The Perfect Pretender

IMG_0635Somehow, I’ve skated by being relatively in shape my entire life. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve thought I deserved to be more overweight based on my behavior. While I’ve always been active and energetic, I’ve also been a total roller coaster. I suppose I have my genetics and persistence to thank for keeping me in the “generally fit” category all these years.

I was raised in a wonderful home that encouraged good health, but growing up with divorced parents and being primarily raised by a mother who worked her ass off to support us had its consequences. I was home alone a lot, moving around multiple times a week and balancing my own rebel behavior with a deep sense of responsibility that I couldn’t fuck up too badly. Elementary and middle school were a blurry mess of trying sports without ever committing, eating way too many hot pockets in front of trashy television and scrounging up enough change to buy hash browns from the brunch cart. Thankfully, I was forced to walk home almost every day which got my ass moving. Interestingly enough though, hurrying home all those years to the lure of delicious microwaved crap and hours on the couch has translating into an inability to walk around outside without a destination.

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My freshman year of high school meant the beginning of my life as a working woman and I’ve maintained a job ever since. Luckily, that kept me moving enough to balance out all the restaurant meals I consumed on a daily basis. After high school, fad diets, caffeine, alcohol and 7-Eleven got me through college. It wasn’t until after that when I actually started exercising on a regular basis. 

I finally got myself to the gym when I felt so fat I couldn’t stand it. Once a week workouts turned into a lot more when I found myself in a toxic relationship and didn’t want to punch walls out of frustration everyday. Finally, I walked away from all of that and entered a phase of my life where I wanted more. I was lost, alone and longing for a sense of self. That’s when The Love Fit Life was born and that was the first time I actually got in shape. Ever since, my fit life has continued to be a roller coaster.

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Being single, planning trips to exotic locations and entering each day as a workaholic kept me exercising twice a day and maintaining a strict diet for a while. Like all things in life though, that changed in due time. I got comfortable, reached my “goal weight” and liked going out because I had the best body of my life and the most positive energy I’d ever experienced. As I started settling down in a wonderful new relationship, my mind subconsciously switched back to “boyfriend mode.”

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At first, I didn’t give enough credit and recognition to finally being with someone who prioritized being healthy, active, supportive and happy. Instead, I quickly sunk back into nights watching TV instead of working out and grabbing take out. Last week, I finally woke up again. I felt like crap and when I stepped on the scale I held back tears. The harsh reality set in that I had practically undone all my hard work over the last 2 years. This time, there was no one and nothing else to blame but myself.

Regardless of my desire to resist, reflected on all of this is required. Ultimately, we are a product of our past. We grow and develop, but we are deeply rooted in the habits we have learned and carried on through life. Now, as I face a more stable lifestyle of work, trying to save money and embracing the first healthy romance I’ve ever had, things have changed. This is my opportunity to really truly create and embrace a healthy lifestyle that’s consistent and permanent. I don’t want to pretend. I don’t want to cycle through hating myself and being so happy I’m bouncing off the walls. I don’t want to only work my ass off to look good when bikini days are on the horizon. I want long-term, I want real, I want happiness from the inside out and I want it here to stay.

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I’m creating an active life that’s sustainable.
No more two-a-days to get back in shape in a heartbeat. Instead, it has to be slow and steady on a daily basis. I have to focus on mixture of cardio and strength training for 30-60 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week. I have to listen to my body and balance recovery time with pushing myself to the limit.

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I’m eating a diet that’s based on reality.
Forget the supplements, starvation mode tactics and stepping on the scale everyday. I have to focus on consuming nutrient dense foods that keep me healthy, focused and strong. I have to prep healthy meals on a weekly basis instead of just once in a while when I get a jolt of energy.

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I’m staying aware of where I’m at.
A life long roller coaster proves I need to keep track. I have to write down what I eat, how I’m staying active and what I’m feeling every single day so I stay in tune with my body. I have to focus on finding peace of mind in monitoring my behavior so I know how to make it a lasting lifestyle.

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I’m embracing a broader sense of balance.
Balance must be maintained on many levels. It’s not just about maintaining good exercising and eating habits. It’s also a matter of balancing my budget, balancing my mind, balancing my emotional wellbeing and balancing my active lifestyle. I have to focus on living within my means, de-stressing on a regular basis and learning how to relax in a way other than becoming a couch potato.

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I’m looking on the bright side of life.
For too long, I’ve focused on finding happiness from external forces. I have to concentrate on controlling my own behavior, pursing new things for enjoyment purposes, putting positive thoughts into my mind for as many moments of the day as possible and pushing myself for the right reasons. I’m becoming more aware of myself and my surroundings, enjoying the small beauties of life and allowing myself to become excited for so much more than an upcoming vacation or summer in the sun.

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Our journeys are never ending.
Our stories are forever unfolding.
Our lives are being filled with new loves and inevitable loss.
Our bodies are always striving for balance.
Our actions are undoubtably defined by our state of mind.
Our health and happiness are held within our control.

What will your reflections bring and how will you define the person staring back at you in the mirror each morning? We only have one life to live…. fill it with purpose and make yourself proud!

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To you, to me and to the incredible person we are all meant to be,
Rachel

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