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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

365 Days

I have been both excited for and dreading this post.  365 days ago, I wrote my very first post for T.H.R.  I don't want to say 1 year, because that just feels like I am "skimming" over the whole journey thus far. In reality, it has been a day-by-day journey.... 365 days. 365 days of trial and error. 365 days of ups and downs. 365 days of negative and positive thinking and motivation. 365 days of joy, frustration, learning, exercising, laziness, old, new, happy and sad. My personal road to a healthier, happier, life has been one with A LOT of hills, and many more MOUNTAINS! Much like a lot of you have probably experienced.

365 days ago, my ultimate goal was to "take a year off" from dieting.  I was sick of being told how many calories I "should" have, and how long I "should" exercise. I wanted to be both HEALTHY and HAPPY.  And, at that point, I just wasn't.  I don't know that anyone can really be happy if they spend their days counting and deducting calories, waking up at the crack of dawn to exercise, then eat nothing but brown rice, grilled chicken, and broccoli. I DO know that I just couldn't try that anymore.  The more that I tried to exercise, count calories, portion sizes, and eat specific foods, the more I hated myself.  Why?  Because I was FAILING at it.  I couldn't LIVE that way.  365 days ago, I realized that I was missing the point.  I needed to LIVE.

"Learning to eat was about learning to LIVE, and DECIDING to live! And, it's one of the most radical things that I have ever done!" -
Anne Lamott

The term "healthy lifestyle" is thrown around a lot in the dieting community.  I had always thought that once I BECAME healthy, I would LIVE healthy.  Isn't that just a ridiculous thing to think?  Yet, how many other people out there feel the same way?

I had plenty of excuses! In fact, I think I started my first post with naming all of those excuses. We ALL have excuses!  365 days ago, I realized that MY excuses just didn't matter. I realized that I COULD be both happy and healthy and STILL have the issues that I had. I sat down at my computer, came up with a plan of exercise and diet (based off of my knowledge at the time,) and put the plan into motion.  365 days later, that plan has changed a few times. As I continued to learn and adapt a lifestyle that felt good and made sense to me, I adapted my "plan" accordingly.   Now, I look back and see how much I have learned, how much I have grown, and how much happier and healthier I am.
Day 1 to Day 365
I like this the most. You can see a consistent difference.
Slowly but surely! Never to go back! 

Day 1 to Day 365
Not a HUGE difference... 6 months is the best.
Guess those push-ups were working.... should get back on those.
Day 1 to Day 365
Dramatic Difference at 6 months- Just a little at 1 year

Over the past 365 days, I grew to understand the following:

1. I do best when I listen to my body. I have adapted the "Intuitive Eating" policy of eating what your body wants to eat, when it's hungry, and stopping when it's not hungry anymore.  I refer to my body as "it" instead of "me" because I consider "me" to be my MIND.  If I listen to my MIND, I over eat because my mind tells me that I WANT more food. "It tastes so good." "I won't have another chance to eat this again for a long time." "I spent a lot of money on this meal."

When I listen to my BODY, I stop at the right time. I ignore the messages from the 35 years of brain training, and outside triggers, and I just DO. 

I have adapted the same idea when it comes to exercise. I leave myself an hour of activity time each day. What I do during that time depends on how I FEEL.   I will admit, this is my weakest spot since I DO tend to listen to my brain more on this one. I give in too easily when the time comes and I am "too tired" or "too busy" to take a walk, go for a jog, swim, bike ride, hike, or anything else that requires physical effort.

I still need work. It's good to still be WORK-ING on it though. I haven't given up.  I don't WANT to give up. WHOA!  I. DON'T. WANT. TO. GIVE. UP! Keep listening to your body. It will tell you what it needs.

2. Losing weight comes naturally. I don't really like to refer to losing fat as "losing weight."  I haven't weighed myself in 6 months or so. (Since I decided THAT NUMBER didn't define me.) My clothes got loose. I went down 3 dress sizes.... went up when times were stressful, and then went down again.

Although I might not be as "small" as I had hoped I would be after a year, I AM small-er! The crazy thing is that I am not just smaller around my waist (my BIG problem spot,) my FEET are smaller (a whole shoe size!) My FINGERS are smaller! I can FINALLY put on my wedding ring! (Although it still looks pretty tight- at least it goes ON!) My NOSE is smaller. My glasses keep sliding off!

Don't stop living a healthy lifestyle because you aren't getting the results that you WANT.  Be grateful for the results that you HAVE. Notice them. The rest will come. 

3. There is no such thing as a "quick fix."  Changing a lifestyle doesn't happen over a period of 30, 60, or 90 days! Sure, you can do a 90 day program that kicks your trash and, if you are overweight and not used to that lifestyle, you will hate every minute of it. Once the 90 days are over, you will be happy with the results, try to keep going with it, try to maintain the diet, and soon.... give up. 90 days later, you are back where you started.  How do I know this? Because I have been there more times than I care to count.

A true lifestyle change comes from within. It starts with a firm knowledge and acceptance of what is right. Then, it builds from there... block by block. Sometimes, you have to tear down a part of a wall and re-build, re-train your mind and body. Other times, you destroy a wall because you stopped making it a priority. Then, it takes extra care when you come back. Overall, changing your LIFE should take more care than 90 days. I am 365 days into it and just on my way. But I can honestly say that I will NEVER be back to where I was when I started.  I have CHANGED too much. 

4. Nothing is off limits! One cookie is not the end of the world... 12 cookies are not the end of the world (although your tummy might disagree....) I am in control of my own destiny.  I am not perfect. But, I am ALSO in charge of my own destiny.  I CHOOSE whether I take myself closer to my goal or further away from it. Sometimes, the pastry is JUST what I needed.... most of the time, I can pass.

The more restrictive and complicated I make things, the MORE I don't give a crap. (Not the word that came into my head, but nicer, for sure.) Isn't it funny how that works? Tell me that I CAN'T do something, and all I want, IS to do that very thing! It's just better if I CHOOSE not to eat certain things, or live a certain way.

5. Fit is NOT the same as thin. My WHOLE LIFE, I have wanted perfect legs, skinny waist, and delicate arms. Now, I don't care about that.  I HONESTLY don't care WHAT I look like, I care about how I FEEL. I don't LOOK like it, but I could probably lift more than a lot of those "bird leg" gals. I am stronger. I can jog longer than I could a year ago. I CAN DO A FULL BODY PLANK FOR 60 SECONDS!!!  That might not seem like a lot to YOU, but for someone that could only do 10 seconds before, that. is. HUGE! I am getting stronger ever day. The only reason that I wish my OUTSIDE showed a little more of my efforts, is so that people would LISTEN to me when I tell them that what I am DOING is actually WORKING.

I am getting more and more FIT on the outside AND on the inside! 

6. Little efforts still bring big results... they just take more time. Small changes are easier than big ones. Walking for 10 minutes a day starts the ball rolling toward 20 min, 30 min, 60 min, JOGGING! Sometimes, your motivation will be strong and you will jump head first into your day. Other times, your motivation will be just a spark, a thought, and you might not care enough to do anything. Whether big or small, ANY effort is good.

A spark can cause the same forest fire that a flame thrower can, it just takes a little more time to build. That isn't a bad thing. 

7. Enjoying the day makes all the difference.  Finding happiness in sunshine or rain is important.  Discouragement happens. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Maybe it's how you ate for the day, maybe it's how active you were, or maybe, it's just that you showered! Just be happy. Enjoy your day.

Happiness fights more than just negativity.  It creates energy, fights off cortisol, and is a fat buster! Who knew!

8. Water is Good. I know that this isn't news to any of you. But, really, I am surprised at how much better I feel when I drink my water! And I am LOVING my new citrus water! Somehow, water makes me WANT to eat healthier foods, exercise, and be happy.

Water is the ONLY "nectar of the Gods!"  (And I used to think it was Coke! I hope this doesn't cause a war!) 

9. How I feel AFTER I eat or exercise is MORE important than WHAT I eat or HOW I exercise. I no longer like Chinese food. Why? Because I don't FEEL good after I eat it.  I LOVE how it tastes. I just don't like the outcome.  I don't like cake anymore because it leaves a weird feeling on the roof of my mouth. Soda BURNS when it goes down. Too much salad gives me the runs! (TMI?) Clean foods give me energy (if I don't over eat.) Limes make me happy! A little cheese is perfect, too much cheese causes digestive problems. (better?) Greasy foods leave a weird coating in my mouth AND make me nauseous. Mexican food is wonderful and amazing, and I almost ALWAYS over eat, so I need to be VERY careful.

Although nothing is off limits, I choose to eat healthier foods more than other foods. I still eat everything else too, just not as often and not as much. 

10. I can't do this alone. I just can't.  I need my family, friends, their family and friends, anyone who might care even a little bit!  I NEED YOU! I've tried doing it alone.  I suck. That is all there is to it! Who doesn't need a little bit of cheering on their behalf? But just as much as I need others, I also need to be that cheer leader right back 'atcha!

Nothing brings happiness, hope, and motivation more than sharing an experience TOGETHER, with other people.  People that understand when fall and cheer when you succeed because they are right there with you! 

I have grown each day throughout this journey. The past 365 days have brought me to the life that I want to live. Now, I can't wait to see what the next 365 days bring and I would LOVE for YOU to be there with me. Let's do the next 365 together! Invite your friends and family! I'll be here. Will you?



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