When the going gets tough, you discover who you really are: adding fitness to my health makeover.
Yesterday I posted about the nutritional aspect of my health changes and how my drastic change in diet completely turned my world upside down. As in everything else in life, once you start mastering one thing it is necessary to add upon it to make your life exponentially more miserable. To follow this need, I decided this summer to add a fitness regiment to my new healthy lifestyle.
For the first several months I just walked. Every day. Sounds easy, I know, but it was embarrassingly difficult at first. Eventually I felt strong enough that I was no longer dying before I got to the end of the block. It was time to step up my challenge.
I decided to try out the 21 Day Fix by BeachBody. It consists of a nutritional guidance plan, DVD's with different workouts for each day of the week, and an online support coach who keeps you motivated and accountable.
My first workout was a monster. I was sweating buckets and by the end of the 30 minute session my legs and arms were rubber. I was miserable for three days. I could feel the misery in my muscles every time I bent down to pick something up, stepped up into the car, or walked down the stairs. I learned firsthand what the expression to "shred" your muscles comes from, because it described exactly how I felt. I couldn't believe how badly I hurt. I wondered how I could possibly do this day in and day out. My body was simply not strong enough. I was not strong enough.
I don't know how, but I pushed through anyway.
The second week was a little easier. The more intense workouts were still difficult, but somehow it was more tolerable. By the third week, I felt fantastic.
I have just completed my second round of 21 days. I feel stronger every day. This does not mean, however, that everything has suddenly become easy. Some days I just don't want to do it. I'm tired, I have projects to work on, and the effort seems too much for me to bear. Last week, for example, was rough. A few of the days I didn't work out and my nutrition was junk. I stayed up way too late, not turning into bed until midnight. I literally lay in bed thinking of all the reasons why I shouldn't set that alarm to 5am so I could do my workout. And then I heard a voice in my head saying "If you're tired of starting over again, then stop quitting!" It was the voice of the woman in my exercise DVD's, Autumn Calabrese. I hear her saying it every morning, hammering it into my head as we are struggling to hold that plank for 5 more seconds, or push that sumo squat a few more inches lower. I set my alarm, did my 5am workout, and rocked the nutrition all day. Day Conquered.
Wherever you are on your own journey, remember that tomorrow brings a new day of opportunities and challenges, full of hope and sometimes heartache. It is a fresh start to reaching your goal, even when the road gets bumpy. I am thankful to be surrounded by supporters who encourage, rather than tear down my frequently wobbling wall of resolve.
Through this journey of ups and downs, I am discovering my deep inner strength. I am finding my true self that was buried so deep inside of me I had almost forgotten she was there. I am stronger than I realized, and more capable than I ever dreamed.
I've got this.
In October of 2014 I made a dramatic change to my lifestyle. After years of being plagued by extreme eczema and asthma outbreaks I decided to cut gluten from my diet. It was a difficult change for me. I was the poster child for a gluten heavy diet. I baked sugary goods several times a week. My go-to stress relief was a donut and diet soda. I ate out almost every day for lunch, sometimes even for dinner. And my waist-line was showing a significant roll. I was addicted to food and it wasn't a pretty picture.
The summer of 2014 showed a dramatic increase in uncomfortable symptoms. I was covered in eczema, an itchy, burning rash covering most of my trunk, thighs, and inner arms and wrists. My clothes and bed sheets were spotted with blood every day and I had hundreds of scabs scattered around my body in varying stages of infection and healing. I became paranoid that I would develop a Mersa infection and avoided public restrooms like the plague. I also avoided showing much of my body, as I was so self-conscious about the way my skin looked. That summer I also began to suffer from frequent asthma attacks, afflicting me daily. By October I was at the end of my rope. I was miserable enough to make the change that would dramatically improve my life.
Upon advice from my allergist, I cut gluten from my diet. The results were almost instantaneous. The incessant itching subsided and I was finally able to breath. After about four months on the diet I was feeling a lot better, but the rashes never really subsided. I would still get periodic outbreaks which I could not explain away. I thought that I must be unwittingly exposing myself to trace amounts of gluten.
A friend advised me to see a naturopath. I was reluctant at first. What could a naturopath tell me that my allergist had not? I was determined to find answers, however, so I booked the appointment. After a full blood work screening, I was told that I was allergic to about ten other items in addition to gluten, the main ones being eggs, milk, oats, citrus, certain nuts, yeast and vinegar. This came as a huge blow. How was I possibly going to find anything to eat? What would I live on? My options were limited and depressing, especially to someone who was so addicted to the satisfaction of food. I ate when I was happy. I ate when I was sad. I ate when I was stressed. I ate when I was bored. I ate to entertain myself. I ate to enjoy myself.
Making the change was not easy. In fact, it was a nightmare. I cried. A lot. Finally after looking at a million food labels in every grocery store I could find, walking away empty-handed and depressed, I gave up the search for anything packaged that I was used to eating. I decided to focus on foods that I KNEW I could eat: whole foods, no packaging, no labels.
I started to experiment with different foods, finding vegetables that I had never eaten before. I explored new ways of preparing meals, with different combinations of veggies, fruits, nuts, and natural oils. I discovered exciting blogs and websites with creative recipes and inspiring stories. Believe it or not, I actually started to have fun eating again. But this time I felt different. My relationship with food had changed. Instead of using food as a comfort, I was using it to fuel my body. I began to see a dramatic change in how I felt physically. I was giving my body energy and nourishment, instead of filling it with junk. I developed a new respect for what an amazing machine my body is. And I felt grateful to my Father in Heaven for creating such a wonderful tabernacle to house my spirit.
I have learned so much as I journeyed through this process. I have learned about self control, self mastery, and self respect. I have learned that I am strong and capable. I have learned that I CAN do hard things. And I have learned that I am totally worth all the effort!
You may be asking yourself, "So, what's up with all the ice buckets out there?"
I know the feeling, I was wondering the same thing myself. I tend to not like to follow the crowd and do things just because everyone else is doing them. In fact, I have a tendency to veer the exact opposite direction. It took me five years of my husband's cajoling before I was willing to dip my toes into the uber popular world of iPhones. I just tend to resist the things that everyone else is doing or buying into. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was no exception....
That is, until I watched this video.
A warning to my sensitive friends, the beginning has a little raunchy humor, but stick it out. The end is totally worth the wait. It is also incredibly eye-opening as to the gut-wrenching horror of ALS.
I started to look into this ice bucket trend a little more.
I discovered that it was started by former Boston College baseball star Pete Frates, who suffers from the disease and wanted to make a difference. Noticing its blaring lack of funding for research, Frates started on a quest to bring more exposure to this insidious disease.
See the article and video attached to the photo below to learn about Frates' journey to making a difference for those suffering from ALS.
Since the beginning of August, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, meant to create social awareness of the disease ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), has swept the nation's social media. Starting on the field with athletes and teams, the movement soon rolled into the world of celebrities and spread quickly from there. Suddenly it doesn't matter if you are famous or a geeky high school kid. Everyone can be involved and feel a part of a national movement.
As of today, Sunday August 24th, an unprecedented 70.2 million dollars has been donated to the ALS Association to help fund research to fight this terrible disease and provide care for those who are suffering from it. Although some critics (myself originally included) question how much good a viral stream of people being drenched by buckets of ice water can really do for those struggling with the disease, many who are affected personally by ALS are elated with the public exposure their underfunded and often over-looked condition is receiving. According to those who must live with this nightmare every day, a bucket of water can mean a flood of hope that better treatment, and someday even a cure is possible.
I choose to accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and along with drenching myself in water plan to make a heart-felt donation. It is given with the hope that my little drop in the bucket can make the pool that much bigger, and give those fighting ALS the dream of a healthy future.
My name is Heather.
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