Two years ago when I made my change to a healthy lifestyle, I dove in head first. There was no weaning off certain foods or adding in healthy habits. I quit the bad stuff cold turkey and added in vegetables like they were going out of style. Looking back, I went crazy.
I skipped out on social outings if they interfered with my eating schedule. If we attempted to eat out and I couldn’t find an “approved” food, I’d panic, get angry, be on the verge of tears and wouldn’t eat. I didn’t allow myself treats ever, even at birthdays or holidays. I exercised to the point that it was unhealthy. I worked out at least three times a day and skipped spending time with my husband in the evening and rushed through reading to my kids because I had to have time to exercise or I was certain the world would end.
I was 20 lbs lighter, trying to tell everyone how great I felt when in reality, I felt like crap. I was terrified of gaining the weight back. I knew if I missed a day of working out, the weight would immediately come back. My entire life revolved around my next meal, either daydreaming about it, or looking up recipes on Pinterest.
Through it all, I just kept telling everyone how great it felt to lose weight. In truth, I was exhausted, anxious, unhappy and constantly angry. I constantly told my husband I wished I’ve never made these changes and had never lost the weight. My adrenals were working so hard, they eventually crashed and I couldn’t keep it up anymore. I couldn’t understand how all these healthy changes could make me feel so bad. Luckily, before I completely destroyed my body, I realized I was too unbalanced to be healthy. I was eating right, exercising, but was neglecting the other things in my life.
So over the last two years, here are some precious truths I’ve learned that have made my life much happier.
- People trump food. While my friends respect my eating habits and don’t constantly ask me to go out for donuts, I decided I’m not going to miss out on going out to dinner with my friends, offend people when they invite our family over for dinner or skip out on a social outing because it interferes with my afternoon snack time.
- Friday night ice cream isn’t going to make me obese. While I don’t recommend having dessert every night, going out for a treat on occasion isn’t going to hurt anyone. Last Friday we decided to go out for ice cream. I had strawberry cheesecake ice cream. It had processed sugar, gluten and who knows what else. I ate it and I loved every minute of it. I didn’t spend the next three hours berating myself for my decision or running laps to punish my body for indulging. So if you want a cookie or a cupcake every once in a while, eat it!
- I don’t need to spend all my spare time working out. I now work out once a day, early in the morning, Monday through Friday and sometimes on Saturday. Evenings are spent reading Harry Potter and Fancy Nancy to my kids, and watching Sherlock having great conversations with my husband on the front porch; not doing burpees.
- My body will tell me when something is wrong. If I’m feeling off emotionally or physically, I need to make some changes. This may mean skipping a workout one day in order to let my body rest. It may mean upping my carbs one afternoon for some extra energy or adding in an extra snack. My body isn’t interested in maintaining a perfect weight or size, it’s more interested in how it’s working. If something is wrong, I’ll know it.
- I’m happier when “being healthy” is NOT my number one focus. If my eating or exercise stop me from being a good mom, wife and friend, my priorities are out of whack. No, I can’t miss my workout every day because my kids could use that time (trust me. They get PLENTY of my time), but if they need me to miss a workout to help them study for a test, that’s the number one priority. If a friend needs to talk and asks me out for ice cream, that’s where my focus needs to be.
This goes back to what I said before about motivation. When your motivation is on being healthy instead of being “skinny,” you’re more likely to be successful. And part of being healthy is having balance in your life. What’s the point of extending your life with a healthy lifestyle if your life is miserable? I want to look back on my life and say I enjoyed it. I want to be healthy so my body allows me to do all the hiking, running, dancing and playing I want to do without pain. But I also want to have memories of playing with my kids, staying up too late laughing with friends and family, and eating ice cream on hot summer nights.
So the next time you say “no” or “yes” to something because of your healthy lifestyle, look how that decision fits into the big picture of your life. It’s still not something I have 100% figured out. I still panic a bit at restaurants and sometimes feel guilty when I indulge. I still occasionally get up on mornings when I didn’t get enough sleep and force my body to work out when it needs more rest. I know I have a long way to go but I’m working on it one day at a time. I’m happy to say I’m not that same person I was after I started this. I’m happy with my weight loss and have found the joy in life again. I eat treats on special occasions and am a better example to my kids of how to live a full life while still being healthy. How do you find balance in your life?