15 months ago, this was the body I was living in. I've been told by more than one person that "the angle is just bad on that picture" and other such things but...it was me. It was also a big, fat (pun intended) wake-up call. My mom took that picture, posted it on Facebook, tagged me in it and I was stricken. I wanted her to remove it. I had worn that sleeveless shirt because I thought I was darling in it. Boy that notion got blown out of the water, at least in my head. That night, I laid in bed thinking, praying, worrying anxiously, picking up my phone, looking at that person, obsessing over it and contemplating how in the world that could be me.
Far from just the outward appearance, I was concerned with how tired I looked.
"That is a forced smile. Those eyes look whipped. I look like I could use a serious nap." Then, I heard a voice come from within that whispered, "are you gonna lay here and feel sorry for yourself or are you gonna DO something about it?"
6:00 am the next morning, I laced up my tennis shoes and hit the road.
I made it around my little 3 mile loop, got some oxygen in my blood and started a whole new path. Morning walks just became a must. It was imperative to my mental health as much as it was to my physical health. I started eliminating some of the bad stuff from my diet. It was, by no means, cold turkey but...little changes started happening. I quit buying candy. Incidentally, the night that picture was taken, I remember distinctly eating Smarties like a crack addict. Opening the wrappers and shoving the whole roll in my mouth. Pure sugar. Complete and total addiction.
We started keeping more veggies and fruit in the house and left out the candy. I knew if it wasn't there, I wouldn't eat it. Slowly, I started feeling better. The fog began to lift with each walk, with each healthy meal. Weight started to come off. However, the most amazing thing was...I started to love myself. The lightbulb came on when I realized that, if I take care of this body, it is more than happy to return the favor. It became less and less about the way I looked in a picture and became about vitality, health, JOY, peace, LOVE. It all started to fill me up. Life started happening to me.
15 months later...
One of my favorite photo comments to date is from a girl I hardly know that was a foreign exchange student in Wickes a few years ago. She is from Switzerland and, in her broken but exacting English she said..."So great!! Need to know what u did to become this."
It hit me like a bullet to the chest. Oh my gosh...I BECAME something else!
I just wanted to share a few things that I've learned over the last year that have helped me and have made this "becoming" a reality.
1. If you're doing it for vanity, you may as well just forget about it.
I don't know how many times I hated the way I looked in the mirror, jumped on the treadmill or elliptical and, with self-loathing, tried to get that jiggly blubber off my butt. None of that effort had anything to do with loving myself or my body or even trying to be healthy. I just wanted to LOOK good.
Unless you truly find self-love, you will just be spinning your wheels. The same God placed the stars in the sky and named them all, created you. The majesty that you see in the world around you is nothing compared to the glory of sweet little you. Please know that. We are created in His image. He gave us one body to live in. One body for your heart and your soul to dwell in. Why must we think we are ugly? Why would we torture that precious gift or listen to that voice that tells us we are no good? Shut that voice up. I found a trick in naming the voice (I named the bitch Helga) and telling her to shut her pie hole when she starts in on me. LOVE YOURSELF!!! God does not delight in you bashing yourself. He gave you the beautiful gift of a beautiful body. Love that thing!
2. Weight lifting isn't just for guys!
Hear me now and believe me later, I am hear to PUMP...clap...YOU UP! I'm serious though. The game changed when I started building lean muscle. I always thought that if I picked up a weight, especially a heavy one, I was gonna look like those freaky ass women that look like a man. But, when I started doing deep, weighted squats, and bicep curls and tricep extensions (among a million other resistance moves) OMG people!! I seriously would wake up every morning (still do) like a kid on Christmas morning, look in the mirror, flex my arms, look at my abs and just smile and smile and SMILE!! There is nothing more motivating that seeing results.
One of my personal triumphs was gaining the ability to do a pull-up. Not a chin-up, a full out hanging from the bar with hands turned front and lifting my body up with my arms until my chin was over the bar pull up. When I started out, I just dangled from the bar and squirmed. With some help and coaching from my son, I started getting stronger and, eventually did it. I didn't stop there though. I keep upping the number and gaining more and more strength. It's fun! It really is fun and amazing to see what your body will do. Pick up some weights, use mother earth, gravity and be a badass!
3. You can't out work a bad diet!
This one is pretty straight forward. If you are still feeding your body junk, it does NOT MATTER how many reps you do or how far you run or how long you sweat. Your body is screaming for nutrition. The lightbulb came on for me when I learned that nutrition happens on a cellular level. If you aren't giving your cells what they need, you are starving. STARVING. You could eat 12 big macs a day and wash it down with diet coke and have a whole pack of Oreo's for desert and you would be one malnourished, starved and sick person. Health happens when your body is getting everything it needs and, it is up to you to do that. You are the only one that controls what goes in your mouth. Feed your body well.
4. Become Tony Horton's bitch.
I'm not here to promote any exercise program...wait! Yes I am. I am riddled with ADHD. It is an acute, rampant, malicious case of it. When I bought my first Beachbody DVD workout program, P90x3, life just became sweeter. I had a calendar, a schedule, instructions and a big dose of gumption. Sporadic weight lifting and a little interval training here and there was just not cutting it for me. I needed guidance. Lord have mercy do I need guidance. What could be easier than putting a DVD in and pushing play? Yes, you have to actually do the workout too but, it just made working out simpler. Plus, those particular workouts are 30 minutes and, who doesn't have that time to invest? There was always that box waiting for a X in it every day...and, one day at a time, I got stronger, leaner, more flexible, gained balance and basically fell into a big puddle of awesomeness.
This was after my first 90 days. I am still going and don't really see an end in sight. I mix it up with different workouts but, P90x3 is still my go-to.
I love Tony's philosophy of making fitness fun. Every single workout is one that I either love or love to hate. Either way, it gets me in there, challenges me and, therefore, changes me.
5. Surround yourself with positive people.
We really do become like the people who's company we keep so, choose wisely. You can't avoid negative people all the time. In fact, you can have a lot of fun being a little ray of sunshine in people's gray existence but, you don't have to join them. There are people who, for whatever reason, sit on the sidelines of life. I used to be there. I repeat...you DO NOT have to join them. Don't feel bad for running your race or for being joyful and happy while others just sit there. Smile and wave, love them to pieces but keep your little feet running. The people you hang with, you know the ones I'm talking about... the ones you do a lot of life with The ones you want to tell about your day. The ones who you immediately think to text or call when something exciting or even mundane happens. Those are your people. I'm not saying to ditch all your negative friends or divorce your buttheaded husband but, you do have a lot of say in who you do life with. You do get to choose. I will also say that, you draw those people to you with your own positive energy. So, be sunshiny and spread the love and those beautiful, radiant people will find you.
6. Turn off that stupid television!
This sort-of happened on accident at my house. I got so busy living my own life, I hardly have time to watch other people living their life on that box the size of Montana in my living room. We watch sports, occasionally the weather, documentaries, Breaking Bad because, well...it is necessary for life, and movies. We only turn it on in the evening and, depending on the sport of season, decide what to watch. There is a big wide world out there that you're missing by sitting in front of that thing. Believe me, I know. Turn it off. Listen to the silence, or the dog snoring...whatever. I just know that most of the things that were coming into my home through that contraption was a lot of noise, lies, confusion, and it made my head even more chaotic. Life is much more peaceful and joyful when the noise is minimized and, you do have the power to push that little button on the remote. It is usually the red one that says "power"...except the power will be your own when you turn that blasted thing off.
7. Visualization really works.
When I started really getting my mind right and focusing more and more attention on fitness, I started following a lot more fitness peeps on Instagram and Facebook. My newsfeed became filled with fit and happy people. So, my brain, my subconscious was absorbing all those images and, therefore, my thought process started changing. Just like choosing positive people, choosing positive visualization is serious therapy for your head. I don't know all the cognitive science behind the reasons why it works, it just does. If you're following a bunch of political pages that bash people or ideas or you have a news feed full of bad negative images and just a bunch of crap...get rid of it! Find some happy people to follow. Look at pictures of kittens and sunsets. Follow me...you'll get sick of fitness and adorable boxers. :)
8. Sugar is a bad bad bad drug.
It is an addiction, people. If you're eating sugar and/or are experiencing lethargy and sugar highs and lows...you are an addict! I could go on and on with this one. If you want to be sick, feed disease, become debilitated, and have chronic pain, keep eating it. And, I don't just mean the white granulated stuff in the canister on your kitchen counter. I mean bread, pasta, grains, or basically anything with a label on it because, it is in every stinking thing! I was suffering with a great deal of osteoarthritis pain, was on NSAID's and not thriving at all. When I eliminated processed foods and sugar... pain went away and I'm off my meds. The food industry today is the equivalent to the tobacco companies who just want to make you buy more by hooking you with an addiction. It isn't an easy addiction to break. For one, it is socially acceptable. If you were shooting up heroine, people might worry. But, suck up a box of doughnuts and nobody thinks a thing about it. However, it is the same thing. They just don't have cute little cocaine dives with mascots luring you in. When I started looking at it in the light of reality, that it is a DRUG, I was appalled that I had been duped all those years. No wonder I could never lose any weight! My body was crying out for nutrition and I just kept feeding it crap. I thought cheerios were good for you. I thought bread was life-sustaining. Well, I'm here to tell you that it isn't. You need ZERO carbs to live. There are so many beautiful and amazing foods that God gave us. Eat them. Eat butter. Eat avocados. Eat KALE!! If it came from a garden...eat that stuff. If it came from a factory and has a shelf-life longer than you, for the love of GOD don't eat it!
9. Chiropractors are not quacks
This one is huge and I could really expound more than I'm going to but here goes my elementary spin on it. You're spine protects your spinal chord and that beautiful amazing thing is what transfers all the energy and signals from your brain to the rest of your body. All your tissue and organs are affected by the signals from your spinal chord. If there is a kink or a subluxation (thank you, thank you very much), it turns that power down and therefore, depending on where that subluxation is, can lead to a decrease in function which can lead to all sorts of pain and illnesses. I started getting chiropractic care a little over 3 months ago and I can't see my life without it now. I no longer take any prescription meds because, hello, my power has been turned back on. My pain is gone. My health has increased. My badassery...through the roof. If I want my body to be at it's optimum, I have to make sure my spine is correctly aligned and my awesome amazing chiropractor sees to that. I do at-home rehab as well that is key to making sure my posture and spine are strong and in alignment which keeps me amazingly healthy and brings vitality to my life.
10. Enjoy the journey
Everybody starts somewhere. If you are sick and overweight and don't see how you can change...you are simply sitting at the starting line. Everybody has the power to get up and go. Everybody. The thing is to enjoy the journey. If it looks hopeless and it looks like too much work, you are looking at it all wrong. There is an adventure awaiting you. One without an end. My "after" picture is just a stop on a much grander expedition. There isn't a finish line. Well, there is but it is the one when my ashes get spread far a wide. That is when I will quit. Until then, I will spend my days in the sun. I will feel the wind on my face, the burning in my lungs and the earth beneath my feet. Life is way too grand a thing to watch pass by.
Love without regret
Play like a kid
Laugh till your belly hurts
Get some mud in your hair
Step in horse crap
Let your heart break
Do it anyway
Take a chance
and then get happy
Lay in the grass
even if it's itchy
Braid your hair
or let someone else do it
Hug somebody like you mean it
Wear the crap out of some lipgloss
even on cloudy days
Walk the dog(s)
Take a nap
Read a book
even if you suck at it
Try a new food
Learn something new
every. single. day.
Wear jeans with butt bling
Make new friends
Curl up with warm laundry
Do the dishes
with lipgloss on (and/or sunglasses)
Learn how to operate heavy machinery.
Draw a picture.
Be unabashedly and unashamedly yourself.