How I Got in the Best Shape of My Life
By: Christine Parton
For the past two years I have been on a journey to better health. I have always been of a “health conscious” mindset and knew the importance of eating well and exercising, yet more often than not, LIFE got in the way. It’s such an irony that often on our quest to live a good LIFE, a healthy LIFE, many of us are derailed by everyday LIFE. The long workdays, kids and family commitments, etc. that we are left feeling defeated, exhausted and frustrated to the point that we start to accept the unhealthiness of our LIFE and feel trapped.
Fortunately, with enough determination, support and commitment, we can all find our path on the road to a healthy LIFE. As I previously mentioned, I have been a health conscious person most of my adult life. I knew I had a terrible family history of heart disease, cancer and obesity, among others that if I didn’t take control of, I would soon become another statistic. There have been periods of time in my life when I was more “in shape” than others, when I ate a healthier diet and took long daily walks. I worked in a job once where all I did was promote organic, natural food to the community in which I lived. Yet again, LIFE took over. I had two babies in two years, worked stressful corporate jobs and commuted long hours. I did what I could to be healthy. I exercised when I could, I tried to eat right but most importantly, I never gave up and I knew that a time would come when the “stars would align” so to speak and I would finally get onboard the express train to the “me” I always dreamed of.
For me that time came when, mostly out of necessity, I became a stay at home mom. The cost of daycare for two children was astronomical and we had no local family support to provide childcare. Don’t get me wrong, I was very excited and wanted to stay home with my kids and spend time with them. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown working and commuting for 12-14 hours a day, nursing my youngest (and all that goes with that commitment-pumping while at work, transporting breast milk, etc.), taking care of the home chores, finances, and everything else that happens in LIFE. Fitting time to exercise into my daily routine was almost impossible for this time in my life, yet I never gave up hope that one day, my circumstances would change and I would take hold of the reigns. I did just that in February 2012.
One of the first tasks on my “list” once I quit my job was to find a good gym. I had belonged to other gyms in the past but never stuck to it and would eventually cancel my membership. I researched and visited several local gyms, comparing my criteria and meeting the staff. I eventually settled on an amazing gym, BodyPlex. The have a wonderful staff in the kids’ area whom I felt comfortable caring for my children while I exercised. This was key to my commitment to go almost daily. Again, without family and friends near us to provide childcare, finding a gym with childcare was a non-negotiable. I spent the first few weeks trying various classes and seeing where I fit in and what resonated with me. I also met with the fitness director for what I knew was a sales pitch to join personal training sessions, but for a reason that eventually became clear, I talked to him anyway. I will never forget the words that rang truest to me, “a trainer will push you farther than you will push yourself. They hold you accountable when no one else will.”
It was a stretch financially with only one income however, my ultra supportive husband knew I was committed and encouraged me to go for it. Having a trainer has made ALL the difference in my journey. I decided to meet a trainer once a week and supplement my time with her by taking classes at the gym taught by the trainers. I now work out 5-6 days a week, two days high intensity cardio and 3-4 days weight training. Lifting weights burns more calories than cardio alone. Weight training helps develop lean muscle mass that cardio alone will never achieve. A body with more muscle mass will always burn calories faster. There are just so many reasons to ensure weight training is part of your “get fit” lifestyle.
Working with my trainer has also provided so much insight into diet and how the foods I consume directly impact my ability feel stronger and more successful at the gym. We have all heard it but a high protein, low carb diet rich in fruits and vegetables will do more for you than any fad diet. I rarely stray from my tried and true staples for breakfast, lunch and dinner but I will also add that I never make myself feel “guilty” if I want a special treat once in awhile. I teach this to my kids, a special treat is just that, a treat, it’s not an everyday occurrence.
On my two year journey, I let go of 30 extra pounds of weight that were holding me back from living the LIFE I always wanted. In the process, I discovered a body I had never known before, I am in the best shape of my life as I enter my last year in the 30’s. I didn’t look this good as a twenty-something. My husband, family and friends are incredibly proud and I am too. I made the commitment to make this my new LIFEstyle and eating right and exercising are my new norms.
If there is a day I don’t make it to the gym, the first thing I do is not feel guilty, but then get right back on track the next day. We live in a busy world, there is no doubt about it, but taking time now to make changes will only benefit you down the road for so many reasons. I think of the positive role model I try to be for my children, especially my daughter. I pray she learns healthy living tips from me that she can carry through adolescence and into her teenage years and beyond. I pray that I inspire my family and friends who have been struggling on their own journey to get fit. I strive to share my tips for success and encourage others to discover what works for them.
It’s important to realize what works for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for someone else. The key is perseverance and determination, push forward, cultivate your destiny and take the path that your are drawn to. As a result of getting healthier I have gained so much confidence. I can now go clothes shopping without the tears that once accompanied me. I am also finally teaching yoga, a path I first embarked on 7 years ago yet never felt confident enough to be in front of a class. I am excited to see where my path, my journey continues to take me in life.
If I were to sum up my experience in 5 tips that really “clicked,” I would say:
1. First and foremost getting a personal trainer was the single more successful venture I embarked on. My trainer has become a great friend. She pushed me when I wanted to quit. I cried during our first meeting recalling how much I wanted my life to change. I cried and screamed during our workouts and the countless wall balls, kettle bells swings, push ups and pull ups she coached me through. She also analyzed my diet and continues to give me recipe ideas to stay on track. Words cannot express how I feel about her support, she is the best.
2. Decide when the time is right and when you can really stick to your plans and until it’s the right time, incorporate little things like cutting out one crutch food or taking one walk a week, something is better than nothing. I have always said, “to get anywhere you need to start somewhere.”
I also read recently how crushing New Year’s Resolutions can be to a person. Resolutions are so black and white, you succeed or, more often you fail. In my yoga class, we set “intentions” to start our practice. An intention is something you are focusing on, something you are working towards. You may take one step forward and two steps back but your intention is still set on that idea, that goal.
3. Because I have children, I had to find a way to include them in my lifestyle change. I made sure the kids’ area at the gym was clean, safe, and the staff attentive. I also recently invested in a double stroller. When my son was an infant I put him in a baby carrier on my back, my two year old was in a single jogger and the dog was on a leash. I garnered many raised eyebrows from the neighbors but I just said, “We all needed to get out of the house!” Whether you have children our not, if there is something you may feel inclined to use as an excuse not to exercise, find a way to deal with it. I often think my house might be cleaner if I used my gym time for house chores instead. But in the end, what is more important, a spotless home or your health.
4. I am incredibly blessed to have a loving, supportive husband and my wish for everyone is the same support from home. But, I have also developed some friendships at the gym. Not necessarily people I would see outside the gym but people who I interact with at class and enjoy being around. We talk about our sessions at the gym, we sweat through tough classes together and wish each other well as we depart. I found a great community at my gym and this was key for me.
5. Most importantly, I know that I am human and I am not perfect. I do not strive to be something I am not. I strive to be healthy, to be a role model and live the life I was born to live. I try to practice compassion and forgiveness and know that if I want to eat pizza today, it’s okay. I just don’t eat it everyday. I think we have all fallen victim to the notion that once you “fall off the wagon” you are doomed and you failed. It’s important to get right back on and know that temporary setbacks are part of life and to learn from the experience.
I sincerely hope my stories inspire others and ignite that spark necessary to begin a journey to a better LIFE.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to diagnose, prescribe, treat or cure any illness or disease. It’s strictly for informational, educational, or entertainment purposes ONLY. The products I talk about are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, treat or cure any illness or disease. Any information I give you about them is for informational or entertainment purposes only. They have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. Please seek the qualified health professional of your choice when making health decisions for yourself, your family and your pets.