Firstly, I am really honored that Ashley has asked me to guest blog. To me, that is the greatest compliment, because it implies a certain amount of respect for the progress I have made in my life. She asked that I share a bit about my story – my transition to a healthier life, the steps I have taken, changes I have seen, sacrifices I have made and the part that running has played in all of the above.
But first things first. You aren’t reading this to learn about me, a stranger. You are reading this for YOU. Part of YOU wants to change, or to be inspired to maintain change, in some way. And that is the MOST important thing.
I did not change my life because someone else inspired me to do so, although there are many stories along the way that have reminded me that I CAN do this and have played an inspirational role. I didn’t have some upfront, life-changing epiphany. No proverbial comet fell from the sky and rocked my world and helped me change my life cold-turkey. It has been a long arduous journey that still isn’t over, and there IS NO END-GAME…only a new and different way of living. Once you accept that, what you currently view as a battle will become a journey, an adventure.
So first, ask yourself WHO you want to be. What do you want to accomplish in your life? Based off of those answers, you most likely have some lifestyle changes in the cards: Diet change, exercise routine change, etc. I cannot stress enough how it is SO important to start dreaming for yourself who and how you want to be. Everything you do for yourself is directly or indirectly affected by how you view things for yourself: your self-image, your future, your possibilities…
After you have asked yourself these questions, and taken the time to evaluate your possibilities…you need to consider that whatever you think is your limit…your true limit is far more surprising than that.
Now…about my journey…
First, my “transition to a healthier life” is ongoing. And it is by making one change at a time, not trying to conquer the whole world of health and fitness simultaneously. Pick one activity that you are either passionate about or are interested in trying out. For me, I was always inspired by runners.
It’s funny too, that Ashley asked me to write about this transition…as its something I write about constantly – how it has changed my life. The struggles and challenges inherent as well as the victories. Here is an excerpt, already written by me on a previous post in my blog The Happy Life Project. Not sure how I can rewrite it to be any more true than I already did, so forgive the “cheat” excerpt…
I began “running” in the Fall of 2010. I put running in quotations, because at the time, it was mostly walking and/or some version of loping that I referred to running. Throughout 2011, I slowly picked up on the running habit in conjunction with starting the weight watchers program. This proved to be a fairly successful combination for me. I lost 30 pounds in 2011 (then gained 10 back over the holidays) and then lost an additional 20lbs in early 2012. It has changed my body a LOT and definitely changed my attitude.
In 2012, I decided to take my running to the next level by enrolling in running classes that would teach me to improve…and I began tackling longer distance races. I joined some running groups and even started one at my company. I became exponentially faster over 2012.
The journey to becoming healthier has been pretty profound. You never realize the implications of your negative thoughts on your physical life, but they are huge! In addition to that, you get caught up in a cycle of telling yourself mentally what you are capable of and then proving yourself right by only accomplishing what you said you could.
The win comes when you break free of that mental cycle. When you start pushing (and surprising) yourself…one run, one race, one new goal at a time. Suddenly, a new inner self begins to emerge. Someone who is competitive, driven, NOT lazy…and constantly, refreshingly surprising. You look up one day and recognize the inner athlete within yourself.
You also (amusingly) find out from your personal trainer post-mortem that you were apparently a HUGE whiner when you began exercising.
Another win, is that I realize that I am not finished. I have lost nearly 40 pounds since I began and losing that weight is no longer enough for me. I have a vision of a truly fit version of myself. You change habits…kind of how alcoholics and drug abusers have to change their company, you do the same. You hang around “like” people and eat at places (for the most part) that fit your new lifestyle.
I used to laugh (somewhat bitterly) at people with food convictions, mostly because I didn’t have them. Now I applaud people who have convictions and make difficult decisions. I used to think most skinny girls were skinny because of genes and good luck and that only a few of them worked hard at it. I have come to the opposite conclusion now: MOST of them work hard to be healthy and FEW of them are genetically predisposed to being that way with no work. I also realized that being healthy is cumulative. The healthier you are, the healthier you get. The thinner or fitter you are, the thinner you get. It compounds. Kind of like the “rich get richer”… the healthy get healthier. (Reminds me of something I just overheard when someone said they were about to start a new workout program and another person responded “but you are already so fit!”) But don’t blame the healthy for YOUR situation. You can do something about it. It took me a while to come out of a place of judgment.
A few learning’s to leave you with:
- No one can motivate you to change except yourself. You will never receive an epiphany that suddenly makes you crave working out. You will rarely have a moment so motivational that you are immediately changed forever. I say “rarely” because certain “fat” pictures have proved pretty motivational for people I know. Suddenly after years of lying to yourself and justifying away “bad angles” you see yourself in a photo and think “WHOA…that’s me?”
- People lose weight and get healthy because they make a DECISION one day that they are going to try it. And over time and a lot of not-giving-up they find that the working out gets a little easier as they get stronger. It doesn’t become EASY, it just…changes. Somewhere in the MIDDLE of my losing weight, I realized that it was something I COULD do. It wasn’t at the beginning and it didn’t happen overnight. It has been a constant struggle.
- Once you lose weight…you have to continue to work to maintain that lifestyle. You don’t lose 30 lbs and then it just stays off forever. People who stay thin are those skinny girls you are judging at the gym thinking “Why are THEY here?” They are there to look like they do. They are there so that they don’t gain weight. They are there so that they CAN eat that cinnamon roll that you later judge them for eating saying “she was just born skinny, see that crap she can eat and be skinny…?” No…she is going to go burn 600 calories at the gym later on to counter balance that “splurge” You learn to change your mindset. You learn to start treating your food and your fitness the way you would your finances. You budget. You weigh options. You determine your priorities. And you stop making excuses and blaming external circumstances for where you are.
I am not at that destination place yet. Maybe THAT is the key. Never thinking you have “made it” and always striving to improve.
Since writing the above blog post, I have gone on to complete my first FULL Marathon (26.2 miles) and am about to begin dropping what additional weight I can again in preparation for my second marathon this fall.
Blessings to you in 2014. Enjoy the journey!