Fit and Fancy

I have arrived, y’all. I made it. I’m there. From here on out I just aim to maintain. My scale sits collecting dust on the floor and I’m considering getting rid of it entirely. I love where I am right now on my fitness “journey”. And I know “journey” sounds hokey, but I don’t know what else to call it. The truth is that we are all on one-whatever word we use to describe it. I know some people object strongly to even having the word, “exercise” in their vocabulary, but whether are you a self made couch potato or a triathlon finisher-you’re still on a fitness journey. Your underlying routine-what you typically eat, what you typically do-that is either building you up or breaking you down. There is no escaping that. I’m not talking about wanting to lose some weight, or feeling guilty about donuts. Ditch the scale and your guilt (but keep the donuts, yum!). I’m talking simply about the fact that we can’t escape our bodies. We can’t escape their needs. We can’t escape how they function. We can’t escape eating.

We continue to focus SO much on appearance that we are missing the bigger picture. Your health allows you to do more. Your health allows you to BE more. And if you’ve decided that there are a million other things that are more important than your health-well, you’re wrong. There are a FEW things that may be more important than your health-but not as many as you may think. How are you going to enjoy your kids if you are constantly run down? How are you going to keep up with your coworkers if you get devastatingly sick multiple times a year? Or even just struggle with fatigue? Or pain? Headaches? Digestive issues? And how are you going to RECOVER from any of the illnesses/injuries that life will throw at you if you don’t have a good foundation for the doctors to work with? Who cares what weight you are, how ARE you? Really?

I am not anti modern medicine by any means. If anything I am pro-doc! (Is that a movement? Can I make it one?) But the truth is, our health system is overrun with basic health issues. BASIC health issues that then become more and more complicated. Nobody is winning-the docs are fighting to keep an already unhealthy body alive with some semblance of “quality of living” and the patient is drowning in prescriptions and feels like this is “normal”, or “part of aging”, or “there’s nothing I can really do about it”.

It’s hard being sick, y’all. It’s hard living with chronic pain, with chronic fatigue, with chronic stomach issues, with chronic ANYthing. And it’s hard to exercise daily, to eat balanced, to make conscious decisions about your health. No one said anything about life NOT being hard. But this idea that living healthy is “hardER“? I call BS.

Loving your body does not mean just dressing it well and refusing to take crap from people about it. Loving your body means CARING for it. Feeding it well, strengthening it daily, and when it gets run down-by all means get help for it! I am not saying that living healthily will cure all disease (um, that’s ridiculous) but why is it so crazy to want to arm my body with the best health I can give it so if and when disease does strike I have something to work with?

And I know it’s tough, but we need to be aware of the excuses we feed ourselves when it comes to living physically healthy lives. There is enough time for it-it may mean you have to reorganize your priority list, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time. You don’t need to enjoy exercise to need to do it. You hate exercise? Ok. You should still do around 30 minutes a day. I HATE meal prep. But I should still do it to keep me eating balanced. You hate salad? Ok. Your body still needs multiple servings of vegetables a day. You’re body isn’t excused because you hate salad. Find some other veggies. You need protein. You need vegetables. You need fruit. You need fats. You need carbs. Whether you “want to” or “like” or “have time” doesn’t matter, your body still NEEDS those things to function.

Arrogance is king in our society, to the point where we just assume that however we “feel” justifies whatever we want it to. And I am not against feeling-total wellness is dependent on a healthy emotional state-but we can’t just change the basic premise of how our bodies function just because we “feel” like it’s beneath us/not who we are/not part of our makeup/not our thing/that’s fine for you but not me. Your health is absolutely a part of you. You don’t need to become a certified trainer, health nut, gym junkie, or whatever, to be healthy. But you DO need to make an effort. I’m a child of God, a wife, a mom of two, an avid reader, an adult with ADHD, an aspiring writer, absolutely a couch potato whenever I get the chance…the list continues. And even though I have goals to pursue in the nutrition field-I didn’t start there, and nothing says to be “healthy” I have to continue along that path.

So, in a nutshell, you are on a fitness journey whether you like it or not. Be honest with yourself about whether you are heading where you’d prefer, it doesn’t take much to change in either direction.

Diet

Diet was a four letter word when I was growing up. Dieting was a self-destructive cycle that hinged on a disordered relationship with food and wellness. They were the quack schemes of the body image world, the motivation being a “get skinny quick” fix that had little to do with actual health. My understanding and opinion of dieting hasn’t changed, but the clarity of what a diet is has become increasingly confusing. Diet also basically means-what you eat. I’m not ON a diet, but I have changed my diet. …But does being intentional about my food automatically make me on a diet? Is the only way to avoid the black hole of food obsession to embrace all foods whenever, however, and however much I want? I just need to love my body, no matter how unhealthy it gets, and not think at all about what I’m eating past the pleasure it gives me while consuming it?

The past two weeks of Hammer and Chisel the honeymoon phase of good nutrition wore off completely and I’ve been struggling to stay on track. As I’ve struggled I’ve wondered quite simply SHOULD I be struggling? Am I becoming obsessed with food? Is the temptation to eat “just one more cracker” really a temptation? Or is it a warning flag telling me that I’m becoming neurotic about portion control and I need to ease off before I head into a self destructive spiral? Am I simply overthinking this?

So the second part of my nutrition reflections is an uncomfortable revelation for me. It is the Lenten season-something that I have participated in for awhile even though I am not Catholic-and in this past year especially I have been working hard on adjusting my priorities to make my family truly Christ centered. Becoming a parent changes your awareness on so many levels, and never have I thirsted more for a solid relationship with my Savior than in the midst of panicking over my responsibilities as a mom. My choices of sacrifices for this Lent reflects that, and boy has it opened my eyes.

In a nutshell, I worship the pleasure of food. Mind, body, and soul, I love food. The taste, the texture, the sensation-food is glorious. When I started this clean eating journey I went from indulging in a box of girl scout cookies in one sitting and hot dogs for breakfast to reading labels at the store, meal planning at night, food prepping during nap,and taking pride in my culinary progress and the healthy food provided for my family. There is nothing wrong with eating clean, meal planning/prepping, enjoying food, etc., etc., -until there is. The thing is, whether it’s cookies or grapes, I just can’t resist having “one more” because I want “one more”. I could be way past comfortably full and I still have a hard time cutting myself off. Add into that an actual portioned meal plan that has me thinking about food constantly and I have set food on an alter by giving it importance beyond what it deserves.

Wait, what? I know, I know, seems completely contradictory. Let me try and explain.

I believe eating healthy, balanced, and properly portioned is crucial for total wellness.

Eating in such a manner requires planning, preparation, and knowledge. It requires intention and yes, discipline.

BUT. When meal planning edges out Bible study, when food prep causes me to snarl at my children, when I feel pressured to be pushing my skills in the kitchen because of “clean” recipes I find online, when I spend more time during my day thinking on or handling food than time with my children, my husband, my God-there is a problem. And the problem, for me, is that I worship the pleasure food brings. I enjoy food so much it trumps more important aspects of my life. I couldn’t resist browsing Pinterest for recipes anymore than I could resist snacking while I read a favorite book.

We like to think of money as the major tripper upper of false idols-and it’s definitely a big one-but in this land of plenty I wonder how many of us consume our idols at the table. Like I said, this was an eye opener for me, but I am SO GLAD my eyes have been opened. Yes, I have a struggle ahead of me to place food where it belongs, but even as the balance is just beginning to right itself already our home is calmer and happier for it.

Food is good, God is better.