Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What to say...

I received this e-mail from a very good friend of mine:

I keep thinking that I will probably always be fat because I can't beat the food!  Then I think that if I could be so intensely attached to exercising like you, the food thing would not be an issue.  I had a membership to the local pool last year because I thought I would do that, which I did, but only for a few months then stopped, then went again, then got pregnant, now....I haven't done anything!  That expired in May, then my husband had some health issues and now we own a treadmill.  We bought it Father's Day, and I have used it all of once!  (I know I'm pregnant, but that doesn't mean I should be totally sedentary!)  I come up with all kinds of excuses-like I work, my kids take all my time, I have so much to do that I have no more time to exercise!  I need help!!  My husband has been slowly losing weight, and I told him that if he ever weighs less than me, I will kill myself!  It sucks that I am still gaining as he is losing!  I told him I will have to hit the treadmill as soon as the baby pops out, but I don't know if I will!!

I wish you could be my trainer!  Anyway, do you have any advice for me?  I really don't want to stay fat, and now I won't have pregnancy as an excuse since this is our last one!!

It's been a few days since she sent it and I haven't responded until now.  I decided to share this on my blog because her e-mail really hit home for me, like it probably does for so many others.  (I've kept it anonymous, though, editing the message to make it a little less identifiable.  Not sure my friend wants to be singled out.)  I know that hopeless feeling all too well.  That was me a few years ago.  I'm sure some of you out there reading this might even feel just like my friend.  Just know, there is hope.  And to my friend, don't worry, I haven't forgotten about you, just have been thinking a lot about this and didn't know exactly what to say until now.

First off, let me say I'm not a pro by any means.  I'm no nutritionist or fitness expert, but I do have the experience of being overweight and unmotivated, and then going through the journey of becoming fit and motivated.  That has to count for something, right?!  So, with that disclaimer out of the way, here is what I think.

It's all about motivation.  What motivates you?  You have to find what that is and hold on for dear life.  Without a doubt this will be one of the hardest things you will ever do.  When times get hard, you have to remember why you are doing this.  Why you work out so hard you almost puke.  Why you do an extra 5 reps, even when your arms feel like they will break.  I had this moment today.  I decided I would run 1 mile without stopping.  I didn't care so much about the time, I just wanted to make it 1 full mile without walking.  I have to say, exercise-wise, this was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done (right up there with running a half marathon with major knee and hip problems!)  My head kept telling me to stop.  My lungs kept telling me to stop.  But I dug deep, and my heart won.  I did it.  I actually got teary-eyed when the treadmill hit 1 mile.  Time: 10 1/2 minutes.  Not my fastest mile by a long shot, but you know, that didn't matter.  It's all about pushing ourselves.  Those moments when you're tired, you feel you have nothing left to give, that's when you show what you're really made of.  So, what motivates you enough to get you to that point?  You want to fit into your skinny jeans.  You have a high school reunion coming up.  You want to run your first 5K.  Whatever it is, hold onto it.  Motivation and drive will get you where you want to go, you just have to take that first step and begin the journey. 

I love this.  So true.  Our health should be a huge motivator.  The day I realized I could actually run up the hill with my kids, sled down, then walk back up, over and over, without feeling like I was going to die, it was a huge wake-up for me.  I didn't want to be the mom who sat on the grass watching her kids play because she physically couldn't run around with them.  I have a life to live.  So do you.  We only have so much time here.  Why waste it feeling unhappy?  The benefits of exercising are invaluable.  Heart, muscles, lungs, brain... they all get stronger when we exercise.  We know all this, right?!  Then why don't we do it?  Because it's hard.  You know though, hard things make us strong.

I know the "love of food" thing.  I had the same problem.  I could never say 'no'.  I remember thinking about the next thing I was going to eat before I even finished the food that was already on my plate.  It took a lot to make me feel full, and when I got 'full', I was sick to my stomach.  That's how I ate, though.  I remember eating a cheeseburger and fries for lunch, a Costco blueberry muffin and king-size Milky Way for a snack, then eating a 7-layer burrito, a beef supreme gordita, and mexi-nuggets at Taco Bell for dinner, and then some snack right before bed.  No wonder I couldn't lose the weight!  I was eating way too much, and the food I was eating was horrible for me.  Know what you're putting into your body.  Be accountable.  Write it down.  I remember asking my dr why I wasn't losing weight and he in return asked "How many calories are you eating per day?"  I couldn't answer that.  I had no clue.  Go to  Start tracking your food.  Set a caloric intake goal, and stick with it.  My trainer once said losing weight is 10% exercise, 90% diet.  Diet is HUGE!  And you are right, once you start an exercise routine and you start seeing results, diet becomes a little less of an issue.  You really don't want to eat 3 slices of pizza because that would un-do everything you did that morning at the gym.  Food is a hard thing to overcome, but we just have to remember, food isn't our enemy, we are.  Food is fuel that we need, we just have to pick the right kinds and have portion control.

Set some goals.  It's a lot easier to push yourself when you have something you're working towards.  Tell people about your goals.  Being accountable to someone will help you stay on track.  And celebrate your accomplishments, big and small.  (But don't celebrate by awarding yourself with food.  Go out to a movie.  Buy a new shirt.)

I just have to say my top motivator, and goal, is to be a better, healthier ME.  I don't do this for other people.  I really do what I do because I know it makes me feel better and look better.  What person doesn't want that?  For too long I hated myself.  I couldn't look in the mirror and see one good thing.  I hated it all.  My self esteem was down the toilet and no one could change that, except me.  Now when I look in the mirror, I actually can point out things I like.  That woman looking back at me is happy.  No food can make you feel like that... and if it does, it doesn't last long.  I remember the day I began my weight loss journey, June 26, 2008.  It's been a hard road.  That first month was a killer.  I was so sore after every workout.  I started out slow, running 1 minute then walking until I felt ready to run another minute.  Slowly I increased my running time.  Slowly I increased the amount of reps and weights.  This isn't something that happens over night.  You might hate it for awhile, that's ok... but stick with it.  Once you start seeing results (write down your measurements and take pictures each month so you can see your progress), and you see muscle definition, and feel more toned, that's when you realize it's worth it.  Setbacks come, and it sucks... but the good days make up for all those bad days.  When you realize exercise has become apart of who you are, and it's not just something you "have to do", that's when you realize you've changed.  

I could say so much more, but thought my past posts could speak better than I can right now.  Relive my journey.  Hopefully it will stir up some thoughts, emotions, and questions.  Feel free to e-mail any time.  You know I'm always here.

GOOD LUCK!  Stay strong.  Be committed.  I know you can do this.


PS If there are others out there with advice for my friend, feel free to chime in.  

Getting Started:

Good Days/Bad Days:

Pictures of my journey:




Iliana said...

You really are inspiring and such a good example in so many ways. Love ya and hope you keep kicking your own rear forever.

The Thornocks said...

It's really neat to look back and see how you were when you first started working out. It's amazing the transformation, not just physically, but mentally. You're committed and motivated and it shows in your appearance. After I have this baby, I'll have to do another little group program/challenge in order to motivate myself to work back down to my pre-preggo size. I seriously NEED competition and some kind of motivational goal other than "I'll feel better" or "I'll be healthier". Unfortunately, that's not enough for me, and I think it's that way for a lot of people. Do I want to be healthier and feel better? Absolutely! It's just not enough to get my butt off the couch. Fitting back into my clothes, though? That's my motivation.

Naomi said...

Your friend told me about your post - sorry i haven't been keeping up with your blog! Great post! I'm feeling more motivated now! You should be a coach on Biggest Loser - you would be so much better/nicer than Jillian:) Love you - you are amazing!!

Nurse Heidi said...

My response to people that tell me that they could NEVER do what I do is that you don't know what you can do if you don't try! And I mean a serious try. Not a run once, collapse in a heap and go get yourself a milkshake to celebrate sort of a try. I've only been running for 3 years now, and have three marathons and more than a half dozen half marathons under my belt. It's a good feeling, and I never want to go back to where I was.

What motivated me initially was keeping track of my miles. It still does, actually. I rewarded myself when I reached 100 miles for the first time. My goal now is 1000 miles this year, and I'm right on track.

I also say that finding a good workout partner is super important. I am blessed right now to have an awesome one, but she'll be moving soon (sad face...), and then I'll have to re-figure things. Having someone waiting on the corner makes me get out of bed even when I don't feel like it.

I'll Take Mine... said...

OA - Thumbs up?

I'll Take Mine... said...

Oh, good. Yes, we are headed to the OA too. Him, really. We are also hoping for November. Let's get this show on the road!! :-)

The Duckworth Family said...

That was great to read, except for the part about food. Food has rarely been my 'big' problem. don't get me wrong, I already had too many of the cookies I made with the kids this morning, and I certainly have indulged in more of something than I should have plenty of times, but on a regular basis, we eat healthy, I count what I eat and try to watch it carefully. Over the past 12 years I have exercised regularly. I have had my moments, a few weeks here and there, of times when life has intervened and caused me to slack...but overall I keep up. I hear stories of overweight people who ate certain ways before they started their weight loss journey and can't imagine what I would look like if I ate that way. I would seriously weigh 500 pounds. For me it has to be motivation to be perfect! To push the limits, to NEVER indulge, to NEVER miss a day at the GYM. And unfortunately with nearly five children under the age of 7....that's not totally possible in my life. After baby 5 I don't really plan on being pregnant again soon (although Heavenly Father could certainly have different plans) so I will attempt the perfect weight loss venture, with the prayer and hope that the motivation is there. I am grateful though however for those who have been there and done it like you that I can look up to! You have had your share of road blocks and have pushed through amazingly. Thanks for being such a motivation to me! love you lady!