Usually, when you cross the finish line, it’s time to rest and recover, but this is a different sort of finish line. I’ve spent the last 11 weeks working with Pamela, and now, as I cross this finish line, I’m looking ahead to see a healthy lifestyle based on changes—physical, mental, emotional—that I’ve made over the past three months.
To solidify what I’ve learned, I’m going to use this last post to reflect on what I’ve learned and the changes I’ve made.
First, let me tell you briefly about the half marathon that was supposed to be the end of this fitness blogging experiment. You can read the full story on my blog, but 9 days before the St. Louis Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, I was involved in a 2-dog collision at the dog park and my MCL, a ligament in the knee, was sprained. No running for me for at least 6 weeks.
Now, on to what I’ve learned.
What a relief! I’ve written before about how easy it is to work out with Pamela, when you have someone designing your workouts and coaching you along as you do them, but something that I learned (which I already knew…) was that having a scheduled time for work outs makes them happen. I will now be scheduling in my workout times and honoring them like Pamela is waiting for me. Before, I’d schedule work outs occasionally, but “something more important” (grading, house work, resting, Farmville, etc.) always came up. No more. If I really want to be comfortable in my own skin, I need to treat my workouts as an appointment.
I’ve also learned that I don’t need a gym membership or an expensive exercise machine. I can build muscle with my own body weight, some free weights, kettle bells, resistance bands, and an exercise ball or Bosu ball. Another relief! The best part about this truth is that it makes me way more likely to continue working out.
This was a big one for me, but I knew it would be from the beginning. I’ve learned so much in this area that I think I’m going to use a list to share it all with you.
- Eating healthy is, on some level simple. Put wholesome, nutritious food in my body and avoid chemical-laden pre-processed foods as much as possible.
- It takes either strong willpower or planning to take that simple idea and put it into practice. If I want to fill up on veggies and not Cheez-its or Snyder’s Buffalo Chicken Pretzel Bites (and I do!), I need to make sure I have veggies to eat. If I want to eat three servings of veggies per day, I need to do it intentionally. It just ain’t gonna happen by chance.
- I need to buy different food in the first place. I bought all that unhealthy food for years, and that is what I filled my cabinets with, so that I what I reached for when I was hungry. Now all I need to do is fill my cabinets with wholesome, nutritious food.
- I need to avoid certain combinations of foods that trigger overeating. For me, that includes Dr. Pepper and Cheez-its or those Buffalo Chicken Pretzel Bites I mentioned earlier. It seems that I just can’t control myself with those combinations in front of me. I can eat a healthy portion and stop if I have just the Cheez-its or just the Dr. Pepper, but not both. What are your trigger foods?
- Pre-processed means pre-digested. When I make food from scratch using wholesome, nutritious ingredients, my body will burn more calories breaking that food down because it hasn’t already been broken down by the food manufacturers.
- There is a lot to learn about the food available on the grocery shelves, even the seemingly healthy food (because let’s be honest, I am not going to make every single thing I eat from scratch). For example, my husband bought these Kraft Milk & Granola bars, and I thought the ingredient list looks pretty good. When I went over it with Pamela, she pointed out that there were four types of sweeteners listed, and they all sounded great: sugar, honey, molasses, cane sugar. But using different sweeteners means that sugar won’t be the first ingredient. Instead, the ratio of sugar to carbs will tell you if there are too many sugars in that “healthy” snack.
- Counting calories isn’t that bad, especially when you have a clear goal and solid advice. I used to HATE counting calories. Took away all the joy of eating for me. But when Pamela asked me to start doing so, I actually enjoyed carefully portioning my food and trying to eat well throughout the day. The difference? I now know why I am counting calories.
- Cutting just 500 calories a day means losing a pound a week. Five hundred calories is nothing, especially when you’re making wholesome, nutritious food choices and avoiding empty-calorie pitfalls to the best of your ability.
The list could go on. The basic idea? You’ve gotta want to actually do something about your weight, not just take the easy and impermanent way out with pills or surgery. And then you need to take it seriously. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun or delicious, but being healthy, not dieting!, has got to be up there on your priority list. After all, “If you change nothing, nothing will change.”