Thursday, May 03, 2012
I'm going to warn you up front that this entry will be a *tad* on the philosophical side. I don't usually do this type of thing. Usually, I throw down a laundry list of random thoughts on my day, current inspirational ideas or commentaries on my fitness journey and call it a blog. Sometimes I add cute pictures to keep it entertaining.
But I started paging through a book last night (which I won't name, because I ended up really disliking it) and it got some thoughts rolling through my mind and questions began to bubble to the surface.
In order to explain my confusion, you need to know up front that I call myself a Christian woman. Whether I live up to my calling as one of God's children...well, that's God's job to decide, I guess. I'm a wife and a mother of 3 young children. I work full-time in a job I love.
As I began to read this book, the central idea was this: Christians should not try to fix their eating habits out of a motivation of pure vanity (wanting to be skinnier or look better) or selfishness (wanting people to compliment them, etc). But, rather, the ONLY motivation for taking care of your body and getting healthy should be to glorify God. That sounds all well and good, right?
But as I read through the first few chapters, I asked myself, "Is that really my motivation? If I really look DEEP down and I'm 100% honest with myself...is that WHY I'm doing this?" Is that why most people that claim to have faith do it?
It led me to this question that I keep turning over in my brain: IS GETTING HEALTHY NARCISSISTIC?
Dictionary.com defines the word "narcissist" as: a person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish.
Is this me? I've been struggling a bit lately with my health regime, because I have noticed that I am a lot more self-focused and self-involved because, well...when you are working so hard on your body, you kind of HAVE to be. Let's face it...anyone who goes about trying to overhaul their health but doesn't really put too much focus on their food choices or their activity levels is probably not going to be very successful. I mean, isn't that why we have daily trackers for our food and exercise? And hasn't it been proven that tracking is one of the best methods to use in order to see success in this area? Still, to an outsider, tracking every bit of food that goes into my mouth and every minute of activity in my day...well, it just seems a little...obsessive.
But what about this idea of being selfish or self-involved? If I've learned anything important in the past two months (since I've caught "the Spark"), it's that nothing will ever change in my life until I decide that I'm important enough to pay attention to and fight for. No one is going to do this for me. It is great to have support and people cheering you on, but when it comes down to it...this is a personal fight that we are all fighting. And, in order to succeed, we MUST focus on ourselves. How many times have you seen "me time" on SparkPeople? It's important to have "me time" for relaxation, exercise, meditation, etc. It's essential to a healthy, balanced life.
As a Christian, I am TOTALLY for the idea that God gave us these wonderful and amazing bodies to use as a tool and that we have a responsibility to properly care for them. I also believe that our true beauty lies within...in the heart (but that's not an excuse to let our bodies go). I see the delicate balance that exists between these two ideas and I understand how churches could have so much trouble trying to determine which side of the fence to fall on - the side of mercy/grace (allowing people to be unhealthy, but loving them anyway for who they are) or the side of strict and rigid truth (making people feel like less because neglecting the upkeep of their body could be construed as a "sin").
No matter where any particular book or church falls on this spectrum, I can honestly say (with some embarrassment) that my motivation is NOT necessarily to "glorify God" with my health journey. At the same time, it is neither an attempt solely to glorify myself. Truth be told, it's in the middle somewhere. And it really is mostly about ME.
I want to be healthy for my kids - so I can be around for them for a long time and play with them and, frankly, so they won't be embarrassed by their mom. That might be a little vain, but I'm OK with that.
And I dare you to try to find ANYONE that is on this journey that can honestly say they aren't dreaming of looking different (even VASTLY different)...I would say they are not being truthful or they are in denial. It might be a little self-centered. But, I don't know...is that OK?
I have other physical reasons for wanting to lose weight. Ahem, I'm a married woman. Don't you tell me this hasn't crossed your mind as well!!!! Intimacy is an important part of relational health and, without it, there are some pretty difficult issues that arise. And, whether we want to admit it or not, physical appearance plays a very large part in this. It's just the truth.
I actually had a text chat with a SparkFriend last night (I will call this person "Sparky" to protect their identity) and it went something like this. Look, I'm just laying this all out with as much honesty as I can, so...perhaps you'll be shocked at my garish comments...but they are absolutely consistent with how I'm feeling at this point, so I won't apologize for them:
SPARKY: Don't ever forget through all of this that you are a special woman. Let yourself believe that you are a special, unique person. Not another like you. You ARE important.
ME: Thanks. I know that now. Problem was...before, I expected others to make me feel that way. But now *I* have the power.
SPARKY: I was the same way, Leah. It was crippling mentally. You look for affirmation that never comes. Find your own strength.
ME: I'm not shrinking back anymore. I always assumed that I wasn't enough...but I am.
SPARKY: Good for you, way to take it back. It took me a long time to realize that I am capable and I don't need anyone's permission or praise to realize I have what it takes. Growing up, I was never good enough. It scarred me...but no more.
As I look over these words...yes, they sound arrogant. They really do. But, I honestly don't feel I could make it on this tough of a journey without a confidence THIS strong. I see it every day...people giving up because they don't love themselves and they don't believe in themselves. It's absolutely heartbreaking.
So, maybe I am a bit narcissistic. But...if this is how it has to be, then this is how it has to be. The best I can do is try to reverse some of the self-centeredness by doing my best to help and encourage as many people as I can. By doing everything in my power to give back...to my community, to my SparkFriends, to my church, to my co-workers and family.
But anyone around me needs to know that I require some self-focus for awhile...to get to where I can best serve others. And, I believe that by being healthy and, thereby, extending my life and quality of life, there will be a "ripple effect" (as SparkGuy, Chris Downie, says) and things will really change in my world.
I'm curious to know if anyone else has struggled with this question of "self-centeredness". It would sure be helfpul to know how you have pushed through it!
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Something has happened to me...just this week. It's like a switch has been flipped, exercise-wise. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I joined the Official Spring Into Shape Bootcamp Challenge issued by Coach Nicole. Perhaps I gained a bit more confidence in myself when I spent a week in Atlanta with business colleagues who were so kind to build me up and compliment the work I do for them. Whatever it is, I feel unstoppable. And I am no longer afraid of this thing called "exercise". In fact, we've become quite friendly.
When I started with Couch 2 5K about a month ago, I couldn't actually do the running portion of the program...I would just walk as fast as I could through the entire thing and I was averaging about an 18 minute mile. I believed this to be a result of my weight (255 lbs starting) and thought that it would be so much easier for me to actually run when I have lost some weight (maybe 30 or 40 lbs down the road).
But, I've read a LOT of blogs over the past couple of weeks. As you know, I feel specifically drawn to the stories of SparkPeople that have lost 100+ lbs. I began to see a common thread in many of these success stories: running. And not just running when they had walked enough to shed a ton of weight...running when they were STILL out of shape. When they were STILL over 300 lbs, over 250 lbs. Running a 5K non-stop at 230 lbs. It has quite literally blown my mind!
And, I don't know...I just thought, "If these people have done it...then I can do it." I can't keep making excuses. A real injury would be one thing, but I had a minor sprain back in the beginning because of bad shoes. Now that I have great shoes, there is no reason I can't try to do this thing right.
Sunday morning, I knew I'd have a 6-hour car ride in front of me. I woke up super early to do my first day of the Spring Into Shape Bootcamp Challenge. I did a 10 minute cardio led by Coach Nicole on my computer. Then, immediately, at 7am, went and started over with Couch 2 5K. But, this time, I ran all the running intervals. I cut my personal best mile interval time by 3 whole minutes!!! I was THRILLED! I felt SO GREAT! Yeah, it was a rough run, but not as rough as I thought it would be.
Yesterday, there were some bad storms. But I didn't want to miss an opportunity for cardio so I did some videos on the SP site. About 1/2 hours' worth. Felt awesome.
This morning, I woke up at 5:30am to take care of my 4 year old. He went back to sleep and I realized I was wide awake and just ITCHING for the sun to come up, so I could go for another run. I cut my mile interval time by another minute this morning. But that wasn't even my biggest victory today. The victory today was that I was able to breathe! I focused on my running form and, do you know, that made things so much easier?! I wasn't in pain. It was exponentially easier than it was on Sunday.
This is just TWO DAYS of work, folks. And I already feel like it's getting easier. I just can't tell you how amazing I feel. This running thing, once you get the hang of it, is really quite addicting. I already can't wait for my next run.
If you only knew me two years ago, you'd understand how shocking this is. I am the girl who used to HATE any exercise. I am the rude person that would post on my runner friends' Facebook statuses that running is disgusting. I am the one who would say, "Who cares if I'm overweight? I'm already married and at least I'll die happy (eating delicious things and living life to the full)!"
But I so wasn't living life! And, to have this chance to truly LIVE...well, I refuse to take it for granted. I just can't wait to see what's ahead!!!!
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
The past couple weeks has been a rocky journey for me. Let's see...in the last 4 weeks, I've been up against:
Kid's Birthday Party
First experience with death of a loved one
Funeral for said loved one
Weeklong business trip in Atlanta
Husband's 40th birthday party
In the next two weeks, I am up against:
Husband finally graduating from college (with the celebration to go along with it)
11th wedding anniversary
End of kids' school year
All of these things have either caused, or have the potential to cause, ups and downs in my diet/fitness routines. Some of the items on the first list resulted in weight gain, which took me quite a bit of focused energy and determination to correct.
I haven't been diligent through it all. In Atlanta, I didn't log into SparkPeople once. And I didn't really think too much about what I was eating...or do ANY exercise. Thankfully, some of my healthy choices from the previous months managed to stick and I was able to do minimal damage on that trip.
As I've been considering this entry, I've come to realize that anything on this list could be used as an excuse to give up and just indulge. But, there has been a nagging in the back of my mind through all of it...
"This is temporary. You won't go so far that you won't be able to make adjustments to repair what you've undone (health-wise)."
"You don't need to go crazy with food to feel better...so just don't."
"You can't fill that loneliness with anything that has a calorie count."
"You have proven yourself to be strong. You have lost 11 lbs, and that is not insignificant. You worked hard for that...and you will continue to work hard for the remaining 97 that you still want to lose."
"You crossed a barrier...and you're never turning back."
See, back when I first started SparkPeople last year, I did give up. I never made it past that barrier....the barrier of self-doubt. I absolutely no longer doubt myself. I know with 150% certainty that I have everything I could ever possibly need to do this and to become stronger and healthier and slimmer. It isn't mentally, emotionally or physically possible for me to let myself go any longer.
I finally became important...to me.
How did this happen? That's easy. I log into SparkPeople every single day and read a blog about how someone has lost 100 lbs by doing what they know to be right - eating healthy foods and working hard. And that's all. And I feel so inspired, like I can do it too. What's more...almost every one of these people has lost 100 lbs within a year. That fact is staggering to me. I used to think, "I need to lose 100 lbs and it will take years and years." But, the idea that if I put all I have into it, this could actually happen within a year is something I never imagined was possible. You know what? I can give myself a year. It's really not that long!
So, what about you? Do you believe yet? What will it take for you to say, "I will never let myself go again. I deserve this and I will do anything it takes to achieve this"?
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
So, if you've been walking with me the past couple weeks, you will have noticed a sudden, strange turn in my blogs when I decided at the last minute to join my Pastor's wife on the South Beach Diet Phase 1 (without even knowing a thing about it!) Lucky for me, I am an info junkie and I promptly did all the research and, within a few days, had read the entire South Beach Diet book and it sounded pretty great. I had some setbacks in the strict 2-week Phase 1, but I saw huge results, as the author promised I would. I lost 9 lbs in the first week. Had a bad weekend and gained some weight back, which I shed in the following week. Overall, I think I did a great job. My friend, however, went off the Phase 1 portion after a little more than a week. I hung in there for the full two weeks, but I felt some confusion upon finishing Phase 1.
At first, I tried to add in just a little whole grain and fruit, as the book instructs. But, over the past few days, I have been really thinking about it and although South Beach Phase 2 does sound like a great, well-rounded, healthful diet...it is just a bit too strict for me. I've found that as I add in more (healthy) foods I like to eat without worrying about glycemic index, I've been able to hover around our maintain the 10 lb weight loss. So, that's great. I was a bit worried if I went off of South Beach, it would all just pile back on within a day. So far, I'm OK. But, I'm still making very healthy choices, mind you. And still kind of watching sugar like a HAWK.
I've seen so many SparkFriends that have lost over 100 lbs and they have simply followed their SparkDiet (staying within daily calorie ranges) and added a WHOLE LOT of exercise to their lives. They aren't heavily restricting healthy food groups because of glycemic index or anything like that...just practicing moderation and controlling portion size. So, I'm going back to my original SparkPlan. It might take longer, but that doesn't bother me. I know I'm on this path for the rest of my life and I'm not concered with how quickly I lose the weight. The happy truth is I know that I WILL lose it. This is the first time in my life that I can confidently say that and not doubt it at all!
I would be remiss to say I didn't learn a LOT from my South Beach Diet foray and I'd love to share these things with you, my SparkFriends:
1. I was eating SO much sugar! I honestly didn't even know! I don't have a big problem with sweets normally, so I figured I was OK. But, once I started to really look at labels and make sure things were meeting the Phase 1 requirements, I was flabbergasted by the amount of sugar in EVERYTHING. And, if that didn't drive home the point enough, the 2nd day migraine sure did. Now that I've cleansed my body from that toxin, I am NOT too eager to start putting it back in my body. And once you get past the second day or so, you really don't crave it at all.
2. I wasn't eating NEARLY enough vegetables! You would not believe the sheer volume of vegetables I went through in two weeks! Those HUGE tubs of spring mix at Kroger? I went through 2 of those completely. This was an adventure in veggies that I could never have imagined.
3. Veggies with protein can be very filling. I did not suffer from deprivation or feeling hungry all the time. When I consiously made sure I was eating a lot of protein throughout the day, along with my insane portions of veggies, I always felt full. And satisfied.
4. I am more mindful now of every single bite I put in my mouth. Even when I was tracking before, it wasn't with as much vigilence as now. This has trained my brain to evaluate my daily eating as a whole. It's second nature now to think, "Does this meal include fiber, a protein and vegetables? Will this keep me feeling full? Do I have enough water in my system so far today?" This is ridiculously helpful for me. I really needed this second nature view on healthy eating and I'm so happy I've finally learned it.
5. Perhaps the most important lesson I've learned is that I CAN limit myself. I have absolute and complete control over my food choices and I have proven to myself that I am capable of sticking to anything I put my mind to doing.
So, while it's not my longterm diet, the South Beach Diet has given me some life lessons that I probably would not have learned if I wouldn't have done it.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Warning: Typing on my phone - autocorrect is a nightmare.
So, here I am at my weakest point - the weekend. Woke up this morning to my mother-in-law making fresh waffles. Oh, how I longed to grab one and drown it in butter and syrup! Instead, had a small cup of coffee, lots of water, a slice of whole grain toast with natural peanut butter. First Temptation: Defeated.
Knew I'd spend the entire day in hospice - my husband's aunt is about to die. I thought ahead and brought some sunflower seeds for my AM snack. Second Temptation: Defeated.
This is a rough day emotionally. You know, NO ONE would blame me if I hung out by the vending machine and went through a bag of chips, a Coke and a couple candy bars. For goodness sake, a dear family member's life is slipping away right in front of my eyes! But...I don't want to feed my bad feelings with junk and feel even worse - physically and emotionally. I opted for a "treat" of a diet soda. Third Temptation: defeated.
Still haven't had lunch, but you know what? This day...this terrible, confusing, horrific day...needs to be taken just one hour at a time. One healthy choice at a time. One tear of joy or pain at a time.
Wish me luck.
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