Choose Your Hard

Life is hard. I have recently been reminded that everyone has their hard times. Honestly, it’s been a huge “ah ha” for me over the last few years. I think we all get into a mindset, and think that we are the only ones on the planet who struggle, but in reality, we have a lot of company.

People are always telling me to take care of myself. Ever since our children became adults, well-wishers tell me to find my passion, find a hobby, and enjoy freedoms that I couldn’t enjoy to the fullest while raising our family. The problem is that I don’t know how to do that. Please don’t roll your eyes- I really don’t. I haven’t played my flute since college (1987). I don’t knit, crochet, sew, or draw. I am definitely not a games and puzzles type of person.

So, my dilemma has been: How am I going to take care of myself, especially when life is hard? Two years ago I began to make some changes. Honestly, it began because I was a stressed out mess. I was 50 pounds overweight, my knees hurt, my stomach hurt, I was tired all the time, and depressed. I had good reason to be in the state I was in: life was hard. Really hard.

Through the encouragement of friends, family, and my doctor, I worked to gain control over the one thing I had control over: me. I couldn’t control my husband’s illness. I couldn’t control my aging parents and their challenges. I couldn’t control my crazy classroom, or the challenges in my adult children’s lives. I also couldn’t control how people treated me. But, I could control myself and my obvious sugar addiction- yes people, this is a real thing.

I started to find things that brought me joy that had nothing to do with food. I like travel, sappy movies, taking walks, sitting by the ocean, reading in the sun, lighting candles- fruity smelling ones are my favorite.

Everything is hard. I decided to choose my hard, and that was to get healthy in an unhealthy world, with a whole lot of unhealthy choices.

My hard now includes drinking at least a gallon of (unflavored) water a day. That was tough in the beginning. I love crystal light and bubbly flavored water, but I knew that just plain water was best for my body. It was doubly hard, because I am a teacher and we have limited time to use the restroom. It also includes getting 7 hours of good REM sleep a night. I go to bed at 9:00 pm every night, and I get up on week days at 5:30 am. According to Fitbit, this is still my hard. I do well most nights to get 6. I am generally awake/restless for 2 1/2- 3 hours every night. My biggest hard is that I am trying to eat clean: real foods, with very limited carbs & sugar and keep my calorie intake for weight loss to around 1000 calories/day. When I am trying to maintain, I try to stick to 1200 calories a day. I use a free app called: Lose It to track my nutrients. My goal is to eat 60% fats, 30% protein, and 10% carbs each day with no more than 25g of carbs after fiber intake is factored in.

Things I have learned:

  1. Most everything has carbs in it. I can even go overboard on vegetables. Vegetables like corn are very high in sugar.
  2. Most fruits have too much sugar in them. I need to stick to berries and eat them in small amounts. Melons and watermelon have the highest sugar content.
  3. I cannot eat potato, rice, bread, pasta, or sugar.
  4. I really can’t cheat. For me, one small bite leads to finishing the entire package and it takes a week to get back on track. What’s worse is that I get a belly ache that keeps me up at night.
  5. Organic Protein for my coffee, Quest bars, sugar free jello, 2g sugar yogurt, Progranola 12g protein (on line), cocoa dusted almonds, cottage cheese, bacon, eggs, broccoli/cauliflower and ranch are my best friends.
  6. I need to go easy on cheese as it is high in protein but calorie dense.
  7. I have to step on the scale every day and record my weight even when I know that I messed up. I have to own it, otherwise I get off track.
  8. I feel better when I eat just 2 meals a day: lunch (noon) and supper (5:00) with a mid-afternoon snack.
  9. I have to meal prep on Sunday and plan ahead for the upcoming week. My husband helps me with this. He’s amazing.
  10. I need to always have prepackaged snacks and meals ready to go. Hard boiled eggs, pickles, and beef jerky are my friends when on the road and in a pinch.
  11. I can eat pre-packaged sandwich meat and hotdogs, BUT they are full of salt and my weight will go up temporarily. (Chug water.)
  12. Zero carbs does not equal zero sugar, and zero sugar does not equal zero carbs. I need to pay attention to the labels.
  13. I need at least 20g of fiber every day to keep things moving. For me, that isn’t even enough.
  14. Vitamin D3 needs to be added to my daily routine if I can’t get 20 minutes of sun each day, as well as extra magnesium. (I’m currently looking into this.)
  15. Stop eating at 6:30. Brushing my teeth helps me to quit.
  16. Fasting between meals is actually good for your body. It’s okay to be hungry.

The biggest things I’ve learned is that weight loss isn’t about exercise. It’s 100% what goes in my mouth. Yes, I need to exercise, but if I want to get the weight off and keep it off, I have to monitor what goes into my mouth.

My health is 100% mental. I have to keep my head in the game and stay strong. My trick: prayer. I have been praying that the Lord help me to be a good steward of my life, which includes my finances, my time, and my body. I have to remember THE WHY when it gets hard. I need to remember that no matter what happens, I do have control over one thing, and that is me. My health matters so that I can take care of others. If I’m not at my fittest, I am not going to be any good to anyone else, especially when the heat gets turned up another notch.

I follow the online lifestyle recommendations of Christy Nickel, called The Code Red Revolution, though admittedly not to the letter.  I particularly enjoy the free YouTube videos and podcasts. The best part is that she is a Christian who is transparent, and isn’t afraid to share some of her challenges. Life has been hard for her too.

So, as we enter this season of feasting, family, and food, I am going to have to choose my hard, walk past temptation, and remember THE WHY. I have to make my health a priority so that I can be the best I can be for the people who depend on me. So, if you see me pass by the sweets this holiday season and reach for some veges with dip, give me a nod, smile, and a thumbs up. I’ll do the same. Honestly, it will make my day.

Thank you Christy Nickel for helping me to “choose my hard” and to “remember the why”.






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