“I can’t keep up” is what I often tell my other mom friends. There is so much that I want to give attention to and, inevitably, I fall behind in some areas. My friends echo the same. It’s cliché for moms. I know full well that I am not the busiest of them all. And, still, I often feel overwhelmed and somehow “behind.” I want to be a Christian who puts God first in everything and serves Him well, a great wife who loves her husband well, an all-attentive mom to my two precious girls, and an exceptional mental health counselor. Add to that list friend time, keeping up with housework (I have ruled this one out of the realm of possibility until further notice), reading, recharging, hobbies, volunteering, etc. etc. etc. I highly doubt my story is unique or even notable when it comes to my list of undertakings. Specifically, though, one area of “not keeping up” for nearly my entire adult life has been my health. In 2018, this changed.
The day I decided to make a change came about in a less than dramatic way. In January, a friend mentioned she been doing WW (formerly Weight Watchers) through work for a few weeks and had lost a few pounds already. I complimented her and mentioned that I might join her since I had used the program before. The next day I signed up. My motivation for joining was pretty much limited to feeling better in my clothes. In the past, when I began weight loss, I may have been motivated by a less than flattering picture of myself. Or, maybe I’d lose a few pounds to look better for a special event. Once, my motivation was undeniably rejection from a guy. He made it clear that his reason for disinterest was that I wasn’t into fitness and health as much as he would have preferred—nice. It’s cool. That’s when I started running instead of eating to deal with my feelings. At least Mr. Fitness helped me take one step toward better health. If only it had stuck. Each time, progress was short lived. I only ever dealt with the surface.
From January to now I have lost over 55 pounds, which is the most progress I have ever seen. I recently reached my WW goal and am now at a healthy weight for my height. I obtained WW Lifetime status by successfully reaching and maintaing my goals. I recently ran a 5k at a 7:49 pace which is just beyond me. I’m in the best shape that I have ever been and am so thankful.
What has worked for me has been tracking my food, consistently exercising, having good accountability and support from peers, and checking myself when I start to get off track. I know if I’m not making good health choices, there is more going on within me that needs to be addressed. One realm affects the others. The process of maintenance is daunting, but I feel confident and ready to keep on the journey.
My motivation for sticking with it has evolved from just wanting to feel better in my clothes (but yes, that does feel good). It has been a spiritual journey as much as a physical one for me. Like other sins that entice, gluttony is one that just calls my name. It was difficult for me to tell myself no. Actually, it is still difficult to tell myself no, but I have more practice than ever before this past year and I am getting stronger. I believe that when God gives us instruction, He is showing us better life and protecting us from harm (hello, natural consequences). Obeying Him in this area of my life has been rewarding and has inspired me to keep going. Here are a few ways this has played out for me:
I love running and I’m not just doing it to eat more food. Because I did. I love the experience of expanding my mind through a book or worshiping while working my body in the beautiful landscape around me. During runs, He has painted intricate sunrise skies over fields with rising mist that were a gift just for me. I’ve raised my hands with no one around just to embrace it and surrender to Him in those moments. I can’t tell you how beautiful that has been.
I feel like playing! When I take my kids to the playground or just outside our house, I have these bursts of energy that are new to me. I feel the urge to move and play too—so a lot of times instead of sitting by and watching them (or worse yet, looking at my phone), I join in. It feels amazing. I am so grateful that the choices I’m making are helping to prolong our active play together.
I enjoy food more. I savor it and am more thankful for it. And, yes, I still enjoy chocolate and donuts at least weekly, but they are planned for and I track them. Food is still part of celebrations for me, and I’m good with that. I don’t walk away from choices like that feeling bad about myself. And, I am getting more so many more healthy foods in my body than before.
I’m enjoying better emotional health. For me, a healthier lifestyle has noticeably lessened anxious times and increased my courage. It has decreased “blah days and increased contentment. I regularly remind my clients of the importance of physical health habits for emotional health; it has been rewarding to experience this personally.
I could go on and on about what has inspired and motivated me to keep going, but I’ll stop there. I’m incredibly thankful that God has been my strength to change unhealthy habits. I certainly feel less “behind” with my health and am experiencing more space and energy to keep up in some of those other areas. One day, I may even be able to keep my house clean again? I’m not counting on it.
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