My journey to health and fitness was not as simple as changing my diet and starting an exercise regimen. The reasons for my weight struggle are not merely a lack of discipline, laziness, or whatever it is that the “lifers” in the fitness world would like to think.
I don’t feel that this is the place for my life story. It’s boring. I will just say that my life has seen more than its share of challenges and personal trials. Most of my adult years have included a high level of negative stress, personal responsibilities that left me drained and exhausted, and an idea that I was making sacrifices for “a season” and “someday” I would have time for me.
If I have a single regret it is that I didn’t love myself enough to make my health a priority. I regret that I didn’t model a healthy lifestyle for my children when they were young. I regret every time I sat on the sidelines because I was too sick, too tired, too overweight, or just plain afraid of hurting myself. How much of my life did I miss out on living that I will never be able to get back?
I wish I could say that I just had an epiphany one day and saw the error of my ways. With the combination of stress, poor eating, no exercise, too much weight, etc, my body soon starting telling me I was going to have to make changes… or else. The details are not pretty, so I’m taking creative license and just not including them.
I tried numerous diets with some success but the weight always came back. I’d starve myself… it would come back anyway. I felt helpless. I felt like I couldn’t control my own body. I got advice from those “lifers” I referenced earlier. Surely they would know what I’m doing wrong. However, I didn’t find suggestions as “just run 10 miles a day” or “stop eating so many carbs” very helpful. I had done the diets… they didn’t work. And I was pretty sure that they wouldn’t be running 10 miles a day if they had to carry a 100lb backpack (which is how much extra weight I had).
I started by doing another diet. I lost 40lbs. I knew it was going to come back so I started working with a personal trainer. But then I started gaining again just like before and I was panicked. My personal trainer explained that my weight coming back was called a “reverse.” He showed me how my diet was actually causing the problem. I wasn’t eating enough. Wait… what?
Apparently depriving your body of needed calories is not healthy. Losing 20lbs a month is too much too fast. It scared me to eat more but I tried to find the right balance. I felt so impatient. I was working so hard. I was sacrificing all the foods I liked to eat. And the weight loss was SO slow or wasn’t happening at all.
Then I found CrossFit and I discovered the missing link to my mental battle for weight loss. It wasn’t about the number on the scale. It was about building a strong and healthy body so that I could better LIVE my life. So I could stop being a spectator and become a participant. So I could face my fears head on before running right over them. My focus on my weight was blinding me to what was truly important… my overall health.
Soon after starting CrossFit, I ditched the diets and embraced the Paleo Lifestyle. While most consider it to be “radical” (I did at first too), I really couldn’t argue with the results. Funny thing happens when you “clean up” your diet… your body works better, fights and resists illness, and ultimately stabilizes your weight.
My health and fitness journey is no longer seen as a short trip but rather a never-ending adventure meant to be enjoyed. I’m working every day to become the best possible version of me that I can be. I have not perfectly mastered my demons. I still get on the scale and obsess on the number though I know I shouldn’t. I still wish I could eat a large bowl of Pralines & Cream every night… and sometimes I treat myself.
The difference is that my temporary “diet” has become a permanent lifestyle. Instead of wondering if I’ll be around to watch my grandkids grow up, I’m learning how to scuba dive and knee board. Instead of battling allergies, IBS, skin irritations, migraines, and joint pain, I’m getting a kick out of beating my PRs (personal records) in the gym. My husband and I recently had a discussion about getting our Instructor Certification in CrossFit. Oh, the possibilities!
Bottom line, I’m not the skinniest, youngest, or hottest in the gym and that’s ok with me. At 43 years old, I am one of the happiest in my new skin… and happy is good.