On March 4, 2016 I began a new journey – a journey toward a healthier life. I haven’t been kind to my body in the past fifteen years, but I have really put my body through the wringer over the past four years. In four years, I have been pregnant four times, carried two babies to term, with two deliveries within eleven months time. I have also underwent countless fertility treatments and been under huge amounts of stress. So, on March 4, I took back my health when I began eating better and exercising regularly.
I’ll be honest. I wasn’t super enthusiastic about it at first. Somehow I was able to set aside my reluctance and commit to sticking to it. I raided Pinterest for some healthy recipes and stocked the fridge with healthy foods. I did the workouts every day, no matter what (even if that meant 9 o’clock at night sometimes). After about a week and a half, I started to notice something. I felt better. I had more energy. I wasn’t hungry or craving sweets like I thought was going to happen when I cut out those foods. The more I stuck to the plan, the better I felt.
After a few weeks, it was time to measure my results. In three weeks I lost 22 pounds and 20 inches. While this is an amazing feat, the insights I gained over the early weeks of this new journey far outweigh what I lost. Here is what I have learned:
Success really does breed success.
I began to experience success early on, not only in lost pounds and inches, but in increased strength and a better mood. This pushed me to continue. When the pajama bottoms that didn’t fit when I bought them became baggy and other clothes became loose, I had even more motivation to keep going. Then as other people started noticing and commenting on the changes in my physical appearance, I was determined not to give up.
Our bodies crave what we feed them.
Instead of eating junk and drinking soft drinks, I have been eating lean meats, fruits, veggies, whole grains and healthy fats and drinking only water. Those are now the things I crave. This really hit home last week when I woke up from surgery. In the past I have always wanted mashed potatoes after surgery, but this time I craved fresh fruit for days!
Healthy does not have to mean boring.
We have tried many new recipes over the past few months. It has been fun trying new things. I have really enjoyed taking our old dinner favorites and making them healthier. We are still able to indulge in our favorites, they are just healthier now. There are so many healthy substitutes for unhealthy ingredients. I have always enjoyed cooking. Now it is even more fun making it healthy.
Exercise is a great stress reliever.
In the past, stress would take me straight to the fridge and then to the couch. I would grab my favorite comfort food and binge on television. I thought this made me feel better, but it didn’t. Even though I had always heard (i.e. been told by doctors) that exercise is good for stress relief, I was never willing to give it a try. Now I have found healthier ways to deal with stress, including exercise.
You really can have everything in moderation.
I have slowly been able to add back some of my favorite treats into my diet. By “add back” I do not mean that I have one of these treats every day or overindulge. When I do choose to have a favorite non-healthy food or eat out at a restaurant, I am now able to enjoy a normal serving size without going overboard. I have been able to incorporate treats and cheats in moderation and I don’t feel deprived or guilty.
If I set my heart and mind to do something, even if it seems impossible, God will give me the strength to do it.
When I started I did not have much confidence in myself that I would be successful. I certainly didn’t expect to stick to it and make permanent changes. Willpower is not something I have had great success with in the past. In the moments that I have struggled I have turned to God for strength and he has never failed to provide it. And when those workouts get really hard, my internal dialogue has Philippians 4:13 on replay.
This has been more than a diet for me. I have made permanent lifestyle changes that will lead to better health. I am doing it for me because I deserve it. I am doing it for my family because they need me. Most importantly, I am doing it for God. I am still here and He still has work for me to do. I will be unable to complete this work that He has prepared for me if I have no energy, am stressed to the max and have a not so stellar mood.
I want others to see that they can also create positive changes toward a better life. I want to share this journey to health with others. So I have decided to dedicate a portion of this blog to healthy living. Once a week I’ll share recipes, tips and encouragement as we do this together. I hope you’ll join me.
Until next time, keep hoping!