Yeah, I’d love to eat cake and lose weight but it ain’t happening. Ever. Reading this article was the kick in the ass I needed to set my head straight this morning and maybe it will be for you, too.
Back in January, I published a post called “Create a System of Self Care“. In it, I talked about managing your health by creating a system that involved not just setting goals but reaching those goals by creating a system that would allow you to accomplish the tasks required to reach those goals in a flexible, manageable way. Many, many things have changed in my life since I made that post and honestly, I reached a point where reorienting to life as it is now was too much for me to manage emotionally at times. The result 7 months later is that I’m 6 pounds HEAVIER than I was when I set up the ‘system’ and I’m just coming around to getting myself mentally and emotionally back on track.
So what went wrong? Well, it wasn’t the system. I still had the ability to stick to a training plan. I still managed to exercise even when I had to shift my training times from day to night or vice versa (minus a few WEEKS where I was sick and/or my kids were sick and there was really nothing I could do about that).
By my observation, my failures came by way of a few not so simple and important things (*note, I am not excusing myself just trying to process externally why I feel I’ve failed):
1) I am not good at change and unknowing: Not exactly the characteristic of a good Navy wife, but I’ve only been in this business for coming up on 4 years (though it feels like 40). At one point we were preparing to haul our things across the country to Virginia, but for about a about a month and a half we were in orders limbo and the end result was we stayed right here in Hawaii. The stress of this time period was difficult for me, my family and my marriage.
2) Reintegration is hard: About a month and a half after we got married in 2010, my husband left for school in Connecticut and for the entire year to follow, I saw him about 6 times. One of those times was for 6 days while I had a baby. Once he returned home for good in 2012, I immediately became pregnant again. Over those next two years, the children saw him about once a week and with several long underways and a 7 month deployment in between, I would argue it was far less. I struggled to manage my new life as the polar opposite of the person I had been – a busy GS-14 for the Navy at a Fleet Headquarters turned stay at home wife and mommy to 2 small babies and a tween. I often discount how difficult this all was, but when I sit and think about it like I am now, I honestly start to cry. 3 years of marriage with an absent spouse, an identity turned upside down, and a cracked family foundation to boot (my father left my mother after 37 years of marriage at the peak of her Alzheimer’s and dementia) was rough. Imagine being my husband who just completed what was probably hardest tour of his Naval career coming home to all of this. Imagine being me finally having my partner home and him being about 50% prepared for it all. Reintegration is hard, but this was crazy town. We are still working on it.
3) I like to eat: In 2013 when I lost 30 pounds, I changed what I ate significantly. No fruit, very little bread or rice or alcohol. I strength trained. I ran. At one point I was 141 pounds and 24% body fat and I still had a little ways to go. Fast forward a year, add a spouse who loves beer and has a natural metabolism for foods that I don’t who is use to eating 3 meals a day (not the 6 mini ‘meals’ I was eating), and it’s a frickin’ disaster. I like to eat fruit. I like to have some carbs. I just think I like them a little too much.
4) I want fitness to fit into my life, not vice versa: Sometimes I just want to say “f this” (and I do) when it comes to all the restrictions I put on myself with diet and exercise. Days like today are a great example of times I want to tell ‘fitness’ to shove it. I set myself up for success as I do most every day by setting my alarm early. I woke up at 4:30am so I could get my workouts in aaaaand in walks toddler #1. Great. There went my workout time. Every minute from 4:30am – 9:30am it was changing time, feeding time, cleaning up messes time, feeding time again. I managed to get dressed and have a shake for breakfast but my plans to workout were interrupted no less than 5 times this morning. So here I am writing so my head will not explode because I’ve already shamefully lost it on my kids. My husband’s somewhere under the Pacific Ocean right now so no help there. I want life to be easier but it’s not. Still I don’t stop trying.
So where do I go from here? Cake? Ha HA, I wish. As incredible as that sounds to my ever growing belly, I believe it’s time for me to go “back to basics” and do what I know works for me:
1) Return to a way of eating that works: Minimal dairy, fruit, and simple carbs. More protein, veggies, complex carbs.
2) Flip my mindset: Food is fuel and we need premium not regular unleaded; We eat to live not live to eat.
3) Continue the good habits I do have: Waking up early, getting my workouts in, stocking my kitchen with healthy foods.
4) Take a few moments to let it all out: I hold back on processing my feelings about my life – the exhaustion, the sadness, the worry, the stress. Many times on long runs I will start to cry uncontrollably and it is a huge release. I need to do that more often even if it means turning on a song or a movie that moves me and cry it out.
5) Focus more on helping others: Becoming a health coach, volunteering, running businesses, raising babies – all of it is important to me. They allow me to humble myself and to give of myself in fulfilling ways. These too contribute to my wellness as a human being.
Now that you’ve been gracious enough to read my story, are there other ways you think I can get my system back online? How do you get back on track? What are some things that stop or hinder you from reaching your fitness goals at times?
I’d love to hear from you! Email me at jamie(at)irunthismother.com or post a comment.