Part of living the eight dimensions of wellness is living a physically fit lifestyle. It could possibly be the most important one. We cannot live a full, happy, and active life without feeling good about ourselves. Some of the ways to become physically fit include exercising and eating a healthy diet.
It was only a few short years ago, yet it feels like a lifetime when I realized how heavy I had become. Through my life, I was always very thin. It was not something I worried about; I didn’t have to. I ate what I wanted, and never seemed to gain a pound. Of course, looking back now, I see how active I was--always walking everywhere, involved in many sports activities, and I was brought up on a healthy diet. My mother was the kind who came home every night and put a healthy, well balanced meal on the table. She encouraged activities and getting outside to play with neighborhood friends. So, I stayed active as I grew up. I was always getting jokes such as do I have a hollow leg, or where did I put it, but there also were warnings: one day it would catch up to me. This was something I couldn’t comprehend. By the time I left college and moved on to the real world, I kept my diet, but lost the exercise. I was now driving to work, sitting at a desk all day, and, by the time I would get home, I had no energy left to do much of anything. I was eating fast food at work all day, which left me with the feeling of wanting to take a nap by 2:00.
It wasn’t a quick change. I had no idea what was slowly happening to me. Then it became the little things. The pair of pants I had just worn two weeks ago seemed tight. There was a change in my face, which was always very thin; it was now starting to fill out. I can say I felt for a long time that it happened overnight, but that is surely not the case. I remember waking up one day, and just the idea of rolling over to get out of bed might as well have been climbing Mount Everest. I had kept track of my weight as I started to see myself putting on the weight. I always fluctuated from 108-112 pounds while I was growing up. I had to laugh as I wrote that sentence. You see, looking back on those pictures I think, holy cow, I look thin. I am 5’7” and, at 108 pounds, I was lanky. I had knobby knees, knobby elbows, and my head was so large compared to the rest of me I looked like a bobble head! At any rate, my 108 pounds went up to 120. That was not so bad; then it was 140. Still not too bad, until it went to 160, 180, and up and up. The day I could not drag myself out of bed, I went into the bathroom and weighed myself. I was horrified: 200 pounds!
I would love to tell you right then and there I decided to make a change. Instead, I threw myself into food more. I ate to feel comfort, and wash away the feelings of how being heavy made me feel. I would love to take the credit for my initial weight loss as well, but I cannot. One day I became very sick and, after a few weeks and many trips to the doctor, I was told I had gall stones. Not just one, but my gall bladder was a solid rock.
Well this threw a wrench in my daily life. Fats (all fats were out). I mean O-U-T, out. Believe me I tried and, each time, I would wind up in the hospital. I distinctly remember an episode with chocolate cake for my birthday. So I had to relearn how to eat all over again. Starting with bland plain foods and slowly adding a new food every few weeks to see what was good and what was not. In the beginning, I thought it was torture, but I discovered that I had been using food as a crutch and a comfort, not just for nourishment for my body. So, I followed the plan and, in the beginning, the weight began to come off. A good 20 pounds gone! I was feeling quite good about myself, until I hit the plateau. I was not getting the results I had hoped for. I didn’t understand why, as I had completely changed my diet. After a very long period of time, I finally realized that my love of beer was keeping the weight on me. I was a social drinker, going out with friends on weekends, having a few drinks, and having a good time. Even though people tell you it is empty calories, I thought that, with my drastic diet change, it shouldn’t matter, but it did. The weekend trips out with friends turned into every other week, and then once a month. Now, it is once a year.
Slowly, more weight would come off, but it was not the overnight change I had always wanted. It took me over three years to lose 75 pounds. Cutting out the alcohol had more than just an effect on my physical health. I had no idea the damage it was doing to my body, even on a social level. After my diet change, and taking alcohol off the table, I was able to feel more motivated to get up and get out of the house. I had time to fill on weekends now, so I went to the local nursery and picked up a truck full of plants. I went home and started landscaping my back yard. Now I love getting outside and seeing everything growing so much bigger, and adding to it every year. I got another dog and started walking them separately to get the most out of our walks together. There are so many things I enjoy doing now I could never have done before. Getting out to the countryside and talking a long walk with the beautiful scenery, going to the beach and swimming over the waves or walking along the sand, listening to the calming sound of the waves. I learned I have a knack for tennis, something I never knew about myself. The things I can do are endless, now that I have the energy.
The point of me telling my story to you is to tell you it does not have to happen overnight. Don’t try to jump in with both feet; you will only be setting yourself up for failure. Start slowly. Add new healthy foods to your diet, and eliminate the bad. I am here to tell you that I do not miss fast food. I thought I would, but the idea of it actually makes me sick. Start slowly with exercise, too. Do not try to start a full workout routine. So many people think they have to go all out, but that is when you get fed up and quit. Try walking, gardening, or (one of my personal favorites) swimming. Whatever it is that gets you up and out of the house. Also, please, please treat yourself sometimes! Just because you are trying to eat healthy does not mean you can’t have one thing you do want every so often. The idea is to have one or two cookies, not the entire box. Do not get discouraged if you are not getting results right away; it is a long process. The faster you lose the weight, the more likely you are to put it back on. Take it slowly and make a life change, not just a temporary diet. The key for me was to become comfortable in my own skin during the process. The better I felt about myself, no matter what I looked like, the easier it became to deal with while I was losing weight. I will never see 108 pounds again, but I don’t want to. I set realistic goals for myself, and now that I have achieved them, my goal is to continue to eat well, get my exercise, and to feel good about myself, inside and out.