Sunday, August 17, 2014

I detoxed... and then I ate a Big Mac

After completing my first 10k on Aug. 11.

This spring, I found a rather delectable-looking clean eating meal plan on Buzzfeed and followed it religiously for about five days. It was a bit burdensome to cook three meals a day (usually I buy lunch at work or grab take out on the way home) but it was fun to try news things in the kitchen, like roasting fennel and adding unexpected ingredients like blueberries to my salads.

Eating healthy made me feel better for a split second, but by the time the weekend rolled around I was exhausted and too busy to cook. One night, I went out on the town with friends and inadvertently ended the night in the McDonald's late-night walk-up window. As I sat on my futon eating a Big Mac, french fries, and a sugar-laden soda, I decided that something needed to change.

Chicken, snap peas, and cucumber salad.

As a patient advocate and health blogger, I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about health, beauty, and self esteem, so how had I become someone who was binging on junk food and feeling awful about my waistline?

In June, I joined my cousin and signed up for a 21-day fitness challenge. During the month of June, I ended up exercising 19 out of 30 days. Whether I was weight lifting, jogging, or doing pilates, I got off the couch and made myself sweat even when it hurt. For three weeks, I cut about 95 percent of the crap out of my diet. In doing so, I learned that I can survive without sharp cheddar and that the world won't end without ranch dressing. I can look Ben & Jerry's in the face, drool a little, and then walk away. More importantly, I learned some pretty interesting things about my body, like it's easier to wake up in the morning when I don't go to bed with a full stomach, and my energy levels vary based on what types of foods I eat.

Indulging in an occasional post-race beer? Fine by me.

Every time I read the news, there's a new article saying that exercise prevents cancer, that it lowers our risk for dementia, or that sitting at a desk all day is probably killing us. But working out every day? Easier said than done. 

Three months after my "you shouldn't be doing this to yourself" epiphany, I'm not perfect by any means, but I've made strides to challenge my body and mind in new ways. On Aug. 11, I ran my first 10k, which was a rugged, off-road trail run. It was by far the hardest race I've ever done, but I finished it and it felt awesome. I've also been taking a ballet class for adults, which has been a great way to meet new people and learn something completely new and different. (Side note: ballet is way harder than it looks.)

Why am I telling you all this? As friends and regular readers of my blog, you are the people who hold me accountable for my actions. When I quit tanning, you helped keep me on track. I hope that by sharing this with you, I'll be less likely to slip up and fall back to old habits. We all have room for growth and improvement, but I hope that I never forget to keep loving and taking care of myself.