A positive change that has taken place in me within the last year is my perspective on wellness. Throughout my life, I have swung from one end of the spectrum (no working out, not watching what I eat) to the other (multiple workouts and regimented dieting). I’ve learned to recognize what triggers those swings and for many years I tried to “trick” myself into highly controled, watch the calories in and out mode to keep thin. I finally figured out that not only is that not sustainable, it isn’t particularly healthy either.
I’ve moved into a mindset I feel is more comfortable, positive and self affirming. The feminist in me is tired of obsessing over the small belly roll in the mirror (that only my husband sees!) but demanding that the world see beyond my appearance. After a while, it started feeling pretty hypocritical! I’m not my dress size. I’m not my weight. I haven’t obsessed over those numbers in a while, but I realized that even if I wasn’t looking at them I was still LIVING like I was. Occaisionally menu planning and jotting down my food intake is not bad, but for me it was turning into a trigger for that obsessive behavior. Once I identified this, I decided to stop planning so much and learn to listen to my own hunger cues and cravings. I needed to begin trusting myself.
That turned out to be much easier than I thought. I was meeting with a personal trainer friend, LAQ, (if you are in DC, check her out!) for weigh ins and body fat tracking to keep myself in check and maintaining my workout schedule. I set up my meetings with her during a particularly hectic part of my life. I had multiple stateside business trips, a ten day trip to China and a marathon all within about four weeks. I tried to focus on chilling out, eat how I know I should and not obessessing. To my astonishment, I discovered that my body did what I always thought wasn’t possible. It maintained. After years of counting points, losing and gaining, counting calories, losing and gaining, counting carbs… you get the picture. I finally got to a place where I felt like I could give it up for real.
This was a HUGE step forward for me. Finally I was able to let go of that control that was clearly only making me crazy and not doing anything for my waistline. What I didn’t realize, was that I wasn’t finished figuring it all out.
The other side of this obsession has always been exercise. I played sports in high school, took up running in college and added group exercise when I moved to DC. The type A in me is never statisfied with the status quo. Running on the weekends turned into a mission to complete a marathon. Going to group ex classes a few times a week turned into a daily thing, then more than one class a day, then teaching a group ex class, Body Combat.
A few autumns ago, my fiance (now husband) was sent to Mexico for a three month work trip. I spent my free time at the gym! I had a wedding to prep for and I wanted what all brides want on their wedding day. I got down to the leanest I think I’ve ever been. My weight didn’t really change, but I saw muscles I didn’t know I had. Then I visited hubby in Mexico and got sidelined with a stomach bug that set me back months. My body was so worn down, it was asking for a break.
Looking back, this really was a turning point for me. I had seen what I could do with just a “little” extra at the gym and without even realizing it I have been aiming for that ever since. What is surprising, is what finally broke me of it.
When I started meeting with my LAQ, we would talk about food, eating for fat loss and our workouts. Since she also teaches the same class I do (and is WAY better at it), she is familiar with the level of intensity and unique needs of a group ex instructor. She was always challenging me to find rest time and schedule cheat meals. Even though my schedule was completely ridiculous, I was trying to train for a marathon, teach two classes a week AND add 4-5 days of weight training in. I couldn’t focus on one thing.
When the marathon finally came, I was ready. When I crossed the finish line a bit later than my unrealistic goal and a few minutes shy of my public goal, I didn’t allow myself to be disappointed. I had just finished a marathon! The next few days I took it easy, even though the stiffness wore off within 36 hours. It was nice to give myself a “pass”. I didn’t need to exercise, I needed to rest. I figured my competitive, can’t stop moving and getting to the gym spirit would come back within a week or so.
It hasn’t. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon on October 28th, 2012 and it broke me. I finished a distance that some never even dream of and used up all my “crazy”. Now, I’m content teaching my two classes, making it to one or two more and adding in weight training when I have the energy. I’m no longer obsessed with checking the “five to six workouts/week” box. I’m happy where I am and I feel great challenging myself. I’m just done wearing myself down.
Could I be lighter/leaner/smaller? Sure. But my focus is no longer on the outside. This body is only going to look this way for a time. I can do things to take care of it and make that window of time bigger. And I will. I’m just done obsessing. I want to be well, body and soul. Not just look great in a bikini.