What I GAINED from Healthy Eating

 

A few months ago I was offered to attend a boot camp at a local gym. At the time I didn't really exercise but figured, hey it's free... I'll check it out. As my dad used to say "If it's free. It's for me." #noshame  

Alas, I signed up for 5 weeks of working out. Little did I know that it would become much more. At the end of the boot camp I had developed a habit. My daily routine (minus the weekends. LET ME LIVE people) had now incorporated getting sweaty. My goal with this boot camp was to lose weight. That's all I cared about. After three babies, I weighed in at the heaviest "non pregnant" weight I had ever been. After completing the 5 weeks, I had lost only .8 lbs. and was actually feeling pretty defeated. I persevered though and signed up for a monthly membership.

I did what I had to do and began to feel strong overall. The classes were only an hour and without a doubt, there was a moment within each class that I hit a wall. The exhaustion feels overwhelming and I'd want to give up. Mentally I would have to put mind over matter and charge on. At this point, I'm proud. I can conquer hard things within my workouts. 

On days I wasn't nauseous from almost dying in class, I would leave HANGRY. Across the street from where I workout is a Chick-fil-A. On these days I would drive directly across 6 lanes of traffic to the drive thru and get a milkshake. Counter productive to say the least. But I quickly realized that while I had won the fight with my physical health, my mental connection to food literally manhandled me. 

An opportunity popped up with my fellow gym goers to tackle a nutrition challenge to accompany our physical wellness. I'm not sure the technical terms to describe the guidelines for this diet but at first glance, "a gerbils diet from Hell" is what came to mind. 😂 It was basically zone block eating (protein, carbs, and fats) 5 times a day. You are eating paleo by ONLY eating lean meats, veggies, clean fats, fruit, little starch and no sugar. Basically, air and your own spit. That's what is approved. Or at least that's what it feels like at first. It is SHOCKING once you start looking into food labels, what all you eat that is processed and has added sugar. 

I turned down the numerous requests for me to sign up at first. Fresh in my mind was my glorious run with Whole4 (aka the total number of days I was successful on my attempt at Whole30). In which I spent 3 of those days in the fetal position and/or vomiting from lack of caffeine and sugar. Somehow though, I quickly realized that my failure before was a sure tell sign that I had a really unhealthy attachment to foods and needed to jump into this challenge. 

Fast forward passed the headaches, withdrawal, exhaustion, and straight up moods swings and I'm happy to report....I did it. I completed 4 weeks of the eating challenge along with my regular exercise schedule. The amazing thing was I lost 10 lbs! Remember before when I started this whole journey, that was THE MOST IMPORTANT thing to me. And while I am NOT hating the fact that all my clothes fit again, it's what I gained that I'm in love with even more. 

5 things I GAINED from strict diet & exercise. 

  1. FRIGGIN ACCOMPLISHMENT I did it. I literally didn't cheat once. I was determined to complete this way of eating to a T. In fact, on a field trip with my son I ate a DRY bowl of grilled chicken, lettuce, and tomatoes because compliant dressings are like the mythical unicorn that no one can find. Did I mention everyone else was eating pizza? Which leads me to my second favorite gain... 

  2. SELF CONTROL I went through some painful personal family stuff while I was smack dab in the middle of this nutrition challenge. All I wanted to do was ugly cry over a huge bowl of ice cream. That's when I realized I often times fell victim to emotional eating. With this enlightenment, I learned different ways to cope emotionally without attaching my happiness to food. 

  3. SELF LOVE I loved myself to make meals that fed my body well. I loved myself to dig deep and anchor down through hard emotions that I would normally bandaid with food. I loved myself enough to not shame my body to a skinnier version but to nourish it to a better state.

  4. BALANCE while I'm happy I completed what I set my mind to during the time I restricted what I ate... I am actually glad I don't live that way all the time. I learned that a big joy in my life is gathering around a table and effortlessly ENJOYING good food. Sometimes that involves not necessarily good-for-you food. That's okay! I literally had a bowl of cheezits for lunch yesterday so I'm not trying to sound like I've got it together by any means. I learned that I do not want to obsess over my food. I do however want to balance my health and my guilty pleasures. 

  5. PRIORITIES while I did lose weight, that ended up being something LOW on my priority list. Throughout the 4 weeks, I started to notice that I really liked how I FELT. I felt energized and happy and had really good mental clarity. I thought that whole claim was total fluff but turns out I could really THINK well and remember things so much easier. As I saw the change in the shape of my body, I FELT proud regardless of how much I weighed or if I looked "skinny". My priorities have become to FEEL good and to LOOK healthy, which is a much better mindset than I started with. 

All that to say, I'm going to share my "results" that happened physically from the program. This is because a LOT of changes happened in and to my body. My muscles began to truly show as a result of muscle encouraging fat burning. Throughout the diet I actually ate WAY MORE than I normally do, which made me nervous at first that I would gain weight. As my focus shifted, I realized my water retention and my bloating was really diminishing as a result of the TYPES of foods I was eating. This made me feel better and a side benefit is that I looked better. 

When I first was discussing putting myself out there half naked in the internet, my husband processed with me and simply said, "what's your purpose for sharing the pictures?" Good man always gut checks me. 

 Ignore that dirty mirror...

Ignore that dirty mirror...

What I will say is that I am not searching for compliments. I am however offering encouragement. I thought I could never go without sugar. My morning coffee is literally a lifeline for me. Cutting that chord for a short time to challenge myself felt astronomical in my physical and mental confidence. I could do hard things. I proved that to myself. 

I feel huge PRIDE in caring for myself in this way. Of course, I still can pick apart myself in the mirror in a matter of seconds and see so much more room for improvement. The key though, is loving where I'm at mentally. As a mama, I have been "skinny" before and most of the time that was due to the fact that I was barely eating and living off of the scraps from my kids plates. I slept little, ate little, drank lots of coffee, and overall lacked caring at all about my health. Eventually I would run out of steam. How can we care for our kiddos if we do not care for our own selves?

Seeing these results within my own health shows my kids, and myself that I am worth taking care of. My daughters now know that moms need care too. I hope that will be a lesson she takes with her into motherhood (when she's like 40). 

Sharing gives me strength. I want to share my journey to prove mamas are strong. If a 19 year old girl can blast herself in crotch eating shorts with her butt checks falling out via social media to empower today's women in a "movement". Then this average mama can show what a lot of effort and sweat can mean to a stay at home mom. 

Now comes the call to action. Ladies, we can do hard things. Humans are literally pulled from our bodies and then we morph back to a "regular person" (albeit a person that pees on herself when she sneezes but still a person). We care about everyone else! We know little Susie's reading level and food aversions. Or how our son likes his sandwich cut. We fold our towels the way our husband likes them and make meals that make him smile. But somehow it's TOO MUCH WORK to cook ourselves an egg for breakfast or go for a brisk walk after dinner. You're worth the extra effort. Focus on how you FEEL and the rest will fall into place. Truth? I still weigh the heaviest I ever have while not pregnant. But that's not the most important thing to me anymore. I feel strong and healthy. I LOVE how much I've gained from my journey.