I’ve been at my goal weight for coming on 8 years this May. I have managed to stay within the same 15 pound range under my goal these past years by eating healthy, exercising, and laughing my way through this crazy life. That positive mindset is important when reaching any goal, and this proved to hold important truth while I was shedding the weight and then maintaining.
Last year, I stumbled through several areas of my life. I had moments where I extended the middle finger to the foods of green and to the proteins that are lean. I hopped off that exercise wagon and then burned the sucker. I also sported a piss poor attitude about it all. To that end, I gained 15 pounds and saw my exact goal weight number of 165, however; there was a big difference in the feeling of seeing that number now versus 8 years ago. When I finally reached my goal weight 8 years ago, I was filled with pride and a ridiculous amount of happiness. Now….that number fills me with fear that I will put all that weight back on…10 pounds at a time.
Guess what my friends? That’s not going to happen. I can guarantee that, because my head is back where it needs to be.
It’s not about a magic number on the scale.
You see a few weeks ago when I realized I needed help, I hired a fabulous trainer Shannon Olsen. She set up a very different program than I am used to, with the emphasis on strength training (an area I was sorely lacking knowledge in) along with the cardio I know so well. I have kept the weight off predominately through cardio; mainly running with a bit of strength training thrown in along with a healthy diet for the most part. While this did work for me, after 8 years of doing the same thing over and over, my body and my mind grew bored and I lost sight of my goals.
I am so excited to have a new challenge! Unlike straight cardio, I can see progress quite quickly with this strength training program. Where last week I couldn’t possibly do 3 sets of 12 at a specific weight, by the next week I can lift that weight. It has been a big surprise to me how fast the body strengthens and reacts to something new. Even the word “Failure” is a positive word in strength training! It means you have worked so hard, that your muscles can’t work anymore and with failure comes rebuilding. In a nutshell, that’s what I’m doing within my mindset right now.
There are pivotal moments that happen throughout life that you can look back on and remember a shift within your old patterns of thinking. I had one of those this week. I was doing squats with weights on my shoulders. My legs were shaking under the load; I focussed on my breathing and form so I could finish the set. As I finished the reps, I set the weights down with relief. As I stared at them during my rest, I realized that I used to carry more weight on my body daily than I had just laboured to lift.
And I let that sink in. How did I use to carry around that load and think that was “normal”.
This lifestyle choice is indeed a choice, and the end goal is not about weighing a magic number. My body needs this lifestyle; my health depends on it, only I didn’t understand that fact when I was obese.
You see, if you continue with a negative habit over time (which in my case was over-eating and remaining sedentary), your body adjusts and reacts to the behaviour. It feels “normal”, in that it’s what you’ve known for an extended period of time. When I lived with an extra 100 pounds, I forgot what it physically felt like to weigh a healthy weight. I didn’t know I was sick. I didn’t want to relate the feeling of exhaustion, laboured breathing when climbing stairs, and sleep issues to my weight gain. It just “was” and I didn’t allow my mind to take responsibility for that. It wasn’t until a doctor was completely blunt with me that I understood it and I took the blinders off. I was so quick to blame my environment at first…my life was full of excuses: I have no time to exercise. I have an office job. I don’t know how to eat healthy. I hate vegetables. No one will support me. I’m alone in this journey. etc. Excuse, excuse, excuse.
When that doctor told me that I needed to lose weight or I would have health issues (as I was already beginning to have) I was still in denial. Here I was 28 years old, staring at a prescription for medication to control my high blood pressure and all I could think about was that I didn’t have it in me to lose the amount of weight he advised. Me? The red-faced kid at the back of gym class? I can’t exercise, and I have no will-power so I can’t control my weight with just food. No, there was no way I would be one of those annoying girls running from the gym carrying a big bottle of water in her yoga pants.
I was focussed on the aesthetics & a scale number, and not on what healthy felt like.
I didn’t know that I was just handed the greatest gift. I didn’t know that THIS was the moment that I was going to take control of my life and find out what my body could do when I pushed it. What my body would feel like when I fuelled it with whole natural foods and not fast food. I learned the new meaning of what fast food should be, a piece of fruit on the go. I had no idea what it felt like to have that endorphine rush after a workout. I didn’t understand that I would feel pride like I’ve never felt before.
And ya, it was going to take some time, and a whole lot of sweat.
But I knew if I treated my body well, my mind would follow. When you finally show yourself a ‘lil love, you learn to in fact truly love yourself and in turn you love others too.
This was me hiding behind a smile (I remember how I felt in this photo and that smile was all kinds of fake)…
The truth is I don’t have many photos from that time in my life because I lived life as a wallflower. Life was safe that way. I didn’t need to have an opinion, I could live in my cloud of excuses with no bother. I will tell you one thing, life was dreadfully boring that way. I think that’s why I make up my own fun now and laughter is such an important part of everyday, because everyday can be fun if you want it to. Instead of living in my head, I try my best to live life out-loud.
Like this guy: he makes up his own fun.
and this guy too…
You can have your own fun at home without public attention of course, crank your music and dance it out. Maybe shoulder dance in front of your computer!
What was my point? Oh yes, I do have a point… Life is a whole lot more fun when I have my health. Sometimes I need a reminder of that so I don’t take it for granted! I also need to throw out my scale and just focus on eating well and moving. I get too fixated on a magic number that may not be ideal for me as I change my program. Eat clean, move more, laugh often, indulge here and there, laugh, dance, toast a friend with a glass of red, laugh, eat clean, lift a little or a lot of weights, laugh, sleep. Repeat!
If you haven’t tried strength training, I encourage you to try it. Don’t know where to start? Hire a trainer. Yes, hiring a trainer isn’t cheap, but look at it as an investment into your future. Try going for a fitness assessment and ask the cost for creating a program tailored to you. This is knowledge you will have for the rest of your life. It’s a key to vitality!
You are stronger than you even realize.
Thank you to my life-saver Shannon, you have no idea what it meant to me to have you urging me on and getting me back on track in your motivating way. I will always remember your calming and supportive strength, and you’ve taught me so much!
So this is me the other day on my 37th birthday and that’s a real smile. I’m ready to take on this next challenge.
I hope your day is ridiculously amazing!
From my heart to yours,