Making a lifestyle change is hard and there can be so many barriers and challenges with remaining consistent. Last summer I was challenged to change my mindset and lose the weight I had been procrastinating on addressing. Everyone has different levels of comfort with their body image and their weight but I knew that it was time for things to change. While you can be happy, self accepting, have high self esteem and be overweight, I knew that it wasn’t working for me. I was tired of taking long airplane rides to other countries and being unable to comfortably fit into the seat while being ashamed to ask for a seat belt extender. It just wasn’t what I wanted. I was over my clothes not fitting right and only being able to wear certain select items in my closet because I had “outgrown” the majority of what I had available but didn’t want to spend more money to buy more clothes. I believe in radical self acceptance but I also believe in changing your lifestyle and being healthy if that’s a goal you have for yourself. It was a long, long road that still continues but I’ve made progress. I started with a personal trainer (aka my boyfriend), made the decision to no longer be vegetarian, I got off medication (after consulting with a doctor), started weight training, and changed my diet drastically. It wasn’t an overnight change and it didn’t happen as soon as I would have liked but I lost 45lbs and I’m still working towards my goal. Last week was the first time I could pick things from my closet to wear that I haven’t been able to fit in over 5 years. It was an amazing feeling and having a supportive partner has been great. I still have some progress to make but it’s nice to finally comfortably sit in an airplane seat without being black and blue from the armrest digging into my thigh. I’m determined to remain consistent and to continue to make progress. After all, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
I remember reading somewhere that men are like waffles because they can easily compartmentalize while women are similar to spaghetti because everything is connected in some way. Once again I’ve relocated and along with the change in location has come a renewed commitment to be more healthier after I was challenged to make better choices. There’s this story in the Bible about a guy that had a skin disease and he was told to wash in a muddy river 7 times. The guy almost turned around and went home because he was expecting to be told to do something big and the remedy was just too simple. However, his maid convinced him to do it and it worked. In a world of fad diets, special equipment, and fancy fitness plans that consume your life, there still isn’t a substitute for eating healthy and exercising regularly. It’s a solution that seems too simple to a lot of people so they spend money (sometime unnecessarily) in the hope that it will take the place of hard work and discipline. I’ve learned more about discipline in these last few weeks than I have in a long while. It’s the same kind of internal motivation that I had to use in order to finally finish my dissertation and it’s really uncomfortable. However, it’s the only way to get the results that I want. It’s not something that I can delegate or outsource to anyone else. Like most decisions to make some significant changes, the question is, “How bad do you want it?” I’ve always admired people who genuinely enjoy working out but as I’ve been more consistent I can see how it can become a habit–regardless of the degree of “like.” I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out despite the fact that it’s still uncomfortable. But anything worth doing is worth doing well and I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge.
So today I tried yoga for the first time with my AirBnB host. It’s been something that I’ve wanted to try for a while but never quite got around to. I’m trying to be healthier and I vowed that this year I would try to have some new experiences. So to a yoga class I went. The first thing I noticed was that I really wasn’t flexible. I don’t make stretching a frequent practice and boy did it show as I was trying to breathe and stay in the same position at the same time. The teacher talked about trusting the Universe and just relaxing. For the life of me I couldn’t bring myself to relax. I admire those people who can automatically calm themselves down and focus on the present. I haven’t mastered it yet. I could feel my anxiety rise as the quiet music played and the class was quiet with everyone practicing their breaths. I thought about all the uncertainty that I’m surrounded by and what the week would be like. My mind raced to how hard it is being single sometimes and the trips that I had planned. I tried my hardest to focus on the present but the planner in me needed something to do. While I want to try yoga again, I need to try it on vacation because I’m usually a bit more relaxed and maybe I’ll get through without distractions. The class was good but seemed incredibly long. I really liked the focus on being grateful and eliminating distractions. It’s something I need to do more.
Like millions of other people, I had the New Years Resolution of becoming healthier. For me this included going to the gym instead of just thinking about going there. As much as I like the idea of being healthy, I like doing what I want as well. But this week I decided a change was in order. I actually joined a gym and paid a pretty penny to do so. My goal isn’t to become a bodybuilder or anything–just to fit more comfortably in an economy airline seat. The gym I joined offers fitness classes 6 times a week and I decide to go to 4 classes a week. I wouldn’t have to make up a whole routine–I could just try to keep up without passing out. There’s a personal trainer who leads each class and provides direction. A decent start. So I started out on the first day just hoping that I wouldn’t die. I had been dreading the class the whole day and knew that I just needed to get it over with. It wasn’t impossible but it was difficult. But I made it through the first class, and the next one, and the next. The soreness was excruciating but I pushed through. Now I don’t know if I’ll see any difference or notice any changes, but at least I’ll be consistent.
About a month or so ago I made the decision to join a gym. A friend of mine had invited me to join a 3 month challenge that involved making healthier food choices and an exercise regimen. So, being the all or nothing person that I am, I decided that the best way to be consistent was to go to a gym for my workouts. I’ve been fairly consistent for the last month and am starting to see the results. But it’s still not fun to me. I see people who enjoy their workouts and talk about how great it was but that’s still not my experience. Long story short, I’m there because I need to be–not because I woke up at 4:30am excited to get a great workout in. That’s the great thing about being a responsible adult. You end up doing things because you know that you’ll be happy you did in a few years or even decades even if you hate it at the moment. The nice thing is that it’s starting to get easier to wake up and I’m not bribing myself to get out of bed and go. It’s becoming more of a routine. And maybe I’ll actually start to like it. That would be great.