Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Look Back at My Own Journey

When I was younger, I used to envy people who could eat whatever they wanted and still look great. I would think why can’t that be me? Why do I have to be conscious about what I eat and workout so hard to achieve what comes naturally to others? Now, I look back and laugh. I am actually incredibly thankful that I have had to struggle because it’s made me a much stronger, healthier, and more appreciative person. I’d rather have to eat healthy and workout hard to stay in shape than be the person who eats whatever he/she wants (good and bad), never works out, and still manages to have a nice body. I guess it’s because I know that even though me and that other person may look the same on the outside, I’m 100 times healthier on the inside, and that’s what really counts.

I’ve always struggled with my weight ever since I was little because I’ve always had an extremely healthy appetite. I was the kid who didn’t want to order off the kiddy menu at the restaurant and the kid who ALWAYS had room for dessert after dinner. My dad recently reminded me that it was because I had two great chefs cooking for me (my mom and dad), and he’s right. My parents are both amazing cooks, and I grew up eating like a queen! While I never became obese, I was overweight for my age during most of my adolescence. I participated in sports and dance all through elementary, middle, and high school, but it wasn’t enough to combat the portion sizes and junk food I ate. A few times I went on diets and actually slimmed back down, but because diets are short-term fixes, the weight always came back (a quick note on this: even though I wasn't always happy with my weight, I've NEVER used extreme measures to lose weight, even then. I've never thrown up my food, starved myself, eliminated entire food groups from my diet, fasted, been on any liquid or other crazy diet, or taken over-the-counter weight loss pills). In high school, my weight struggles continued, and I reached my heaviest weight ever. I look back now and completely understand why. My friends and I were living off of fast food, pizza, and cookies. When I went to college, I slimmed down some, but as soon as I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment with my two friends, the weight went right back on. Having two great friends as roommates equaled many pizza and ice cream runs, dinners out at our favorite restaurants, and 10 extra pounds.

At the end of 2004, I got serious about working out. Something just clicked one day for me and I wanted to be more active. I was paying money each month to be apart of San Diego State’s athletic club and I was using it maybe a few times a month. I decided that I wanted to make working out apart of my lifestyle, not just something I did once a week. From that point on, I never looked back! I have consistently worked out at least four times a week since I made that choice in 2004. I’ve also taken ownership over my food choices and have managed to maintain my current, healthy weight, eating habits, and workout schedule no matter what life throws at me. I am 30-40 pounds lighter than I was in high school and college and now have a healthy body mass index.

I remember what it felt like when I was insecure about my body and I never want to go back to that place. Knowing how far I’ve come makes me feel so good about my hard work. I used to be the girl who hated running, to the girl who runs three miles five days a week now. I used to be the girl who ate too much junk food, to the girl who makes the healthy choice 80-90% of the time. The changes I’ve made have changed my entire life. Not only do I feel more confident about who I am on the outside, I feel better about who I am on the inside knowing that my body is healthy. I am able to do so much more physically than ever before and it is beyond gratifying to see how much hard work, consistency, and determination have paid off.

When it comes to losing weight or leading a healthy lifestyle, you have to be in it for the long haul. Don’t workout and eat right for just a short-term goal like a vacation or wedding. While it is great to have short-term goals to keep you motivated, don’t forget the big picture. What keeps me motivated every day is how far I've come, how much I am able to physically accomplish, how rarely I get sick, how much more I can enjoy life and food without worrying what a slice of cheesecake or cheeseburger will do to me, and how nice it is to know that all my good habits will have a lasting affect on my vitality. Being in control of my life is worth all the blood, sweat, and tears I’ve put into getting healthy. I am thankful everyday that I had to learn the hard way!

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