At the beginning of the year I started living a healthier lifestyle with some friends. I have never had a consistently healthy lifestyle. I would make some changes for a while, get close to my goal and then slip back into my ‘normal’ eating. This time has been different. I just walked into this thinking that this would be the way I would live.

There are a few things I am doing now that I hope to drop eventually, like my food log. It’s very educational to keep a food log. Knowing the calories that you eat has been eye opening. Who knew how quickly you could go from a good day to a very unhealthy day with just a few choices. Once I reach my goal weight range I should be well versed enough in food choices to not track every single thing I eat every day. Until then I am sticking with it though.

It’s so easy to make excuses and so embarrassing when you realize how flimsy they were. I am beginning to realize that my health is totally dependent on my ability to make honest clear choices. Take this conversation I had with myself before my last business trip: “I really want some Pringles. I think I will get a small container at the airport tomorrow because I have been so good and I deserve a treat. Besides, I am really really craving them.” After a brief pause I thought, “Well, if you were addicted to crack cocaine you would really crave that and think it was a treat too.” Then, “I guess I won’t be getting Pringles.”

It may sound extreme but it made sense to me. How easy it is to judge extremely bad decisions – the results are immediate and obvious. Drug addiction is bad. But an unhealthy lifestyle robs from your life as well. I feel better now – no, I mean I really feel better. I think more clearly after 35 days of healthy eating. I am more rested. I am less lethargic. I am more patient. I have less guilt. I feel better. It’s hard to see how something as acceptable as a food indulgence is actually poisoning your life. It’s robbing you of things so subtly that you don’t even know they are missing. It is so easy to chalk up a lack of energy to age, being a mom, working long hours, etc. etc. I am amazed by how radically different I feel in just five short weeks.

Exercise was the other killer. My friends started exercising right from the beginning but that is something I have never ever done since high school basketball. I don’t exercise. So I decided to ease into the healthy eating and start exercising ‘later’. After watching them log all of their exercise and encouraging them and seeing the pride they were feeling from trying and sticking with something new I started feeling a little left out. So I decided to get up 30 minutes early and exercise before work every day. The first day was great – I felt really really good. The second day though, I was really tired so I slept in. The third day I felt guilty so I exercised after work. Then it was over. I stopped before I’d ever even started.

I read an article about interval training and that got me to wondering if I couldn’t just hop on my elliptical in short bursts rather than a full 30 minutes. I did a little research and there is a lot of support for these short stretches of exercise and support that the time adds up as if you had done it all at once. So, armed with new information I decided to work out for ten minutes 3 times a day. I LOVE it. It’s quick, I don’t get so exhausted that my husband looks like he is considering calling an ambulance for me, and I will do it consistently. But after just a few days of this – it was time to travel. I do not work out at hotels. I do not want to work out with co-workers. I’m not, shall we say, put together, when I’m exercising. Besides, I couldn’t do it throughout the day while I’m on the road. But with my newfound accountability and determination I decided to find something I could do. Podcasts! Free 20-30 minute podcast videos are all over itunes – so I did that. Never have I felt so healthy as I did each night after I finished a podcast. If I were cloned I would have just sat there grinning like a fool at myself saying, “You’re really doing this. You are really making a total change. You go Julie.”

And that is where I’m at. 35 days of healthy eating and two weeks of exercising regularly. Hardly enough time to declare a total victory over myself but well past the first round of the fight. Far enough to say I am doing this because I really enjoy what it is doing with my body and my mind. If this is what 40 is all about I’ll take it. I’m old enough to know myself, confident enough to call my own bluff, and humble enough to not rebel at accountability. It’s a nice place to be.

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