I was OVER IT the other day on the whole topic of food, body image and weight issues.
And, apparently, so are many of you.
I got so many encouraging comments and emails.
Many of you sent your stories, ideas and thoughts.
THANK YOU. THANK YOU.
I am making some progress.
I just have to share this story because it has inspired me.
She’s one of us.
Mary Sue and I go way back to Chick-fil-A, Inc..
In fact, she’s the reason I got the interview in the first place.
I asked her to write her story because I’ve watched the transformation on Facebook.
I am SOOOOO proud of her.
It’s all about choices
by Mary Sue
I’m honored to be a guest blogger on Lil Light of Mine today. When Courtney asked me to share my health and fitness success story, I wasn’t really sure I was worthy. After all, I’m a normal SAHM like many of you. I’m 35. I’m married and have three children age 8 and under. I hate household cleaning, even more than I hate stepping on Legos. I spend most days shuttling children from here to there and quizzing them on spelling words. But, maybe those things make this story more relatable.
Along the same lines, I was also way too busy to find time to exercise. Sure, I was 15-20 pounds overweight by medical standards, but what do they know, anyway? For goodness sake, I have three kids to care for, a plethora of volunteer projects, and a to-do list a mile long each day. I ate healthy when I could, but if life was busy, the drive-thru was a perfectly ample place for me to eat. If I was tired or emotional, ice cream could always be considered a cure.
Then, it happened. At a medical check-up last year, I was diagnosed with my first official disease. I’ll save you all the drama and specifics. Let’s suffice it to say it’s not life threatening. It does require me to be on medication for the rest of my life. It was enough to make me realize I am getting older. If I don’t change the way I’m living, then this will probably be the first of many diseases that will affect me.
After many pity parties and finally getting sick and tired of the victim mentality I was now carrying around, I came up with a plan to get myself back to a sustainable lifestyle. As much as I hated to admit it, overhauling my current exercise (which took place when I felt like it) and diet (which meant I ate whatever I wanted when it fit in with our busy lifestyle) had to be the priorities. I needed accountability to make this happen.
I joined a bootcamp exercise program. Three days a week, women of all ages from all walks of life come together to work out for an hour each evening. When I started, it was tough. I was out of breath. Seriously, I couldn’t remember the last time I did jumping jacks – maybe high school PE class? During ab work, there were many exercises I could literally do one or two (out of a set of 25). Having those three kids did a number on my core. Or maybe it was all those years I ate in excess and didn’t take care of myself. Hmmm….
But, I went. To every class. And I worked as hard as I could. And all the ladies encouraged, motivated, and inspired each other. We were all in this overweight boat together. And I kept going. In fact, four months later, I’ve never missed a class. And, I started working out on my days off. In no time, I found myself looking forward to exercise and doing it at least five days per week. (Ironically, that is the same number my doctor tells me all of us should be exercising…five days per week! Maybe he does know what he’s talking about after all…)
Now that I was working out so hard, it was time to adjust my diet. Over time, I made changes. I tried to focus on one change at a time, which I find to be easier than quitting bad eating habits cold turkey. Everything in moderation, right?! The list of changes included: moving from 3 meals a day to 5 smaller, nutrient-dense meals each day (kickstarts your metabolism and keeps it moving); adding more protein into my diet; eating cleaner – as little processed food as possible; eating more fruits and vegetables; controlling my carbs; decreasing dairy consumption; eliminating as much sugar as possible (Yes, that ultimately included giving up my frappucino habit! And, no, I really don’t miss it!) I used the free Smartphone app, My Fitness Pal, to help me track my food and to analyze what I was really eating every day. Once you clean up what’s going in your mouth, you feel so much better. I heard people say that for years, and now I am experiencing it.
So, let’s talk about the very superficial benefits to these lifestyle changes. It didn’t happen overnight, but in four short months with a lot of hard work and a lot of good choices, I have:
1. Lost 24 pounds
2. Lost four sizes
3. Lost 5 inches from my waist
The daily grind is much easier when you feel great about your appearance. Yes, we all know it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and that God doesn’t care how we look. And He doesn’t. And we shouldn’t. But let’s be real here and admit that we do.
So, if I choose to take care of this body that God blessed me with, I can also feel great about me every day.
You know that feeling every day that you have when you walk into your closet to get dressed. You search for an outfit to wear – a shirt where the buttons won’t gap, shorts that won’t make your butt look too big, a dress that you don’t have to wear your Spanx to look good. Those are feelings I will NEVER have again because I am choosing to be healthy and now my clothes fit.
Can you imagine walking into your closet and knowing that everything fits? No more daily worrying about how you will look in any outfit? While this sounds rather petty, this daily clothes routine is what so many of us women do. First thing, every day, we mentally beat ourselves up before we ever get started. Make a choice to change and you will NEVER have to feel this way again.
Next up on the list of life-changing benefits, I have an insane amount of energy. I no longer need 8+ hours of sleep each night. In fact, most days I wake up energized before 5 a.m. with no alarm clock. I no longer get the mid-morning or mid-afternoon yawns and lowness. Why? Because I am choosing to take care of my body by eating clean and exercising.
Another side benefit: I am setting an amazing example for my children. You know they want to be with us and just like us. Now, they want to go to bootcamp with mommy or go run with mommy. My two-year-old even gets out a mat and lays down to do sit-ups with me. The kids even notice and understand the diet piece. My eight-year-old was recently trying to impulse buy in the checkout line at the grocery store. He wanted to buy me a Twix, my favorite candy bar. He stopped himself and said, “Now, I know you are not a diet, and you can have this. But do you actually want it today?” At 8, he has seen me be on enough “diets” where I was so restricted, even he now understands the concept of eating in moderation. I even wonder how my journey with weight would have been different if I had grown up in a household where health and fitness mattered. But, now I am choosing to set the example, and I know it will change my children’s lives for the better.
Every day, as women and moms, we make hundreds of choices. We choose the dinner menu. We choose when we read the news feed on Facebook. We choose the paint color for the guest bathroom. We choose which Starbucks drive-thru to hit for our well-deserved treat. We choose our children’s schools. We choose our projects at work. We choose how to spend the money.
We also choose how we take care of ourselves every day,
whether we are consciously active or negligently inactive.
Is it really too much to ask to choose to use one hour each day to exercise to take care of our bodies?
Is it really too hard to choose to spend 5 minutes each morning planning our own food schedule for the day before we plan the rest of our family’s meals?
Is it really too much to choose to spend 10 minutes each day journaling our food intake to make sure we are getting the nutrients we need?
How can we possibly be all that God wants us to be when we don’t take care of ourselves? How can we be the wives we want to be when we are low and tired all the time? How can we be the mothers our children deserve when we are short on patience because we don’t feel well?
I’ve made a lot of good and bad choices in this life. But this I know, choosing to finally take care of myself is one of the best choices I ever made.
I choose to be committed to exercise.
I choose to be disciplined about my diet.
It makes me able to be a better child of God, a better wife, a better mother, a better friend, and a better person.
And, I will never choose otherwise.
I would be remiss if I did not specifically thank Ken Williams, David Long, the trainers, and my fellow bootcamp sisters at Bootcamp for Women – Body by Ken, for their education, their encouragement, and their time in helping me convert to a healthy lifestyle. I wouldn’t be me without y’all. Thank you.