Posted by: deerharas | January 24, 2009

Get in Shape, Girl!

My friend’s husband recently wrote a blog about his health and fitness goals for the upcoming year which made me realize I had yet to write about my own as previously promised.  Now there’s a bonus incentive, however, because if I link to his post in this post, I might get a free book.  Yay.

Anyone my age or a little older perhaps may remember the following:

Oh my word, did I LOVE anything and everything “Get in Shape Girl!” as a child!  I had the leg warmers, the arm bands, and the weird hula hoop with a bar across the middle … I’m still not sure exactly what I was supposed to do with it.  All that to say that even as a child, I was excited about physical fitness.  Granted, I may not have always loved PE or sports (that came a little later), but at thee years old I was in dance classes and kept it up through my senior year of high school.  I played sports in middle school as an alternative to PE and happened to fall in love with volleyball which I played through my senior year as well.

And then came college.  All the sudden, life was totally different.  There was no more volleyball or dance to keep me active.  There was cafeteria food and late night Taco Bueno runs.  The cumulative effect was not good.  I started gaining weight my freshman year and didn’t stop until the middle of my senior year when I finally got serious about becoming active again.  I started doing step aerobics while home over Christmas break, and continued with a class at OBU that spring semester.  I started using the elliptical while I read magazines.  I built up my endurance in fun ways so that when I started running with some friends the following year, I didn’t have to start at ground zero.  Running has since become my favorite form of work out, which is odd in that I used to despise it.

But working out is only half of it.  There’s the food side as well.  I was a VERY picky eater as a child.  I went through a phase where the only thing I would eat was Chef Boyardee Beefaroni.  Go ahead, make the gagging noises with me now.  🙂  I hated most vegetables, too.  Thankfully, my parents didn’t keep much junk food in the house or I would have been an obese child, I’m sure of it!  Like I said, I was a pretty active kid and I would say around average in terms of weight.  I don’t ever remember thinking much about my weight until middle school.  I hit puberty early and looked older and more developed than most of my skinny-minnie prepubescent friends.  In 8th grade I started to think I was fat (which I absolutely was not), a self concept which wasn’t helped by a particular thoughtless comment about my weight made by a classmate.  Talk about the power of words.  I started counting calories and working out as much as I could, and honestly, if not for a fortuitous suggestion from my mother, I undoubtedly would have followed down the road so many other young girls have taken and turned to anorexia or bulimia.

Just before the end of my 8th grade year, my mom suggested we do a weight loss Bible study together.  The thought of dieting was not appealing to me because I just knew I would have to eat things I hated.  (My childhood pickiness hadn’t evolved that much.)  However, the premise of this diet/Bible study was that one could eat whatever he/she wanted as long as it was only done within the bounds of hunger and fullness.  And while I have since come to have serious qualms with this particular Bible study’s use of Scripture and oversimplification of nutrition, it could not have come at a more opportune time in my life.  I soon realized what a hold food had on me, idolatrously so at times.  I learned to eat smaller portions and stopped eating out of boredom, and as a result I lost about twenty pounds.  I started my freshman year of high school feeling good about myself and my appearance.  Volleyball helped me keep my weight within about a ten pound range, and even though I sometimes felt “fat” in comparison to other girls my age, I look back at pictures of myself in high school and think, “What the heck was I thinking?!  If only I could look like that now!”

So if college was bad for physical activity, it was worse for eating unhealthily.  I developed some really bad habits in terms of food choices and portion size.  I remembered everything I had learned in that BIble study but was unable and often unwilling to submit to its principles.  Food became more of a spiritual struggle for me than it had ever been.  As I gained more and more weight, I would look at myself in the mirror and not even recognize the person looking back at me.  I would see pictures of myself and not believe it was me.  I was a skinny person inside a fat person’s body, so for a good portion of my college days I never felt like myself.

Starting to work out again my senior year helped, at least in not gaining more weight.  I tried to only eat when I was hungry and then to make healthier choices, but it was extremely difficult.  My roommate and I did the South Beach diet for two weeks, and it was perhaps the longest two weeks of my life.  🙂  I have learned over the years that I am NOT a dieter.  If I don’t like something, I am not going to force myself to eat it.  I cannot deprive myself of my favorite things indefinitely.  After college I lost weight on and off through exercise, but nursed bad eating habits on and off as well.

A couple years later I saw a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in several months, and she looked amazing.  She hadn’t been overweight before, but she had lost a little weight and basically just looked fit.  This was right at the peak of my dissatisfaction with myself in terms of weight loss.  I had come to learn that I could somewhat control my weight through exercise, but the poor nutrition choices I had been sowing into my life for years would someday catch up with me no matter how hard I worked out.  I wanted to be healthy, not just skinny.  For myself and my future family, I wanted to develop lifelong healthy eating habits.  After talking to my friend, I was excited to start her particular program because it focused on life change and not just weight loss.  I started eating small portions several times throughout the day focusing on lean protein and complex carbs.  I tried foods I thought I didn’t like and learned to love them.  I reintroduced weights into my workouts (which I hadn’t done since high school) and did varying intensity cardio training.  Maybe my favorite thing about the program was my free day.  One day a week I didn’t have to work out and could eat whatever I wanted.  I lost weight, had more energy, and felt so much better about myself because I was making long term strides toward health and fitness.  I felt like this was something I could keep up indefinitely because it didn’t feel as much like a program as it did a lifestyle.

That was about two and a half years ago, and I am still a strong believer in this way of eating and working out.  However, there’s the knowing and then there’s the doing.  I know that I am equipped to make the right decisions, but there’s still that mental (and for me, spiritual) battle to be fought.  This past semester I started back to school, and it was all to easy to fall back into my old college habits.  I kept up with running some, but by October the demands of school and work gobbled up any time I had for working out.  Grabbing food on the go was convenient, and I soon abandoned all efforts at making healthy food selections opting instead for what was easy.  And of course, the inevitable happened.  I gained weight.

So I am once again at the place I was when I encountered my skinny friend, with a desire for health and fitness even amidst the stresses of graduate school.  It’s been three weeks in, and I had forgotten how much I actually like living this way.  I say living because that’s what it has to be … lifestyle change.  So here’s to Resolution #1: to make significant strides toward long term health and fitness … to “Get in Shape, Girl!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: