Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cue the Rocky theme song.

I was weighed-in and measured this past Sunday in order to participate in a fitness challenge. I have never done this before. The path to the decision to do it now has been a long one...

I am only up between 5-10 pounds of my comfortable weight - the weight that I feel best at physically and emotionally. However, my fitness level has taken a hit over the last 10 or 11 months. To be honest, my fitness has been gradually getting worse every year since I got pregnant 13 years ago. While this may be normal, I DO NOT like it. When I am not properly feeding and exercising myself, I have less energy, am more prone to mood swings and depression, easier to anger. And, conversely, the healthier I eat and the more I exercise, my mood lifts significantly. 

These consequences of activity and diet are all very obvious and logical, but sometimes I forget. Until all of a sudden, I am barely squeezing into my clothes, have no ambition or motivation, don't want to go anywhere, feel self-conscious, frustrated, angry, depressed. Stuck.

I was at that point a few weeks ago. Again. For the bajillionth time. I weighed myself on a scale at work and found that I had gained two pounds in the two weeks since I had weighed myself on that same scale. (I do not have a scale at home because I struggled with eating disorders for 15 years, and it would be a bad idea for me to have full access to a scale.) Now, two pounds is not a lot in and of itself, but in two weeks, that is not a good trend. It also put me at my highest lifetime non-pregnant weight. 

I am still at what is considered a healthy weight, but I was not FEELING healthy. I had been eating crappy food and barely getting any exercise. The few times that I did manage to force myself to excercise, it didn't feel good at all because of my lack of fitness. 

So, I started to try to get back into a healthy routine by doing a couple of yoga routines from the fitness channel, and walking the dog 5-6 times a week, and squeezing in a run or two. I stopped eating anything with gluten in it. I stopped eating french fries. And potato chips. Fried potatoes are a major weakness of mine. :/

The yoga routines were tough on my currently inflexible body, but I noticed that doing them lifted my mood immediately!

Being gluten free was making a huge difference, too. I was no longer feeling bloated. I was less moody. I was more productive and clear-thinking.

So, this brings me back to The Challenge.  I was trying these things on my own, but with minor success. There were improvements, but it was difficult to stay motivated. I was not making much progress, and felt as though it would be too easy to slip back into bad habits. 

Then, about a week ago, my dear friend Kristie asked a few of her friends if they were interested in participating in a 6 week weight loss / fitness challenge. She told us that the challenge was being run by a trainer who put the plan together. She would be tracking our progress over the next 6 weeks. At the end of the 6 weeks, the person who has lost the largest percentage of body weight wins $150 or free group sessions with the trainer. There was a $50 charge to enter, which included a comprehensive nutrition plan, 4 full workouts, and weigh-ins every other week. 

I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to join in. While it sounded promising, I did not know enough about what was being offered in the workouts and nutrition plan to make an educated decision.

I have learned a lot on my own about nutrition and exercise as a 25+ year vegetarian, sometimes vegan, recently gluten-free, always health-conscious person. 

What I was lacking was focus and motivation. This challenge offered that. A little healthy competition can work wonders, right??!! 

I did not decide until 7:00 am on the morning of the weigh-in that I would, indeed, participate. I had to get up early to go to work anyway, and the gym was less than two miles from the office I was working at. Those coincidences made the decision for me. The instant I made up my mind to do it, the doubt cleared and I was excited to get started!

It has only been two days, but I am feeling better and more motivated already. I am keeping an exercise and food journal and following the nutrition guidelines to the letter. I went for a faster-than-usual three mile run yesterday. I had a crazy morning and afternoon of errands and appointments today, plus it was over 90 degrees out most of the day, so I haven't exercised yet, but it is starting to cool off *a bit*, so I am going to walk the dog and then an easy paced 3 mile run. Tomorrow I will try a workout from the fitness app that the trainer suggested. It looks like fun!

Do you struggle with motivation and keeping healthy? Do you notice correlations between your diet and your mood? Your activity level and your mood? Do you have health problems that make exercise and good nutrition difficult to maintain? If so, have you found ways to modify exercises or diet to improve your health? 

I will keep this updated as I continue with the plan. I am hopeful that it will help me to instill some good habits, and break some bad ones. :)

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