The first half of 2011 was momentous for me. For the first time ever I stuck to my New Year’s resolution of “Thou shalt change thy unhealthy lifestyle.” I know, annoying right? I don’t blame you if you never want to talk to me again. I mean, who does that? Well, I had a few motivating factors. For one thing, my stomach was just way too grab-able. And when I would sit in the car, the seatbelt created a most unbecoming second stomach, which at first I thought was just my pants poofing up, but when I went to smoosh it down it didn’t smoosh. I always joked about having a second stomach; it’s how I manage to be absolutely stuffed after dinner and still have room for dessert. I didn’t actually foresee it coming true.
Motivator number two was that my addiction to sweets was getting painful. Literally. It started happening where every time I ate something with refined sugar and/or fat, I would get a very painful ache under my ribcage. So I knew it was time. Especially since I couldn’t eat a meal without having an instantaneous craving for something sweet, like my body would start having withdrawals or something. I’d turned into an abuser. “I need a fix! Gimme some SUGAR, MAN!”
Last motivator? Kid-free vacation to Maui in June. The thought of me in a swimsuit on a public beach in full sunlight imbedded a very provoking image in my head and encouraged me to forgo a snack of homemade chocolate chip cookies in favor of a handful of healthy almonds (quite possibly the most boring snack ever).
My Christmas presents were a Wii Fit and a bike (at my request – my husband is waaay too nice a guy to ever hint when I’m getting lumpy), so I put in 30 minutes every weekday of either Wii Fit, walking, or biking. Truly, I hate exercising. I do. I would much rather sit on my flabby fanny and read all day long. The only time I feel like exercising, when I am dying to exercise, is after I have a baby because I haven’t been able to move for months. But I can’t because my c-section incision could rupture, spilling my guts all over the floor. And after all those months I spent “nesting”, that is just not something I want to clean up.
But the major step was the diet. Calorie counting became my new obsession. Gross, right? People always make sarcastic quips about women who count calories and I just laugh my little fake laugh and awkwardly nod, “heh heh. Yeah…” But what a learning experience! I really really recommend doing it for at least a few months. Once you get a handle on how many calories are in the foods and portions you’re eating, it’s very helpful (helpful as in “OH MY GOSH! I CAN’T BELIEVE I CONSUME THIS MUCH ON A DAILY BASIS!”). I am a huge fan of http://www.caloriecount.com because it has such an extensive library of foods and it’s so detailed you can even enter in recipes and it will calculate the nutrition information for you. My only problem is the strong desire to lie. “Hmmm… I could enter in that batch of cookie dough I just consumed, but I already know that put me a *cough* little over the limit and who would be benefiting here? Really, I think I would just be disappointing us both. Sorry Calorie Count.” But usually I am honest…usually.
It took six months of relatively hard work and all I lost was about ten pounds, but what a difference! My mom actually told me my legs looked thin, which has never happened before (my dad’s nickname for me in middle school was “Thunder Thighs”). The pooch on my belly was significantly reduced, and my face almost looked like it had cheekbones in it. Almost. But also, by cutting out practically all added sugar during the week (weekends were freebies), the pain in my stomach was a thing of the past.
So I spent my days in Maui at my pre-baby weight, a first in five years, and I felt amazing.
But then, we came home. I suffered the “Maui Blues” for about a week, moping around my house, taking care of my children again, and stuffing my face. Well, maybe not stuffing, but definitely easing up on the tight reins I had had on myself. I stopped exercising because summer in Palm Springs had officially settled in and I could not handle moving any more than necessary in 110 degree heat, even inside our semi-air-conditioned house.
Now it’s November, we have been transplanted to a sunny beach town, and constantly I say, “Okay, starting next week, next month, it’s back to healthy healthy healthy”, and yet I haven’t changed a thing. What’s my problem? It’s like a need a carrot dangled in front of me. No, not a carrot. Anything but a carrot. Blech.
Is this how it’s going to be for me? A burst of willpower to carry me through for a few months before I give up for a few months and so on? This Bi-Polar diet is really giving me a headache. And a bellyache. I keep reading different “diet” books, like the Mediterranean diet and the raw foods diet and the authors are so stinking healthy ALL THE TIME that I just slam the books shut as I laugh in triumph, “Ha HA! Nobody tells ME what to do!”
It’s hard to keep up a certain lifestyle when you’re not used to it. New habits die young. It’s difficult to choose NOT to eat that dessert in your freezer when it’s RIGHT THERE, calling you in its sticky sweet voice. And I give up way too easily.
I used to give up way too easily when it came to another lifestyle “choice”. When I chose to follow Jesus it was very difficult for me to resist the temptations of my former unhealthy lifestyle. But the more I read His Word, and the more I saw the beauty of His righteousness compared to the ugliness of the world, it became easier and easier to stick to my “diet” of a daily relationship with Jesus. A life without Him is worse than an unhealthy body and a stomachache, it’s an unhealthy soul and a great heartache.
Maybe one day I will feel the same way about unhealthy foods. Or maybe, in the words of Bridget Jones, “I will always be just a little bit fat!”
Lord, You care about the well-being of our souls over the well-being of our bodies. Still, it is important that we place nothing above You, and that includes food. Help me make healthy decisions in my life, not to resist only the obvious sinful temptations, but also the ones that cause me to harm this body which is a temple for the Holy Spirit. Please take away the laziness I have, and give me the motivation to eat and exercise as to glorify You alone, not myself. I want to help my family be healthy in body, but always let me remember that helping them be healthy in Spirit is vastly more important.