I think it’s time for a comeback! 🙊
I was talking to one of the other dietetic interns in my program, (hey Lynice!) and she reminded me that we need to share what we know about nutrition with people so they can benefit from it too. She posted the cutest grocery haul video over on her instagram, and since I’m a more effective writer than I am a talker, I decided that I really should start sharing more in the best way I know how.
A lot has changed since I did most of my posting here back in undergrad. Since I was working out much more then with my team and ate most of my meals on campus, the biggest things that changed with my nutrition were (a) how much food I could eat, and (b) how easy it was to get it. While it was nice for my old joints to have a break from running so often, I did have to take my physical fitness into my own hands. It was such a blessing having all the coaches I’d had for the past 14 years, and I’m glad I can use what they taught me about exercise and self-discipline to take care of myself. Surprisingly, even though diet and exercise weren’t easy to manage after graduation, keeping a heathy mindset has become the most important to me.
For all former athletes it can be hard to deal with the perceived loss of self-identity that comes with no longer competing. It’s also hard to build friendships equal to the ones you had with your teammates… the people you bonded with over a lot of sweat, ice baths, those dark and early mornings, running up the hill after 5-minute showers trying not to be late to class, long runs at the dirt roads, and Einstein’s bagels. Thankfully, I have been blessed with so many close, like-minded friends now, but I went through a really tough and lonely time before I got to the good stuff.
A lot of that was my own fault! I was pretty down on myself for a while because I felt like I couldn’t control my appetite, some of my favorite clothes stopped fitting, and I had a hard time recognizing myself in the mirror. By the time I was a year out of sport, I really didn’t feel like “me” or know who I was anymore. I was always anxious while I was exercising because I was afraid of one of my old injuries flaring up (and they often did), and of not looking like an athlete anymore in the gym. I didn’t want to get involved at church until I liked the way I looked again, because I missed the old me and I didn’t think people would like me the way I was. I couldn’t focus as well as usual on school because I was so distracted by all of these things, and procrastinating made me more stressed, which made me want to overeat… again.
That awful cycle really affected my self-confidence, and I couldn’t encourage people the way I wanted to. Maybe I should have started with encouraging myself? It turns out, God had a lot of encouragement waiting for me in other people and in his word, and now that I’ve stopped hiding and started listening, I’ve found so much freedom from the pain I was in. I’ve learned that it is important to take good care of your body so you can bring a secure and confident presence to the world, while simultaneously accepting grace and realizing that you have so much to offer to the people around you right at this moment (no matter what you look like or how you feel).
Mental health, exercise, and diet are often closely intertwined, and in my life, I can see that very clearly. Since my undergrad degree was in exercise science, with a concentration in nutrition and a psychology minor, it really shouldn’t surprise me that these are my three favorite things to talk about. I don’t think you can look at just nutrition without the other two and see the results that most people want to see – so, these three topics will be the main focus of this blog going forward! Of course, I’m not a health professional (yet!), so I will share what I’ve learned in school and from my personal experiences with the disclaimer that it shouldn’t be taken as medical advice or substitute for meeting with your very own registered dietitian 😊.
On to the good stuff.
This is the “secret sauce” for reaching any goal you might have in the area of health and fitness. You probably have a goal, but do you really want to spend forever being halfway there, or about to start? If you want to take control of your nutrition and exercise habits, you’ve got to identify a deeply rooted “WHY,” or motivation that can keep you going even when your emotional motivation is running low.
Your “WHY” is a deeper purpose behind what you’re doing that can keep you going even when you don’t feel like doing it anymore.
Ask yourself: Why do my goals matter to me enough to eat in a way I can be proud of? Why would I exercise right now when I don’t feel like it? What’s the reason I get up in the morning, and how can taking care of myself help be be better at that?
My “why” is something along the lines of “I take care of myself so that I can love others more effectively.” I remember many times when being unhappy with myself hurt the people around me or kept me from encouraging them like I could have. I know that when I’m proud of my choices and feel good about myself, I’m much more able to be the person I want to be for others, and that makes me feel fulfilled. Having a deep why can turn seemingly meaningless daily choices into a set of core values we can live by, that help us to reach the biggest goals and dreams that God has placed in our hearts. It also helps us not to go overboard, because it keeps the main thing, the main thing.
Make your why personally meaningful to you, even if it makes no sense to anyone else. Write it down, and re-read it often. Call it to mind when you’re feeling like giving up. If you really use this, I think you’ll be a lot happier with the choices you end up making. I know I have been.
Next week, I’ll talk about building eating habits to support your goals and your why! Once you have your motivation clear in your mind, you’ll be unstoppable. Just in time for the holidays. 🎄