When I graduated college, I was ready to say goodbye to cold weather and unhealthy habits. I started working at a spa at a fancy hotel in San Diego (which may sound glamorous to some but trust me, it’s not) and for a few months just I enjoyed not having to come home from work and do school work. I began exercising regularly again, but my eating habits were harder to get on track (thanks in part to an endless supply of hotel food).
One day, my mom gave me SuperFoodsRx HealthStyle, by Dr. Stephen Pratt. She thought I might be interested in it, and looking back on it now, the book really began to change the way I viewed food and eating. I saw that there was so much more to food than the numbers on the back label. Over time, I began limiting (note I didn’t say eliminating, trust me!) artificial sweeteners and processed foods from my diet.
In April of that year, my best friend asked me if I wanted to join her in The 3 Day, which is a 60-mile, 3-day walk to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research and treatment. At first, I thought there was NO way I could walk 60 miles, not to mention NO way I could raise the $2200 required to participate. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to take on the challenge. So I signed up, laced up my sneakers, and started walking.
I lost about 5 pounds during my training, which got me pretty much to where I am today, scale-wise. But through The 3 Day, I learned so much about myself and what I was capable of. I actually overtrained (and didn’t cross-train) and developed tendonitis in my knee before the walk, and I remember thinking, “I have a sports injury…ME?” On the walk itself, I was amazed to see the ages, sizes and shapes of walkers that had come out to support the cause.
Like that Port-a-Potty line? In the end I raised about $3000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an accomplishment I’m almost more proud of than the fact that I completed the whole walk. So while the walk was, in the end, not about fitness at all, it taught me that I was able to break out of my fitness box and experiment with new things. I’ve since experimented with running, yoga, Pilates, and I even took a hip-hop dance class at a local community college. (Funny story: I somehow sprained my ankle in class and had to drop out. The “A” student in me was really upset that I was going to have that “W” on my community college record.)
Nowadays, I try to exercise 5-6 days a week, with a mix of running, yoga, and strength training. In 6 months, maybe I’ll be doing some new fitness activity, but exercise will always be a part of my life. The mental and emotional benefits to working up a good sweat are almost equal to the physical ones, to me. Living in San Diego, I’m lucky to be able to exercise outdoors nearly year-round, and I’ve recently fallen in love with hiking and camping (which I’ve done…3 times). I even went rock-climbing once, and have photos as proof!
And as far as my diet goes…I like to say I eat healthy 85% of the time. Maybe 80% depending on the week. I love fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but I also love tortilla chips, pizza, and pretty much anything with sugar. In the past few years, I’ve began to channel my obsession with food into a healthier (I hope!) passion for nutrition and cooking/eating healthy foods that are still delicious. I would love to someday work in the nutrition field, but since that’s a total 180 from my current job doing PR for a museum, I’ll have to let that idea sit and percolate on the back burner for the time being.
I’m sure I could love 5 or 10 “vanity pounds” if I ate less junk, but right now I’m working on accepting myself and where I am at this point in my journey. I’ve spent so much time hating myself and my body, and after awhile, that much negativity is exhausting. Am I “there” yet, at that place where I’m totally content with myself? No way (and I know so few of us are). I have days when the “old” me whispers mean things inside my head, but I’m getting better at pushing those thoughts away. I do the best that I can, and I’m working on having that be ok. After all, what are any of us but constantly a work-in-progress? Right?