Picture it, you’re walking out of the YMCA with someone. While you are a member of a gym, you weren’t even there to work out. You were there to support an event. Yet as you walk to your vehicle, a car drives by. A passenger yells out their window, “I think you need to work out a lot more!” This person has just judged you on what they saw in a brief few seconds. But let me share what they didn’t see.
- You have already lost 40 lbs. (give or take).
- You are more active than you have been in as long as you can remember.
- Your muscles are growing.
- Your body is shrinking.
- The other night you ran for the first time in years. You didn’t even realize you could until you tried.
- You’re over halfway through meeting a challenge of working out 100 times in 6 months.
- You are able to consistently up your weight used when working out surprising yourself on how strong you really are.
- You are not lazy as you used to be. You now want to be doing things instead of lounging around.
- You are eating healthier than you have in years.
- You are starting to realize you really are worth it.
There are many more truths this person does not see. When it comes down to it, what this person said doesn’t matter. This person passed through your life in approximately 5 seconds. Is that a person worth listening to? Is that a person worth believing? Is it worth putting everything you know aside to believe what this one person said? No! The only person you have to answer to 24 hours a day is yourself. So stand tall, stand firm, and hold tight to what you know is true. Listen to yourself (those positive voices, not the negative ones), not the strangers who know nothing about you.
I was talking to a friend recently about losing weight. I said “You don’t understand what this means to me”. Their response was, “You are right that I don’t understand what it means. What does it mean?” The problem was, I wasn’t sure how to explain it.
Over the past few days I have been mulling this around in my head, trying to find the words to describe it. There is one word that keeps resurfacing in my head – Freedom. This is one of the most difficult things I have ever attempted to explain. It’s something you really can’t understand unless you experience it. Here’s my best attempt.
While this started out as a weight loss attempt, it has shifted to a journey to better health. That not only includes physically, but mentally as well. You’d be surprised at how much losing weight can affect the way you think – about yourself, about your eating habits, about everything really. A new world opens up to you. The impossible becomes possible. You see things in a different light. It’s empowering.
My body is moving in ways it hasn’t been able to in years. I have energy I haven’t felt as long as I can remember. I have a want to do things. Before it was do what I had to and then rest and relax (mostly just lounge around). I’m now pushing past that and doing more and sitting less. (Don’t tell anyone – but I was actually excited about getting out and mowing the lawn yesterday!) I actually want to be more active.
When you’re overweight, you can very easily get out of shape. You find it harder to maneuver in some ways. I had a moment just the other day at the gym where I walked between two pieces of equipment. Now, if you’re overweight, you may have experienced the “shimmy of shame” as I like to call it. You know the drill – you’re walking between two objects where other people just walk straight through. But you are unable to just walk right through. Either your hips are too wide, or your whole body is too wide. You have to turn sideways and side-step through. Sometimes sideways is just as confining as well, so you have to find another way. Well this time, I just walked right through. It was still tight mind you. But I did it. No turn. No shimmy. Just walking. I felt my face light up. I felt freedom. Freedom to walk through the way I wanted.
As I lose weight and begin to rewire my thinking, I’m learning to love myself. I’m learning to be proud of who I am. I’m learning to search for the gifts I have that I’ve never seen before. I used to doubt myself constantly on what I could do. I’m learning how strong I truly am. Why have I never realized all this before? The negative thoughts took over. They filled my head. I now have freedom from those thoughts to make room to focus on the positive.
I used to be a slave to food. I ate for taste. I ate too much. I ate the wrong things. I’m relearning how to eat. I’m learning to listen to what my body needs. I’m learning what is good for me and what isn’t. I’m learning how my body reacts to certain foods. I’m learning I like foods I never thought I would. I’m learning healthy eating doesn’t have to be tasteless and bland. I’m learning to enjoy natural sweetness. I’m learning I have the freedom to make the choice of what I eat and drink, and how much I eat and drink.
The truth is when trying to explain what this means to me, it’s hard to put into words. I’m not sure this writing is doing it any justice at all. But I hope it helps give you even the slightest glimpse into the freedom I am experiencing each and every day. With each new goal met, with each pound lost, with each weight and rep I can increase at the gym, with each new good choice I make on eating, comes freedom. The freedom for me to say “I CAN do this and I WILL do this. The freedom to say this is not the me I want to be. The freedom to look to the future and see a better me. The freedom of knowing I will get there no matter what anyone else says. I have a freedom I never knew existed. The freedom to believe. The freedom to believe, finally, in me!
Many of us have seen the movie Finding Nemo. And if you’ve seen it then you probably recognize when someone is singing, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…” Well next time you think of giving up – on anything – I want you to remember this song, with a small tweak. “Just keep going, just keep going…”
Quitting is easy. Anyone, literally anyone, can be a quitter. It takes no effort, no skill, no planning, no muscle, no thought. It’s probably one of the easiest things in the world you can do.
I am quite skilled in quitting if you want me to be honest. I’ve quit more “diets” and workout plans than I’ve stuck to. I’ve quit jobs. I’ve quit friendships. I’ve quit trying when something hasn’t gone my way. I have a lot of experience in quitting. But I cannot call myself a quitter. Why you ask? Because this time I am not quitting.
The going is getting tough. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight, but I can tell it’s not coming off as quickly anymore. I could quit. But I won’t. Revamping my eating habits is very difficult. I’ve admitted it before and I will admit it again – I LOVE food. It’s hard to stay away from what I really want and sacrifice for what I should be eating. I could quit. But I won’t. There are days when I just don’t want to go to the gym. I don’t feel that great, I’m tired, I just don’t feel like putting in that much work. I could quit. But I won’t.
If I’m going to be bluntly honest, I have considered giving up on this blog. Not many people are reading it. My last post only got 1 view. I wondered why I’m even doing it. The reason is because someone out there is in my shoes. Someone has tried to improve themselves and has quit so many times before. Someone out there doesn’t have anyone to support and encourage them. Someone out there doesn’t have the answers and has no one to ask. Someone out there is looking, searching for someone who understands – so that they no longer feel alone on this journey. That someone is me. I could quit. But I won’t.
My point is simple – Just.Keep.Going. No matter how tough it gets. No matter how tired you are. No matter how much you would love that donut so much more than that banana. You can rest. You can pause. You can even have a siesta if you choose. But whatever you do – just keep going! Do not give up. You are the only person who can hold you back. Don’t let that happen. “Just keep going, just keep going, just keep going…”