September 3, 2014

...Health & Happiness: Getting Started...

As many of you dear people are aware, I have been on a journey to better health for about 20 months now.  I am down 64 lbs, two-three sizes, and stronger than I have EVER been.  This process has been one of the hardest things that I've ever done in my life.  No. THE hardest.  But I have never felt stronger, more confident, and more eager to keep going than I do during this sweet season. 

I have had an incredible number of supportive lovelies behind me.  To those of you who have shown you care... you have done more than you know.  When going through a life transformation like this, support is vital.  It's vital because this process involves completely changing my lifestyle, overcoming an addiction, learning new habits, abandoning old habits, and learning to love myself (as I am in God's eyes, not just who I WANT to be or who I'm becoming).

I know that I'm a better and stronger woman because of what I've had to endure.  I don't expect everyone to understand or even care.  Do I want them to care?  Sure.  Health is a big deal.  It's an ever changing crisis in our country.  And, when you're healthy... it makes life on earth so much brighter and sweeter. 

In fact, I've been so inspired to embrace the brighter and sweeter, that I've even begun to plan out getting my personal training/fitness instruction certification. I want to get to Onederland first, because I'm still new at this and still have a lot of personal goals I need to accomplish.  I also want to take an anatomy class before hand.  But I canNOT tell you how stoked I am to finally have some direction!  It may have taken 6 years after college to find my true calling... but hey, at least I found it! 

So in light of this revelation, I'm starting a series here that will address different issues related to health, fitness, nutrition, and motivation.  I encourage you dear readers to ask me questions!  If I don't have the answers gained from my own experience, I will FIND THEM for you! 

The first place to start is:
Health & Happiness:  "How do I get going?  Where do I even start?"

When embarking on a voyage to better health... these are the questions that often scare people away and prevent them from taking action.  I know they did for me for most of my teenage/young adult life.  The answer is simple: nutrition. 

Now, I'm not saying go Vegan or go Paleo or even go gluten free.  It doesn't have to be extreme!  But the start of any journey to better health is in the kitchen!  Weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% activity.  For people who struggle with their health or weight (because thin people can be unhealthy too!!), often it is an issue with food, not necessarily activity that got them to where they are.   I know it was this way for me.  I never had an issue with being active.  I was an athlete in high school even!  Sure, I didn't like running.  But that was because running when you are over 250lbs hurts!

For me, the issue was/is food.  So, how do you overcome something like that?  For me it was five things:
1. Accountability!  This is huge.  When you live alone or live with someone who doesn't have food issues, this can be hard.  But find someone/or a group of someones to keep you accountable.  Sit down with your husband/wife/roommate or even a friend who doesn't live with you and ask them for support.  Check out a support group like weight watchers.  Find online communities with people who deal with similar issues you do. 
2. Write down EVERYTHING you eat.  That cracker? Yes.  Those three m&m's? Yes.  That whole pizza you had after the worst day ever? Yes. This may not be something you have to do permanently, but it really helps you to become a more mindful eater.  When you have to write things down on paper, it sort of forces you to make better choices knowing you'll have to write it down.  Even if no one sees it. 
3. Make small changes.  Like I said, you don't have to completely overhaul your lifestyle.  If you want to, go for it!  It does work for many.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  Commit to making small changes one at a time.  For example: Commit to only eating at the table so that you can be more mindful as you eat.  Commit to one meatless or grain free or dairy free meal per day.  Commit to cooking dinner at home X-times per week.  It's as simple as that.  Challenge yourself and add new things
4. Keep trigger foods out of the home!  If you have an issue with overdoing it on your favorite foods (for me it's oreos or any sort of chip) DO NOT buy them!  I know that I cannot have a package of oreos in my pantry because it would take one bad/bored day for me to eat a whole row, if not the whole package.  Or chips?  Who really can eat just one?  Now...if you don't have an issue with binge eating?  Yep, still keep the junk out!  When you're trying to create healthier habits, oreos and tortilla chips and ice cream won't help you. I don't keep ice cream in my freezer.  So if I'm having a craving... I actually have to get in the car and drive to Orange Leaf to satisfy it... and sometimes that's just too much work ;).
5. Be kind to yourself! Don't beat yourself up when you fall off the wagon (because it will happen). Just dust yourself off and climb back in. If you have a slip up, don't allow it to derail your entire day/week/month and beat you down. Just keep going.

I hope this was a good start for all of you.  If you have any health/fitness/nutrition questions, please leave a comment or contact me!  I don't claim to know everything, only what I've experienced.  But I've also developed a great network of health nuts that know a lot more than I do, and I'm always looking for an excuse to pick their brains!  Stay strong, dear ones!

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