March 10, 2015

My Journey Towards Health and Fitness

It's no secret I love to run/workout/torture myself on a daily basis. Whether it stems from good example (thanks Mom XO) or the fact that my happy endorphins crave sweat and there's no way around it, I have to get my move on most days of the week. (taking a rest day is hard for me - today is rest day. But the treadmill is calling my name....)

But there is also a darker side to all this that I don't think I've shared much here. When I was in high school I had a severe eating disorder. One that left me emaciated, on the brink of hospitalization, and facing demons in the face. This battle arose from many different circumstances (of which I don't really need to go into except to say they are things young/old/middle aged women can relate to I'm sure) and with parents who forced me to get help, a God who latched on and never let me go, friends who showed me what it really means to be a woman, and a husband who loved me to death through the early years of our marriage while battling this disease I can safely say that I've won. (Well, I'm winning...) Yes, I can look that demon in the eye, call him by name, and shove him off for the liar that he is. A liar that attempts to destroy my dignity, confuse me about my body, and destroy my happiness.


Annnyyyyyway, this isn't a post about all that. But it is, ironically, about how running/lifting weights/blah blah blah helped me ultimately conquer those demons and put myself in right relationship with my body and my health.

It all started when I started running. (Why I Run Part 1 and Part 2 here is you're interested) But ultimately running became about reaching goals, pushing myself to the edge, and finding strength I never knew I had. My body became a machine to be used to conquer mountains - and I shed the desire to merely see it as an ornament to make look good. After having three babies I really didn't care all that much if my abs were squishy because well, three babies, and well, my goal was different. Food had to be my fuel - not my enemy. And over the course of 15 marathons/ultra marathons (and one 50 mile experience that I still think of every darn day) my body and I were reconciled. We made peace. It could trust me again. And I could love it - the right way.

Through pregnancy #4 I kept running and added more weight training to my repertoire. I learned the hard way (aka: silly IT bands) that you have to have strong muscles to run as much as I was and so adding in weights is key. (You can read more about my health journey during pregnancy here, if you want.)

After Lola was born I went through a big discernment process with all my workout/running stuff. I have four kids now. FOUR. And one of them a NEWBORN. I picked up running again when she was 3 weeks old but every time I went out for my long-at-the-time runs I would be thinking about my marathoning future and what all that meant. I had a mental checkpoint of bouncing back for my first marathon when she was 4 months old but a few weeks into the training I decided that I would rather spend this time snuggling up on a baby then out for some 3-hour-run. The trails will always be there. The baby won't.

At the same time some good friend of ours - who own a more-than-a-gym called Innovative Fitness - were running a fall fitness challenge. I joked with Katie (XO shout-out love you!) that she needed to do one in the fall so I could (attempt to) lose the baby weight and well, here was my chance. But the thing was is that, well, I was a bit scared. I didn't know how to lose weight the safe and healthy way. I was afraid my body would freak out and think I was turning on it again. Plus, I had to find motivation other than just losing the weight. Because one thing I've realized in my health and fitness journey is that is has to be about more than the number on the scale or the way I feel about my body. Those things can be deceitful...and dangerous.

And so I made it about doing something I had never done before. It was a whole new process of working out (one that included way way way less running and more more more lifting weights) - a process that I didn't quiet understand at first and was uncomfortable with. But I trusted the process, and my trainer Jesse, and I fought through the doubts and the hard stuff to push through.

You see, THAT is what working out means to me. It is a physical means to push me to my limits. It makes me do hard shiz when I really just want to take a nap. Baby up at night? Laundry to fold? Just don't feel like it? I can't let my excuses get in the way of a goal and it is this very thinking that translates over into other areas of my life. I wouldn't be as mentally tough without something to push me physically. I can be so easily swayed by my emotions and desires, so to have a challenge in my life that doesn't allow for all that (whether it be running or weight lifting or sticking to the meal plan) is exactly what I need.

I also see my current fitness journey as one that is forcing me to "finish strong." It's easy for me to bounce from one thing to another - like in reading, I always just read 3/4 of a book and never finish it, ugh. But I am currently forcing myself to see myself through to the end. Being on a meal plan for 6 months is not easy. But it's more to me than just chicken - it's following through with a goal, with something I originally set out to do. I don't ever want to quit something just because I'm scared, or bored, or tired. I want to be the sort of person that pushes on to the finish line and perhaps one step further. Again THIS is what my health and fitness journey mean to me.

OK, I hope this was helpful and not dumb. I know it was long but writing it enabled me to down three cups of coffee IN PEACE. I post a lot about workout/health stuff and I felt like I need to clarify my motivations for it all - mostly because I want people, women in particular, to see that our health journeys aren't just about the pant size. I know a lot, a lot, of women who struggle with body image and I'm here to say that you can have a healthy relationships with yo-self. Working out, being healthy is not bad. But for it to change us for the better we have to embrace the amazing bodies we have, treat them with respect, and not let any little lies infiltrate the amazing vessels they are.

Alright, I think that's good for now. I'll continue to share my journey with y'all but I wanted to give a jumping off point. Kind of like box jumps. Or the big-A jump rope. Both of which I used to hate. Now I luuuv. Lol, who am I I like. 


* Chrissy * said...

Great post! Love to read about the motivation and get inspired myself. I often change my excersise routines or diet based on the scale, but about a month ago I gave up and just started to workout for me, just me and my body. Of course my kids and hubby are a big part of the motivation, but I needed the goals to be about ME. Keep these coming girl!

Kristine Mauss said...

I totally did the same thing. It's amazing how consistency can help break the destructive cycle. And I will keep them coming, thanks!!!

SarahG said...

Thank you for your post. I am trying to figure out what my healthy journey needs to look like. Consistency is a big problem for me. I give you all the credit in the world for sticking to your plan for six months! It isn't easy. I would love to hear more about how you make it work with four kiddos!

Kristine Mauss said...

Sarah, yes I can totally post about how to make it work! Not always easy for sure but definitely worth it.