I've recently decided that, at 33 years old, I should start taking better care of myself. Don't get me wrong, I eat all my meals, I manage my personal hygiene, I exercise, I pay all my bills. You know, I'm alive. But I don't do it all particularly well.
Splurging on various health commodities has become a new favorite habit. I replaced my shampoo and conditioner with something organic and free of All The Bad Things, and what do you know? My hair feels better. I've started using a microdermabrasion system for my face a few times a week, and it's so smooth. Sure, there are still freckles and the occasional scar, but my face feels so happy afterward. I dabbled in lots of different supplements after my doctor discovered I have low ferritin levels, and am hoping the daily iron and vitamin C will make a difference.
But it's my nutrition that's been silently wreaking havoc on me. It's not that I eat overtly poorly, or too much, or too little, or that I struggle with weight management, but I feel like total shit. I don't get all the nutrients my body needs to be managing the 40-plus running miles a week I force my body to endure. I'd be lucky if I was getting a vegetable a week, nonetheless a few servings a day. Is there protein in my lunch? Probably not. I like to get fruit from the raspberry sorbet I buy for $5 at the grocery store.
My sleep is poor, my belly is upset, my runs feel mediocre, I'm always lethargic.
And I've found that when I feel like shit, I look like shit. I become a direct reflection of what I'm feeling. My stomach feels too squishy, my running shorts pinch my waist, my arm looks fat in that photo.
By the way, can we just let the record show that being a woman is bullshit? Thanks. I know I'm my own particular brand of crazy most of the time, but incessantly fretting over whether I'm thin enough or strong enough or have the right boobs or hair or stomach or smile is exhausting.
So after a lot of hemming and hawing and side-eyeing my bank account, I invested in a month-long program that includes a clean-eating cleanse and body reset, essentially. I'm not juicing or fasting or counting calories, I'm just straight up eating real food (with a side of ABSOLUTELY NO CHEATING and some daily supplements).
If you must know, it's the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge, and if you care for information, I'm happy to give it. But those are details.
Today is day four. I thought I'd be a miserable pile of crap by now, clawing at the freezer for pizza, but I'm not. OK, so, pizza sounds goddamn wonderful right now, but I'm pretty pleased with my self control so far.
All I've eaten for four days is vegetables, the occasional fruit, chicken and fish and other lean proteins, and other, random real foods I never in a million years assumed I'd put in my mouth. Every meal is perfectly balanced, which , at first, felt like a science project. It kind of is, let's be real. This is all so terribly foreign to me.
HEALTH! Who knew?
BUT IT IS SO FUN, YOU GUYS. I've discovered new meals and delicious snacks and realized I could be making my own taco seasoning THIS ENTIRE TIME. I prepped food for the week last Sunday, and each night prepare the next day's lunch, and it's the most oddly satisfying routine. The kitchen is stocked with vegetables I've never owned, and now eat every day.
What's blowing my mind, though, is how much better I already feel. Well, my body is adjusting to this new vegetable habit, but I've been sleeping sounder and waking up more easily. My early morning runs have felt great, and I'm not feeling like a slug at work all day. I just feel good, finally. Well, better. So far.
I've been preached to my whole adult life about the importance of proper nutrition, especially as a runner. When my coach would send recommendations for race week, I'd do an internet search for "healthy fats" and foods filled with protein because I don't know. I'd get overwhelmed at the idea of overhauling my grocery list and habits, and quit.
It's way easier to quit.
So far it hasn't been hard to fill up at the grocery store, and it's been cheaper to stock up on produce. I'm eating little, nutritious meals throughout the day, and not ending up famished and asleep by 2 o'clock. I want some cake real bad, but I can wait.
I'm not forever replacing my life with solely clean eating. God no. When this challenge is over, you bet your ass I'll tear up some pizza. I'm not giving up all my favorite foods forever. HOWEVER, I'm so very proud of myself for crawling completely outside my comfort zone for this. I've been terrified and overwhelmed by proper nutrition forever. I'm integrating all the proper nutrients into my regular diet so the habit can become normal. I want to eat right regularly without thinking about it so hard.
What I want out of it is much better habits. I want my body to familiarize itself with all the goodness and to recognize the benefits of it. I want to crave junk less. I want to be knowledgeable about what my body needs and how to provide myself with it. I also want to be happier with my body, not gonna lie. But, as we should all know, the only way to be happy with anything in life is to nurture it and take care of it.
My dear, good friend, who's coaching me through every step, told me the other day (after stepping on the scale and jumping off with horror) to stop, give my body a little hug, and say, "I love you, body. I'll be patient with you." She made me do it. I did it. I felt a little less angry at it after that because it's trying. It's my own fault it feels like shit.
I took "before" measurements and had Travis take "before" photos when this all began. Though I've never felt so self-conscious and absurd while standing in front of my own boyfriend in a bikini. It made my flaws burn.
That's ridiculous, but the way.
However, I don't expect huge results in my appearance, mostly because I'm otherwise a fairly fit individual, but man, I just want this to result in feeling awesome. A girl should be able to stand in front of her boyfriend in a bikini and feel great, you know?
But most importantly, a girl should be able to look at her powerful body and know she treated it well, and feel good about it. Even when no one's looking.