Thursday, June 16, 2011

Life is a Journey; A marathon...not a sprint.

So much of what we learn in life is the course of several days, months, and years of trial and error, trying again, and continually pressing forward one foot in front of the other....and in some cases repeating that over and over again until some principles actually stick. As I was working out this morning I was thinking about my journey down the health and fitness road over the course of my lifetime and where it has taken me.

There have been ups and downs.
Trials, and most definite errors.
There have been triumphs and utter failures.
Lessons learned. Lessons forgotten. Lessons relearned...and again...and again.

I grew up dancing. Since I can remember it was straight from school to dance for hours and hours. I loved it. I never even considered it exercise because I was so passionate about it. It was so fun. When I got to high school I tried out to be on our school's competitive dance team and the showcase dance team. I made both and continued dancing for hours and hours a day.
 (Can you spot me? Fourth one from the right, back row.)
Now on top of the hours of practice, the anti was upped. For our competitive team, our training required running. Until that point running had been more of a form of punishment than anything, but I learned to love it. Healthy eating was always a part of my growing up years. My mom is an excellent cook, and was always providing us with extremely healthy food. I was also a definite sweet tooth. I ate my share of sugar, don't worry. However, I was dancing like a fiend, so it didn't effect me much. I did always feel like I was the bigger girl though. My junior year I went to a dietitian who helped me to dial into perfecting my eating and it was an awesome experience. She taught me some great information, and my love for nutrition began. I did an internship with a personal trainer my senior year of high school and got the bug for exercise as well.

Enter Brigham Young University. Megan decides to major in Business Management. Wow...college life is crazy, right? No sleep, eating like garbage, and my dancing slowed down quite a bit. OK...my eating wasn't total garbage and I still was working out probably 5 days a week but my body suffered a total shock. My sophomore year of college I coached and taught dance classes, but sitting in front of a dance class somehow doesn't have the same calorie burn as taking the dance classes. Go figure.

Less activity + more ice cream = weight gain

I hated hearing the term, "freshman 15" and I swore I was not going to fall into that category. However, my calorie expenditure just wasn't what it was previously. You can't fool the body with things like that. So, I totally gained weight. I'd say like 15-20 pounds. Having grown up dancing, I have always been VERY conscious of my body. It is hard to hide anything in a spandex leotard...just saying. I started to hate the way I looked more and more. I think my depleting self-confidence probably showed too. Don't get me wrong, I loved my first two years of college. I had great friends, TONS of fun, and I was happy. BUT...I just wasn't comfortable in my own skin. I lacked confidence. To make matters worse, I had a lot of friends who could eat whatever they wanted and it didn't matter. I haven't ever been one of those lucky ducks. The bottom line is...It is hard to not dislike the way you look when you gain weight that hasn't ever been there before.
My sophomore year of college was about the same. Me still not loving the way I looked. I was still exercising. I've always liked to work out and be active. I even was taking some dance classes. My eating was alright, not horrible. I'm sure now I'd probably gasp at myself though. Lots of cereal...Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches (On whole wheat bread of course.) I found out about chocolate covered cinnamon bears which is danger.com. I know I still retained some good habits, but not anything astounding. I was still coaching a dance team and teaching classes. In fact I was getting up at 4 in the morning some days just to get to practice 45 mins away. (I love it that much...crazy I know.) So, on top of being super busy with school and work. I was exhausted and sleeping...mmm...never. During that year I started working at Nordstrom as well. A friend of mine that worked there with me, started telling me all about the classes she was taking at BYU one day. She listed off classes about body image, weight control, exercise prescriptions, and nutrition. She was an exercise science major and I was JEALOUS. I was still focusing mainly on pre-recs, but her classes sounded a lot more...fun? Was that possible in college? I wanted in. That next week I switched my major:

Exercise Science with an Emphasis in Fitness and Wellness Management. Boom.
Enter the love affair with Megan and anything health/fitness/wellness related. I seriously found my true love.

This same time that I started getting into my health classes I also tried out for a professional dance team and it was back to the spandex. I was less than confident about it. I can tell you that much. I didn't have the same body that I had back in the day. I felt gross. Something needed to change.

I started learning more and more about exercise, nutrition, and resistance training. I wanted to practice what I was learning. I kicked my exercise regimen into gear. I started changing the way I was eating. I started running more. Benita and I decided we wanted to run a half marathon. We signed up for the Salt Lake City Half Marathon and training was a go. I started to drop some of the pounds that had made a home on my mid section, but I still wasn't feeling like I was on top of my game.
My last semester of my senior year I took a class where our textbook was a book called, The Culprit and the Cure. It changed my life. It changed my whole mindset on healthy eating and nutrition. It helped me to realize you really are what you eat. I decided that sugar and I were going to have to break up. I fell in love with a website called fitday.com. I kept up my running. I started lifting weights on a regular basis. I finally started to see some changes.

After graduating I landed a job managing a private gym, (which later merged with Elevate...best thing that ever happened to me) and doing personal training and nutrition counseling as well. I LOVED it. Everything about it. I loved helping people to achieve goals and gain confidence. I was still sugar free, and my eating was pretty dang clean, but I think I was just eating too much. It doesn't matter if you are eating an excess of carrots and broccoli. Excess calories = excess weight. I still didn't I felt comfortable in my own skin. I decided I'd had it. Although I was in great shape, I didn't want to feel like I wasn't living proof of what I was teaching all of my clients. I started doing at least sixty minutes of cardio a day, and I started seeing some more results. Little by little that extra college poundage was coming off.

About a year later I decided I wanted to run a full marathon. Training was rigorous, but awesome. I craved my long runs. I loved feeling like I had just burned a bajillion calories. I felt strong and athletic. I finally started to feel good in my own skin. Not perfect...but milestones of improvement. I was eating good, still no sugar, and cardio was my B. I completed the Salt Lake City Marathon, and crossing that finish line was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had.
After the marathon I decided I needed to change some habits. I realized that my snacking had to go. I am a snacker by nature. It gets me if I am not careful. I started lifting faithfully 3-5 days a week. Again, I finally saw some changes with my body. I did lose my detested college weight, and I have cut down my body fat by over ten percent.
I also have come to the realization that my body is just going to give me a hard time with my weight. For whatever reason, I'm not one of those people who can lose five pounds by looking at some broccoli. In fact I'm pretty sure if I look at a piece of cake I gain five pounds.

Fast forward to this past January.
Still no sugar, aside from a few holiday cheat days.
Still lifting 3-5 days a week.
Still cardio-ing it up 60-90 minutes a day.
Still tracking my food. Unfortunately, I have tracked my food for so long, even if I don't enter it in the computer I track it mentally.
Enter the protein phase of life. You may remember the weight loss challenge at my work. I realized that even with my healthy eating habits I wasn't getting enough protein. I am not a meat eater. It is really hard for me, and so I had to REALLY make an effort to change this. It has helped SO much. It finally helped me see some actual results.

I'll be completely honest with you about a few things. I know that I am in good shape. I have worked really hard at it. I know I have muscle definition. I know that I have made some awesome improvements in my lifestyle, and my knowledge of good nutrition has increased. I have put A LOT of time into trying to figure out what exercises are most effective, and how the body reacts and why it responds the way it does. I have learned a lot, BUT I do still I feel like I have some improvements to make until I feel like I'll be at my prime goal weight for me. I know it is extra hard for me, for whatever reason. I tell my clients it's to keep me humble :) I'm not telling you this to be fishing for compliments, or for a pity party, or even so you'll agree with me that I do have a waze to go. I'm telling you because I want you to understand that I know how hard it can be. I am not just telling you what I think might work for you. I am telling you what I've seen work, what I've felt work, and in doing so I hope you can see some results of your own. I can tell you this much...

- living off of 4 hours of sleep doesn't work.
neither does...
- snacking all day
- having your main sources of food come from Wheat Thins, Dreyers Grand Light Ice Cream, cereal, and Cinnamon Bears

You know what does work?
- interval training and circuits
- being willing to put in some good cardiovascular time. If you really want something you have to work at it. ESPECIALLY when it comes to exercise.
- Food is 80% of the health battle. That is a big percentage. Get your nutrition in gear and you will see results.
- planning your meals out, eating clean, and watching your portions.
- getting rid of grazing and snacking
- eating enough protein, a lot of fresh veggies, good fruits and whole grains. 
- LIFTING WEIGHTS. I can't even tell you the difference this has made in my life. EVERYONE should lift weights. Yes GIRLS, WOMEN. FEMALES. Especially you! I feel like it is my personal mission to make sure you know this.
- Cutting back on your sugar. If you really want to see results, get rid of the sugar.
- finding exercise that you love and making it a lifestyle
to name a few...

Like I said...this life is such a learning process. I am continually learning, but I do feel like I have come SUCH a long way. I hope that in doing so I can help pass some of my knowledge on to you to help you achieve great things...because you are capable of SUCH great things.

What are some things you have learned along the way that have helped increase your health? It is amazing how sometimes it's the little changes we make that make big differences. What are some things you still feel like you can work on?

24 comments:

Cori said...

Great post. I agree with everything you said :)

Lindsay and James Cotter said...

what a great journey, and still going. I was a nutrition major in college. It changed me and even more so when I took sports nutrition. I can very much relate friend!

Carrie said...

I SO needed to read this today! I just started my weight loss journey and have about 120 pounds to lose. I just started my own blog tracking my experience, and its blogs like yours that are keeping me motivated daily! I use to be a healthy weight when I was 21 and over the last 10 years of marriage and a baby I have gained 120 pounds. Thank you for all of your inspirational words!

Rene said...

Awesome post, as usual. I have always been thin but until I was about 33 I was never in shape. For the past 5 years I have worked hard to gain and maintain a good level of fitness. I've learned that I have to mix it up. I love my weight classes but not so much on cardio. I decided to start running races because the training forces me to get my cardio in. And I only do weight classes twice a week when I'd rather do them daily.
I seriously have to work on my food. It is such a battle, especially when I have an attitude of I workout so I can eat that.

Nichole said...

You are awesome is all I can say! You inspire us all to be better! People ask me all the time how do you run so many miles without dying and hating it? I tell them it is little baby steps. You can't go on your first run and expect to be able to run 10 miles and feel amazing. Everything takes work and effort! People give up all the time because the first two times they ran were to hard and not enjoyable. It is the same way with eating, lifting or anything that goes with being fit or healthy. You have to put the time and effort in to see results and it takes time! I know when I eat bad (even though I exercise consistently) I will continue to see no progress. I will just maintain!
I think it is amazing how you have made it a lifestyle and not a diet! It is so much more maintainable! You are a rockstar! I really need to quit eating sugar again! I know that is when I notice the most results!

Benita said...

I love this post! I feel weird that I didn't realize you started out as business major? I should have known that...

Anyway i'm glad you switched. You are soooo good at what you do, and you aren't one of those who only talks the talk. You do EVERYTHING you teach others to do!

Generation X (Slomohusky) said...

Keep kickin! You are an awesome example to many.

Thisisme said...

such an awesome journey! love it (;

[Red Sox] Wife said...

oh I LOVE lifing weights!!! probably my favorite thing todo because it makes me feel so strong!! loved hearing about your journey as a marathon! great analogy.

Holley @ Lunges and Lashes said...

This is great! THANK YOU for reminding people how HUGE food is in the equation. I wish someone had explained that to me YEARS ago, but I did learn it on my own and I guess it makes it mean so much more to me. ;)

The Smith Clan said...

Great post Megs! You are such an inspiration to many! Including me!
But I love reading about your journey! I agree with Nichole - you are a rock star!! Way to go! I totally agree with everything you've learned!

Brit said...

Thanks for this post Megs! I loved it. It becomes so easy to get discouraged about weight... I'm sure you are an amazing trainer!

Mrs. JM said...

this is a FANTASTIC post. thank you! it was a "you are not alone" moment for me. i don't really know how to explain how much i relate to this without typing a novel so i'll just say, i needed to to be reminded that working towards improvement, regardless of current fitness level, shape, weight, etc. is never a bad thing. some folks get it (you) but most folks don't (them). "are you still 'trying' to lose weight?" "aren't you thin enough already?" "you're obsessed with working out" I WAS NEVER TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT! i'm BEING healthy. big fat difference. lol. i'm listening to you. thanks again.

Jody, RD said...

I agree with everything you're saying here! I also have to work hard to stay in shape with healthy eating and exercise. A lot of my clients will say things like, "You wouldn't understnad, you're thin." And they don't realize that I WORK to maintain my weight.

I too, have some weight goals I'd still like to accomplish. Best of luck with yours!!!

Jenn & Kev said...

What a great post!! I know what you mean about never feeling comfortable in my skin...I was the same way until just a few years ago. What a battle we put ourselves through to look and feel great! I am glad you have found the confidence cause your gorgeous and youve worked really hard. I wish I could give up sugar...oh how I wish! Hope youve been doing great!
Jenn

Janetha @ meals + moves said...

la la la LOVE this.

Julia said...

LOVE this post! You are an inspiration to us all Megan. I have learned so much from you and have slowly been able to change my own eating and workout habits just in the few months that I have known you. Thanks for sharing your own journey...it is definitely a tough one to take but we are all capable of making the choices to go on that journey! you are so strong to stick with it and to find what is important to you! Hope to see you soon :)

Curt & Cassie Ford said...

Meg,
You have taught and inspired me soo much through your blog. Sitting down at night to read your newest post is seriously one of the highlights in my day. I am still using your circuit workouts and I love them so much. I had a lady the other day ask me if I was training for some sort of competition. She said she always see's me working hard. I have you to thank for that. Before you, I was lost at the gym. Now I just need to follow your example in my eating. That has been hard for me. I'm good at making excuses :) thanks again!!

Rachelle Wardle said...

Great post Megan! Thank you for sharing. I like you am one of those girls that has to work EXTRA hard to acheive results. I have to be conscious of every single thing I put in my mouth and I have learned so much.

Thanks again for sharing your journey.

Nikki said...

WOW! GREAT Post! Definitely things that I needed to hear. I absolutely have a problem in the food department and know I need to be better. Thanks for sharing your story.

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