A Journey of Strength, Courage and Pride
Today on Instagram, I saw a post written by a widower that I follow. It hit home so hard, I felt the tears well up.
"We are all so damn hard on ourselves. Especially after a profound loss. You may not see it. But I do.
The ability to push forward.
Even during those moments in which you want to quit.
People say they are broken as though they are ashamed.
The broken are beautiful, I respond.
The ability to be broken and to push forward, always attempting, in some form or another - to repair.
That is courage.
And your courage, is a beautiful thing."
After I read it, I knew how I wanted to start this blog post that I've been gearing up in my head for a while now.
While I'm not here to relate the loss of my husband to my weight loss directly, I think we can agree that those words are powerful, no matter what type of hardship you have gone through, or maybe going through currently.
I wanted to quote his words for a couple reasons, one being the fact we are all SO hard on ourselves. Rarely do we give credit where credit us due. Rarely do we remember to be proud of ourselves, or even love ourselves. We are always looking for how we could have done better. "yeah, I did okay, but it could have been better/more." Why do we do this?? Others can see our bravery and strength, why can't we ever see our own?
Exactly one year ago, I started a journey that I had no intent of following through with. That sounds weird right? Not if you know me, like I know me.
Last year, on Easter weekend, after I had indulged in all the Easter candy, after Kaleb had gone to bed, I sat in my bedroom and hated myself because I "felt gross". Earlier that day I had to pull the 'fat jeans" out of my closet and that was a new low that I didn't like. I didn't like the way my body felt. At all. I didn't necessarily recognize the way my face and body had grown, because it had been over a matter of time, I just knew I didn't like the way I FELT.
That Monday, in my garage, I dusted off the old elliptical and I gave it a whirl. My guess is that I stayed on it about 30-40 minutes, which is a great start.
In my mind though, I just knew it wouldn't last. I didn't want to tell anyone I was exercising because I didn't want to have to keep up with it. I wasn't ready to be held accountable. I just knew that I should try exercising on that Monday and then I'd see if I felt like doing it again the next day.
It turns out I was anxious and excited to do it the next day and the next. And then for a whole week after that, I kept up with it. After several days had passed, I decided I should probably weigh myself, just to get an idea, you know, in case I decided this might actually be a thing.
I knew I wasn't going to like the number I saw, and I was correct. I hated what I saw and I was ashamed. I was so appalled by the number, I didn't dare measure my inches. Yikes.
Surprisingly, I kept up with my little garage exercise for about a month or so. After I glanced at the calendar, and realized I had exercised nearly every single day for a month, I started to feel pretty proud of myself. It had slowly become something I could tolerate.
As time moved on, I started exercising to videos in the living room, to change it up a bit. They certainly weren't easy, but I was moving.
I soon realized that I would hit the 100 day mark. 100 days of exercising with very, very few days skipped. I thought about writing a blog post then, shouting to the world that I was exercising consistently, but I still didn't feel ready for that kind of commitment. Plus, what's 100 days, anyway? To most people that's nothing because they have all been exercising for years. I still wasn't ready to give myself credit for what I had actually done.
When the summer got here, I started noticing my clothes were fitting a little loser and I was able to put away the "fat" jeans and go back to the ones I had on the other shelf in my closet. (ladies, i think we all have fat jeans and regular jeans separated in our closet, right??)
The other thing that summer brought, was vacations. I wondered to myself if I'd turn into one of those people who exercised on vacation....those people that I had always rolled my eyes at. It turns out, I did turn into one of those people-ish. I didn't do my videos, but I kept up with my steps/walking while we were at the beach. I put my ear buds in, and I went. It wasn't excessive or drawn out, but I was out there, moving.
By this time, I was able to see a difference in my body; but more importantly, I could feel a difference. I didn't feel so "gross" anymore. I was really starting to feel better; more energy.
As you're reading this, I'm sure you are all wondering when I'm going to talk about my dieting as well. I'll talk about that right now - there was no dieting. None whatsoever. This entire time, I was still eating what I wanted, when I wanted. Now mind you, I was drinking a crap-ton of water because I was exercising a lot, but I was in no way counting calories or making myself stay away from certain.
I know me well enough by now to know, I wasn't ready to go full force on exercise AND deprive myself of all the foods I love. I knew I didn't have the willpower to do both. It just wasn't in me. I had made it this far with just exercising, and I had done a good job of keeping up with it, I wasn't about to test the waters and make myself give up queso and carbs.
Naturally though, the more I exercised, the better I wanted to eat. I would bust my ass during a 45 minute step video, sweating more than I had ever sweated in my life, it seemed dumb to go eat cookie dough right after. Slowly I automatically started making "better choices". They still weren't great choices, but they were better.
Fast forward to the end of August, I was down about 1.5 sizes, (still hadn't stepped back on the scale since April) and my dad had his accident. Of course, everything in life came to a halt. I believe during that time, I went 14 or 18 days without working out at all. My streak had been broken, but for an understandable reason. Just in those 2 weeks I had stopped, I could feel my body creeping back to its old self. Undoubtedly though, we had been eating ourselves sick on fast food and sweets people were bringing to the hospital. The fountain Dr. Pepper intake, the starbucks coffee intake, and the sweet tea intake, was at an all time high. We were sleepy and stressed, so we inhaled sugar and caffeine.
After my dad was stable and we all started spending a little less time at the hospital and a little more time at home, I slowly started back. It wasn't really easy because I was mostly still exhausted, but I had missed it. I missed the feel of the road pounding on the bottom of my feet as I ran in the blazing sun. I missed the feeling of being soaked in sweat. I missed the feeling of my muscles being sore the next day.
It was very shocking to me when I realized I missed those things. Who had I become?? Was this a thing for me now, exercising?? Was the girl who has been big her whole life, actually enjoying exercising?? It's true, I was enjoying it and I HAD made it a thing.
Most of you know, dad was in the hospital 100 days. He wasn't released until December. During the time of August to December, I exercised when I could. Tuesdays and Thursdays were my days to sit with him. Sitting with him, meant eating with him. He hated the hospital food, as you can imagine, so we were getting take out every moment possible. My mom and I kept a *very good* chocolate candy stash in the room for stress and boredom eating. I'm telling ya, aint nobody need to be trying to be on a diet/exercise routine when you're living your life at a hospital.
So basically, I was still eating like crap, however, I would come home at night and make myself do a video in the living room or spend some time on the elliptical while watching Netflix. On the days I wasn't at the hospital, I hit the open road. Those walks and runs in the sun were hard to beat! I stayed out as long as my little heart desired, getting in those miles. The sunshine was no doubt a true form of therapy for me, that was badly badly needed.
In October and November, I was already dreading the winter. I get depressed in the winter time, very easily. I hate the long, dark, cold days. Just thinking about them sent me into a slight panic. I worried about how I would get my workouts in, since it was too cold to be outside. I feared losing all my motivation in the winter months, and gaining back everything I had lost.
When the end of my dads hospital stay was nearing, there was discussion of how much therapy he would need after discharge. He was getting a lot of therapy during the day while he was inpatient, but they warned him that once he went home, he'd have to find a way to continue some of that, or he'd loose his muscle mass all over again. That news came as no surprise to us, however, we didn't really have a game plan in place.
One day, I jokingly said, "well dad, I guess you will have to come workout with me at my house." That's when he said the words I NEVER thought I would hear him say in his farmer lifetime, "I was actually wondering if you would join the gym with me...."
To say I was floored, is an understatement, but I was EXCITED! I never really considered the gym because of all the reasons we all don't consider the gym:
not knowing what we're doing
But going to the gym with my dad was different! I had a purpose. I had a reason. I had a partner. And who's going to make fun of the girl who brings her dad who's barely walking?!? I mean, just try me. Just try to think we look dumb, I'll bitch face you right into next week if you try and make a joke of me and my dad. LOL! I was so pumped, so ready to do this with him and for him. He had remained so damn strong all through his journey, it was the least I could do for him.
We joined the gym in December and never looked back. When we joined, he was still using a walker to move around, then graduated to a cane and then slowly could walk around on his own.
I was so unbelievably proud of that man, not only sticking with it, but learning all the things. He had never stepped foot in a gym before, I had worked out some in college, so I knew the basics, but he literally knew NOTHING. We went every single day for about a month. Seven days a week, we were there on average 1.5 to 2 hours a time.
In early March, he started having a lot of hip and back pain, due to his accident. The doctor advised him to quite going to the gym until they could figure out exactly what was happening with his joints and nerves.
I won't lie, I was nervous when he quit. We had gotten into such a routine of going. Every morning, I would pick him up after school drop off - I knew in my head I couldn't miss a day because he needed a ride there, and I didn't want him to regress on all the progress he had made, just learning to walk again. So, when he couldn't go anymore, I wasn't sure if I had it in me to keep going as well. There was no longer anyone to keep me accountable. No one was relying on me to go every day, but I still continued, sometimes a little reluctantly.
It was one morning, about a week after dad "quit the gym", that I was sitting at a leg machine, dreading to get started, that it hit me - I owe it to my dad to keep going. Here I am, 100% capable of doing anything and everything, pain free, and I was being a whiner, ready to quit, while he was in severe pain, at home, in his recliner, wishing he could have just one more day at the gym, despite all his injuries.
At that moment, this journey became so much more than just "getting thinner", it became a will to be stronger in my mind and body. It became a reason to keep going. It became a dedication to being a better version of me....to becoming a fighter and a doer, just like my dad.
I'm an entire year into my lifestyle change and that's exactly what it is. It isn't a diet, it isn't a trendy fad that I'll hate a few months from now. It's just me, making a choice to be better.
There are days I sit in the parking lot of the gym, today in fact, and I try to talk myself into going home, then I try to talk myself into just going inside the gym. I won't lie, a lot of mornings I struggle with getting started. I'm not a morning person at all, so going to exercise first thing, doesn't always seem ideal, but I do it, at least 5 days a week.
I'm still not doing anything crazy with my diet. I eat a lot more protein now because I'm doing some pretty heavy weights, but other than that, I basically just try not to eat too late in the day, I try to avoid candy and sweets as much as possible, I only drink water, unless a margarita happens to surface in front of my face, and I watch my portion size.
For me, I've learned, it's all about doing what you think you can keep up with doing the rest of your life. I don't workout 7 days a week because that's not doable in my life now, or probably ever. I don't cut all carbs out because I'm not willing to do stick with that the rest of my life. I don't drink fancy energy drinks because frankly, I can't always afford it. I don't take any type of medication to boost my weight loss because that's not reality for me. I do what I can, when I can. When I'm home, I try my best t eat healthy. I don't keep junk food in the house, so I'm not tempted. However, when the girls call for a queso and marg night, you can bet your ass I'll be there and portion control will be the last thing on my mind!
I'm not hear to tell you it's easy, because it isn't. Especially if you're a parent, in charge of little peoples lives. Not only do we have to feed them, we have to keep up with their crazy schedules and make sure they don't go to school smelling like a dirty sock. Parenting is hard enough on it's own, then you throw in trying to take care of your own body - aint no joke.
I wanted to share though, because I AM proud of me. I have kept up with it for a year, which is about 363 days longer than I thought I would. I'm 3, almost 4 sizes down from last Easter, and the scale says I'm 32 pounds lighter. (I finally weighed myself after a year of being scared). I'm here for the long haul and I'm not afraid to say it out loud anymore.
Easter 2017 vs Easter 2018
Easter 2017 vs Easter 2018
December 2017 vs Easter 2018
April 18, 2018
I also wanted to share this journey with you all, in hopes that it inspires you to stop being so hard on yourself. I want to remind you, it's okay that you aren't doing it all. It's okay that you had a cheeseburger and curly fries for dinner, don't beat yourself up! Do what you can, when you can and be proud of THAT!
Like it says above,
"The ability to be broken and to push forward, always attempting, in some form or another - to repair.
That is courage.
And your courage, is a beautiful thing."
If it weren't for my dad, I don't think I'd have the courage or will to carry on with this particular journey; I believe I would have given up a while back. He's a reminder that somewhere, deep down, we all have the fight in us, we all have that courage...let it out, let it shine, and be proud to show it off!!!