I started writing this post about a month ago, but I stopped. I wasn’t ready yet. I had to feel accomplished and not defeated. So here I am, a month later, totally ready for it.
November 2013 changed my life. I was at a point where I was just feeling frustrated by life. My career wasn’t nearly what it is now, I was getting a little <highly unneeded> baby fever, and I was just restless and uncertain. So I took a chance. I went to an exercise class with my sister-in-law at a nearby park. I didn’t know that day would change me forever, but it certainly did… and I didn’t fully realize this until recently. After that one class, I cleaned up my diet, started exercising once a week… then twice a week… and more. And I went from having a ‘mom bod’ to having a more athletic-looking body for the first time in my life. I was always a very scrawny, unfit child. I didn’t change my habits enough to make a difference in my early adulthood, and certainly pregnancy did nothing to help my body, but that day in November did. I established a new way of living, putting myself first sometimes so that I could improve my body and feel great about myself. And I maintained this lifestyle – working out 2 to 4 times a week – until last July when I had surgery. After I recovered, I still worked out some, but it was never the same. Then I was down to just once a week… and the holidays… and come February of this year, I realized I was quite out of shape.
Some people would look at this photo and go “She’s out of shape? She looks great!” while others may say “Yeah, you’ve definitely packed on some pounds.” These photos were taken about a month ago, and really, how I look is actually quite irrelevant. And the fact that I bought a size 4 shorts for this trip that fit me awesomely is irrelevant. Why? Well, I’ll explain.
I had my body fat measured in March, and it was 32.8%. At my best, it was around 26%, two summers ago. I was down to about 122 pounds, fit my clothing beautifully, and felt great inside and out! But life happens and I slacked off some and that’s when I started to gain. So when my body fat came up 32.8% and I talked to some random trainer at the gym about it, he looked at me and gave me the run-down. 32.8% puts me in the obese range, and that meant I was at a great risk for diabetes, high-blood pressure, and several other health-related issues.
I am certainly not diabetic and my blood pressure is great, but the idea of “increased risk” is not something I want to mess with at my age. I’m not 21 anymore. I’m 36. As early as possible, it’s best for you to already know details such as “Does having PAD increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke?”
At first, I was angry at myself. I messed up. I wasn’t eating as clean, I wasn’t exercising as regularly, and I was not making myself a priority. I need to feel good about how I’m helping myself. People always preach about “Love your body as it is! You are beautiful and deserve to love yourself!” Loving yourself is great and all, don’t get me wrong. But the best way for me to truly love myself is to take care of myself.
So since March, I’ve cleaned up my diet significantly, and I’ve been going to the gym 5 times a week! FIVE TIMES! And it’s making me feel awesome. I’ve cut out almost all of my processed carbohydrates. I’ve been eating lean protein, fresh vegetables, some dairy, and some fruit. I’ve experimented with new healthy recipes that my family seems to really like. I was ready to make changes — so I did!
This is why being a size 4 doesn’t matter. It’s not just about losing weight or fitting in some particular clothing size. It’s about improving my health and being a role model to my children. It’s about increasing my energy level and endurance for physical activity. It’s about remembering that I am a strong woman! Because when I lift a stronger weight or run a faster mile, I feel damn good! I want to stick around as long as I can and enjoy this life I’ve been so fortunate to live. The best way to do that is to take care of my body.
And in not too long, these photos will be ‘before’ pics. I am excited to show my afters!