Photo on left taken June 28th, 2010; photo on right taken June 29th, 2015.
Several years ago, I decided to make a change. Plain and simple, I used food to comfort me when I was lonely, stressed, angry, happy, you name it. The turning point came for me when we had Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith at the Hippodrome in 2009. I was taking pictures and walking up the slight incline of the concert floor out to the lobby while carrying the twenty pounds of camera gear and it left me seriously winded. A listener stopped me to share how God had done something incredible in his life. I was so winded that I was starting to see stars, and I was seriously going to pass out on this listener if I didn’t sit down. I invited him to sit with me on a nearby bench so I could "hear his story.” To this day, I have no idea what the listener said to me, and I still regret that. He was pouring his heart, and all I could think about was trying to save face and not pass out. It was at that moment I realized my health had become so out of control that it kept me from being able to share in something amazing God was doing in someone’s life. The next day, I got on my parent’s treadmill, and had to push myself to do 20 minutes going 2.5. I had to tell myself that I couldn't quit. The me of now thanks the me of then for taking those first steps. Six years later, I’m 50lbs lighter physically and mentally. I’m a different person.
If you're deciding to start your own health journey, I thought I'd share a few things I learned (and am still learning) on my journey towards being a healthier person.
- I am not on a diet. A diet implies deprivation, that I’m doing something short term and then going back to what I was doing. It just doesn’t work that way. It has to be a commitment to a healthier lifestyle overall. Besides, the word “diet” has the word “die” in it. That should give you an idea that it’s not going to work out well – ha ha.
- I am in control even when I don’t feel like it. There will be some days when I don’t feel like I am in control of my food choices but I am. Feelings don’t always tell us the truth. The truth is, you always have the power to make the right decision. A brownie, piece of pizza, a bag of chips, etc., are inanimate objects that can only have the control that you give it. No one is forcing me to choose a cheeseburger over a healthier option except my own desire.
- Get off the shame train. I ask myself, “Can I eat this in freedom and feel satisfied and thankful, or will I feel shame and disappointment?” If the answer is shame and disappointment, then I need to rethink my food choice. There are some days when I can eat a slice of pizza in freedom, and then there are some days I can’t because I know I’ll use it as a coping mechanism. My goal is to choose freedom over shame.
- Feet first; your head will follow. There were days when I didn’t feel like exercising at all, so I didn’t. I regret those today. Maybe I would have been closer to my goal had I listened to my feet instead of my head. Lace up your shoes, go for a walk, do something little that’s active on the days you don’t feel like it. When you go feet first, your head will follow. I’ve never regretted a day that I’ve exercised. As a matter of fact, when I’ve gone feet first, I’ve felt pride in myself that I chose do something instead of nothing.
- Do what you can with what you have. If you have a previous life of health and fitness, you will not be able to do the activity you used to do at the pace you used to. It’s okay. If you’re starting completely fresh, it’s okay. Focus on who you are now and do what you can with what you have now. If that means walking instead of running, that’s okay.
Change is hard. It’s REALLY hard, but it's completely worth it. You can make the change, too. I promise.