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My Fitness Journey – Mindset Shifts

**I am not a physician, nutritionist or fitness guru. Please consult your doctor and qualified individuals when embarking on your own journey.

Just shy of 3 years ago, I was a WHOLE different person. Mentally, physically, emotionally and more. April 2018, I saw a picture of myself that I just could not shake. This picture…

April 2018

Yes, I’m smiling, and in truth I was happy (I thought) but really it wasn’t until later that I could recognize the level of happy that I could actually be, and that wasn’t it. Keeping in mind that I’m only 5’2″ – being almost 150lbs was not my ideal weight, not from a health standpoint. At that point in my life I was happily dating a man who was kind enough not to point out my substantial weight gain (and the two men before him, frankly, should get some credit as well) but we indulged in many ways that weren’t good for me. This dinner was his “going away” and inadvertently turned into such a pivotal moment in my life.

January 2021 – Appx. 135 lbs

It has taken me 3 years of focused choices to get from where I started to where I am, and I know for certain I am not done yet. I am 35 years old, so please don’t look at my journey and compare. It took me 30+ years to get to that first picture and 3+ years to attempt to change. My journey will likely be a lifetime one and I am happy to say that. You can read about my first and second year “updates” by clicking the links.

Now – aside from the obvious physical changes, my mindset had to shift in a BIG way. Here’s what I mean:

1. I had to open my mind (and heart) to accepting myself. I had to reconcile that I was indeed unhealthy and not living in a way that was beneficial to me. Taking it all in and forgiving myself for letting me get to the state I was in, well it took a LOT. One thing that helped though was staying focused on the future and moving toward my goals, rather than beating myself up for not being good enough.

2. I had to go from “I can’t” to “I won’t” – in many ways. I had to leave the “I can’t work out because I don’t have time” and rephrase that to “I won’t work out because it’s easier not to”. I had to then move from “I can’t do ___” to “I won’t keep myself from trying”. I had to lose the mentality when it came to friends and things I enjoy and go from “I can’t miss this event and all this food/fun/alcohol” to “I won’t let circumstances completely derail me from my goals”. It’s hard when we can (frequently) justify our behaviors in our own minds so well. I get it.

3. I had to change my mindset around food and alcohol. It was never going to be something I could mindlessly enjoy with no repercussions. I had to learn limits, balance, and how to view my food in a way that worked for my life, lifestyle and preferences. I have a culinary degree and a HUGE love/appreciation for food and drink, and that always felt so good. So welcoming. It felt like home. I had to unlearn over indulging and start to view food as both something to share during enjoyable moments, but also as fuel. During my journey I also had times where food was something fearful. I didn’t want to gain weight back. I was deathly afraid that I would never be in control of my desires to eat, and so I just wouldn’t. That’s not the answer either. I had to shift my mindset toward FUELing my body, my workouts and my mind. I had to learn to appreciate a few less meals out with friends, and find new ways to socialize that didn’t come with a bottle of wine attached. Yes, I do still have nice dinners from time to time, and yes I do drink alcohol (read about my dry january here), but much more moderated and better understood about the WHY behind my consumption.

4. I had to re-wire my mind to see fitness and activity as fun, not punishment. I was in the military, and even before that, I hated working out. It was never fun for me and I never felt good at it. I did some sports in high school, but it was for social purposes, not skill or fitness. I had never once done some physical activity (like running) and thought “man I’d love to go do that again, maybe even more now!”…that just wasn’t me. Along the way in my journey I have been so surprised by the activities I now find myself taking part in AND truly enjoying. 3 years ago, I was no runner, but I’ve now completed a half marathon (on my own no less!), and signed up for another. 3 years ago I hated doing things that would make me exerted, and here I am, signed up for a Spartan Race. I am the (very proud!) owner of not just a Peloton Bike, but also a Peloton Tread+!? I have logged hours and miles on both, and I never once thought (in the start of things) that I would EVER enjoy having a sore ass from cycling so much. I have never been “strong” but now I routinely attend, and love, my boxing gym and weekly strength/lifting sessions. I walk with friends at the lake, I weight lift with friends and I have found a real appreciation for being active.

5. I had to learn to be grateful for what my body can do, instead of focusing on what feels unattainable. I felt SO sluggish, slow, uncoordinated, and just awful when I started. I hated hearing the sound of my labored breathing during workouts when everyone around me seemed to breeze through the class effortlessly. I had to refocus my intentions on being grateful that I could do anything at all instead of comparing myself to everyone else, including my “how I should be” version of myself that lived in my head. While yes, nowadays I am able to do SO much more – but I still focus on being grateful for the movement I have. The strength I have. The mobility I have. I appreciate and love when I push my limits, get new gains, or can achieve things, but in the end, we have to remember that this body does so much for us. So many others would love to have the abilities that we do, in various ways, so we have to applaud ourselves and love our bodies, just as they are.

6. I had to change my mindset and BELIEVE that I was enough and I was worth the investment. For many years I had put my worth, my value and my self esteem in the hands of others. The minute I decided that I was worth showing up for and took the keys to my own validation back into my possession, things really changed. Nobody had told me I couldn’t work out, eat right or any other actions that would have improved my health, but I was seeking that validation externally in ways that weren’t driving me toward the best outcomes for ME. I was spending money buying gifts for people, or bailing out ex’s, that I could have been spending on a gym membership. I was eating and drinking in excess to “be the life of the party” and maintain relationships that I thought were contingent upon our ability to consume together. I was trying to eat, drink, smoke, fuck, or buy my way into the hearts and lives of others and in the process I somehow let myself go both physically and metaphorically. When I decided who I wanted to be and the life I wanted to live, it all became so much easier to make the choices that aligned with my values, goals and dreams.

I could likely go on and on but I think this has been enough for now. Regardless, search around and read more about the various food services I’ve used to learn to eat well, how to track macros, ways I have implemented change/worked on goal setting and the myriad of other things I rattle on about. Cheers!

By DreamerSD

Life enthusiast

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