It's been 3 years since I started my health and fitness journey. Admittedly, the first 9 months only kinda count. I certainly made some big changes during that time, and was feeling a lot better, but my results were a lot like my dedication - half-ass. I enjoyed the weight loss and physical results, but I knew I was capable of more.
Around September of 2014, I was ready to make a lot of changes in my life, and they all had to happen at the same time if any of them were going to work. Some of you have heard my story about my career change a few years ago - but the long and short of it is that I hated nursing. I made the decision to leave the field and work for myself, and because I was already running fitness accountability groups and loved them, I wanted to start working full time as a coach.
This wasn't just a whim decision - it was calculated to enable me to have all the things I was really striving for; freedom, financial stability, and the dedication to living a healthy lifestyle that I didn't have before. I want to be clear about my decision to be a coach, especially for anyone who is currently a coach but not utilizing the opportunity or those who are looking down this path and trying to figure out if it's the right one for them. This wasn't a case of me following my passions and stumbling upon my dream career. I created my dream career based on my passions. Fitness wasn't my love and sharing my life story on social wasn't in my career goals. I took the things that I enjoyed and I fought for them. So often, I hear people say that they just aren't passionate about their jobs - and I'm starting to hate that phrase. It's my personal opinion that you won't be passionate about everything you do in life - so in case you're wondering, my advice is to take the top 3 things in life that are important to you and decide NOT to sacrifice in those areas, but also understand that every other area is not going to be enjoyable all the time, or at all.
For me, I listed my top 3 above; freedom, stability, health. That meant that I had to do things I didn't previously do, nor did I really want to do; I had to change my lifestyle in order to coach others through it. I had to see results in order to show that these programs and products work. I had to dedicate myself to reaching one of my major goals; living a healthy life.
So I worked hard for 18 months, without coming up for air. Praise Jesus for those 18 months because I learned more about myself, my dedication, commitment, physical body, business, passions, people skills, marriage, ability to create, resilience and relationship with my Creator than I had in my 24 years of life combined. While others were at happy hour, I was eating Greek yogurt and blogging. While others were sleeping in, I was working out. While others were drinking poolside, I was chugging water and learning about content marketing.
I ate according to a plan 100% of the time. I had a treat meal once a month. I gave up alcohol for months, packed my own meals for every holiday dinner, learned to eat vegetables instead of chocolate for a late night snack, drank my coffee black (which I still hate, btw), and followed one workout program after another, and it was the best 18 months of my life.
I fell completely in love with the lifestyle, built a successful business from scratch when most people told me I was being foolish, lost 30 pounds, dropped 3 pants sizes, and developed a love for Greek yogurt, tempeh, and broccoli that I'll never be able to explain. <- As individual food items, just for the record. That would be super gross all together.
Making the lifestyle change that I did required complete dedication for me to maintain it. I had to break major habits that I had been doing my entire life. For me, that meant cold turkey without looking back. Most alcoholics can't stop drinking if they keep hanging out at a bar. The same was true for me; I couldn't continue to live in the familiar comfort zone if I wanted to see a change.
Now, I have a new comfort zone. Earlier this year, I went on a retreat with my team, and something really just changed for me; my team was having mimosas together, something I would normally not deem important, but suddenly, it was. Having drinks with my best friends in the world was more enjoyable than the 14% body fat under my hoodie. Having s'mores on the beach to celebrate our accomplishments was more fun than sitting by and watching. After all, what's the point in accomplishments if you never celebrate them? And I realized that just because I had a few days of enjoying balance, I didn't fall off the wagon. I didn't gain weight, I didn't go to McDonalds and order a Big Mac as a result, I didn't struggle through my workouts the next day - life went on, just as it had.
That's when I was sure that the lifestyle changes I made were here to stay. They were real and there was no turning back - but I eventually had to drop the anchor. I couldn't continue to a destination that kept me from enjoying the journey. So I made the choice to live a balanced life.
Anyone who's ever done a fitness competition knows the difference between the on and off season. I was living in the on season and never competing. That wasn't on my goal list, and it couldn't go on forever. So did anything drastically change? Not at all. But I was doing enough small things that when combined, did equal a difference in physique. One that's taken some time for me to accept, but has lead me to a more enjoyable, healthy, and sustainable life.
Prior to February of this year, I didn't miss a scheduled workout for 18 months. Not one. I didn't eat a single thing that wasn't on my plan. Again, sacrificing for the longer-term was what was important to me and for our family. As a result of that dedication and sacrifice, I have a healthy body that I'm really comfortable with. I take off my clothes (probably too often - sorry IG family!) with zero discomfort. I've built a business that has BECOME my passion, allows me to give back to others, contribute to society, and share my love for Jesus. And we travel. A lot. One of my biggest life goals was to see the world with my husband - and we're doing it. I'm currently on a boat off the coast of Cape Cod, while hubs is whale watching. That's the difference between obligation and passion -I'm doing this because I want to be.
So what's changed? Nothing, and everything. I'm just ready to enjoy this life. I don't think that food/drinks make or break a day, adventure, experience, or a trip - but sometimes, it sure is fun to be a foodie and enjoy the culture. I'm by no means changing my mindset or mentality about clean eating, exercise, or a healthy lifestyle. It's still very much important to me - living it, promoting it, and doing all I can to support others who are ready to commit. I'm just owning the fact that some of the things that used to be really important to me have simply shifted, slightly.
I used to place a really high value on how many likes my #flexfriday pictures received. I used to look at other IG fitness accounts and enjoy thinking "I look like that too". Now I'm comfortable with sharing a little more bloated version of #flexfriday from whatever destination we're at. Enjoying success means practicing gratitude for what's already happened, or what's currently happening. Today, I'm healthy, fit, I have dried sweat on the sports bra I'm still wearing from today's workout, a belly full of healthy ingredients that wasn't prepared by me, which means there's probably more oil in it than I would use at home, and for the first time, I'm okay with it. I'm enjoying the freedom of riding on a boat and watching my husband pursue his passions, and running a mobile business that I love.
The coolest thing is that this journey always has been and will continue to be whatever I want - it's unique to each person. If something changes tomorrow and more abs become more important again, I know I'm holding the tools to get right back there. It's easy to lose sight of what's important and why I'm here. It's easy to get caught up in the fear of losing followers, abs, and even business. But my top 3 haven't changed; freedom, stability, health. I don't have to give up the health to have the freedom, but I was giving up the freedom to have the health.
Some days, I'll see abs and other days, I'll see the experience I had from the night before.
Balance = the key to all things.