Thank you for sharing your journey. It seems at some level, every woman I talk to can relate to these issues! Body image, weight, exercise, self-worth– no one seems to have it all figured out.
I think you really hit on some important points. I want to feel good in my own skin, but like you, I also want my kids, especially Lilly, to see me as a positive example of health. One day the world will tell my daughter what’s “wrong” with her and how she “should” look; it will teach her how to crash diet, how to dress ten pound lighter and what foods are “bad.” I can’t keep the world out, but through my example, I can teach her what is real; I can teach her what is healthy, I can teach her how to live. Now more than ever, I feel an urgancy to make sure my example is strong– spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally.
I’ve been mulling over the parts of my “thirty-four” plan for some time; I’ve done a lot of soul-searching, journaling, praying, thinking, and talking about it. I was 4 years old when I went on my first diet; that means I’ve had 30 YEARS of practice in losing weight. I know HOW to diet; WHAT to eat; WHEN to weigh myself; HOW much water to drink. I know the tricks. I’m really, really practiced at the tricks. What I’m not good at is maintaining a healthy, well balanced life.
Here’s what I know for sure: my plan cannot just be about my body. Actually, my body really isn’t the problem at all, my mind is. My current weight and fitness level are, in part, the result of hard pregnancies, but my oldest kid is almost 5 and my “baby” is almost 15months. I may have gotten here because of hard pregnancies, but I stay here because of bad thinking. My biggest goal in the next year is not to change my body, but to change how I THINK about my body, my food, my fitness– my life.
So here it is, my plan!
Thirty-four: The Year of More
- I will not make ANY rules or set any goals I know I
cannotwill not follow/achieve. No pie in the sky ideals of perfection because sometimes there will be pie on my plate!
- I will not be swayed by what is trendy; if I run a marathon it will be because I am truly motivated to do it– NOT because everyone else is.
- I will not diet. I WILL make healthy food changes that improve the life of my whole family. If I wouldn’t feed it to or impose it upon my children, I will not feed it to or impose it upon myself.
- I will honor my personality. I get bored easily, so I like change and variety in food, and exercise, and routine. This time, I will respect myself enough to plan accordingly.
- I will plan. My time. My exercise. My food. My splurges.
- I will be honest. With myself. With you. With everyone. And I will not be embarrassed.
Mind and Spirit
I said before that changing the way I think is really my biggest goal; if I’ve learned one thing it is what I weigh means NOTHING if I look in the mirror and just see flaws. I look at old pictures of myself, and I desire to look the way I used to. But in truth I hated that girl’s body when I was her. Even the girl in my “thin” pictures avoided shorts, dreaded swim suits, worried over every bite of brownie or lick of ice cream. I wish I’d been nicer to her; I wish I’d appreciated who she was beyond what I imagined in the mirror. J has a rule he strictly enforces; I am not allowed to say I’m fat or complain about how I look in his presence. My effort now is to learn to not say those things to myself either.
I also know my mind won’t be healthy if my spirit and soul are broken. For me spiritual health starts with quiet time. I NEED time in the morning to read, reflect, pray, journal, center. Some people love to start the day with a run; I love to start my day with quiet ALONE time, but it is always the first thing to fall off my exhausted plate– mostly because I have to peel myself from bed at 5 am to get an hour to myself (okay the coffee maker is set to brew at 5; I make it out closer to 5:15/5:30). It’s hard, but my day goes so much better when I do it, so I’m working to make it a habit I never miss– like brushing my teeth.
Here are a few other very concrete things I’m doing to improve the way I think about myself and life:
- I took down the full length mirror in my room. No more obsessing over how my thighs look in jeans.
- I will put on real clothes at some point every day. No more yoga pants all day, every day.
- I will “do” my hair– more than just a pony tail.
- I will wear eye make-up. Not because I “need” to, but because I like the way my eyes look with make-up on, and that is what I want to see when I look in the mirror.
- I will NOT say, “Oh, I shouldn’t” when eating!
When it comes to food my plan is easy: KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!). In the past when I wanted to lose weight I’d pick some dumb fad; I’d throw out my food and buy new stuff- half of which I didn’t know how to prepare and half of which was gross. Three times a day I’d make two meals, one for me and one for everyone else, and in two weeks I’d be so exhausted from the effort I’d give up. Surprise, Surprise.
This time I’m not going to toss out the baby with the bath water; our family already eats lots of fresh produce and lean protein. The building blocks of weight loss are already there, I just need to reorganize a little. Since this isn’t a diet (see rule #3) nothing is off limits, but I’m going to focus on eating clean, whole foods and limiting grain. Grain isn’t a big deal for some people, but it is for me; I’m not going to eliminate it (I could never entirely give up garlic bread or lasagna!), but I am going to limit it (goodbye mindless Goldfish eating). Here are a few other concrete changes:
- Each week I will plan our dinner menu (I actually already do this a month at a time), but I will also plan my breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
- I will drink half my weight in water ounces.
- I will measure my food. (It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me!)
- I will NOT avoid fat, but I will focus on eating small amounts of healthy fat.
- I will not count calories, but I will make sure half of EVERY meal is produce.
*For the first month I’m going to break rule #3 and diet a little. I want to jump-start and drill down on healthy habits. For these 4 weeks I’ll follow Sara Dean’s plan on Fit Healthy Moms http://www.fithealthymoms.com/2013/03/15/top-10-tips-to-lose-10-pounds/#more-1962).
Courtney, I always claim I’m going to work out at home, but I suck at sticking to it. I HAVE to leave my house to work out, and the time HAS to be scheduled on my calendar. It is the only way I actually do it. I told you in my last letter that I love boot camps, but around here they’re pricey and not totally in the budget, so I joined a gym with childcare, downloaded a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) app on my phone, and I’ve started doing my own private bootcamp on the floor at the gym. People hate me there; I’m doing burpees and lunge jumps while they’re trying to cool off and stretch, but I’ve decided not to care or be embarrassed (see rule #6). I’m going. I’m doing it! Yea!
Sheesh, when I see it all typed, it’s huge! And there is actually more; like each week I’m going to give myself a new food or fitness challenge (this week is a juicing and smoothie challenge, yum!). If you, or anyone else reading this letter, is interested in participating in these challenges or following me as I work toward my goals, you can do so on our new page, Unfat and Healthy found here: https://momupsidedown.wordpress.com/unfat-and-healthy/
P.S. Below you will find the last “before” pictures I will ever take!
P.P.S They are also the first in-the-mirror-selfies I’ve ever taken, so despite my face, I’m not actually furious, just concentrating!