Taking Paths Less Traveled

Joyful Hiker. Mother. Teacher. Adventurer.

Yesterday I wrote about the seasonal changes and the comforting habits that I have kept, even to my own detriment. Over the years my comfort habits of Autumn changed, driven by the marketing ploys, consumerism and economic gains. My body has always sensed the turning of the season from summer to autumn by the feelings in the air and the shifts of the sun. In the past this meant harvesting the garden, turning the soil, raking and playing in the leaves, and building up the log pile to hunker down the the winter. It meant card games with family and satisfying stews with grandma’s biscuit recipe. Crocheting beside the fire while watching a heart warming Hallmark movie with my family is, happily, one habit I still employ on a regular basis.

As I’ve moved into my career and away from my family I’ve struggled to recreate these scenes, and the artificial substitutes of pumpkin spice lattes and fashionable sweaters and boots attempted to replace the comforts my soul was seeking. Last night while driving with my friend, I remarked how I was looking forward to feel the longer nights of winter’s approach because I always crochet during this time of the year. My friend didn’t had the comforting experiences that I had as a child. She suffers from seasonal depression and dreads the decreased hours of daylight. As I ruminated on the realization that crocheting is something I only do in this season, she expressed her sorrow and desire in creating a happier winter season.

A couple weeks ago, I was selected as a participant in the early release of Dallas Hartwig’s new book “The 4 Season Solution”. Having recently found success an medically formulated food program, I’ve had a complete body transformation. I’ve developed habits around foods that have changed my body’s metabolic structure. I’ve learned how to use the program’s supplied fuelings (small snacks or meals) to consciously select foods to change the way that I’ve thought about food.

Several years ago I was a participant of Hartwig’s coauthored book, It Starts With Food. I embarked on a Whole30 journey with my family and found excellent success. I learned foods that provoked an inflammatory response and chose to exclude them from my diet. But, those 30 days weren’t enough to change my lifestyle, and I found myself quickly slipping back into most of my old habits. I still don’t eat gluten, corn or dairy, but those changes aren’t enough to sustain optimal health.

As I am nearing my weight loss goal and working toward “optimal health” I’ve become terrified of coming off the program. The program is designed with an end in mind. There is a transition plan to take me off the supplied meal replacements and work my way into choosing all my foods from the market. When Dallas asked his followers to preview his new book, I was so excited. He has always provided inspiration to help me change unhealthy habits, brought awareness to the choices I make both with foods and social media consumption. The title alone, The 4 Season Solution resonated strongly with my understanding of life. Several of the people that I’ve found inspirational on my journey towards my optimal self have mentioned life in terms of seasons. Not just the circadian seasons of the earth and sun, but the seasons of age, career and family.

Dallas’s book has been delivered into my hands at a serendipitous time. As I read through his work and internalize his findings, I have a gut feeling that this solution is the one that I’ve innately been working toward. His book has the promise to be the guidebook to incorporating my body’s biological needs with today’s modern technologies and realities. Combining the advances we’ve made as humans with the natural rhythms of the earth speaks directly to my ancestral soul.

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Since we are well into the month of November, I figured it would be silly to start a monthly goal. So, instead I’m going to challenge myself to a seasonal goal. Join me!

Goal Number One: Daily Exercise

When the going gets tough, the tough sit their ass on the couch…. 😖

Seriously, I’ve got to exercise. I know. Know. KNOW. that exercise will make me feel better in every way. How to make sure that I follow through? Set an internet goal!

1.) Walk my dogs daily. Poor pups… they don’t get enough exercise!

2.) Plan and commit to hikes with the Sierra Club.

Goal Number Two: Learn More Lean & Green Recipes

This weather makes me crave soups, chilis and other comfort foods! But, when I made a broth based soup, I got too full too quickly on the broth and missed out on the quantity of vegis and proteins I need for my diet. When I made a pot of chili I didn’t have a portion plan and ended up eating so much that my stomach was in literal pain!

1.) Select three new recipes to try out.

2.) Become an expert at new recipes.

Goal Number Three: Connect With Community

Join me to help me achieve my goals! Use #AutumnFitness and tag me in your posts so we can support each other!

Embarking on a lifestyle transformation is never an easy decision. You’ve got to give up something in order to bring new things into your life. Habits, ideas, maybe even people need to change in order for true change to take place. Habits that provide comfort are the hardest. As I’ve been slowly correcting the way that I use food and adjusting how I spend my spare time, I’ve become aware of the way that comfort can lead to self sabotage, and in this case could set me back into the yo-yo pattern I’ve been working so hard to end.

The month of October was the hardest yet. As autumn takes over, those habits of comfort seem to kick in at even greater lengths. One “annual” pumpkin spice latte leads to another… One candy corn pumpkin leads to 10… One sugar rush leads into just another quick “hit” and before you know it, you’re secretly grabbing a bite of pizza and stashing a candy into your bag because your body is now craving it.

What can we do in order to avoid these struggles when all around us are carefully orchestrated, researched based marketing ploys encouraging you to give in to these comforts?

I found success by reaching out to my community of health. Talking to friends and family that are also on the path of transformation saved me. After making myself physically ill from “indulging” in not only those despicable candy corn pumpkins, but also fluffy frosting covered cookies and greasy cheese pizza, I reached out to my community. My long time friend and inspirational leader told me, “Girl! Perfection isn’t long term. There will be times you have the opportunity to learn from choices you make.” These words not only unburdened me from the feelings of guilt that I had, but also illuminated a problematic feature of most health programs.

On my past health roller coaster rides, I’ve done really well… until I didn’t. When I gave in to those cravings, I felt as if I had to start back over again. For example, with one temporarily effective program I followed, Whole 30, if you screwed up, you started back at Day 1… I used this program for about 90 days and even though I gained some healthy habits along the way, it wasn’t sustainable. The mental concept of having to ‘Reset” to Day 1 was effective for only the first month. After that, with very little progress made in weight loss goals, resetting just became defeating.

Long term change will only happen if you are persistent and forgiving of your humanity. Instead of striving for perfection, strive for growth in change. I didn’t have to start over an entire 30 days, I just had to change my very next choice, and then the one after that.

I’m excited to share my progress so far. This is my 3rd month on program and my body has changed so much I can hardly believe it is true. Sometimes when I walk by a mirror, I pause to see the woman I’m becoming. I’ve seen glimpses of this woman in the past, but never like this. When I was at a healthy weight in the past, I was a 19 year old girl. I didn’t have kids, a career or an education. Today when I look in the mirror, I’m the woman that I’ve always wanted to be: a healthy, strong mother with a college degree and a stable career.

This is only the beginning.

Want to know more about my transformation? Just ask.

For years I have battled with my health and weight. I remember noticing that I was chubby as early as 8 years old and it caused me some distress all through my pre-teen and teenage years until I took exercise into my own hands and started using diet shakes. It was transformative and then my life took off in a completely different direction and I fell back onto what I thought I knew. Portion control, calorie counting, exercise are all the things that go out the window from me when I’m thrown a life curveball.

After my teenage years, I found myself once again on a journey towards better health. I began weight lifting and running along with taking a pill, Metabolife, that decreased my appetite. I was nearly to my weight goal. That all ended one day when I gave into just one bean and cheese burrito and one quesadilla from Del Taco. I remember the day specifically because I began to gain weight after that and then I got pregnant.

I was sick a lot throughout my pregnancy and I developed acid reflux that seemed to be relieved when I ate… This combined with marital troubles brought me into a depression and I never regained my pre-pregnancy body. I was even heavier with my second pregnancy.

After I had 2 miscarriages and recovered from pneumonia and an umbilical surgery, there was a shift in my thinking and I began to focus on my body again. I began to lift weights again and followed a body building routine and clean eating diet. This had amazing results and I was on a good track, but then my entire world blew up again. I got divorced.

The divorce brought on new challenges. I was already in feeling pretty good about my body at that point, even though I wasn’t down to my goal weight. I was doing pretty good until once again my life got turned upside down. I got sick, had to move in with my parents and ended up commuting to college.

The next time I worked on my weight, I was enrolled at university. I had been slowly gaining weight and then discovered the diet “Whole 30”. I worked the diet with fidelity and got down from 200+ to 176lbs. Then I started student teaching and my masters degree. Over the last couple years I’ve been working on managing my weight, but it always comes back on. Some life altering event happens and my habits, routines and healthy choices disappear first.

Finally, I feel like I am in a place where my career is stable and I’ve got a good handle on the time management it takes to make my classroom go smoothly. I have embarked on another diet program, hoping this one will be my last one. This one is different than all the ones I’ve tried before. They sent me a book that focuses on habits of health. Once I get to my ideal weight I will begin slowly to transition away from the provided food and slowly work on how to balance caloric intake and output through meal planning and exercise.

Other areas of health that I am focused on are financial and social which should continue to support my healthy life style choices.

After one month on the program I am down from 187lbs to 173lbs. It’s been rapid weight loss but I have immediately seen the results of feeling better, looking better and most importantly having more energy. My goal weight is 140.. but my life goal is to maintain my health and make my life a priority.

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