I went through a rough patch last September. A lot of different life factors hit all at once, and I had a really hard time handling them. So, at the time, I decided to focus on the one thing it felt like I could change and control: my health and my weight.
I’ve always felt self-conscious about my weight. I’m not overweight, but I’m not in shape either. I’d never paid attention to my diet, and I had a pretty rough time walking up a flight or two of stairs, not even gonna lie. But it was always one of those things that was “affordable,” so to speak. I wasn’t happy with my body or my weight, but I always found some way to put off getting in shape. I could afford to go another week without going to the gym, or afford to eat another slice of pizza…
I got serious about it last September, partially because I got to a point where I just had enough of the way I looked, and also partially because it was something to distract me from everything else that was happening in life. If I was focused on losing weight and eating better, I wasn’t thinking about how much all the other stuff sucked.
I was pretty successful. But I’ve learned recently that it’s one thing to lose the weight, it’s a whole other thing to maintain it.
I went on a diet. Or rather, paid more attention to my diet. I wrote down what I ate every day, how much I ate, and how many calories I was taking in. It was a lot easier to see just how much unhealthy food I was putting into my body when it was all written down in a neat little list. I cut out a lot of sweets, grease, and processed fats. It was pretty painful at first, but actually got easier as time went on. The less candy I ate, the less I wanted to eat candy. And if I didn’t have it readily available in the apartment, I was less likely to eat it.
I also went all out in terms of exercise. I went from sitting on the couch all day every day to working out at least 5 days a week. I signed up for a personal trainer at my gym that I saw every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 7am. (Waking up for that was the most painful part of this entire journey…) I went to at least one group class at the gym on the weekend. (It was usually either Step Interval or Yoga.) And the rest of the days, I tried to get out and jog a mile outside.
It worked. By mid-October, I’d lost a little over 10 lbs, I was better at preparing healthy meals for myself rather than stopping at a restaurant or for fast food, and I’d curbed a lot of my random and unhealthy cravings. I was pretty proud of myself and the progress I’d made.
Then, December hit. Holidays and vacations happened. In January, I moved to a new apartment with a new roommate. Winter was pretty hectic all around. There were more events to go to and more things to do. It was fun, but fitness was no longer the number one priority of each day. I’d managed at least to continue my Tuesday/Thursday morning trainings, but it was hard to go to the gym on the weekend when you were going on trips, to events, or moving. And then slowly, it got harder to wake up early in the mornings. It was a lot easier to run out to grab lunch when you didn’t have time to prep anything the night before, or pick up dinner on the way home because you’re just exhausted from the day you’ve had. I moved away from my gym, and kept telling myself that I’d research new gyms in my area to sign up for.
But I never did.
It is now the end of March. I’ve not only gained back all of the 10 lbs that I lost, I’ve also picked up a little more. My diet’s back to the way it was before September, and the other day, I found myself wheezing up the stairs. (Though that might be due to the high pollen count in the area. … Yeah. We can go with that.)
Lesson learned? You have to prepare for the upkeep. I was satisfied with my progress and proud of myself for my successes, which is fine and great, but I didn’t realize how it’d take even more work to maintain that progress. It is insanely easy to slip back down. After all, I’ve spent 20 years doing one thing, and only 3 or 4 months doing something else.
I’m starting up the battle again. Slowly. This time, I’m also planning for the upkeep. It’s not about one singular, numerical goal. It’s about making a change in your lifestyle. I think I made the mistake of thinking that going to the gym and changing my diet as “things to do to lose weight” when, really, my mentality should have been that they were things to do for a better life.
Do you have any health & fitness stories? I’d love to hear them in the comments!