Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Work It Out! (Topic Tuesday on Wednesday)

I once wrote a jingle for a fitness boot camp as a trade for participating in said boot camp.  I don't know if it ever got used, but I can tell you that I had a blast doing it. The song that is...the boot camp made me wish there was some quick and easy form of getting healthy and strong without having to watch what I eat and rip my muscles to pieces so they can rebuild themselves into machines capable of lifting tall buildings. I have often started and stopped programs because I realized that I simply don't like how much effort you have to put into them. At times I've succeeded in getting healthy, only to find myself in the swing of unhealthy living again, thus discouraged and defeated and not wanting to start the process all over.

About four years ago, I got serious about my health. I decided, with the help of some of my friends, that it was important for me to pay attention to what was happening to my body. I was having serious and chronic bouts with acid reflux, my cholesterol was rising, and my wallet was getting lighter because I was having to buy new clothes, as my old ones were getting a little too snug. I wasn't sleeping well, getting chronic migraines, and was emotionally unhappy. So, I bought into the Nutrisystem world. It was fantastic. I had figured that I would lose about 25 pounds and that would be enough. I was on Nutrisystem for 6 months and ended up losing 39 pounds. I had no idea that's what my body needed to lose. I was truly shocked. In that 6 months, my skin cleared dramatically, I was sleeping better, my acid reflux was curbed (for the first time in my life), my cholesterol dropped, and my self-esteem rose. I felt amazing. Now, I need to mention that I did not exercise at all during that time. I ate 5 meals a day, and I had an abundance of energy. I even cut back on my coffee intake, which was soooo good for me. It was truly an amazing experience. I felt for the first time in my life that I really could take care of myself and beat that little voice that tried to tell me I couldn't do it.

Fast forward to two years ago. I slowly put almost all of that weight back on. I had lost a bunch of my muscle mass (women lose up to 6% of their muscle every ten years), the issues started coming back, and now I was experiencing back and neck pain. I didn't feel like I wanted to go back to Nutrisystem, because I realized that I was missing the understanding of how to eat well without someone cooking and pre-packaging my food for me. I started researching ways to establish healthy eating patterns, read books on estrogen and progesterone and how that affects how your body metabolizes as we age, what foods we should eat and avoid in order to inspire our bodies to work the way they're supposed to, yadda, yadda, yadda. Then I started looking at the exercise piece. I started to get overwhelmed. There is so much out there on how to get healthy and whose method is more correct. Meanwhile, I was making small changes, so I felt like I was at least on the right track. I pushed through the information but wasn't feeling any better or losing any weight. I was simply staying the same. So, last spring, I joined some friends and took on Beach Body's P90X program. I figured I just needed to commit to something and see it through. I didn't lose any weight, but I did get stronger, and a few injuries that had plagued me over the last few years were suddenly remedied. Even with all of that I was discouraged. I couldn't get a handle on how to get to be the healthiest version of me without someone doing the work for me.

That's when it hit me. I was constantly saying "I can't" and "I won't." I was inconsistent, because I gave myself the room to constantly make exceptions. I did this mostly because I was afraid I would "never get to enjoy _____ again." (Fill in the blank in your own world.) (And, let's face it, I was busy and no two days look alike in my world. So setting a schedule including workouts and meal plans can be more difficult when you have no idea what the next day is going to need from you.) I knew I needed to make complete lifestyle changes, but I'm a zealot by nature, so changes tend to mean all or nothing. I wasn't considering the moderation piece after a focused time of withholding. That brings me to today.

I am, smack dab, in the middle of yet another program. This one is called Insanity. And, yes, it's insane. Forty Five minutes of the most intense cardio you can imagine, six days a week. It's incredible. So is the meal plan. Why? Because like all of the Beach Body programs they help you to understand the balance of what every meal should look like, and how to figure out the caloric intake YOUR body needs. They also provide recipes to help you so you don't have to think about how to plan your meals from scratch, hoping to get it right (unless you like that sort of thing, and then they give you a list of food options to choose from). So, how am I doing? 4 Weeks in, and I have clearly lost some poundage, everyone has noticed my clear skin, I'm sleeping better, my chronic issues have again disappeared, and I feel really good about me. 

Why am I sharing this with you? Because we need to understand that we're not alone. Getting and staying healthy is hard. There is nothing easy about it. It requires discipline, sacrifice, and a healthy dose of self worth. You have got to believe that you're worth it. You have got to believe that your life is important enough to be taken care of, by others and by YOU. You are important. It's not okay for us to give into our cravings and indulgences 100 percent of the time, because they will eventually hurt us if they are the rule and not the exception. As we age, we become more susceptible to diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and whatever else that comes with age, and if we don't flippin' take care of ourselves we are basically opening the door for those potentials to make themselves at home in our bodies. If I value the lives around me, then I have to value mine, because I know my friends and my family would all be devastated if I wasn't here anymore and there was something I could have done about it in my life right now. Plus, if I want to be able to go about the life that was intended for me to have, and make change in the world then, again, I need make take care of my body now so that I can do all the things I am called to do. And. So. Do. You.

For those of you who are taking care of yourself, I say well done and thank you. You are the ones who help inspire the rest of us to keep going. And when you need, we'll be here to help encourage you to keep going as well.

For those of you who don't know where to start, I will list some resources for you to check out, but remember this: You. Are. Not. Alone. It's hard work, but you are more than capable of overcoming that voice of negativity. You absolutely can do it, and you will. Activate the "I Will" inside of you and don't look at the failures. You might fail a few times. You might get discouraged. But there WILL come a day, when you'll suddenly notice that you won. We don't yell at babies when they're learning to crawl, or walk, or talk, so remember that once you've decided the steps to take in getting healthy. And remember IT IS NOT ABOUT HOW THIN YOU CAN GET. It is about being the HEALTHIEST version of you that you can be. Grab a friend, join a gym and make friends, find a way to get inspired, but don't give up. Never give up. If nothing else, find someone who can tell you simply that they believe in you.

RESOURCES:


Beach Body
Jillian Michaels
Nutrisystem
Weight Watchers
General Health Help
Women's Health
Men's Health


Monday, August 15, 2011

Music Monday

A couple of years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of having my guitar stolen. I had left it in the trunk of the car and when I came out to leave, the car had been broken into and my precious treasure was removed from my care. Clearly, it was precious enough for me to leave in a vehicle for a few hours instead of taking it home before doing anything else... *sarcastic stare* The truth is, I loved that guitar. I loved it because it was the first really nice guitar I had ever owned. My dad had bought it for me somewhere around my 18th birthday. I recorded my first album with it. I spent hours discovering new songs with it. I lead many a worship service with it (both for crowds & just by myself). I was devastated to lose it. But, in the end. It was just a guitar. I couldn't mourn the loss of such a treasure forever, I simply went on to discover a new one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Gift of Giving

Have you ever been a part of a random act of kindness? Have you ever paid for a stranger's meal, groceries, or gas? Or have you ever had someone treat you to said kindness?

I remember hearing stories about an historical day at a Starbucks drive-thru where a customer drove up to the window, money in hand, only to be told their drink was paid for by the person ahead of them. Not only were they so grateful for the gift, they decided to pass it on to the person behind them. That person, of course, passed it on to the person behind them. Legend has it that pattern continued for a while... Or maybe just until the line of cars was gone. ;) At any rate, it's amazing to recognize the depths of generosity that exist within us.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Topic Tuesday

Taking time to take care of you.

We get so caught up in working, socializing, and studying that we end up getting stuck in a rut of carelessness and instant gratification. We tend to look for shortcuts because everything around us is moving so fast. The problem is, we end up making cuts in the wrong places. We forgo our health, our sanity, and our sleep just to keep our heads above water. Look at all the fad diets, get rich quick deals, and commercials about getting a degree without ever having to go to school. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at our culture and see that the overwhelming health issues, public mental break downs, and obsessions with sex and violence are a result of not “making the first thing first” in our lives.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Music Monday

Some people have rhythm. Some people have drums to prove it. Such is the case for another one of my favorite musicians: Joe Mengis.

This fine fellow was another Everly player at our Corn Palace show last August.  After searching high and low, I was given Joe's number. Not long into our phone conversation, I was asking him if he was available to play with us. He is one of the most hard working drummers I think I've ever seen, and it showed during our first rehearsal. There is nothing like showing up to a rehearsal where everyone knows their music as if they've been playing it for a month. And like Annie, there is an incredible humility inside of Joe. I cannot express how amazing it is to work with people who are not only incredibly talented, but walk through life with honest humility. (Humility is one of the most important things we can possess. It opens doors, fosters relationships, and paves the road for healing when we need it.)