Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Journey to a Healthier Lifestyle (Part 2)

In case you missed it, you can read Part 1 of this series here.

Ultimately, I had to fact the fact that I had not been taking proper care of my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. For the past 4 years, I had been giving little thought to what I was putting in my mouth and was simply too lazy to put in regular amounts of exercise into my day. Before I got married (right after I graduated from high school), I had been extremely active, playing lots of sports all through my high school career. Playing sports was so much fun that I never really thought of it as "exercise". Additionally, my mom made sure we were fed nutritious meals, so I hardly gave a thought to what I was eating. I didn't grow up with a lot of junk food in the house, so eating it was never really an issue for me. We had the occasional treat, but that was it.

After I graduated from high school, got married, and moved away from home, things were completely different. I was no longer able to depend on high school sports to get my physical exercise, and I was too shy to join a recreational sports team in a city where I hardly knew anyone. The demands of working outside the home and having a home of my own now to take care of left me with little time or energy to go to the gym. It also left me little time or energy to put into planning, preparing, and eating healthy meals. Thus, with my husband enrolled full time in an intense university program, and with me working outside the home and having so much to learn about cooking, cleaning, and now being a married woman, my physical health and appearance quickly got put on the back burner. Meals were mostly high in calories and low in nutrition, and we did not eat much fresh fruit or vegetables. I got accustomed to throwing on a pair of sweats and a baggy t-shirt when I got home from work. We started having ice cream every night before bed and going for lots of late night runs to the McDonalds Drive-Thru when my husband wanted a break from studying around midnight.

It really shouldn't have surprised me, then, when my weight started going up. But, the weight crept on so slowly that I didn't really realize (or maybe I was in denial) how much weight I had gained until I saw pictures of myself in my friend's wedding, only 6 months after my own wedding. In 6 months, I had probably gained about 20-25 pounds, and I was really disappointed in myself. I couldn't believe I had let myself go like that. Over the next couple years, I would try to diet and exercise several times. I would lose 10 pounds, and then gain 15. Then several months later I would try again, and the same thing - lose a bit, gain a bit more. I guess I was what you might call a "yo-yo dieter." I couldn't figure out why I wasn't able to have some real long-term success. In about 3 1/2 years, I had gained at least 35 pounds since I had gotten married. Then, when I got pregnant with our daughter, I gained an additional 35 plus pounds during the pregnancy (most of which came off quite quickly after she was born, thankfully.) But by December 2009, I was getting sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.

Looking back, I realize that a big reason why I couldn't have long term success during those first 3 1/2 years was because I wasn't looking at weight loss the right way. Both my methods for weight loss and perspective on weight loss were all wrong. I was going to extremes, doing things that I could never do for the rest of my life, such as exercising for an hour or more every day and restricting my food intake too much in order to lose the weight. I was restricting my food intake so much that it was only a matter of time before I would binge and be worse off. I had set myself up for failure each time.

Besides my methods being wrong and not sustainable over the long-term, my perspective was also wrong. I usually started one of my failed attempts to lose the weight after going shopping for clothes and feeling badly about my ever-increasing size. I was only focused on the numbers. Thus, when the numbers stopped dropping or I didn't see "number results", I would get discouraged and give up completely, thinking "what's the use" - thus gaining the weight (plus more) back. I really think that this is key - In order to have real success, you CANNOT ONLY be focused on the numbers. The reason for this is because eventually the numbers will stop dropping. You will stop losing eventually. You will hit plateaus along the way. If you are only focused on the numbers, you are setting yourself up for failure, in my opinion. You may have some success, but I don't think it's likely you will achieve long-term success.

So, now I've discussed how I gained the weight and my failed attempts at long term success due to having a wrong perspective and wrong methods. Obviously I cannot truly say that I have achieved long-term success yet because I've only lost the weight recently. However, I really am hopeful and quite confident that this change will be for the long-term because of my new perspective and methods. In Part 3 of this series, I'm going to discuss my new perspective and methods.

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