My introduction to the fitness world came from none other than The King himself, Richard Simmons. I used to grab one of my dad’s “B.U.M. Equipment” t-shirts, a pair of my sister’s gym shorts and prepare to be transported back in time dancing along to ‘Sweatin to the Oldies’ with my mom. The choreography to ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’ is burned into my brain to this day. If you’ve never done a Richard Simmons workout video, do yourself a favor and get your hands on a tape (although you’ll probably have to find a VCR first). His energy is contagious, somewhat unsettling, but emphatic nonetheless. Little did I know that this early exposure to fitness was mild compared to how I would act in the future. Over the next twenty years, my yo-yo dieting would range from hilariously naïve to dangerously dumb.
In 6th grade, I read a magazine article that said apple cider vinegar would cause you to drop pounds like magic if you took a shot of it before each meal. A classmate and I had been scheming for weeks on how to lose weight before the 6th grade dance and finally I had our answer. We were convinced drinking the apple cider vinegar had to be done in secret because for some reason this common household drink was only for adults so each morning, I would “steal” some from my kitchen and hide it in my lunch box. When we were supposed to go to lunch we would sneak away to the bathroom, down a shot of the vinegar and hurry to the cafeteria like we just hid a body. This lasted about a week because it tasted disgusting and one time it spilled in my backpack and I smelled like vinegar all day. Eventually I bought a “thank god I’m cute” shirt which really flattered my prepubescent body and went to the dance.
In high school however, things took a dark turn when I watched a Lifetime movie about a bulimic woman struggling to accept her changing body throughout her pregnancy. It was like a playbook on how to develop an eating disorder. I remember feeling almost giddy that I had discovered a way I would be able to lose weight while eating whatever I wanted! All I had to do was make myself throw up afterwards, easy. Well, it wasn’t easy; it was gross. I always smelled like vomit and there was no privacy in my house so I could only do it at school, so I stopped. I know now that I didn’t actually have an eating disorder which is why it was so easy for me to stop. The worst part about this was that I decided to brag to some of my classmates about my new found methods and a few of these girls actually did develop bulimia. I ultimately gave them the idea that led to a much bigger battle they had to fight without me. I think about that a lot.
Most recently, I’ve had a harder time controlling myself from overeating as opposed to extreme weight loss. I moved to a new city 10 months ago to start a job. About 2 weeks after moving I discovered a year round farmer’s market conveniently located on my way home from work. When I harmlessly stopped one day to buy flowers, I discovered what would become my newest obsession and own personal form of kryptonite; homemade oatmeal cream pies. These cookies are brought in from an Amish bakery and taste SO GOOD. One is easily enough to feed 2-3 people, they are soft and crispy all at the same time, the filling is creamy and not too sweet, the ratio of oatmeal cookie to vanilla cream is perfect, I could go on and on. For about 6 months, I stopped and got one EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They were $1.50 ($1.59 with tax) and if I didn’t have that in cash I found myself buying literally anything they were selling to hit the $10 minimum for a credit card. I couldn’t quit. I would leave work at different times so I wouldn’t have time to stop (I just ended up being late for whatever I was doing), I would call my mom or my sister to distract me, that didn’t work. Finally, I decided to drive a different way home from work. I haven’t driven passed that place in 2 months. That was the only way I could stop myself from eating these cookies. This isn’t willpower. This is some kind of Darwinian survival mode kicking in to save me from myself. Whatever the reason, I’m calling this progress.
I can classify my life into two time periods; times when I was trying to lose weight for an event and times when I was eating like a bear two weeks away from hibernation. I’ve learned a lot about my unstable fitness and nutrition habits since I’ve started writing and really examining myself (which isn’t easy or fun by the way). I think my lifelong mentality that I should only try to get in shape or lose weight because of an upcoming event is a real, fundamental problem. The 6th grade dance, a pool party, dance recital, the prom, a wedding, or a trip to the beach don’t have anything to do with my overall health and what I’ve been doing is unhealthy. I also just want to take this opportunity to remind ya’ll that I know this stuff, I studied it for 7 YEARS AND I SUCCESSFULLY COACH PEOPLE ON WELLNESS EVERY DAY. I wanted to reiterate that because it’s not a lack of knowledge that’s holding me back it’s something else and I’m working to overcome it all the time.
Do you know what happens when you drink a lot of water? You pee a lot, yes, but you also poop a lot! Don’t get all weird about poop either, everybody poops (it’s a book, read it). So like, even if you’re not trying to lose weight you should drink more water to keep yourself regular. Just a thought. I met my goal of drinking half my body weight in water most days over the last week. It wasn’t anything life changing, honestly. Like, yes I went to the bathroom more often and I actually felt less bloated but that was about it. BUT the real victory was the sense of accomplishment I had from meeting my goal. (Side note: if you’re trying to do this and its 10 pm and you didn’t drink enough DO NOT try to chug the remainder before going to bed because you will come dangerously close to peeing the bed even if you are an adult.) I always tell the people I coach to make one change at a time so this week my goal is to wake up an hour earlier. Let me just tell you right now how much I hate getting up early. I HATE IT. However, I just got a second job and if I’m going to work out, it’s going to have to be in the morning. I don’t want to do this but I have goals and you know what they say: “no pain, no gain, a rolling stone gathers no moss, you reap what you sow, grin and bear it, learn to walk before you can run, strike while the iron is hot!’ People say a lot of crap that basically just boils down to if you want to do something, do it.