Wednesday, December 02, 2009

You are worth the struggle

One thing that I will never deny is the fact that I’m hard on myself. And I mean really hard on myself. I’m a perfectionist by nature and therefore I have ridiculously high standards I hold myself to. When I don’t meet these standards, I’ve been known to feel negatively about myself and put myself down.

Lately, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been struggling with the “healthy lifestyle”. And while most of this struggle HAS been due to no weight loss due to an obvious plateau, even more of the struggle has been all the negative self talk I’ve been giving to myself. I can even catch myself doing it. This morning is the prime example. I woke up with a little tummy ache and after finishing my weekly weigh in and seeing a 2 pound plus from last week, I just felt defeated. And I blamed the extra 100 calories I had over my max range from my snack attack after work. I also blamed the fact that I skipped my spin workout due to getting really sick the night before from pushing myself too hard during that spin class.

Let’s back up for a second. A few weeks ago one of my very good spark friends wrote a blog about how she has a hard time asking for help and was having trouble asking to work out with a trainer at her gym. About a week after she posted this blog, I responded telling my friend that I felt the same way! I told her I felt like everyone in my gym judges me because I feel larger than everyone in my classes. I told her I felt like a lot of people judged me because it took me one year to lose only 30 pounds. I also confessed to her that I had a breakdown a few days prior to my reply about how I didn’t see the point of this journey anymore because I've stopped losing. None of the thoughts I had during this breakdown were logical, so I will spare you the flawed logic I was experiencing.

You see, lately I have been struggling with these certain ideas I have in my head of what I should be doing and since I’m not doing these things, I’m not losing. Some of these things include eating at the bottom of my calorie range, which I physically cannot do right now. I’ve been at the top of my range for weeks because I’ve been SO hungry and I’ve been trying to meet certain nutrient goals that require more food. I also have this idea that I should be working out or doing something highly active every day. I make these overly ambitious workout plans for the week and when I’m feeling exhausted, I of course skip a workout (usually my runs) and then I feel guilty all day.

But I didn’t realize HOW flawed my thinking has been lately until earlier this afternoon. I received a sparkmail from a sparker I had never spoken with. I opened the email and the woman told me she read the comment I left on my friend’s blog. She said that she was judging me because of how much I have accomplished and how I am so determined to become healthy. She told me to keep up my great work and keep striving for my goal. After reading this message a few times, I took time to reply to the woman telling her, “Thank you so much. I really needed to hear this today. I’ve been having such a rough time lately.” The woman promptly replied to me, saying: “Becoming healthy is a struggle. But remember, you are worth the struggle. So keep working towards your health.”

An entire football field of lights came on in my head as I started to analyze what this woman had just said to me. I realized that I’ve completely lost sight of the goal: To become healthy. Yes, losing weight is part of the process of becoming healthy – but right now I’m the healthiest and fittest I’ve been in my life. For example, the first day I went to Curves in September 2008 my resting heart rate was in the 78-80 range. I hardly worked out then. Tonight, as we were cooling down in yoga my rest heart rate was 59. 59!!! That’s absolutely incredible.

Eating in my calorie range and working out are two tools that have led me to improved health and will continue to improve my health. But they are not the be all end all of becoming healthy. I HAVE to switch my outlook to one of a healthy person. There are no “on and off days” in a healthy life. Every day is an on day and some days are better than others, but that’s why “balance” and “moderation” are two of the most important principles of becoming healthy. My healthy lifestyle doesn’t stop the day I indulge myself with an out of the ordinary meal. My healthy lifestyle doesn’t stop because I take the day off of exercise. I have to give myself more slack and more time to relax. As of right now, I put too much on my plate and I typically become overwhelmed before I even start and mess up. I eat things I shouldn’t eat, because I know I shouldn’t eat them. I also skip workouts because I’m feeling so overwhelmed in my head about the rest of the workouts for the week. It’s unacceptable!

So, I want to thank the random sparker today that really made me take a step back and re-evaluate my outlook. I am worth the struggle. And so are you. So let’s stop being our own worst critic and start becoming our own best friend. You deserve a night off exercise. You deserve dessert or a glass of wine or that handful of chips. We deserve these things because we practice moderation and balance and we realize that having an indulgence one day does not mean that it has to continue.

You are worth the struggle.

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