Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Exercise can be...fun?

I love going to the gym.

You heard me right. I am a self-certified couch potato, who can think of anything I'd rather do than take a hike, ride a bike, or go work out. And yet, I have recently re-discovered the gym.

I know that I am far, far from a healthy weight. I have tried every diet you can imagine: Atkins, Weight Watchers, South Beach, LA Weight Loss, Slimfast...need I name a few more? Okay, cabbage soup, Relacore, Hydroxycut. Yep, been there, done that. I am so tired of the word "diet" that just to think it, hear it, let alone say it, makes me cringe, and shove another oreo in my mouth.

I read a book recently called "The Clean Eating Diet." I know, there's that "D" word. However, I read the book not to follow a diet, but to learn about "eating clean." (I should mention that I read "Clean Eating" right after I re-read Skinny Bitch, so I was already on a vegetarian, whole food, clean eating-type kick...perhaps that's why it resonated.) After doing lots of reading, and lots of thinking, I realized several things: a) I no longer can do an extreme diet and successfully change all of my eating habits at once; b) I don't want to follow a structured plan; the more time I spend writing things down, figuring out points, and thinking about food in general, the more I focus on food and the hungrier I become; c) I don't have the time to focus on food that much (researching calories, points, menus, etc.); and d) I don't want to follow a plan for a specified period of time. I want to learn about healthier eating in general.

So, I slowly began changing my habits. I focused on having a fruit and/or vegetable at every meal (that one is huge, since I never really liked fruits or veggies), I made sure I was eating whole grains, not empty carbs, and I started experimenting. Every week when I go to the grocery store, I buy at least one new vegetable and natural food. This week I bought two vegetables - an eggplant and turnips. (The eggplant was last night's experiment and it failed miserably. I have higher hopes for the turnips.) I drink a LOT of water, too.

One thing I've noticed is that I was eating crap. Man, was I eating crap. I thought I'd been getting better, thought I'd been doing okay, but really...I wasn't. Now, at three and a halfs weeks later, I don't crave junk food. Fast food is not appealing (unless it's Mikuni!), and processed foods like chips, lunchmeat, and sugary snacks hold no appeal. It hasn't been easy, though; it takes a LOT more work to pack your lunch when you're focusing on whole foods. Sometimes I eat weird things: kidney beans at 10:00 a.m., half of an avocado and hummus sandwich at 12:00. I have certainly noticed a difference, though; in 3 1/2 weeks I've lost almost 8 pounds (yay me!), my skin is clearer, and I have a slight boost in energy and mental clarity.

Now that I'm well on my way to mastering the food side of being healthy, I started to focus on the other side...the dreaded exercise. I've been noticing that I am way too out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs, my knee pops more than it used to, and I'm just generally tired and icky feeling (even with the slight increase in my general well-being from eating better). I was looking at some old photos the other day, and reminiscing about how thin I used to be, without working out. Well of course I was, I realized! I bucked hay, line danced, and was generally on the move, even if I wasn't "exercising." I thought, well, when I did Atkins I lost 40 pounds without exercising. But then I quickly thought back to myself, Yes, maybe I did, but I was 21, and nothing about Atkins is good...I've been all out of whack ever since that stupid diet.

So, somehow, I got myself to the gym. I went for the first time last Saturday night. I went again Sunday night. Then, I skipped all week, and went back this past Friday night. I went Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights, too. Each night (except last night) I tried a new machine, thereby lengthening my workout. I used to go to the gym, do the treadmill for 20 minutes, get bored, and leave. Not anymore! Plus, even though I've been trying new machines, I try ones that look safe, or that I watch people do. This weekend, though, hubby is going to go with me and teach me how to use all the machines. That way, I won't make a fool of myself trying to figure them out on my own.

So, I'm still a long way from a healthy weight. I'm still a long way from feeling better, looking better, and not worrying about health concerns (I don't have any now, but I know I'm on my way to them in the future). For years, I've thought - I'm just not ready to lose weight, I don't want to diet. All of a sudden, I seem to be ready. I don't know what changed, but I'm happy that it did. I'm also happy that I read about clean eating, whole foods, and all that good stuff. Now that I understand what certain foods do to my body, and what benefits different foods have, I can look at food more like fuel, rather than as a reward, or as something that I deserve.

Whew, now I'm hungry. Just kidding!

5 comments:

  1. A--
    I'm so proud of you. This is such a healthy (and I don't just mean physically) sounding post. This is totally how I'm trying to approach food and fitness. I'm glad you're in such a positive place about it. It sounds like you're doing a great job too. Keep up the good work.
    Love you!
    H

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  2. You have officially inspired me to get off my butt and kick it into gear. No "D" word, but definitely going to improve myself physically and mentally. Thanks!

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  3. Hi April!!
    I was being nosey and ready your blog! If you want to read another good book that gives a lot of good insight but is not a diet read Naturally Thin by Bethany somthing (she's on Real Housewives of New York) It's really good and it opens your eyes to what and the amount of food you eat. Anyways good luck and just keep at it!
    Nicole

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  4. Thanks everyone! It's nice to hear that something I did inspired someone, because I know how hard it is sometimes to get inspired.

    And Nicole, I'm definitely going to take a look at that book. Thanks!

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