I believe that anytime you are on a journey to a better you, to reach goals, to pass milestones . . . it is important to look back and see how far you’ve come. Two summers ago my family backpacked 60 miles to the top of Mt. Whitney and back. Every day we would climb to the top of a peak and I would always stop and take the opportunity to look back and I was amazed that my two feet got me from there to here. The journey was rough and trying at times. But, as long as I continued to put one foot in front of the other I would make it.
These past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about where I was 2 years, 3 years, even 5 years ago. A lot has changed about me: physically, mentally, and spiritually. About 6-7 years ago I was unhappy with myself, my image, and lack of drive to get in shape and live a healthier lifestyle. I even had a boyfriend who “lovingly” and in other words told me I was too fat and not marriage material until I slimmed down. Anger aside, I turned to my mom who had been a years-long example to me of what it meant to live a healthy life through every triathlon or half-marathon finish line she crossed, miles logged on the bike, hours spent in the gym, laps completed in the pool . . . my whole life she has been involved in keeping herself healthy and fit. I thank my mom for her example as she is the one who gave me the fuel I needed to light the fire to start my own journey (and the boyfriend just dumped on the gasoline).
My journey has been a slow one and I have learned SO much over the past few years. While some people transform their bodies from fat to fit in 6 to 9 months, mine has taken years and years. I was never interested in that and so I never pushed myself to those extremes. I remember one afternoon I was sitting in the mall with my sister-in-law across from Victoria’s Secret. We both looked at those models and one of us commented how great they looked but that it would take so much time and dedication and hard work for either of us to look like that and right now where we were in our lives, that was not a desire we had. And there is NOTHING wrong with that.
There is so much craze in the fitness industry right now to look a certain way, to live a specific lifestyle, or to restrict yourself to certain foods. At different phases in my life I have fallen for each one of these. A few years ago I decided to run a marathon without ever running more than 5, maybe 6 miles at a time in my life. Part of me thought what the heck, why not? And the biggest part of me decided this would be a great way to drop a few pounds. Little did I know that steady state endurance cardio is NOT the best way to lose fat. Little did I know that without proper nutrition and hydration I could seriously harm my body. Little did I know that running is NOT a beginner’s sport.
During my marathon training I hired a trainer because I wasn’t losing any weight for the first two months of training despite how much I was running. He put me on a meal plan of eggs & oatmeal, meat sandwiches, chicken & veggies, and protein shakes. I ate the same stuff day after day, week after week with little variation. I couldn’t have things like white rice, white breads, white pastas, sugary treats and cereal, etc. I thought in order to get results you had to eat like that all the time. I didn’t realize then, all it came down to was matching your macro-nutrient intake to your goals and hitting those targets without going over. I currently eat foods like pizza, popcorn, cereal, ice cream, and pretty much whatever else I feel like – but I do it in moderation (I also eat a lot of healthy foods most of the time). And as long as I am getting my target protein, fat, and carbs, I’m good to go. I used to think that I had to look shredded and have abs to finally feel happy about myself. Over time, and with a lot of hard work, I’ve found my happy place and I don’t look like the aforementioned.
Last year, about this time, I was registered for a marathon in Mississippi. I trained for months for that race, yet I didn’t run. I got injured while we were vacationing in St. George and got sick the right before the race. This would have been my second marathon. I signed up to race it because I was disappointed in my performance of the first marathon I completed. I signed up because I thought it would be a good way to stay in shape (and it was, coupled with weight lifting). I signed up because I wanted to prove to myself that I could perform better and because one day I wanted to complete an Iron-man triathlon and I had to start racking up marathons under my belt to get ready for one of those. Looking back now I am SO glad I decided not to race in that second marathon. First, I wouldn’t have been able to finish due to being sick and injured. Second, I realized I didn’t even like endurance racing. Yes, crossing the finish line is amazing. But running for miles and miles was miserable to me and I just didn’t like doing it. I kept pushing myself to do something I didn’t enjoy. And so I stopped.
I have found something I enjoy doing. I really do enjoy weight lifting and building my functional strength. I enjoy see the results that come from this mode of exercise. I enjoy having the freedom to eat the foods I like and am STILL reaching the goals I have for myself. I have learned so much about lift, fitness, myself, who I am, and who I can become, and so much more. Despite all the bumps, ups & downs, and unexpected turns in my life I wouldn’t trade any part of my journey. Each phase, moment, experience all adds up to this very point in time and I wouldn’t have it any other way.