Real Fit for Real Life
Featuring everything & anything to help you & your family live a fit, full, delicious, joyful life
I say new blog, because I've blogged before. Like pretty much every bikini/figure competitor out there, I blogged about the experience. The weeks leading up. How I felt on my meal plans. What the competition was like. Why I did it. What I never blogged about was WHY I gave it up, the bodybuilding competition scene. I only did 4 bikini competitions, never placing, then attempted to train for a figure competition before life got so crazy & stressed that I had a breakdown and made the difficult decision to quit an endeavor that I had already begun and invested in.
I struggled with severe lower back issues for months, later to learn from X-rays that I had degenerative discs in my L4-L5. A severe episode would land me on the floor for a week! I'd have to get subs for my classes, pop some muscle relaxers, and wallow in self-pity. As a trainer who prides myself in body awareness and functional fitness, it was an embarrassment to be laid up like that. Besides the fact that not much is as frightening as that lightning zap of pain that suddenly and severely stabs you in the back quite literally! Only people who have experienced this understand the unique and terrifying sensation-- when I meet someone who completely gets it, I want to hug that person! Obviously, these episodes put a kink into my figure training schedule-- the last thing I could do was lift!
On top of that, we made some huge life changes. My husband accepted a job promotion that would move us to CT, thousands of miles away from what we now considered home. Utah. I said I'd never raise kids in Utah (it's a bit of a bubble), but once most of our extended family ended up there, and we ended up there, and we both had jobs going well there, I thought we were settled for good, that our moving days were far behind us. We'd been in Utah 11 years, the longest either of us had lived anywhere in our entire lives, me growing up a Navy brat & my hubby also moving often as a kid. Let's just say, the move was difficult. It was a tearful good-bye, and arriving to live in a hotel for 66 days with 3 kids and a dog in a hide-a-bed didn't make the transition any easier.
Basically, I had been working so hard to build muscle, then life got stressful (cortisol levels up!), and I needed a bit more wine than usual! So I gained weight. The weight I had said I would never ever gain again. We all know how difficult it is to lose weight after having babies! To be honest, mathematically speaking, I shouldn't have gained weight as rapidly as I did. I still worked out extremely hard when my back was in decent shape, & I ate well the majority of the time. But genetically, I'm a gainer, so it didn't take much.
I was a bit embarrassed applying for a fitness job in our new home state. I wanted to say, "I'm usually leaner! Picture me 5-10 lbs lighter-- that's the real me!" Luckily I had a great resume and landed a teaching job right away. It was my best stress relief, teaching classes. I was living in a hotel, schlepping 3 kids to 3 different schools every weekday, then lying in bed watching HGTV because there wasn't much else to do "at home"-- no chores, minimal cooking, no where to sit. I worked out. I went for a run or a hike. I did laundry with quarters. I drove.
When we finally got into our house, it was a massive project! My HGTV-watching served me well, because I was ready. I knew paint colors, walls I wanted to knock down, carpet I wanted to rip up. I got busy. So busy I hardly ate. You would think the weight just melted off. But it was slow progress. I began to get frustrated. I considered getting back on a meal plan, measuring every week, returning to that rigid lifestyle. My negative self-talk was at a peak. Of course, it had peaked before, every time I put weight back on after a competition. Even during the process of leaning out, because I wasn't leaning out fast enough. I began to realize, I'd been worrying about my physique for far too long. And I had been berating myself for years. And that instead of TRYING to lose weight, I should instead try to LOVE MYSELF where I was at. I had never attempted that before. I had always had a goal to reach, and while I believe having a goal is great, I was never fully present or content in my own skin because I was more in love with who I would be minus 5-10 lbs later. It was an incredibly sad epiphany.
So I changed my goal. Instead of going on yet another diet, I opted to go 30-days without standing on the scale and without saying (and trying not to even think the words), "I'm fat." "I wish my thighs were smaller." "I wish I was leaner." etc. And a miracle happened. In this 30 days of no eating rules, no weighing, no tape measuring, I leaned out some. The scale stayed roughly the same. Lo and behold, I did not gain 20 lbs by not plugging everything into myfitnesspal! I began to eat more intuitively. I had fewer cravings. I still chose to eat clean most days with plenty of veggies, fruit, & protein, but I didn't feel bad at all if I had a Prime Burger or some pizza (lots of good pizza places in town!) or a glass of wine or Ross's (bakery-cafe) chocolate chip bread pudding (which played a large role in our choice to move to Ridgefield, not gonna lie!) I didn't go crazy. I didn't binge. I didn't treat my weekends like the end of yummy eating for eternity (I did this often previously!) I just LIVED. It was shocking to me that there are probably a lot of people out there who live this way-- just LIVE. I wondered what had held me back from this wisdom for so long! But I'll save those ponderings for another post . . .
Basically, we worry way too much about things, that in the end, mean very little. For years, I worried constantly about leaning out, leaning out, leaning out (this means skinny but with muscle-- a rather difficult feat for most humans!) Which meant I worried about every bite I put in my mouth-- was it high enough grams of protein, low enough fat, best fiber, weigh exactly 3 ounces, and so on. I believed so passionately in properly fueling my body-- which is a good thing for health, energy, disease prevention-- but still, it was detracting from the act of living. It's a delicate line that separates living your passion and not really living. It comes down to this, and the answer depends on the individual:
If today was your last day, would you be happy with the priorities you made? Would you regret more that you ate that cookie or didn't eat that cookie? That you spent an extra hour at the gym, or in bed, or talking to a friend?
There isn't a right or wrong answer here-- there's just a right or less right for YOU-- what do YOU value most? I'd guess if you're dying of obesity-related disease, you'd regret eating the cookie, as well as a lot of other foods you probably shouldn't have shoveled in! But if you're super lean and have been depriving yourself for months, you may very well regret that you didn't enjoy one final cookie! We are each on our own journey and at different places in life. Figure out what your priorities are right now and stop worrying so much about everything else. This was tough for me, but as soon as I figured out that for me, attaining & maintaining a bikini body wasn't top priority, I began to finally love myself, live my life more fully, and be less frustrated with things beyond my control. This isn't giving up or giving in-- this is breaking through.
My goal as a personal trainer is to first, help clients establish healthy habits, but then, help them to LOVE THEMSELVES and get off the diet roller coaster! At some point, you have to learn how to LIVE. And constantly seeing yourself as a "work in progress" means you never appreciate and love where you are right NOW, in this moment. As soon as you learn to love yourself, you will let go of emotional eating, guilt-driven eating, and over-eating. And that is just truth.
So welcome to my blog about LIVING a real life. Being real fit, whatever that looks like in your own life. Seeking real joy. Creating real meals. And making your real fit life a family affair. I plan to post: Hike of the Week (kid-friendly), Menu Ideas, Fit-Philosophizing, and whatever else strikes my fancy or readers request ;)
As always, feel free to share.
Mother of 3. Fit-philosopher. Showing my kids how to be fit via living life to the max. Newbie photographer. Simplistic cook who shares easy, healthy meals. Lover of kid-friendly hikes & getting outdoors & unplugged.