My health journey has been long and not without challenges, some of which I’m not ready to share quite yet. It took me a long time and a lot of research to finally find something that not only works for me, but strikes a balance between a healthy and fit life and simply living without stress and worry.
My weight has fluctuated quiet a lot over the years. The summer before my sophomore year of high school I put on probably close to twenty pounds. Then spent the next school year taking it off. I struggled with a lot of body issues through out the years and never really had a great relationship with food or my body.
After I had my first child, I really struggled with my body. Not only was I thirty pounds heavier, but I didn’t even recognize it. I was so disconnected from my body and so loathsome of my body that I tried many methods and bought into many lies to try and lose the baby weight.
Now, I’m almost two years postpartum with my third child, and after a lot of struggle, learning and experimenting, I’m finally at a good place with my body image, as well as my health.
If you’re struggling with losing weight or body image, I’d like to share some things that I had to learn the hard way, and only after I had learned them, was I able to lose the weight, keep it off, and love what my body was capable of.
Skip on protein and fat
I totally bought into the low fat/fat free, zero calorie, no sugar propaganda that was promoted by just about all food companies, most doctors, as well as popular health and fitness magazines. I ate very little fat, and, because I believe a vegetarian/vegan diet was superior, I didn’t eat a lot of meat or any protein for that matter. The result was I was small, weighed less, but my body composition was not great. I was “squishy.” I had no muscle, no strength, and still felt self-conscience and disappointed with my body. Not to mention my actual metabolism stalled because I wasn’t feeding my body enough.
Protein and lipids (fat) are two macro-nutrients that your body needs to survive. Fat is necessary for your body to be able to absorb a lot of the nutrients it receives from food. Your brain, spinal cord, and most of your connective tissues are made of fat. If you’re a pregnant or nursing mom, you need for quality fat is even greater! Protein is a necessary nutrient for the repair of broken down cells and tissues (like muscle tissue) since protein is made of amino acids which are the building blocks for your DNA. I believe in quality animal protein, but I do think that a nutritionally sound vegan diet can be just as beneficial.
Only do slow, steady cardio
I love running, and I have been running for over half of my life. But I was stuck in a long, slow distance rut. Slow and steady wins the race right? I ran the exact same pace for every run, which didn’t really do much to increase fat loss or overall health. Running is a stress, (all cardio is a stress), but if you continue in the exact same activity, your body will adapt to the stress and it no longer provides enough resistance to do anything. In fact, the more you run, the more efficient your body becomes at preserving its fat and nutrient stores.
You have to mix things up. Go faster. Add intervals or fartleks. Increase distances. Lift weights. HEAVY weights. Join a exercise class that will work different muscles. Cross train. If you’re stuck in a baby-carrot-and-slow-cardio rut, you will forever be chasing weight loss and health.
Eat too many carbs
Because I didn’t eat a lot of protein or fat, guess where the majority of my calories came from? Carbohydrates! Now, I’m not an advocate of a low-carb lifestyle; carbohydrates are a necessary macronutrient, just like fat and protein, and your plate should be full of all three. Carbs are an energy source that your body can use quickly and efficiently. But, if like me, your diet is primarily carbohydrates, your body can’t USE all that energy! Guess what happens to all of that unused energy? That’s right, it’s stored on your body in the form of body fat.
Eat carbohydrates, but you don’t need to eat all the carbohydrates! Remember, fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes are all carbs. You don’t even have to make and effort to make sure you consume enough; in fact most of us probably consume too many. Choose carbohydrate sources from fruits, and vegetables. Starchy vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes (and all their relatives) are clean-burning, useful energy.
Try all the “tricks”
I used to read all the magazine articles about the “food to eat for weight loss” or the “tips to drop 10 pounds fast.” Any little thing that was mentioned was immediately put into practice. When I read that artichokes were a great food for weight loss, I went out and bought all the artichokes. When I learned the green tea contains something to help speed up metabolism, I was making green tea by the pitcher. Everything from taking cold showers (speed up metabolism and helps turn bad, white fat into good, brown fat) to buying a pair of those Reebok shoes that had “balance ball technology”, was the SECRET to losing weight. As if there is a secret.
There is no one food or one drink or one trick that leads to weight loss. Weight loss is the result of daily, deliberate, small actions that lead to changes over time. There is no microwave solution to weight loss; it’s a crock pot. Slow, gradual changes are far more sustainable than quick rapid ones. And no amount of artichokes is going to get you there.
Hate your body
For so long, I hated my body. I abused my body because I hated it. And you know what? No matter what I did, or how thin I got, I was never any happier. Hate and self-loathing becomes a mantra that simply tells you you’re not worth taking care of. If you continue to tell yourself that, you will always be struggling with weight and body image, because you don’t believe yourself to be truly worth taking care of.
I’ve shared several posts to encourage you to love your body and take care of yourself. This is one of the biggest ways to help you achieve your weight loss goals is to start learning to love yourself. Once I grew to appreciate my body with all of its flaws, it changed the way I chose to take care of it. It changed the way I though about food and running. And it allowed me to finally relax and make the changes needed to truly be healthy and well.
Wherever you may be in your health journey, I truly wish you success. I believe that you can do it, and I hope this helps you achieve whatever goal it is you wish to achieve. I hope you can use these mistakes to help you get healthy and love your God-given body!
If you found this helpful, I would really appreciate it if you would share with someone who need to hear this! Thanks for your support!