Picture 1: February 2015
The girl on the left thought she was healthy. She had ran a half marathon just three months prior, she did high intensity exercise and cardio constantly, and thought she ate “healthy” because she ate a ton of vegetables all the time.
I was in a fairly new relationship, going out to dinner and and drinking 3+ nights per week [but worked it off at the gym.] I wasn’t sleeping a lot [but I WAS getting up early to workout constantly.] I would eat Quest bars for dinner [but then binge on hummus and pita chips.] I thought my weekend bagel habit was fine [because there were eggs and bacon on it.] And then I laid around and napped all day [because I was resting up because of her lack of sleep during the week.] My stomach constantly hurt after eating and I had terrible acne [but I’d would grow out of that, right?]
When I saw that photo, I realized I didn’t look healthy. And if I really thought about it, I didn’t feel healthy. Or confident. I was constantly anxious, miserable, questioning every choice I made.
The picture on the left shattered my health paradigm. It was my wake-up call.
I started to question everything about what it meant to be “healthy”. How does someone who is constantly dieting and doing burpees look like this? The fitness celebrities I looked up to post photos of THEIR cheat days and THEIR hard workouts – why isn’t it working for me? They all say a 30 minute workout is enough, but I was doing an hour! Yet, why could I still not hold myself up in mountain climber for 30 seconds? I never ate “bad foods”, everything I ate was low-calorie! I obsessed over food, so how was I not thinner and fitter than the rest of the world?
Picture 2: July 2017
Slowly but surely from here, I started to change my views on what it meant to be healthy. It became a fundamental lifestyle shift. I started strength training more with heavier weights. I started taking walk breaks at lunch during the day. I started incorporating some yoga in to my routine. I started eating real dinners and cutting back on the weeknight drinks.
Over [a lot more] time, with [TONS of] ups and downs, the girl on the right appeared.
I balance exercise and life a bit more. I eat real, whole, nutrient- and calorie-dense foods most of the time that are nourishing. When I do eat something with a label, I look at the ingredients and not just the calorie-count or macro breakdown. I focus on sleep and how it affects my recovery and mood, and I realize now that’s a HUGE factor in overall health. I know that the microbiome and hormones are more importantly to a healthy weight than exercise, counting calories, or macros. I choose movement practices that build my health and strength, not to burn off the guilt. I used to believe that having abs or bigger glutes would make me feel confident, self-worthy, and happier – but it DOES NOT.
I’ve learned that you’re never going to get to where you want to be, because as you you grow closer to your goals, your goals grow, too. Which isn’t a fault or a problem — it’s human nature to want to continue to do better and be better.
Even though this looks like a before and after success story, I continue to train because I have goals for myself that are above what I ever thought they’d be. I continue to strive towards being more well, more fit, and more confident with myself
However, there’s a slight shift in my mindset towards my personal growth. My goals now are not based on me aiming to be perfect, or thinner, or eat the healthiest foods. I am okay with being human, and being a constant work in progress. I’ve come to realize that I do not feel more worthy, more or loved, or that I can now “live my life to the fullest” in my current state [ as compared to three years ago.]
I’m realizing that you have to start where you are. And always be where you are. You can be a work in progress and happy with your current state at the same time – they are not mutually exclusive.
I know that it’s okay that the girl on the left is still in there somewhere, with her low self-esteem, poor relationship with food, and unhealthy mindset when it comes to exercise. That part of me makes an appearance every so often, but now I am stronger and more resilient. I know that my lifestyle now is more sustainable and keeps me healthier and happier. And the more I nurture my relationships with myself, food, exercise, and others, the more joy I will have each and every day.
My belief is that I am happiest when I am taking care of myself – through the foods I eat, the way I move, and the thoughts in my head. and I think my physical body is a representation of those things. And over the past few years that had led to major physical changes. I don’t think I’m happier because I look a certain way. But I think I look healthier now because I am happier and healthier.
Happy Transformation Tuesday, ya’ll.