In the past year I’ve completely changed my perspective on food and fitness – I’ve learned to love healthy eating and crave exercise, and I feel so much better mentally, physically, and spiritually because of it. Keep reading to see how I shifted my outlook on wellness and what I’ve learned in the past year.
Time for a change
On the day before Thanksgiving one year ago, my life completely changed. Nothing huge happened to me – no big event, accident, breakup, or anything like that. But I decided on that day that I’d had enough. Enough of exercising sporadically for years because I knew I should but still feeling so out of shape. Enough of my clothes getting tighter and tighter each year and dreading doctor’s appointments because I would have to step on the scale and face that I was steadily gaining weight as my metabolism declined. Enough of ignoring my stomach aches that I knew were related to my diet and would sometimes be so painful that I would be unable to work. Mostly, I had had enough of my excuses for why I could never eat healthier, why I could never find time to really exercise, for why I couldn’t change.
So, the day before Thanksgiving, I realized that the only one holding me back from making change was…me. By this time last year, Steve had already lost a lot of weight with Intermittent Fasting, a diet where you essentially eat for 8 hours (from 8am to 4pm, or from 12pm to 8pm) and fast for 16 (8 or so of those you’re asleep for, so it’s not that bad).
Neither Steve nor I have been big breakfast eaters – I was never hungry in the morning and I honestly usually had to force myself to eat because I heard it was horrible for you if you didn’t eat breakfast. So it worked for us to just skip breakfast each morning and start with lunch around noon.
Shifting my relationship with food
But starting intermittent fasting was just the beginning of the journey. I also decided to start counting calories, something Steve had also had success with. I know there is a lot of debate around this issue, and I 100% see why it’s not for everyone – it can become very obsessive easily. I always made sure I wasn’t too rigid, and I haven’t counted calories in over a year at this point.
But what it did in the beginning at least was really help me quantify just how much I was eating – which was to say, way too much. I learned how many calories are really in all the foods we eat – and I was astonished by it. It was the wakeup call I needed to start at least reducing my portions and minimize all the sugar-filled foods that I was eating everyday.
I saw almost immediate success with limiting my calories and intermittent fasting. My clothes finally fit me again. I wasn’t just eating to eat anymore (anyone who knows me will tell you I am always snacking, usually for no reason) – I was much more aware of what I was choosing to put into my body and of how much I was putting into my body. But the other thing that started to happen when I became more aware of my eating habits was that I started exercising more often.
Changing my attitude towards exercise
At first I just started exercising more so I could eat more calories on the day I exercised. But as I started increasing my exercise routine to 3-4 times a week instead of once a week (with the occasional yoga class thrown in), and doing more strength training rather than just cycling (I love SoulCycle but just doing that on its own, I now know, isn’t enough), I was starting to feel stronger for the first time.
I was able to do an entire SoulCycle class at the pace the instructor was going (which was HUGE for me because I have been going to SoulCycle for 6 years now and never could do that). I never thought I could be a person who was “good enough” to sit in the front row. And now I sit in the front row every time.
Not only was I feeling more in shape than ever, but I actually began to fall in love with exercise – again, I never thought I would be one of those people that actually wanted to go exercise. Even though I always had fun in SoulCycle classes, I would still feel fine if I missed it and I would often make excuses.
But what started happening when I worked out more regularly was I really wanted to go exercise. I craved that feeling of sweating and working hard, of my muscles changing. Exercising regularly also made me feel less anxious, more clear-headed, and more focused. And when I started prioritizing exercise, excuses I used to make (I don’t feel good, I’m tired, I don’t have time) started to fall away.
The journey to healthy eating
And in terms of food, calorie counting was just the beginning. At first I just focused on limiting my portions but still ate the processed, sugary foods I was used to eating. But soon I was making healthier and healthier choices (slowly but surely). I got rid of my nightly dessert habit (which I talk more about in this post). I dramatically reduced my dairy intake and switched to plant-based products like almond milk and coconut oil. I increasingly cooked with vegetables instead of simple carbs, opting for zucchini noodles over regular linguine. And the more I ate vegetables and healthy foods, the happier my body was and the more I began to crave them.
To be fair, I still eat sugar. I’m not vegan. I’m not even vegetarian. And I definitely still eat carbs and processed foods (just on a much smaller scale than before). I’m not perfect. But I do feel so much better and stronger than I did a year ago. I’m so happy I decided I’d had enough with not feeling good and ignoring my body’s needs. Here’s to one year of feeling happier, healthier, and more whole than ever before.