After suffering from an eating disorder in my past, I welcomed the gluten-free diet. Not only did I hope that it would make me feel better, but that it would help me take the focus off of calories & put it on the ingredients of what I was eating. Recovery from an eating disorder is ongoing. It doesn’t stop when you have gained your weight back and are no longer underweight – it goes much deeper. I was not aware of this the first time I struggled with anorexia, but as an adult, I am now fully aware of this. My goals for myself (my body & mind) now are to be healthy & active so that I can be around for my family as long as possible. Being healthy isn’t just about what you put in your body, it is what you do with your body. Eating healthy foods is definitely better than eating junk, but exercise plays just as important of a role. I do what I can to be the healthiest person I can be, both inside & out –body and mind. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside if you are miserable on the inside. There are many components to this.
Eating healthy gluten-free foods is a huge part. A lot of gluten-free replacement foods (foods that take the place of our long lost gluten-filled counterparts) are higher in fat & calories than the gluten version. Following the gluten-free diet doesn’t have to be about finding a replacement for every food that you once enjoyed and can no longer have; it is a chance to take your lemons and make lemonade. Discover all of the wonderful naturally gluten-free foods out there. There are hundreds of whole, unprocessed foods that do not contain gluten and are much healthier for you than a gluten-free cupcake or muffin. Not that there isn’t a place for treats – there is. If you follow my blog, you know that I love chocolate, wine, jellybeans & most food in dessert form. It is all about balance.
Exercise. When I was growing up I didn’t realize that exercise was an important part of being healthy. My dad was a runner, but I didn’t think about the reasons why he ran. Exercise, in all forms, helps keep our bones & muscles strong. I used to think that exercise was only to help people lose weight. I didn’t realize that it was so much more than that. In addition to helping tone our muscles & keep our bones strong, exercise is good for the heart & mind and helps to combat certain diseases & conditions. I was a gymnast as a child, but once I hit 14, I quit and didn’t have any regular exercise plan for many years. I began exercising & going to the gym on a regular basis in May 2008 and have been going religiously ever since. I didn’t start running at that point, it was only when I became bored with the elliptical that I decided to give running a try. Once I started running, I couldn’t stop. It was my newfound love. After discovering how much I liked to run, it was all I wanted to do. I didn’t want to lift weights or cross train, nope…I just wanted to run. I quickly found out that doesn’t work quite as well as I had hoped. Some people are natural runners. This person is not. After running for a period of time, I developed some chronic issues, with the most troublesome being IT band syndrome. Turns out that my hips & glutes were weak & that was putting extra stress on my IT band. After many PT sessions, I learned how to strengthen my weak areas and learned how important it is for me to cross train. Cross training for me includes strength training, yoga, swimming and spinning. I cut back my running to only 4 days/week and fill in the other days with other activities. Following this regimen works for me. Not only does it help keep my body healthy, but my mind, too. This brings me to my next component….taking time for you.
We are all busy. We are parents, spouses, employees, bosses, coaches, etc. It would be helpful if there were more hours in the day to fit it all in, but since there aren’t, you need to get creative. In order to get my “me time”, I get up at 4:30 AM and hit the gym at 5 AM. I take yoga on the weekend or evening when Aaron is home with the kids. This works for me. You need to find what works for you. Make “YOU” a priority. The most important part here is scheduling time for you, just like you would schedule any other appointment. If you plan to get up early to exercise, set all of the stuff you need out the night before to avoid wasting time in the morning (and giving yourself a chance to skip). If you aren’t a morning person, schedule your workouts for a time that works best for you. Commit to change and stick with it. They (whoever “they” are) say it takes 3 weeks to change a habit. Give yourself a month. I found that once I implemented my early morning workouts and stuck with them, I felt like I was missing something when I skipped them. That early morning workout has become one of the most important parts of my day – it is my therapy, my chance to think & recharge without interruption. That alone gives me a jump start on the day.
While the above things work for me, they may not work for everyone. Some of the most important things are getting started & following through. If something isn’t working for you, be it diet, exercise, relationships – do something about it. Be proactive and take control of your life. Being healthy is not just one of these components, it is a combination of them.
***This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days.