Each of us has two sets of fitness goals: fantasy fitness goals and realistic fitness goals. It’s a safe bet that our fantasy goals are far reaching and might be next to impossible to attain without serious deprivation dieting and a little plastic surgery, but we shouldn’t abandon those goals because I think that they help us get closer to achieving what is realistic by making those goals seem manageable and almost easy by comparison.
My fantasy goal is to look like I did when I was in my early 20’s. My early 20’s were a fantastic time for me; I was slim without trying to be and I regularly ate ice cream and diet Coke for dinner, a Dunkin Donuts Iced Latte and jelly donut for breakfast, and maybe something healthy for lunch since that was my ‘in-public’ meal. I was blessed with good fortune, but now, in my late 20’s, my fortune has changed. Realistically, I know that I will probably never look like the 23 year old version of myself again, but that knowledge has helped me to define my REAL goals.
In a compromise between the current version of myself and the early 20’s version, I have decided that I should focus less on how high the numbers on the scale are and more on all around health. My current goals are to get stronger, build endurance and have more energy, and pay more attention to how my body feels and how my clothes fit than how much I weigh. We all put too much emphasis on the numbers (weight, jeans size…) and lose sight of the bigger picture; health.
My story is probably not very unique. I was a scrawny teenager, a healthy young adult who managed to avoid the dreaded Freshman Fifteen and was fortunate to have a job that required enough manual labor to counteract my Ben & Jerry’s and Iced Lattes, and then several things happened within a few years of each other. The first blow to my physique was the dreaded slow-down of my metabolism. It probably didn’t happen overnight, but it sure seemed that way. My clothes started to fit a little more snugly and my high-sugar, high-fat meals were leaving me feeling sluggish. I, of course, ignored these symptoms and didn’t modify my eating habits all that much. The second blow came a year or so later when I received word that Don was being transferred to an overseas position in Germany (where we currently live). I was very stressed about the big move. I was stressed about getting our pets there in one piece, about getting our things either to Germany or in storage, and about leaving my job which I absolutely loved. In order to soothe my stress, I started to eat. And eat and eat. The third blow was delivered upon my arrival in Germany. I was suddenly unemployed and far away from all of my friends (read: still stressed and now bored), so I continued to eat. Not only was the amount of crunching, munching and snacking I was doing a problem, but also the things that were readily available for consumption. Germany, particularly Bavaria, where we live, produces the most delicious beers, bread, pretzels, and chocolate croissants I have ever tasted. All told I gained almost 20 pounds over the course of two years. It is not easy to hide an extra 20 pounds.
I think I truly realized I had to take action against myself to save myself when I tried to wear The Dress that Broke the Camel’s Back.
I wore this dress in July 2012 to a job interview. It fit great! I got the job! In July 2012, I was already heavier than I was comfortable with; I felt like a clumsy, bloated stranger in my own body. Fast forward to February 2013. I needed something to wear to a retirement dinner and I pulled this dress out of the closet……and it didn’t fit. Not even close. Not even when I held my arms above my head and sucked everything in while Don tried to zip it. It was at that moment that I realized I needed to either accept the path that I was on and buy bigger clothes (and probably even bigger clothes later on) or I needed to try harder to be healthier. I chose to bid adieu to the puffed-up balloon version of myself and started dragging myself to the gym at least four days a week. It has taken me another 5 months to talk myself into re-assesing my eating habits and pushing myself more in my workouts, but, as they say, Rome was not built in a day.
Part of the function of this blog is to hold myself accountable. How hypocritical would I be if I started writing this blog about how I’m really dedicating myself to better fitness even though I would much rather eat cake and macaroni and cheese all day every day only to not follow through? How much would it suck if I said to you “C’mon, join me! It’ll be fun, and we can support each other! Lets take over gyms worldwide in a non-Fitness Freak fitness revolution!” and then left you high and dry?
Lets hold each other accountable!