Sleep deprivation is a stressor on the body just the same way junk food and inactivity are. Take care of your body and in turn it will take care of you.
And lastly, don’t fall into the comparison trap. It’s pointless. We should only measure ourselves today against the person we were yesterday. You are you, I am me. Our stories will never be the same. Trust me there will always be someone who has lost more weight than you, and probably even faster (it’s not a race!), there will always be someone who can run faster or farther than you, someone who is stronger, someone who has a better job/house/family/life. You get the point. So to help me push those evil little thoughts out of my head when I start falling down the rabbit hole I say to myself: be proud to know someone who has fought so hard for those results, celebrate with them their successes, look to them for guidance and motivation but always know there is someone else out there who is thinking of me the same way so be a good example. Be humble, gracious, and kind. Be a friend. Because before you know it today will be your day 100 and someone out there on their day 1 is looking to you. Be the person you looked to on your day 1.
And I vow to do the same.
"I believe life is to be lived, not worked, enjoyed, not agonized, loved, not hated." ~Leland Bartlett