Monday, March 18, 2013

I'm finally heading NORTH

March 13, 2013, is a day that changed the course of my healthy journey. It was another nomal day of working out for me. I wanted to get 2 hours of cardio in before starting my day.

It was a very beautiful day out. The weather was perfect, so I knew I had to take my workout outside. I have a route I usually run that takes me about an hour and I decided I would do the rest of my cario in the park by my house, but a little voice spoke up and said, "Hey Melissa jog to Mt. Sugarloaf and hike up it."

I tried to ignore the voice, but it wouldn't stop, so I started out jogging/walking to Mt. Sugarloaf. Within 5 minutes my calves were on fire. I've been having some goofy issues with my calves, so I thought I should turn around and go home, but that voice told me to keep going. I was starting to dislike that voice very much, but felt the pull to keep going, so I stretched out my calves and continued on my way. I had to walk most of the way to Mt. Sugarloaf, but I finally made it to the base.

I remembered about an "easier" trail that a lady told me about, so I started up the mountain. Within about 5 minutes, if that, I knew I was in trouble. The "easy" trail goes straight up the mountain. After using a few tree branches to help me up, I stopped, and took a break because both of my calves were cramping up again. I leaned on a tree, streched them out and was trying to decide what to do. I looked down and then up. Neither option was looking promising and I wanted to cry, but I sucked it up and told myself that I could do it and the only option for me was up. I had to climb over and up tree roots, rocks, and huge manmade stairs! My feet slipped on icy leaves and on mud. I even got a little puncture wound, from a branch, on my sore calf, which ended up bleeding for awhile.

This is a picture of the trail and the tree roots I had to climb. I basically bear crawled up this part.

After all of this I finally reached the top. The last few steps, when I knew I would make it, were just the best feelings ever. The tears just started and I couldn't stop them if I wanted to.

As I got to the top I realized I was stuck. There was a chainlink fence and another part that was fence posts with two ropes that were made out of metal (it's hard to describe). There I was stuck just steps from the top with no way to get there. I knew there was no way I was going back down the way I had just come. I had overcome too much. I needed to get to the top no matter what obstacle lay in my way.

There was no way I was climbing the fence, so I decided to go through the 2, not too flexible, metal ropes. I was worried because of my size, but I pushed forward and got through just to have my foot get caught, so I'm laughing, while crying and finally get untangled and then hike the final few steps to the top and I sit down and look out for miles and I lost it. I just start bawling like a baby.

I wasn't crying just because I made it to the top, I was crying because that hike represents my life. Every step, every leg cramp, every tree root, every rock I climbed, every time I slipped and every drop of blood coming from my leg represents all the obstacles I have faced in my life.

In the past at the first sign of pain, I would shove it down, turn around and retreat. The pain was too much to handle then, but not this time. In the first 5 minutes, after hiking, and seeing how hard it was I wanted to quit, but something was different this time. I didn't, I kept going.

Each obstacle I overcame was like a weight being lifted from me. It was amazing, which is why I just started crying at the top. Those close to me know that I hate to cry. I've gotten very good at stopping myself when I start of just not starting at all. My big fear is that when I start I will not be able to stop.

As I sat there crying I realized I was starting to stop myself, so I did one of the hardest things I've ever done. I let myself cry and the floodgates were opened. I let years of tears fall. It was so amazing! It was like my heart had a cleansing and a load had been lifted and then the most amazing thing happened, I stopped crying. My big fear did not come true. I was actually able to stop after letting it all out.

As I got ready to head down the mountain I thankd God for this moment. I knew in that moment it was His voice telling meto hike up Mt. Sugarloaf that day and I thanked Him for having me listen, which I usually don't do. Then I prayed and gave all of my troubles to Him. I gave Him all the problems of my past and anything that will come up in my future. I left them all on top of Mt. Sugarloaf that day. As I sat there I just pictured leaving it all there to blow away in the wind.

I took a different route down the mountain. It symbolized for me not going back to the obstacles that I had just overcome. Those are in my past and there was no reason to revisit them, to dwell on them. They were done. I walked/jogged down the main road. Parts of it were covered in ice and at one point I slipped and fell, but picked myself right back up. As I kept working my way down I thought about the ice and this symbolized to me that there will still be days where I slip and fall, but I just need to pick myself right back up and keep moving with relentless forward motion. I cannot let the slip ups become big obstacles again to overcome.
This was ice on the side of the mountain and continued down half of the road.

I made it down the mountain and jogged/walked home with the biggest smile on my face. The person that came down that mountain was not the same person that cllimbed up it and for that I am grateful.

I have definitely turned a corner and cannot wait to see what's next for me in my journey.

I have had a favorite Bible verse for awhile now, but after this experience it takes on a whole new meaning. The verse is Deuteronomy 2:3, "You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn North." I am FINALLY heading North and it feels great.

If you have obstacles that keep tripping you up it is time to work on overcoming them. It is so worth it. Stick with it. It taken me years to get to this point. My prayer is that it won't take you as long and that you will quit circling your own mountain and finally head North. You won't regret it.

This post is dedicated to my good friend, John Patella. He knew this day was coming and kept encouraging me to just let go and cry when the day came and that is just what I did. Thanks John for sticking by me. You are a good friend.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CHEAT DAYS or should I say TREAT DAYS?

Lately I have been hearing the phrases "cheat day" and "cheat meal." I went on a trip recently and a friend told me, "Just plan out your cheats. Make sure what you have is really worth it." A lot of major diet programs out there are now building in cheat days into their programs. I saw it on a Jenny Craig commericial. This isn't a new concept, but seems like it is talked about a lot more now, so it got me thinking.

Ever since I was little and in school I've been told not to cheat on my homework. I've been told as I grew up and got a job that it is not ok to cheat an employer out of money. Once I got married I was told not to cheat on my husband. When I started doing taxes, same thing, don't cheat. CHEATING has always been bad. Always negative. People have been expelled from school, fired from jobs, and divorced from cheating, so for me to wrap my brain around cheat days and cheat meals being positive, well, I just can't do it.

I have tried every diet in my adult life. Every diet has told me what I can and cannot eat. It has been restrictive and when I would go off plan to have a treat, the guilt would consume me, which ultimately would lead to more bad eating. The cycle was vicious.

I have worked really hard to make healthy eating and working out a lifestyle for me. Like the picture says, "I'm not on a diet. I'm eating healthy." I am making sure that every aspect of my life reflects a healthy lifestyle. That is why when I hear the word CHEAT it has negative connotations. It insinuates that I'm doing something wrong. It makes me feel like I have to be sneaky. Afterall, when you cheat, you have to be sneaky or you'll get caught. I've lived too many years eating in secret and being sneaky when it comes to my food choices.

I don't want to think that I am cheating at all. If you are living a healthy and active life there is no reason to cheat. If you want ice cream, pizza, or a hot dog at the baseball game, go ahead. Just make sure it's not the whole tub of ice cream, the whole pizza, or a hotdog, nachos, and 4 beers at the game. Make treats part of your healthy lifestyle. Incorporate them into your program. Find healthier alternatives to your favorites.

As I've mentioned in previous posts the bulk of this battle is the mental aspect. In fact, I would say that 90% of my healthy lifestyle journey has been the mental aspect. I am finally getting to a good place in my healthy lifestyle journey. Don't get me wrong, I still have my bad days, but the good is definitely outweighing the bad. I am very postive in my outlooks and will let nothing get in my way of reaching my goals, that is why I don't want, the negatives surrounding the word CHEAT to enter back into my way of thinking.

I have decided that, on my journey, I will not be cheating. I will not have cheat days or cheat meals. I will not feel bad if I have a treat every once in awhile in moderation. I think that we need to take the word CHEAT out of our vocabulary when it comes to our healthy lifestyles. If you have to call it something why not call it a TREAT DAY or a TREAT MEAL. That is a much more positive spin on it and that is excatly what you are having, a treat, something not usually in your healthy lifestyle eating plan.

A while back I was on a family trip and I had someone constantly asking me, "Is that on your diet?" "Should you be eating that?" "Why are you eating that?" In their mind I was on a diet and I must have been cheating, but we were there for a wedding and I wanted a slice of cake. My slice was smaller than everyone else's there and I didn't even finish it. I enjoyed it and moved on. I had a treat. When the person asked me, "Is that on your diet?" I looked at them and said, "I'm not on a diet." They said, "Yes, you are" and I said, "No, I'm not I'm changing my life and wedding cake is part of life." They were very irritated, but the rest of the trip they didn't ask me another question about my eating. I was glad to have the food police off my back.

If cheat days and cheat meals are part of your lifestyle I'm ok with that. I just hope that I have made you look at it in a different light. Don't cheat yourself out of a healthy life by focusing on a DIET and what your next cheat will be. Focus on how you are feeling. Focus on your relationships. Focus on how much more you can do because you can finally move for once in your life. Focus on how you can have a treat, but not eat the whole thing. Focus on how you like fruits and veggies more than processed foods. Focus on how you finally walk a little taller and finally love the person you see in the mirror. Focus on how happy you are. All of these things are much better than any cheat day or any cheat meal you could ever have.