Those who’ve been following my progress for the last several years know I’ve been prioritizing my health more than I have ever have before.
What started in 2019 as a goal to lose weight has morphed into something so much more — a full transformation of mind, body and soul. If someone would have told me in the summer of 2019 where I’d be today, I wouldn’t believe them. That’s how different my life was just two and a half years ago.
What I quickly learned is weight loss and living a healthier lifestyle requires so much mental work, and once I went down the mindset rabbit hole, that’s where the real journey began. What most weight-loss pushers don’t tell you is that after you lose the weight, you’ll still be the same person with the same shitty thoughts about yourself unless you work on those thoughts all the way down the scale.
That’s not what I wanted. I wanted to feel accomplished and strong when I reached my goal — and I did for a while.
And then I became severely anemic (because thin doesn’t necessarily mean healthy) so I had to re-evaluate what I was doing and what I was eating. I had to start listening closer to what my body needed because I obviously wasn’t giving it enough.
As I recovered from the anemia, I put a few pounds back on and all those negative thoughts and self-doubt about myself came flooding back. Then my father-in-law died from COVID-19. Then the pandemic carried on for another year. My depression and anxiety got worse, and the pounds crept back on slowly.
It was clear to me I hadn’t done enough mental work to overcome this new hurdle and I wasn’t ready to give up. About the same time, I attended a women’s yoga retreat at Lake Junaluska and met yoga teacher and health coach Sara Lewis. She talked to us about nutrition and the importance of mindfulness. She had such a calming presence and plenty of experience in her field so I reached out to her for more information about her program.
I worried about whether it would help me and whether I could afford to spend money on something that didn’t feel like a necessity. But I committed to give it a try — to give myself every resource I could to be healthy because what’s more important to me right now than my health?
We started working together last summer and I have no regrets. Sara has been so much more than a health coach — she’s been a life coach because everything happening in our lives impacts our overall health and ability to lose weight. We talked just as much about nutrition as we did about all the stressors in my life.
When we started, I felt completely out of control when it came to my eating and drinking habits. I was binge eating sweets at night and drinking more alcohol than I had been when I lost 75 pounds. My first instinct was that I just wasn’t trying hard enough, not exercising enough and not restricting food enough. Sara helped me to understand cravings and emotional eating and provided resources for me toward feeling more balanced — none of which included more restrictions, more exercise or more beating myself up over it.
She taught me the importance of cutting out processed foods in exchange for more whole foods to get the nutrients I needed to feel better and have more energy. She helped me work on establishing new healthy habits to build on slowly over time to create sustainable goals and make realistic progress.
I learned new styles of cooking and tried new healthy recipes. I’ve learned to be more mindful when I eat, which means sitting at the table to eat dinner instead of in front of the TV. It means eating when I’m actually hungry and stopping when I’m satisfied. It means finding another way to relieve my stress and anxiety other than turning to a glass or wine or downing a box of Oreos. The relief of sugar and alcohol are only temporary and the next day my stressors are still there waiting for me.
Mostly, I’ve learned not to beat myself up when I don’t have a perfect day of honoring all my healthy intentions and to trust in my ability to get back to my routine the next day no matter what the stupid scale says. Living a healthy life is about so much more than what you weigh — it’s about loving yourself unconditionally and knowing your worth isn’t determined by your ability to be thin.
The lessons I learned from Sara are invaluable. Even though I’m still a work in progress, I’m now armed with a wealth of knowledge that will help me lead a long and healthy life.
If you’re struggling with the relationship you have with your body, food, stress, exercise, I highly recommend finding a health coach to support you and help you integrate the connection between mind, body and spirit.
As for me, I will continue to keep you posted on my journey. Next stop is yoga training certification, which starts this weekend!