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!