There have been A LOT of you who have been following my diet & exercise journey via Instagram stories, so I figured I would finally share a little bit more about it here.
I’ve had this post brewing for a long time, but I never really took fingers to the keyboard with it for two reasons:
1. I didn’t want it to come across as preachy. It’s not, so if you start to feel like it is, I apologize. It’s certainly not my intent to come across in a way that is anything except genuine.
2. I’m not an expert in this field.
There are a few things I always thought about people who had abs – they are for people who eat healthy 100% of the time and most importantly – they were unattainable for me.
I have a small build on a short frame, but I am muscular. There is no thigh gap or mile long model legs in my future. It is what it is. But I thought that because of both of these things, I was just destined to be one of those people who had a softer mid-section. Let me go on record here and say that my body image is something I have struggled with for a very long time. You can read more about it here and here, so the way I see myself and the way others see me is very, very different.
In any case, last year around this time, I really started getting into running. I had just finished my first half marathon and was in the process of training for a full marathon. I was gaining muscle and feeling really good, but I felt like I was working out all the time and not seeing the results of such a rigorous training plan. The reality is that my diet wasn’t where it needed to be. I was basically indulging in whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I justified it, because I was running more than 50 miles a week, so I just thought….surely I’m burning off the bad stuff, right?
In theory, I may have been, but I was doing my body a disservice by not figuring out what it needed. I was also doing myself a disservice by shoveling junk in my mouth all the time! I knew I needed to get my diet in order, but not-so-good-for-you food tastes so good sometimes and my will power is not always running full steam ahead. Tell me I’m not alone!
Around this time, I was also experiencing some health issues that I couldn’t quite get a handle on – awful migraines, bloat, lethargy, stomach cramping, IBS symptoms….All really, really fun things. HA! No matter what I did, everything persisted. I even considered stopping running altogether thinking that maybe my body was just angry.
And my body was angry, but not because of training…
I was at my wits end with it all, when one day I woke up with the worst migraine I had had in awhile after an evening out where I had two glasses of wine, ate off a meat & cheese platter and consumed carb after carb after carb. I was doubled over on the toilet in so much pain that I just kept saying to myself…I’m done. I know it sounds crazy, but once I was mentally there, it was like flipping a switch. I went through our refrigerator and threw out every crappy piece of food in there. I went through our cabinets and did the same thing. I needed to wipe the slate clean in order for me to get myself on track.
In the months prior, I had also been toying with the idea of cutting out meat and dairy (if you need any help with that, I highly recommend Vegucated, Forks Over Knives and Food Inc.) so I figured that this was as good a time as any to start weaning that out of my diet as well. It helped that two of my very good friends don’t eat meat or dairy and my parents avoid it when possible, so I had a pretty good built-in support system for asking about recipes, replacements, etc.
So, what does confidence have to do with this? I’m getting there, I promise.
Once I committed to focusing on what was going into my body, I sought the help of a dietician so I could make sure I was getting exactly what my body needed. Within 3 months, I was performing better than I ever had. I cut 2 minutes off my mile pace and felt like I had so much more energy. Let’s be honest – none of this should be groundbreaking for anyone. What you eat is SO IMPORTANT and anyone who knows anything about fitness or nutrition will tell you that. What’s hard is putting it into practice and implementing it into your life, schedule and routine. But once I found a groove with it all, it got so much easier. Meal planning was/is so important for my success in the kitchen!
The marathon in December came and went (not ending exactly as I had hoped), but I was committed to continuing my fitness journey, though admittedly it was very tempting to say “TO HELL WITH ALL THIS!”
So here we are, one year into when all of this began and I can honestly say that I’m so proud of how far I have come.
Last spring after I began this journey, I made the non-scale goal to feel confident enough to run outside without a shirt on. On April 20, 2017 I made it a reality.
Committing to making yourself a better person for no other reason than because it’s what you want is a lot to bite off and chew. *Food pun not intended, but totally appropriate*
People will say a lot of things to you that are equal parts funny and rude, mostly questioning why you do what you do. You’re absolutely right, one drink or pizza slice or dessert won’t kill me. But sometimes one of those things leads to another one of those things and before I know it, six days of treats and bad choices has passed and I’m like…HOW DID I GET HERE?!
Now, do I treat myself? Absolutely. But I do it on my own terms, because I know myself. I know that if I go out to happy hour, I need to eat ahead of time, because the yummy appetizers will be tempting and I won’t be able to stop myself. I know that if I buy treats at the grocery store, there’s no such thing as “just having one”. You see where this is going. I don’t believe in completely restricting myself, because that wouldn’t work for me either. People will also get really funky about you declining invitations because you made plans to run/workout/go to a fitness class. I say: let them deal with it and you do you. I schedule my workouts just like I schedule my dental appointments, because they are a priority to me. If I’m busy, I’m busy. I also genuinely find working out therapeutic. I’ve talked about running as my therapy here, but believe me when I say – I get more peace of mind from a hardcore workout than I do from nearly anything else.
Ultimately – my happiness is most important – and if I’m sitting at home feeling disgusting, bloated and sick…that’s not my idea of a good time.
I want to end this by saying that I chose the word journey, because I strongly believe that fitness/nutrition/health is a lifelong path. I’m not perfect and I don’t claim to be. My body (and body image!) is a work in progress, I have bad days and there are weekends where I just lay on my couch. I make poor choices and then am like…why did I do that? But we only get one body and dammit, we need to take care of it!
I wanted to publish this post for anyone who has asked via Instagram Stories, any fellow runners who may have shared my mentality and anyone who needs a little kick in the pants to go after what they want.