Monday, December 8, 2014

Misguided Preconceived Notions

Back in the day I used to live my life based off of completely misguided preconceived notions as to what my options in life were. You see, in my head I saw life as one of two ways- you can live it to the fullest with complete disregard to health or habits and do whatever you wanted because you only had one life so why not enjoy it. This was what I thought was happiness. On the flipside I thought you could choose to live your life focused only on your health- following a super strict diet, work out all the time (like hours and hours a day in the gym), depriving yourself of anything good and tasty, living completely restricted, having no fun whatsoever. In my head, I pictured this life as a life of misery and truth be told if I did live this way I would be miserable.

So I chose to live my life for many, many years with complete disregard. I chose to live it up. To do and eat whatever I wanted. I ate portion sizes that were too large of foods that were damaging to my body. I chose to spend countless hours plopped down in front of the TV and get lost in shows. I drank, probably way too much, too often. I didn’t think twice about spending my weekend nursing a hangover. I just did what I wanted because I was ‘living’ my life, the way I wanted to, because I only had one life so I needed to enjoy it.

But guess what? I was miserable.

Because that life- a life of excess- is just as bad (probably worse) than a life of restriction. And I couldn’t see that. I thought I only had two options (and I tried both, I would get frustrated with my weight and move to extreme dieting and an unmanageable workout routine which I could maybe sustain for a week or two tops) and I felt like both were making me miserable. Neither were how I wanted to live.

I am thankful that this time around I realized how wrong I was. That life is not about living in extremes, at least not for me. I was never able to be the person that could force myself into a lifestyle that made me hate living (i.e. restrictive diet, extreme exercise) but what I failed to realize for a very long time was that the lifestyle I had chosen instead (a life of complete leisure and indulgence) was making me hate living too. It made my world so difficult to navigate that I dreaded everyday life. It was embarrassing and humiliating not just being obese but being extremely limited because of my weight. Simple movements, like climbing stairs or tying my shoes, were hard. I was in my late 20’s/early 30’s and I was living like I was at the end of my life, like I had given up hope. All because I thought I was choosing to live my life on my terms, in a way that would bring me happiness. But it didn’t and I wasn’t.

Somewhere on this path I was able to figure that out. I was able to find balance. And happiness. I was able to find what works for me, what keeps me healthy, keeps me sane and leaves me feeling content. It took a lot of trial and error. My path never was, nor will it ever be, a straight line. But when you hear people talking about ‘lifestyle changes’ instead of ‘quick fixes’ they are absolutely right. I couldn’t continue to bounce from one thing to another, making choices and decisions that led me to a way of life that I could not, nor would I want to, sustain. One way was slowly (not really that slow either) killing me and making me miserable in the process and the other was impossible for me to sustain. I had to find my balance. The life I could live and wanted to live.

Yes, I had a lot of weight to lose and a lot of bad habits I needed to clean up if I wanted to get there. And yes, I wanted to change them all at once and be fit and healthy as soon as possible and it felt impossible and the whole process to get there seemed daunting and felt like it would take an eternity and I struggled with making the commitment to change my life because I thought it would take too damn long and would be too damn hard, maybe even impossible. But the reality of it was this: changing my life will take a very long time. It will take forever. Because every day I am changing. Every day I am re-evaluating and making decisions that I hope will support the life I want to lead. I found my happiness. I found my balance. But just because I found them doesn’t mean I don’t have to work every day to maintain them. I made a commitment to change my life knowing that it meant these changes would be for life. And that seemed daunting. Making changes that I would need to sustain for the rest of my life. Wow! That could (hopefully) be a very long time. But here’s the thing- when you are living the life that you want and doing things that are making you truly happy then it is easy to sustain. To me, it is easier to live this life today- a life filled with meal prep/planning, half marathon training, meeting with my personal trainer, grad school, traveling, being a vegan, going out/staying in with the bf, and puppies- than it was to live life when I ate take out/fast food all the time, drank too much, and watched countless hours of TV. Doesn’t seem like it would be that way does it? Seems like it would be easier to be lazy but it was too much for me. It was physically killing me and mentally draining me. I was miserable being a passive onlooker on the sidelines watching my life go by. Being disappointed, feeling like I was wasting my life- that was extremely hard for me. This life, it is easy in comparison.

So when you are thinking about your life and the path you want to take I encourage you to make choices that support the life you truly want. It will take work and a lot of effort to change habits and create new ones. You will mess up. You will struggle. It will be challenging and at times confusing but just know that every day you set out to make your life better, to work towards your goals and find your happiness, is never a day wasted.

Love and hugs,