I've hesitated to write this post for many reasons, but the main one being that I wanted this to be an encouraging post and, therefore, I didn't want the focus of this post to be on losing weight or how my weight compares to yours. I didn't want you to read this and it make you compare yourself to me, whether you weigh more or less than I do. I want the focus of this post to be on feeling good and taking care of your body. On loving yourself well and treating your body with respect.
I wanted to write this post because I've come to realize how important taking care of our bodies is to our self esteem and there's such a fine line there. Finding your identity in your weight or how you look is all too easy for so many of us, but that doesn't mean that it's all or nothing. It doesn't mean that I shouldn't care for my body and mind. It means that I should focus on positive self-talk and working hard to eat clean and stay active so that my body feels energized and taken care of. Doing that has been really difficult for me at times and I thought it might be encouraging for some of you to read my story. Just remember that we are all different and this is my story so take it as such. :)
I haven't always had a problem with discipline or fitness. I was a very active kid. Not only did we play outside all the time, but growing up I don't remember eating out hardly ever. My mom fixed all our meals and we all played sports. My main sport, though, was soccer. I played from the time I was 5 years old all the way until I went to college. At that point, I had to have some minor knee surgery and I decided that I wanted to take a break so I just played on some intramural teams for fun and took it easy.
During college, I noticed a shift in my metabolism. I started experiencing weight gain and also adopted some pretty bad eating habits. I'd either not eat much at all, or I'd binge on my favorite candy, Sour Patch Kids. :) Then, when I would gain 5 pounds, I wouldn't eat much or just have a small salad for lunch and dinner. There was no moderation, it was either all or nothing. And in both circumstances, I wasn't getting the right nutrition my body needed. I kept up these habits after graduating college and, although it's true that eating healthy is usually more expensive and I was a poor newly graduated college student, I still didn't really make an effort. I had more pants than anyone could ever need because my weight fluctuated so much. I had everything from a size 2 to a size 8. (I also tend to gain weight mostly in my arms, face, and stomach, so that also contributes to having such varying pant sizes)
During our first few years of marriage, I "tried" to start eating healthier and exercising. I say "tried" because I wasn't really ever motivated or focused enough to actually want it. I would work out when it was convenient or when I felt like it. I did what was easy and I didn't push myself, which resulted in some efforts but not much. I would get so discouraged because I felt like I was always failing, even though I wasn't really giving it my all. That constant feeling of wanting to do something, not doing it well, and feeling like a failure would really affect my emotions and self esteem. So many of Drew and I's conversations were about how sick and tired I was of looking in the mirror and feeling like I couldn't change anything. I wasn't significantly overweight, but I didn't feel good.
And then we found out we were pregnant. Insert dramatically: "And all hopes and dreams of loosing weight died in my mind." Okay, just kidding, I wasn't that dramatic. But I seriously had a little bit of a crisis moment in my head because I really wanted to get fit and in shape before we got pregnant and I didn't and I felt like that was it.
Being a little overweight when I got pregnant was pretty discouraging, but it also started my motivation to eat cleaner. During my pregnancy, I got into some pretty good habits of eating healthy and walking a lot. I gained an appropriate amount of weight and after giving birth, lost all of it pretty quickly. But, even though I did create some good habits, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight, which was still over what I needed to be to feel healthy. And everything was different. My body had changed a lot after pregnancy in ways I didn't expect. (All you mamas out there know what I mean... and if you don't... well then I don't know what to say except that I'm sincerely happy you have such great genes)
For the first year of Rowan's life, I struggled a constant battle with insecurity. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. And, while I don't believe that happiness is found in a number on the scale, I do believe that we are called to be good stewards of our bodies. And I just felt like I was failing at that and I didn't know where to begin. Growing up playing sports, I was used to having a team of people and a purpose to working out. I had never been successful thus far at working out alone and knew that I needed to cultivate the discipline to do it on my own.
So, one day, I decided to just start. And that's when I met Kat of "Keep Going Kat" and she inspired me to join her monthly workout group. At first, I was hesitant. But then, I realized that that's exactly what I needed to get started. A commitment to eat clean and workout for a whole month with someone by my side (well, on the internet) telling me what to do. I wasn't very good at it, but I showed up and tried my best. There were some days that I would wake up and be like, "There's no way I'm going to workout and stay awake today." But, I would tell myself that I had to at least get out there and try. And, as I would start working out, I would find myself getting more and more energy. After a few weeks of doing Kat's program, I felt like I had the kick-start to continue on my own and now it's part of Rowan and I's daily routine. Every day, at 8:30am, we go jogging and then when we get back, Rowan plays in the yard while I finish my exercises.
I think for me, so much of the battle of working out is mental. If you could hear the way I used to talk to myself while I worked out, you would think I was the most horrible, degrading coach/trainer on the planet. I would be running and the thoughts going through my head were, "You can't do this, what are you thinking? You're so tired, you might as well just give up. You're such a failure. You'll never be in shape again. I mean, think of all those really skinny women out there, you'll just never be that." Horrible. Those thoughts would discourage me so much that I would usually just give in and quit. Or at least I'd be so disheartened that I'd loose any and all motivation to try again. That's why one of my main focuses the past few months has been practicing positive self talk while I jog. I'm only allowed to say positive things to myself while I jog and I have to keep a tight leash on my thoughts. I talk in my head about how great I feel, how proud I am of my accomplishments, and how much stronger and confident I feel. I tell Rowan that, "Mommy is taking good care of herself." I think this one piece of my workout routine is my favorite because so much of the journey is about learning to love yourself and making sure you're striving to be a better version of yourself.
Instead of comparing myself to other women or to the numbers on the scale, I compare how I did today with how I did yesterday. I strive to be a better version of myself instead of a copy of someone else. It's so easy to become obsessed with weight and fitness, but I try every day to focus on loving the skin I'm in and taking good care of it too. I want to feel good and have energy instead of reaching a certain number on the scale. And I have to say, since starting this plan, I have more energy and every day I feel more motivated than the last.
For more fitness inspiration, take a look at Simply Sadie Jane, Blogilates, and Keep Going Kat. All wonderful, positive women who I look up to and who have great workout routines and inspiring stories. You've got this! xoxo