My Journey To Here – Which Isn’t Really Anywhere, Yet

I just looked back, and this blog is three years old. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but it also seems like an eternity. This is the longest I’ve ever stuck to health as a commitment, not just a fad or a means to losing weight. Of course, it started as a goal to lose weight, but along the way I’ve discovered a lot of things about myself, and improved a lot of things. So, here they are. In celebration of three years, the things I HAVE changed/discovered/improved:

  • I now fall asleep in about a half hour on average and maybe wake up once per night. An improvement from taking 3-4 hours to fall asleep then waking up at least 10-15 times a night. I feel endlessly better from sleeping better. A few things I did to improve this: I actually cut back on super-aggressive workouts, but still got in workouts. I walked more, and did harder workouts 1-3 times per week (rather than 5-6). I took my clock and other electronics out of my room. And bought blackout curtains. This is the single biggest improvement I’ve made.
  • I’ve discovered I’m all autoimmune diseased up. Yes, it’s true. But knowing is a good thing. These diseases aren’t debilitating, but they’ve actually helped me focus on overall health, and how what I put in my mouth affects not only my health, but the “flares” from these diseases, and general feelings of unwell (fatigue, joint aches, irritability, etc.). I still struggle with all three AIs, but for the most part one is in almost total remission. One is sparked mostly by stress (which is much less of a factor), and one is an almost non-issue – mostly just cosmetic.
  • I used to eat carbs at all of my meals. I’m nowhere near a low-carb diet, but my intake is down to a more normal level (approximately 30g or less per meal – 30g is a meal I actually “splurge”, whereas it was almost impossible to get less than 50g when I first started). And thanks to that, my triglycerides have plummeted from around 230 to the 60s. Victory!
  • Wheat/gluten gives me anxiety. I didn’t believe it until I quit it for a long stretch (a month). But once I got off of it, three things improved: My overall insatiability (I was hungry ALL THE TIME), my moods, and anxiety I didn’t even realize I had. And it’s the anxiety I didn’t realize I had, that once it was gone, that’s motivated me to continue to stay away from wheat.
  • I can lift a lot more weight than I ever thought I could. I bench pressed 100 pounds. I deadlifted over 200 pounds. And I squatted 165 pounds five times. Then I hurt my back. And have been on the road to recovery, still staying active, but doing more lighter-weight endurance lifting, more walking, some sprinting intervals, TONS of mobility and yoga work, and even some aerobics workouts. I just cut back on heavy lifting. And now I’m back at it. I benched 75 pounds last night, and squatted 100. And I feel like my form’s improved a ton on both.
  • I am actually spending LESS on food now than I was. I know most people say eating healthy is expensive. But even if I buy a chicken at three pound chicken at $3.50 per pound and eat it over three meals, and buy some organic veggies to go with it, it’s still cheaper per meal than my $5 extra value meal. Sure there are some $3 meals, but more often I was getting a $5 or even $8 meal. Hell, Chipotle, which some people tout as health food, is never cheaper than $6.50. I can eat like a queen if I cook it myself!

I feel better than I have in years. Three years ago I was tired. So tired. And so irritable. Work had me on edge, and I always felt foggy brained. I felt like I needed a nap, all the time, but couldn’t ever fall asleep. My diet seemed like it was healthy, but now I eat more whole foods than I ever have before. I stock my freezer with beef, pork and chicken from a local farms, getting away from hormones and GMO-fed animals. I avoid all GMOs like the plague. I still eat out occasionally, but much less often.

What hasn’t improved:

  • My weight. Sadly, this has been a huge struggle.  I always think I’m about to turn a corner. I never do. Sigh. I’ll get there. I have to keep reminding myself of the improvements above, and that health is more than a number on a scale. If I had starved myself to a lower weight, I’d probably be in a worse position overall, health-wise. Do I still want to lose weight? Yes. But I’m trying to be patient as I heal and find the path my body wants to take. (For those naysayers out there, I eat, on average, about 1500 calories a day. I’m 5’8″ and hovering just at 200 pounds. I workout hard about 2-3 times a week. And walk most days. If I workout more, I have a general sense of exhaustion I can’t recover from. So I push myself as hard as my body allows, but don’t push myself more just in an attempt to lose weight right now. I feel like my intake (both amount and quality), my activity level, and my self-care will eventually net me some results.)
  • My back. I know this is directly correlated to my weight. And I know once I drop about 20-25 pounds I’ll see a huge improvement. My back is one of the biggest reminders of why I can’t “give up and get really fat.” (It goes through my mind more than I’d like to admit.)
  • My face. Although I’ve gone up and down on this one, and my face was really, really bad (affected directly by an AI disease), it’s improved a TON. I feel a lot better about my face, but it’s still not as good as it once was. I treat my face with so much care, and am finally to a point I don’t douse it in chemicals. But it’s still not 100%. I think I’ll get there, though.
  • Running. Once upon a time, I loved running. Just very short distances (1 1/2-2 miles). But it was such a relaxing thing. I loved it. A short workout, and my mood would improve. My body’s conspiring against me. A few things are at play here: 1. I assume my weight is an issue. When I’ve run in the past I was 20-30 pounds lighter. 2. My ankles are weak. I try to focus on rehab, but I haven’t as well as I should have. 3. I had a magnesium deficiency due to an allergy. I got that treated (with AAT, which also helped directly with some of my AI stuff), so I’m improving. My muscles were cramping and fatiguing really bad. That’s improved a lot, but I think I’m still rebuilding my levels. 4. Since I haven’t run in so long, I assume once my muscles get on board, my cardio endurance will be a problem.  I expect this hurdle to be an easier one to overcome. Hopefully. Just have to get the other three going first.

I always want to lift weights. And I always want to challenge myself in all avenues of fitness. My dream is to be confronted with any activity or situation and have my body respond like I want it to. A friend wants me to run a 5K color run at the last minute? Sure! (I don’t want to say, “Sorry, I can’t. I haven’t trained.”) Or a Warrior Dash. Or hell, a Tough Mudder. I’d like to step into a gym at any point, and feel confident lifting with any friend. I’d like to be able to hike or bike or walk any path. I’d like to break out in a sprint or be able to have the strength to defend myself if confronted with an attacker. I’d like to have the mental clarity to solve problems and think quickly. And I want to be patient and rational and have a stable enough mood to deal with anything emotional that comes my way.

For now, I’m on my way. I’ve come a long way down this winding path. There is no end. But there is progress. And I feel like I’m finally moving forward, rather than hitting a bunch of loops that loop me back where I was three or six months before. And I feel like I’ve built enough habits that this isn’t as much of a struggle. While not always true, for the most part when I see pictures of donuts and pizza and cookies, it doesn’t send me on a cravings spiral. In fact, much of the time, I don’t even want those foods. Or if I have a bite, I’ve found myself let down with the flavors. Sweet foods are a lot sweeter to me. And once “delicious” savory foods are more heavy and not as appealing.

Do I still want a Snickers a few days before my period? Yes, but that’s better than every afternoon at 3PM. Do I have cravings for pizza and Mexican food? Yes, but I don’t eat it every single week (these two are things I COULD eat daily. So there have been weeks in the past where I’d be eating one of the two DAILY.) . Do I want to skip workouts? Yes, and sometimes I go a whole week without working out. But I miss it. I miss the movement (I start to get stiff and feel old), and I miss the mood improvement and how deeply I sleep.

Am I perfect? No. And I don’t ever intend to be. I would never expect my diet to be perfect. I would never want to workout hard 10 hours a week. I don’t want to look in the mirror and shame myself for not looking perfect.

But I am a better, healthier version of me than I was three years ago. And I have hopes that 2014 is going to be my year for everything to come together. I’ll keep you posted!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa
    Dec 05, 2013 @ 11:11:49

    I needed to read this today! Stumbled on your blog searching for Firm Express reviews since I’ve got it coming in the mail. I can’t believe how much you and I have in common. I’m about to turn 31, and also have struggled with up-and-down weight loss – pretty much since high school. About three years ago, I finally figured out the whole “permanent lifestyle change” thing and dropped a lot of excess weight and have kept most of it off. I’ve been in a slump over the past six months, less motivation to workout, getting into some of my old habits with overeating and processed foods. Just wanted to say that your list of improvements and emphasis on how those are more important than the number on the scale really touched me today! Hope you’re doing well, and hope you keep blogging!

    Reply

    • stumbletowardhealth
      Dec 06, 2013 @ 10:45:11

      This is so nice of you to say! I need to post ANOTHER update post. I think realizing the non-weight related victories is very important to stay the path of “permanent lifestyle change.” At least for me. If all I care about it weight, my day can easily be ruined by a few pounds, or feels meaningless to proceed if I’m not losing. But continued improvement on other fronts (learning to eat healthy because I enjoy it, learning not to over-eat junk just because it’s in front of me, consistent exercise routine I enjoy, and overall more active lifestyle, improved mobility/flexibility, etc.) are all also important as we strive for a long, healthy, active life. And those things might actually be more important as we age.

      Don’t get me wrong, the scale is still in my side view mirror. But just not the most important thing on the road I’m on right now.

      Reply

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