“…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” IS 40:31
A year ago, I found myself overweight, often feeling like, “the way I look and feel is not who I really am,” feeling like life strain and stress was ubiquitous and with seven beautiful kids and the body to show for it (Ok, so, some days I feel like we are remaking The Hunger Games but when I tuck them in at night, they are, after all, beautiful kids who haven’t killed each other). I would mentally hearken back to my fit, cheerleading days like Uncle Rico sadly reliving his football stardom on Napoleon Dynamite.
Some people are advocates for the idea that if we eat properly (fresh, “Paleo” or close to nature type food) that we will go down to our proper size naturally. However, I can tell you, after eating that way for 7 years and not getting rid of the weight, if you are overweight, you DO have to focus on getting rid of it more than that. Where I would agree with those people is that a huge percentage of what can improve your health and decrease your weight has to do with the quality of what you eat.
This blog explains my journey from overweight and unhealthy to 50 pounds lighter, fit and happy with my life habits. It is also full of thoughts and insights, as I have them, about the health of the whole person. Because that is my goal- health on all fronts.
I will obnoxiously say this throughout the blog (obnoxious because it sounds like your classic pharmaceutical add); I am not a medical professional and I’m not responsible for the way your body and unique medical condition respond to my suggestions. Please consult your doctor before starting any of this.
As I consider what I did that allowed me to lose 50 pounds (as of this New Year’s Eve), four key things stick out:
1. Sweat- I worked out 4-6 times a week (the sweaty, not the cute kind).
2. Quality- I watched the content of what I ate meticulously and tracked it.
3. Quantity- i watched the quantity of what I ate, 1200 calories a day.
4. Drive- I stayed motivated because working out became a break.
I will slowly explain each of these elements in depth but I’ve decided to break this down into small steps, so that it feels do-able and not overwhelming. If you are interested, hang with me and I will explain everything from how I track what I eat quickly and easily to how important forgiveness has been to my own well being and joy.
In my quest to lose weight, the very first thing I started doing was working out. I planned out 5-6 times during the week when I could go to the gym (make sure they are truly good times or your tendency will be to make excuses). Essentially, I had to get past the excuse stage to the determined posture. If you don’t decide that you want a lifestyle change, it won’t happen but will fizzle into the air, like the champagne you had on New Year’s Eve. Working out begets working out; the more you workout, the more you will want to workout.
For me, I decided that to lose significant weight, I had to run. Everything within me was like, “Blech! The dreaded running! Noooo running!” I ran 2/13ths of a mile my first time out (that is twice around a small track). I know, lame. But, who cares?!? I started! Each visit to the gym, I would try to increase by one lap. Slowly, and I mean at a snail’s pace, I built up to 6.5 miles and ended up actually deciding to decrease it back to 3-4 miles each time, because fitness was my top goal, not a half marathon, bucket list moment.
Getting there is most of the battle. If you just get yourself to the gym, you will workout! Another thing, I’m now a regular and I can tell you, most people, up to 99%, run less than a mile. Don’t be intimidated; just go slow and steady. Also, listen to good music that appeals to your mood, sometimes that means slow, worshipful tunes for me. I chose membership at a gym with a padded, indoor track. That allows me to easily track my mileage, run in all weather and is easy on my joints.
Some things that helped me:
1. Get good equipment: Running shoes, an iPod, earbuds & arm band with your favorite music, spandex style pants or shorts and a snug fitting tank (you will feel “held together”), good running bra, etc.
2. No early mornings! I don’t workout first thing in the morning generally. It doesn’t work with my schedule and it’s really tough to get there early when it’s cold out. I tend to run after lunch. I like the quiet track and that I feel awake and ready. I realize experts say that working out before you eat first thing in the morning is best for your body but this is all about helping yourself to keep going because that is more important.
3. Fuel- I eat something light about 45 minutes to an hour before I run. This gives me fuel without my stomach being full of it when I start.
4. Reward yourself! Give yourself little rewards when you’re done. For me, my rewards were coffee, an apple, and scriptures (on little pieces of paper) when I was done.
5. No kids! When you’re first starting, don’t take your kids to the gym with you. Begin to build your workout time as your time, a time to have a break and a time to focus and pray.
6. Worship/prayer/ and good music. Listen to music that will inspire you. Worship and pray away your life strains as you run. The track became like a haven with God for me. This is part of what helped me stick to it. I almost always listened to awesome worship music, I got in “the zone” and would pray and lose track of time. I walked in with life stress making my muscles tight and left feeling awesome, both physically and mentally/ emotionally/ spiritually.
7. Bathroom and water- Go to the bathroom right before you run. I generally drink a mouthful right before I start and then drink again freely when I’m done with 3-4 miles.
8. Stretch before and after your run.
9. Recovery and pushing through- As you can imagine, after years of very little in the way of a true workout, I was sore most nights. My shin splints were killer, I didn’t buy good shoes to start with creating terrible blisters, and I would get very sore and tight where my pelvis meets the tops of my legs. It will pass; keep going! I ran through it all and now I don’t get any of it. More on this later but I find people tend to worry too much about small aches and pains. My thinking is that being overweight long term is worse for my health than running with a few aches. Obviously, you should pay attention to serious pain. But, decide from the beginning to push through. Tell yourself, “You’re not that bad. You’re ok. Keep going.”
10. Chiropractic care- Work with a great chiropractor, if you are able to, and get adjusted, particularly when you can feel your gait is off. Shameless plug for our good friend and chiropractor, Jeff Henry of Alpine Chiropractic, Colorado Springs. He is a caring and very knowledgeable chiropractor.
Have I reached my ultimate goal? Not yet! I told my husband when I started, “I want awesome, bikini- worthy abs!” The next stretch of this journey for me involves adding core strength and strength training in. That part is more difficult because it’s not as therapeutic and harder to pray while I work on strength. But, I will blog more about my whole approach to working out after I cover the basics that led to my weight loss. For now, I recommend you run, slowly slowly building up to 35-40 minutes 5-6 times a week. Start the 5-6 times a week habit now but keep the runs very easy, slowly increasing.
I hope you are inspired to get yourself to the gym and create some new life patterns and habits. Remember, I now consider myself a runner and I love it but I started at the “dreading it” point. Just go do 2 laps today! And, 3 tomorrow! Start there! Take one tiny step at a time; you will be so happy you did. Not only do I feel fit and fantastic because of weight loss, but I also truly feel I have learned to wait on the Lord in a new way and he has renewed my strength. It is all worth it. Next blog… how I ate to lose 50 pounds!