Healthy Living Series: Part 1

If you remember my last post about fitness, I talked about the strength training regimen I’m following. I’m trying something a bit different to see if this works for my body. Usually, I’m more cardio focused, while using very little weight. Now, I’m doing the opposite after reading several articles on the type of training fitness models do. I’m not trying to become as ripped as these women, but I’m trying to get some solid definition and trim off this bit of fat I have from my waist. You know that movie, “The Neverending Story”? That’s how I feel about my stomach…”The Neverending Belly Fat”. It just will NOT. Go. Away. [insert loud groans] And, I know what needs to happen to burn this fat off, but Jesus, it’s HARD. A lot of it has to do with diet. But, I’ll get into that more a little later.

I wanted to chat more about healthy living, in terms of eating well and exercising. I wanted to just share a few of my discoveries about exercising. Some I figured out a long time ago, while some I just started to adhere to in the past year.

1. Move it or don’t lose it — Right after college, I gained about 15 lbs in a year. I had just landed my first professional job and… the ability to dine out nearly every day. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Most times, I’d go out twice a day! Not even exaggerating. I never cooked. I knew how, I just didn’t! I can’t even remember what I had in my refrigerator back then. Maybe milk because I loved eating cereal for dinner (I was a total bachelorette) and possibly yogurt? I really can’t recall.

By the time I hit my one year anniversary at my job, I had gone from a size 8 to almost a size 14. For someone my height, that may not seem like a lot of weight (I believe I was about 160-ish lbs). In fact, only my family noticed I had gained weight. No one else noticed when I mentioned it (Me: I’ve gained so much weight. Friends: Really? I can’t tell.) When I gain weight, it goes right to my belly, which is a blessing and a curse. There are LOTS of clothing options out there that allowed me to hide the belly. But I was not happy with the weight at all. I could hide it from others all day long, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t hide it from myself.

Enter move it or don’t lose it

I needed to do something. I was not happy with myself and frankly, I was not thrilled to keep buying new clothes every few months. So I subscribed to a fitness magazine, and started reading tons of articles on the internet about weight loss, healthy eating, etc. One day, I read this [paraphrasing]: “If you’re not going to eat well, then you have to exercise”.

Exercising and eating healthy go hand-in-hand, right? OF COURSE. What’s the point of exercising if you’re going to eat crap? No point….if you’re trying to lose weight. So, because I wanted to lose weight, I did a 180 in terms of what I ate. But, before I get to that, that message has another side to it.

I saw that message as, if you’re not going to exercise, fine. Don’t. But if that’s the case, you cannot stuff your face with fast food, etc, on a regular basis (like I did). Back then, I did not exercise one bit. And I literally ate fast food every day, twice a day. I lived within a two minutes drive to every fast food place you can imagine…McDonald’s, Burger King, Arby’s, KFC…the list goes on. I’m so fortunate that I didn’t suffer from any health problems back then. If I kept up the way I was eating and not exercising, it could’ve been tragic.

Now, I’m not saying that things would’ve been okay had I exercised and still ate that way. No. It would’ve been pretty stupid for me to do that. But that message I read made me think twice about indulging in desserts, fast food, etc on a daily basis. If I didn’t want to gain weight, I was going to have to move. Small indulgences here and there are fine, but they can add up if you’re not moving.

After I changed my diet, I lost all the weight. And I didn’t even exercise at that point! BUT, I knew that if I wanted to indulge here and there (and here and there), I would have to move. This is my mantra. Every time I gain weight, I know it’s because I’m eating poorly and probably not moving. If I indulge every now and then, I have to exercise a few days a week to maintain my weight. This is how I’ve been able to stay a size 8 since 2003, for the most part. I’ve only gone up one size since then, but as soon as I do, I start by reeling my eating back in. It’s a quick way to drop the weight.

2. “Moving daily” – My new mantra. My goal these days and for a long, long time to come, is to move daily. I say “moving” rather than exercising because it’s about moving. Whether you want to run on a treadmill, hike, or swim, all of those things are good ways to move. I said in my last post that I want to do things that don’t seem like exercise. I want to exercise without exercising. We have a gym at our place now, so I’m taking full advantage. But I’d prefer to do fun things like hike or swim.

If we move at least three days a week for at least 20-30 minutes, it puts us in a better place. If we move more than that, it puts us in a great place. I wish I had the link, but I just saw something that said physical inactivity is like, the number 3 or 4 killer (in America)? Don’t quote me on that. I’ll try to find the link. But to not move, to not get some sort of physical activity in, can lead to so many problems later on in life. For me, I’ve been fortunate to live these past five years in a walking city. When I lived in Detroit, I walked…from my car to work/mall/store. I just didn’t move outside of those things. I never thought about how little I moved until I lived in DC and NYC. And upon living in these cities, particularly in NYC, I saw something sorta sad. There are SO many elderly folks that seem to not be able to walk very well. Now, old age is part of the reason. And of course, some people may have experienced some medical issues that have limited their mobility. But let’s face it, many people do not exercise/move daily. Sure, you move when you get up and go to work. You move to the refrigerator. You move to go shower. You are moving, but usually in limited amounts. We just don’t move nearly as much as we should.

I think (constantly) about how the life I want to live when I’m older. I don’t want to use a cane or a walker. I don’t want to hobble down the street. I want to walk as well as I possibly can when I’m older. Therefore, I need to move NOW. Moving can prevent so many issues. Getting the heart rate up a few times a week is so key. And there are so many ways to do that, which is why I don’t like to say we have to exercise. Exercising gets people down! *lol* I know, I was one of those people. The idea of exercising just made me want to sit even more! But knowing that we need to exercise, I changed my thinking and starting calling it something different. “Moving daily” in my mind means I’ll be in a better place when I’m older. Moving daily means maybe I can fight off an illness or two (or three) when I’m older. Moving daily means I’m going to be able to move for a long time to come.

3. Eating WELL and WHOLE – I’m going to dedicate an entire post about food this week, but I’ll just touch on it a little bit for now. Food is life, ya’ll! I LOVE to eat. I swear, I don’t understand women who restrict themselves, because food is TOO GOOD!! Don’t restrict yourself (unless you have some sort of food allergy). Instead, eat BETTER! There’s a LOT of great, healthy food out there and it’s waiting for you to eat it! #PraiseBabyJesusForAllTheFood

When I set out to lose weight 13 years ago, the first thing I knew I had to do was clean up my diet. For the most part, I’m an all or nothing kinda gal. I get it from my mama 😉  My mom used to smoke back when I was small. One day, she said she was quitting. And she quit. Cold turkey. That’s a #BOSS. And that’s how I roll. None of this, let me eeeeaaase myself into change. Nah, son! No sir! I jump right in! So to get started, I used a very helpful magazine article to help me figure out what to buy at the grocery store. The article basically broke down what to buy for different types of issues you wanted to combat. There was a list for the “heart conscious eater”, a list for “weight loss” and a final list I can’t recall. I used a combo of the lists. Along with grocery shopping, I put myself on a ‘no fast food’ “diet” for four months. Not even Subway! I only ate what I bought from the grocery store. I was able to drop all the weight I had gained, just by doing that alone. It was awesome!

Eating well is so key. While exercising is important, what you put into your body is probably even more important. Think of it this way: This is the only body you have. Once it starts breaking down, it’s hard to build it back up again. And that’s not to say that poor diet related ailments cannot be reversed. Many issues can be healed completely by changing the diet. But it depends on how long the body has been partaking in that poor diet.

Again, I have soooooo much more to say about food. In recent years, I’ve watched many documentaries and read oodles of articles/blogs on food. I’ve come up with my own thoughts about food and how we can eat to change our lives and live longer. I’m a firm believer that food heals. I’m a firm believer in “we are what we eat”.  Lots to say about food, so I’ll save that for tomorrow or Wednesday’s post.

-t

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