Learning how to live a healthy life didn’t come easily to me.
Does it come easily to anyone? If it does, raise your hand, because I’d love to know how to make it come easy to my daughters.
No, healthy living, for me, was a clawing, fighting, backsliding, inching, slipping trek up a muddy slope.
I had my first daughter when I was 20, which totally freaks me out now because she’s 14 and OMG how did my daughter get to be 14 if I’m still totally like 20?
My struggles with weight, body image, and healthy eating—or lack thereof—started right after I had her.
OK well, maybe not right after I had her. For the first two months I’m pretty sure I was incapable of forming coherent thoughts, or, like, showering. But after she started sleeping and I recovered my normal thought patterns, I started worrying about my weight.
And wow, life had not prepared me for this. I had absolutely no clue how to eat. Bagels good? Salmon bad? Milk good? Cheese bad? Chocolate definitely bad, right?
I went on so many diets, only to go off them just as quickly. As soon as I tried to tell myself what NOT to eat, I wanted to eat that very thing and nothing but that very thing, preferably while also bathing in that very thing.
Sorry for that pleasant visual.
I’m on top of one hill now—the hill of healthy eating—and at least that part comes a little easier. I learned two key things:
- I don’t deprive myself. If I really want something, I have some. I’m not great at moderation, but I’m getting better, largely because of this very rule. Knowing that I can have it any time I want helps me have just a little now.
- Some things make me feel really, really crummy. Knowing that I can have anything I want, if I really want it, but that some things make me feel gross, helps me curb my cravings to things that are still a treat…without doing a trick on my insides.
I don’t have to constantly think about what to eat, what to not eat. I am in a place now where I value my body and what it’s capable of, and I genuinely prefer the feeling of being well-fueled and strong over the feeling of being stuffed and lethargic.
The huge key to getting to that place of self-love was exercise. You know, that thing I always hated. And the key to loving exercise was finding exercise I loved and was dying to do.
For me that thing was Zumba Fitness. I took a class at my Y and was hooked from the very first song. If you have ever found your passion—in work, fitness, whatever—you know that feeling of being home. After almost a year of taking classes, I became an instructor, and I know now that this is exactly what I was created to do. And Zumba was like a gateway to fitness for me, because now I love everything! Things that used to be all about food—meeting with friends, spending time with my family—are now about doing fun things together!
Which would be great—I’ve got the healthy eating thing, I’ve found exercise I love, I seek out opportunities to be active—except the real world stepped in. This year marked the first year my girls were all in school full time which meant time for this mama to get into the work world.
Fortunately, I found a job I love, doing social media marketing and content writing for a health and wellness based company. But I spend most of my work day sitting down, and when I get home after a long day—sometimes 12 hours including the commute—I just want to snuggle with my girls and their dad. So I struggle to squeeze in time to work out.
Even as I type that–“struggle to squeeze in a workout”–I know it’s a cop out. I could find the time if I prioritized, but if I’m not teaching, it’s hard for me to be disciplined enough to exercise. Fortunately, the company I work for has promised us a machine for the office, which is super exciting, but until then I need to buck up and do the work.
It’s funny; one of the biggest topics I write about for work is how to counteract the effects of a sedentary job. I usually type those articles while sitting on my behind, bemoaning my desk. I keep saying today will be the day I make changes. Maybe today will be!