I'll be honest, I started out to write a blog post about 2018 goals and completely went a different direction! I really don't like to use the New Year to make resolutions because I believe we can do that anytime but no matter how hard I resist, I always seem to succumb to the tradition of making New Year's goals. I do love the new year because I truly feel I can leave the past (2017 was a rough year in many ways) and I feel I can renew and start a new path. 2018 is no exception and I do have many goals; however, I have begun to realize that so many people (especially women) center their New Year's goals or resolutions around the way they look and that doesn't sit well with me.
I won't lie, I have SERIOUS body image issues...I always have. I was a very overweight child, lost 20 pounds naturally through clean eating and exercise when I was 12, gained the "freshman 15" in college and have struggled to maintain a healthy weight ever since. Being a personal trainer for so long I always relied on exercise to balance my weight no matter what I ate. As an adult, I've mostly been a relatively clean eater but definitely not perfect. A few years ago I began having serious Thyroid issues which made it virtually impossible to lose or maintain my weight no matter how much I worked out and that made me crazy. Those issues are now under control but up until almost a year ago, it was still a daily struggle. I have always been a calorie counter and made sure I "outexercised" my poor eating choices whenever I "cheated". I hate that word...Cheated. It makes me sound like I commited a crime or a sin just because I ate a cookie, had some bread or a glass of wine. It's ridiculous to feel indulging is a bad thing!!! We are human, we only live once, and I believe one should enjoy each and every day...as well as every meal!
Things turned around for me in April 2017. I had hit rock bottom after years and years of feeling horrible and being so sick. As I've shared before in this blog, I've been "sick" for as long as I can remember and was desperate to find relief for my chronic gut issues and pain. I researched and Googled everything I could find on chronic stomach pain, gut issues, etc. and came across "leaky gut" which is exactly what I have. I won't go into detail on what leaky gut is but I continued to research diet and lifestyle changes that could help and came across the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol). When I read all about the "diet"...I hate that word because it's really a lifestyle change...I knew I was so desperate that I would try anything. Fast forward 9 months and here I am. I've successfully been on the AIP ever since and while I'm not healed, I have seen improvement.
I tell you this NOT to encourage you to go on the AIP. This is specifically a diet to help with autoimmune issues. It's an elimination diet which should be temporary. Once I've healed, I will reintroduce foods into my diet to find my triggers and I'm hoping to be able to add in as many foods as I can. What I do want to focus on in this post is the changes I've experienced simply from taking the focus off of calories. I've lost almost 10 pounds of fluid and inflammation, have began to recover from extreme chronic fatigue and more importantly, have taken the focus off of food altogether. I've learned food is nourishment and fuel for the body. It is not the center of my world. I don't crave sugar, snacks or any certain food. I now listen to my body and what it tells me. I crave certain vegetables or meats and I know that means it's specific vitamins and nutrients that I'm truly needing. If I crave meat, I'm probably low on iron, if I want broccoli, I might be low on calcium or Vitamin C. The point is to listen to your body and use food as fuel. You don't need food to make you happy or satisfy something missing in your life. You don't need food to give you comfort or happiness. You need to rely on other areas for that and treat yourself in other ways...a manicure, a hot bath, a nap (naps are the best ever), etc. Find what works for you but I know it's easier said than done and I've been there. I put so much focus on my appearance that I forgot what was really important... God, my family, my health, and my peace of mind. I'm a better mom when I'm happy and content with myself. I've learned to be a better role model for my kids by not focusing on my weight. I still workout 5-6 days/week but have learned to slow it down. I still eat quite often but have learned the simpler the food the better and that food doesn't bring happiness.
I can't tell you how to achieve the lifestyle that works for you because it differs for everyone. I can encourage you to do some soul searching and find what is best for you. Let go of the calorie counting and excessive workouts, let go of trying to be the perfect mom, dad or the perfect spouse, and ease up on yourself. Be the best version of yourself you can be and embrace it and LOVE YOURSELF!