The last two months have been a whirlwind of small, achievable changes that have become a new lifestyle of healthy habits.
This was me in 2013 when I started this blog and began practicing yoga. At that point, all I wanted was to FEEL better and move my body.
This was me in May 2017. Thinner, healthier, but alternating between starving myself and meals where I ate too much. Just a few months later, I would end up in the hospital for a week with gastritis and uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. I will admit for the first time that between January and August 2017, my bulimia returned after about 20 years in remission. I was probably actively purging 3-5 times a week. I was also drinking too much and not exercising or practicing yoga. I did ride my horse Beau, but not regularly.
This was me in January 2018. Healthier, stronger, but still with blood sugar that had to be controlled by medicine, sleeping poorly, needing a lot of caffeine to get through the day, with erratic eating. I had fully committed to returning to yoga and was practicing 4-5 days a week. I had mostly stopped purging. But I was not healthy.
This is me now.
What did I do?
A bunch of things.
First, I started adding strength training to my yoga practice because I want to be able to press into a handstand. I still can’t press into one, but I can get my toes off the ground. I can also balance on my hands away from the wall if I use the wall to get up. Because I’ve spent two months building my shoulders and my abs.
Second, I joined an on-line workout group. I show up every day in my group and share what I am doing. Where I am struggling, how I am falling down, how I am succeeding. I ask questions. It has been a HUGE help for me.
Third, I made changes to how I eat. Let me stress, I am NOT on a diet. I eat differently.
Here is where I will get on my soapbox. I know that sugar is bad for me, because if I eat it and take my blood sugar 2 hours later, it will be high and stay high until I workout enough to burn it off. I know that my stomach cannot handle most dairy. BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN ALLERGIC TO IT MY ENTIRE LIFE. Despite the fact that I ate very little dairy as a child, when I became an adult, I ate a lot of dairy. I ignored every message my body gave me about how bad dairy makes me feel. I ignored that it was the easiest food for me to purge because my body wanted it OUT. I ignored that once my gall bladder was removed in an emergency surgery in 2014 my body could not handle high fat foods. I would take enzymes, protonix (super strong acid reducer), and zofran (anti nausea medicine), but I would still eat it. Finally, I know that MOST gluten is bad for me, because after I eat it, I have GI problems. I will occasionally eat pasta with gluten in it at night but that’s it. I FOR SURE do not eat bread in it. And if I do? It’s that same round of enzymes and prescription medicine. And often? Dairy and gluten are both bulimia triggers. My stomach feels enormous and my body says GET IT OUT.
Fourth, I dramatically cut back alcohol. I still drink wine a couple nights a week, but I almost never drink vodka or bourbon or mixed drinks. Now, I KNOW that vodka has fewer carbs and calories than wine. But my body hates it. It reacts just like it does with dairy and gluten only times ten.
Don’t I feel deprived? Don’t I feel sad about what I don’t eat?
I will, occasionally, have a treat. Almost never sugar, but occasionally I will have a kid’s size ice cream or when I was at the Kentucky Derby, I had this vodka drink I love. The Lily.
But I KNOW that I am going to feel awful after I eat or drink it. I will probably have to take medicine and enzymes. So it better be SO FREAKING GOOD to justify feeling sick. I also know that dairy, gluten, caffeine, and sugar can all trigger migraines and I HATE spending a day in bed in extreme pain.
I also don’t feel deprived because this isn’t a diet. This is how I eat. I invest the time, money, and energy into buying and making really GOOD healthy food. I know the places I can order food that makes me feel indulgent but not sick. I eat every 2-3 hours so that I am never hungry. I shop at whole foods and healthy markets (which I can afford because I don’t eat out a lot, I don’t go out to lunch, and I have cut Starbucks down to a couple of times a month.
Fifth, I cut out Starbucks and lunches out. Because I wanted to control my sugar and dairy intake. So instead, I buy good cold brew coffee and use it with my favorite vegan superfoods shake and I have my own, made at home frappucinno. This was maybe the hardest, but as a side benefit, it became a LOT easier to cut sugar and dairy. Because Starbucks was my number one “it’s only two pumps of flavored syrup and skim milk it doesn’t matter” place.
Look, I have big dreams for my life that I have not achieved and I want to LIVE long enough and healthy enough to achieve those dreams. For me, it’s about my mindset. If I know I can eat all of these amazing, delicious, healthy foods that make me feel good and do 90% of the time.
The final thing for me was to pick a workout program that REALLY pushes me. It feels good to be pushed. To work hard. To sweat a lot. To have that feeling of accomplishment when I finish it. To know that 80 days of this workout is getting me closer every day to my handstand goal. To have a trainer in my own home who pushes me to lift heavy, have good form, and increase my cardio intensity and endurance. Every day in this program is a deposit into my future yoga practice.
And I can see my stomach size shrinking and my abs emerging. So now two months in, I have lost five inches off my waist. I’ve lost 10 pounds and 24 inches total. But more importantly, through a series of small changes and goals, I have transformed who I am, what I eat, how I eat, how I workout, and how I view my health.
And I am no longer on blood sugar medicine, stomach medicine, or a host of enzymes. Just one super food shake a day.
This is not a diet.
This is my life.