I recently came across a quote that read, "Healthy living is a life sentence, you will never be pararoled or pardoned." What I love about this quote is that healthy living is a way of living. It is not something that can be measured by a number on the scale. It is the actions we take every day that allow us to leave the diet mentality behind.
Having worked for SparkPeople for over three years now, I have seen many common concerns on the message boards. One of the most common themes is the fear that when a member starts integrating healththy habits into his/her life and the the results aren't as quick as they should be, the member is convinced something is wrong. The member is either eating too much, not exercising enough or for many, they are convinced the program does not work. For many long term dieters, like myself, we are convinced that we may have even permanently destroyed our metabolsim (which is not the case).
I am here to put the record straight that with time and patience the changes will happen, but you must utilize the tools in order to see the success. These changes can take as long as six to eight weeks to show up on the scale, but when a member doesn't get the results he/she expects to see on the scale, the fear is that they must be doing something wrong.
This journey isn't a sprint to see how quickly you can get the weight off only to go back to your unhealthy ways. I view this healthy living journey much like I do my training for an event. I can't slack on my training if I expect to reach my goal. I can't expect to go from the couch to a marathon without going through days, weeks and months of training. Just like adaptation to exercise takes time, so does weight loss.
Midway through my weight loss journey, I went through a very long nine month plateau where no matter how hard I felt I was doing everything right, that doggone number on the scale would not move. At the time I was working with a running coach/trainer who insisted that I throw the scale away. I reluctantly gave my scale away. Now I am not saying that is what YOU should do, but my coach could tell I was putting too much emphasis on the scale and not on all the changes that were happening within my body.
One of my assignments was to compile a list of changes that were happening to my body that had nothing to do with the scale. Almost five years later I still have that list and add to it as I come across the new research as to how healthy living can impact our life, even if the scale is not moving.
Nancy's List of Healthy Living Benefits
-Exercise increases lung capacity
-Exercise increases immunity fighting immunoglobulins
-Exercise increases our mood due to an increase in mood-enhancing chemicals-serotonin, dopamine and nor-epinepherine
-Exercise builds lean muscle mass and bone mass therefore we experience a decrease risk of osteporosis
-Exercise and healthy eating habits helps lowers blood pressure
-Exercise helps lower our heart rate and build a stronger heart
-Over time your risk for cardio-vascular disease and type II diabetes falls
-Healthy living helps lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) levels
-Healthy living increases our HDL (good cholesterol) levels
-Healthy living helps lowers triglycerides
-Your runs, walks and other exercises become easier
-Healthy living cuts your cancer risk
-You feel better and have more energy
-You feel younger and more confident
-Helps with sleep
- Increases the volume of your muscle mitochondria which leads to burning more carbs and fats
-Doubles your muscles ability to use oxygen, therefore, you are better able to use fat as an energy source
-Allows me to take risks in life
As you can see, our body benefits so much more from embracing healthy habits for a lifetime. The number, as many of you know, is just that--a number. It cannot and will not ever measure our health and fitness.
We must be careful not to get too hung up on that number, nor can we expect to undo years of unhealthy habits in just a few days, weeks and months. While many members have seen rapid success, I will confess that it took me over 3 years to drop 80 pounds. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I once considered myself the Queen of Weight Loss but the Joker of Weight Maintenance.
In February 2005 I vowed that this was finally going to be the year I was getting off the diet roller coaster once and for all. I was no longer going to start a diet, only to vow to begin again the minute I experienced my first slip-up. I was not giving myself a timeline to reach my goal. What I was going to do was make healthy choices a part of my daily life, even if that took me the rest of my life to do.
Fast forward seven years and I am still the same weight, give or take five pounds (I do not believe in having a goal weight, but a goal weight range) that I was when I reached my goal four years ago. This has finally become my way of living. I have reached the point in my life that it is more natural for me to choose the healthy options in life than the unhealthy ones. This for me is a much bigger success than any number on the scale or the size on the tag.
What are some of the lessons you have learned in your own journey? What changes have you experienced that has helped you give up the control the scale holds over you?
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