Importance of Healthy Living
If you look at this recent Instagram photo, then you’ll see Blond Wayfarer looks a little different these days. Yes, the pounds are dropping off my frame, and I couldn’t be more proud of my hard work and dedication. I still have work to do, but my progress is awesome.
Fair warning. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write a post about my weight loss journey. After all, this blog accepts travelers of all shapes and sizes. We all know shaming overweight individuals is very, very, very wrong. Not to mention, demoralizing.
However, my dedication to health and fitness isn’t rooted in shame. I promise I’m not claiming I was unworthy of happiness prior to shedding the pounds. Pinky swear it.
Without a doubt, though, the importance of healthy living has played a tremendous role in my life, especially these last few months. I even took a break from blogging for a few weeks to truly focus on rebuilding myself. Now I’m finally experiencing good physical and mental benefits, and feel compelled to share my transformation.
As always, you’re more than welcome to write your ideas in the comments. I worry about “losing my drive” and gaining weight again, though I suppose this is a natural fear. Besides, by posting my process on my blog, I’m more likely to hold myself accountable, especially since I know all you lovely people are watching me!
Why I Chose to Lose Weight
1. I Was FED UP
Ugh. Truth time. My year hasn’t been easy. I won’t go into personal details on this blog, but needless to say, the ride was about as fun as removing four impacted wisdom teeth without anesthesia. Ouch, right?
But I have never been to the sort of person to “give up.” Instead I modify and adapt my mindset. It may sound corny, but I searched deep within myself to solve my problems the best way I knew how. My life craved a change. A meaningful shake. A kick in a positive direction. And damn it, I was going to make sure things improved even if I went kicking and screaming into the night.
As a starting point, I thought back to my incredible experience at Women’s Travel Fest, and realized only I could bring positivity into my life through my own determination and willingness to set tangible goals aimed at self-improvement. No one else could make me truly happy except for me.
So I chose to incorporate a newfound commitment to health into my routine and hoped to change the course of my journey. It worked. Throughout this process, I was able to channel much more positivity into my life, and now I’ve established a stronger sense of self-worth. It’s been amazing.
And I’m not close to “done” yet!
2. Looks and Vanity
Honestly, I’m a biiiiiit self-absorbed when it comes to my physical appearance. I always look into my living room mirror. Always. I’m worse than Snow White’s evil stepmother. As far as looks go, I think I have a beautiful face, especially killer eyes, and I want a healthy body that I can be equally proud of.
Now I’m not saying I need to look like Britney Spears in her prime (you remember the “I’m a Slave for U” performance, right?). However, actual muscle definition sounds wonderful. So does having thighs that are actually proportionate to the rest of my body.
Not to mention, I want to buy beautiful clothes. Sure, you can order whatever size you want online, but regardless, I still love strolling into a department store and posing in the fitting rooms. I’ve always loved fashion. Visits to New York City, in particular, inspire me to take pride in my clothing.
I am absolutely confident that toning my body will made it easier to find clothes that fit my frame well.
3. Health Purposes
Without a doubt, when you commit to health, your body thanks you for your efforts. Heart disease and diabetes are at an all time high in the United States. Our diet is collectively terrible on a national level. Personally, I crave white sugar and consume too much of the white fluffy stuff. Needless to say, such behavior puts me at risk for type 2 diabetes.
I am only 31. I don’t want to suffer ill health effects at a young age. I have so much life ahead of me. Why would I want to spend the next fifty years taking a cocktail of prescription drugs? The importance of healthy living impacts your life expectancy. Who doesn’t want to enjoy this beautiful world for more years to come? I certainly do! Prevention is key.
4. To Achieve My Travel Goals
Traveling is easier when you’re in decent physical shape. Some of my travel dreams include hiking in Patagonia and trekking “Mount Doom” in New Zealand. With less weight on my frame, I can achieve these hikes and additionally, I can achieve another dream which is exploring America’s National Parks with far more ease. I’m only 5’4″ so every pound counts!
Let’s forget hiking for a minute, though. Travel requires long walks through cities, rushing to airport terminals, carrying a lot of luggage, and many more physical activities! Talk about exhaustion.
Dumping an extra 20 pounds (and hopefully more!) will ensure I am lighter on my feet on those long travel days, which in turn will supply me with more energy. A perfect situation, if you ask me!
How Has My Diet Changed This Year
I’m Smarter about Alcohol
Alcohol adds hundreds of empty calories into your diet. I love tasting new craft beers, like every other Millennial living in the United States, yet beer isn’t exactly helpful when you’re focused on fitness and health. The bloat … ugh.
Besides, I feel like I am in a better place emotionally without alcohol. In the past, I’ve used alcohol as a social lubricant, as well as a tool to address my anxiety. Now I can relax without a glass of wine clutched in hand. I feel like cutting back on booze is significant to my personal growth and happiness.
I Eat a Mostly Plant-Based Diet + Seafood
I don’t know if I ever will eat 100% vegan or vegetarian, but this year, my diet is far more plant-based than ever. At this point, I am fully pescatarian which means while you eat seafood and fish, you forego other types of meat like beef and chicken. Over all, I consume less calories and eat vegetables in every single meal. My diet isn’t boring either. It’s colorful and I use all sorts of spices in my dishes. Being creative is fun!
Another reason I chose to scale back on animal products is to reduce my carbon footprint. I fly a lot so I need to “give back” in other ways. Cattle farming is a huge contributor to manmade climate change. Eating meat less greatly helps the environment, which is important for all of us.
Cutting Down on Carbs, Sugar, and Dairy
Desserts are my downfall. I’m not talking about Twinkies either. Send me to a high-quality Italian bakery in New York City, and I will lose my mind and waist size.
And pasta? I adore pasta so much. Trying new creative recipes for pasta dishes makes my stomach sing.
So, unsurprisingly, cutting back in these areas has been a challenge, but at the same time, it’s awesome that I’ve created so much space for fruits and especially vegetables. Plus I’m forced to try new dishes in the kitchen. Experiment. Take risks. Realize vegetables are enjoyable too!
As for dairy, I love cheese and whole milk. Love. But I consume both of these things sparingly. I still eat yogurt, however, since it always works wonders for my stomach and digestion. I aim for yogurt with little to no added sugar, and squirt in a tiny bit of honey for flavor. Yum.
Portion Control is King
I’m really bad about eating more than one serving size at meals. Now I’m careful about measuring my food. Additionally, I try to only eat one plateful unless I’m incredibly hungry. I’ll go for seconds if my meal consists of mostly vegetables.
I won’t lie to you: sticking to smaller portions at meal times is a challenge especially on workout days. I’m much better about addressing my hunger pangs, though. In the past, I would binge eat and then feel guilty for hours. Haha, no more, my friends! Now if I’m hungry, I opt for a serving of fruit such as strawberries and blueberries. These natural and sweet snacks help me power through the day.
Going out to eat less at restaurants has helped me stay on track.
What Does My Exercise Routine Look Like
Kickboxing and Heavy Cardio
I recently signed up for kickboxing classes. Let me tell you, it was an amazing way to power through a difficult year.
At first, I was super nervous about taking kickboxing classes. I have bad memories of gym class in middle and high school, and was worried the trainer and participants would judge my lack of fitness. Furthermore, although the gym advertised the classes as “go at your own pace,” I wasn’t sure how true it was.
I had no reasons to worry, though. Kickboxing classes have been motivating and welcoming, and I feel no pressure to go at a certain speed. I push myself and the trainers push me, but not to the point of embarrassment.
Time Magazine wrote an article about how kickboxing can change you life, and I absolutely agree. I never thought I’d find a workout that actually works for me.
Walking at Work
It’s easy to spend my prep and lunch periods sitting at my desk. However, now I force myself to walk the halls to squeeze in a bit of physical activity into my day!
I’m lucky that I am a teacher. I always have to move around my classroom to make sure my students remain on task.
Effects on My Mental Health and Daily Life
I’m More Confident
Losing extra pounds does wonders to build confidence. Knowing I have the self-drive to get in better shape, inspires me to bleed confidence into other areas of my life.
For example, I find myself looking people in the eyes more and smiling at them. I don’t keep my head down.
I Don’t Run Out of Breath Easily
Yesssssss, I don’t feel winded all the time! For example, my school has separate buildings on campus. One of them is on a slight incline. I used to run out of breath upon reaching the second floor. No more!
I’m More Hopeful for the Future
As I’ve already said, my desire to stay healthy will me achieve my travel and life goals. I read blog posts about epic hikes around Yosemite or Zion National Parks, and instead of psyching myself out, I believe I to can complete the journeys.
Not to mention, social outings and dating both seem far less scary now. I doubt anyone ever judged me for my weight, but my own self-doubts have taken a back seat and it’s freakin’ liberating.
But You Were Just as Beautiful Before!
I’ve been hearing these words from a couple people, and want to conclude this post by addressing them.
Now I understand the sentiments expressed here. Believe me, I do. And yes, I agree I was beautiful when I was 20+ pounds heavier. I was no less worthy of happiness, love, and freedom. Worth isn’t tied to a dress size or the number on the scale.
But I feel like when people say this that they miss the point.
Ultimately I had reached a weight where I didn’t feel good any longer. I hated not fitting into all my clothes. I’d ignore feeling out of breath at the top of the stairs and pretend it was okay, while secretly wondering about my health. I’d see pictures of myself and wonder if the camera really did add ten pounds. A change was necessary.
My newfound dedication to health and fitness has made me feel much, much, much better. Which is all that matters at the end of the day.
What does the importance of healthy living look like to you? Do you have any suggestions for me? Do you have a favorite workout regime or type of exercise? Feel free to express yourself in the comments. As always, thanks for supporting my blog. It’s been one hell of a journey.