I think what really inspires them, though, isn't as much ME as what I'm learning about myself and then choosing to act on. Here's a few of those lessons learned...
- I am SO MUCH stronger than I thought I was. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Carrying around 200 extra pounds for the past 20 years has robbed so much of my self-esteem from me. I have carried an unhealthy doubt of my abilities and strengths (anywhere but in the classroom!) for far too long. Every time I walk into my gym now, though, I find new ways that I'm stronger. Whether it's the mental strength needed to overcome the fear of injury that lingers in the back of my mind or the physical strength required to push myself for one more ab crunch because doing the same number as yesterday is just unthinkable...every time I work out, I find new ways that my strength is evident. This is not to toot my own horn, mind you. I know EXACTLY where my strength comes from...Philippians 4:13 sums it up pretty nicely!
- I am only about as happy as I choose to be. Being overweight is hard. Hard on your body, but much more hard on your mindset. It's very easy to be grumpy and focused on what's not going right in your life...because it's so obvious to you every time you catch your reflection in a mirror. It's so easy to believe that everyone you pass is passing judgment on you, mocking you, or even worse, pitying you. Keeping a good attitude, though, is a choice I have. Every day. Understanding that I alone can determine my attitude...not my situations, not my family, not my fears...just me...that was very empowering to me. I do not get to choose what happens TO me...but I can sure choose what I DO about it. And every day, I choose to remain happy and upbeat. That's not to say that it's easy...some days it's pretty near impossible! But understanding that it's my CHOICE in how to react, in what attitude to adopt...that's powerful stuff!
- I am not defined by my mirror or my scale...but they serve me well. You know how many experts in the health and weight loss industry tell you not to weigh yourself often? I do. Daily. At the same time. I also look at myself in the mirror - clothed and the dreaded unclothed! I need the information these tools give me in order to make wise decisions for myself that day. I don't beat myself up with what I see, even if the scale has inched up a pound or two or the mirror shows a bit more pudge than I remember from the day before. Instead, I look at it as data gathering. At my heart, I'm an analytical person. Data is valuable only to the extent that I use it to transform. That's true in the classroom...and it's true in my quest for good health. If the scale inched up a bit, I think about the choices I made from the day before. Did I drink as much water as I could? Did I eat things that slowed down my progress? If the answer is yes, then the fix is easy. I've learned not to be scared of...or defined by...the data that the mirror and scale give me. Who I am is completely found in Christ and His determination of my worth...but what I do with this body He gave me is something I get to choose. And using these two tools in particular has helped me gain more control over those choices. Besides, who doesn't LOVE seeing the scale numbers going DOWN?!?!
- I am not dieting anymore. Never. Never again. Being in the education industry, I have a lot of undergrad psych classes under my belt. And if I learned anything from them about motivation theory and behavior change it's that the more you are denied something...the more you want it. Why do you think rats and mice chase through a difficult maze...they want the cheese! So I refuse to deny myself anything I want, because it's only going to make me crave it more. Several times during the past year that I've been losing this weight, I've heard people tell me, "Oh, sorry, you can't have that..." My response is always the same. "Sure, I can. If I want to." And that's really how I feel about it. I wanted peanut M&M's yesterday...so I had them. The key is, I didn't eat 5 or more handfuls of them like I may have in the past. I portion controlled it and enjoyed each one of them. (And btw...the scale was just fine this morning, thank you very much!) The way I approach eating has drastically changed from my dieting days. Dieting only kept me mired in obesity and negative self-image. Why? Because I hate eating foods that are healthy for me...the stuff most diets are built on. Yogurt? No, thank you. Vegetables? The only vegetables I truly enjoy are green beans and carrots. Fruit? Apples and grapes...the occasional pineapple and plum. That's it! And that made me feel bad about myself for YEARS! But no more. Negatively viewing myself is just not allowed anymore. It's too easy to start believing those things you tell yourself! No more denial of who I am and what I want. The key difference for me now is that I take full responsibility for my choices. And the more I'm willing to do that, the more I THINK before I make those choices. Sure, I could eat a whole 10 oz ribeye steak...but why? It's so much nicer to get the taste of it with 4 or 5 ounces and then share the rest with my friends. Yeah, I can add bacon and cheese to my baked potato, but do I really want to do the extra ab crunches to take off the effect that had? Sometimes, the answer to that is yes...I'll do what is needed because I want the bacon! But usually, the answer is no...it's not worth the extra pain and time at the gym...I'll pass. Some people don't understand how I've lost 72 pounds without dieting and have tried to convince me to be more conscious of what I'm eating so the weight will drop even more quickly. I'm not in the this for quick fixes. I'm in this for the long haul. And I'll eat whatever I want...and be fully responsible for the choice, thank you very much!