|The classic before shot|
Eight years ago today I made a life-changing decision. It was my “half-birthday”, exactly six months until I would turn the tender and significant milestone of 50. On that day, I weighed 175 pounds (I am 5’ 3”), I had been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, I had back issues/pain, knee pain, and I was always tired. I wore a size 16 (tightly, I might add), and most of the time my wardrobe was either a tunic top or big jackets over elastic-waist slacks, and the occasional no-shape A-line jumper. Even in the summer… in the heat. I was forever pulling my shirt or jacket or sweater around my ever-increasing self so that I could mask my size. Sound familiar, anyone? So there I sat, close to “the big 5-0”… disgusted with myself. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Sometimes I think you really have to hit bottom, to be completely and totally over yourself and your issues to get to the point of choosing to change. It’s a hard, scary and depressing place to be. But I knew I didn’t want to be like that the rest of my life.
So…I made a decision… quietly, without fanfare… alone with just myself and my mirror and scale. I wanted to be healthy and strong again. I wanted to have energy again. Yes, I wanted to be smaller, but more importantly I just wanted to feel good again – inside my body as well as about my body. Like I said, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I chose then and there to change. I chose ME, my life, and my future.
I went to a doctor first for a check-up. I began a food journal and personal journal, took my measurements (yes, it was painful) and began to count my calories. Oh, that was a real eye-opener. You could have called me Cleopatra, because I was Queen of DENIAL about how many calories I could eat on any given day. I was really shocked. But one thing that was very important to me was that needed the freedom of eating anything I wanted to eat, be it chocolate, pizza, whatever. I knew if I tried this diet or that plan, I would fail – because that was my track record. So I treated my calories like a budget – and if I “spent” some on a slice of pizza (as opposed to four or more like I used to scarf down), then I accommodated that with less calories elsewhere. Now mind you, I didn’t have pizza every day, or a donut, etc. I began eating clean – fruit, veggies, chicken, fish… and lots of water. But when I really truly wanted a brownie, I would stop and think about it first. I became intentional and mindful about everything I put in my mouth. Was it worth “spending” the calories? Would it be a moment on the lips, then forever on the hips? Was it worth the hour to burn off the calories? If it was on that day, then I had it. But I ate it slowly, and enjoyed every mouthful, every delicious crumb. I didn’t just take two bites and then it was gone.
I joined a gym and met with a personal trainer who designed a workout plan for me. I also began attending some of the classes there, and that’s where I fell in love with Pilates. And so began my journey to fitness. The weight starting slowing coming off, and instead of rewarding myself with food (after all, I’m not a dog), I would get something small (and inexpensive), like a lipstick, or nail polish, or a book. I set goals for myself each month on what I would like to weight, what size I would like to fit into next, and BMI and body fat targets. I set fitness goals for walking, going to the gym X number of days, and more minutes for stamina on my workouts.
Along the way I found my confidence growing, and I went back to college online and (gasp!) began taking the ballroom dance classes that were offered at the gym. It was great. Oh, I had setback days and times of emotional eating. I began learning more about myself as I journaled, and how my eating was a symptom of what was really “eating me.” As time progressed, my aches and pains lessened. The Pilates classes strengthened me, as well as my workouts, and my chiropractor even told me that, knowing my history of back problems, he now would never have guessed that I had ever had any back problems. Of course that’s not something you can guarantee for everyone, but it worked for me. I also was no longer diagnosed as pre-diabetic.
Since that day, eight years ago, I have lost a total of 50 pounds and kept it off. I have earned my certifications as a personal trainer, TRX and kettlebells trainer, Pilates and Pilates Reformer instructor, and Life Coach. Next year I will (Lord willing) complete my bachelors in Psychology with a dual specialization in Christian Counseling and Life Coaching. I dance as a hobby now and have done several group performances. I am blessed to work at the Robert Wood Johnson Hamilton Center for Health & Wellness in their Pilates Studio with some absolutely wonderful clients. It’s been a long, hard road with pitfalls and stumbles and tears. But it has been more than worthwhile and I am in the best health and shape of my life. There was no magic… no pills or formulas… just old-fashioned exercise and behavior modification and counting calories. Slow and steady. I prayed a lot, and God gave me strength and courage each day. Believe me, if I can do it, ANYONE can. I don’t write this to say, “Woohoo, look at me.” I write it to encourage you and say you can do anything you CHOOSE to do at any point in your life. Every day you wake up, every time you sit down for a meal… you CHOOSE.
Make the choice today to choose YOU, your health, wellness, longevity --- choose life for you and celebrate it every day.
Oh by the way, one of my goals eight years ago was to celebrate my birthday surrounded by my friends, wearing a beautiful dress, dancing and sipping a bit of champagne. I’m really thankful to say that’s exactly how I celebrate my 50th birthday.
Be fantastic at 40, fabulous at 50, sensational at 60, sexy at 70, incredible at 80, nifty and 90 and WOW at 100!!!!!
Coach Linda Bush
P.S. And if you would like someone who's been there and walked in your shoes to coach you to come alongside you and partner with you to help you to your best self, give me a call. That's my passion and I'm here for you!