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My Journey by Mel Part II

Here is the next installation of Mel's story. -- Shelly

I find myself learning a lot of things right now, about myself, about my body and my mind and my health.

Until recently my ‘long term health goals’ have included, “Get my health back. Repair abdominal muscles. Lose baby weight (and then some). Live a 100% paleo lifestyle. Go back to CROSSFIT!’ Recently though, something has changed. A lot of things have changed, actually. Now, I find myself learning some things about myself, my body, my MIND and how my long term goals don’t necessarily add up to my ultimate goal which is to live a happy and healthy lifestyle, mind, body, and soul.

I feel like I should preface all of my recent revelations by saying this is in no way an anti-crossfit/paleo post or position. It’s more of a realization, about myself.

“I don’t want to take my new mindset, body, and lifestyle and try to shove it in to the same old equation.”

I recently said this to my best friend while I was trying to explain/talk out/figure out these feelings I was having about my new health journey. The best way that I can explain this is that I don’t want to take all this new self discovery, post surgery body, and new ideas about what it means to be healthy and plug it into the idea that I had about what healthy was, three and a half years ago. As I talked about in my last blog post, before getting pregnant I had embarked on a lifestyle overhaul that ended with me losing 85 pounds, putting my fibromyalgia into remission and adopting a strict paleo-crossfit lifestyle. I felt strong and I was happy and healthy. Since that time I have continuously tried to plug that same formula to get the same results. But I’ve had an injury since stopping crossfit, so my workouts were compromised, my health was compromised. My fibro symptoms returned, we’ve moved 3 times, and I had a kid – all factors that have made it difficult financially and also physically to maintain such a strict way of eating and exercising. At first, I was frustrated. And I stayed that way for a long time. I kept trying to “do all the right things” but they weren’t working in a way that I had come to know and trust. In that time I saw myself growing more and more obsessive and also reckless with my food, sleep, and activity choices. Since starting this new journey I’ve learned that I really struggle with food in ways I had never really pinned down. I’ve also started to see that I struggle with exercise too.

The crossfit-paleo balance “worked” for me because it gave me constant, immediate, changing results by which I could measure both my progress and my strength. But the things I DIDN’T realize that it brought out in me are things that are important for me to take into account on my journey to my healthiest me yet. For me, Crossfit:

*Is something that fuels my obsessive nature

*Encourages my competitiveness (against myself) in a way that is TOO extreme for my optimum health

*Is dangerous because sometimes I push too hard and am very likely to suffer an injury

*Doesn’t make me healthier emotionally

*Burns calories and fat and leads to weight loss but not to FUFILMENT

I’m trying to learn not to quit when something isn’t immediately easy or natural for me, and in a way, crossfit is. I really understand how to go in, throw my body around, work hard, not give up, and walk away feeling accomplished. I’ve mastered my BODY in that way – I can push hard and I am strong. But for me, that comes at a cost. Sometimes its injury. Sometimes its anxiety. Sometimes its really negative self-talk. Sometimes its obsession. I’m starting to not only learn, but accept, that this isn’t my definition of health.

So recently, I’ve declared, “I don’t want to go back to crossfit. Not now, or soon, or maybe even ever.” And for me, this is a huge step. Like I said before, its not because I don’t think crossfit is great – for some people. I just think its not great for me and there are other ways of becoming healthy and maintaining that health. So I’ve committed to figuring out different things that challenge me physically, that maybe aren’t “easy” right away, but that are what I need not only to lose weight but to help me grow in the areas where I need it most. I need to learn commitment without obsession. I need to learn to be calm. I need to learn BALANCE and how to let go of my all or nothing mentality. I need to learn to slow down instead of just going BALLs to the WALL until I collapse. I’ve really started to accept (and trust) that strength and health and fitness can come from less painful/dangerous/stressful places and still be AMAZING for your body. Three months in physical therapy taught me that. My muscles in my stomach were ruined. Separated. Weak. Now? Well, suffice it to say I got discharged from physical therapy and I feel STRONG for the first time in over 3 years. I feel more toned and fit than I have in a long time.

When I was doing crossfit, even when I started at the weight I am now, I could throw this body around. I could DO the work. And I maybe would have gone right back to it after having my daughter, but my injuries FORCED me to slow down and I resisted that and hated it so much. But now, I am thankful. So thankful. It has brought me to places and realizations that I never would have reached on my own, without these injuries. And because of those revelations I am actively working towards a HEALTHY relationship with food (not just 100% diet compliance to whatever works). I am actively working towards a HEALTHY relationship with exercise (not just balls to the wall, no pain no gain, stress stress stress.) and its leading me to great places. Next month I’m starting PiYo (pilates meets yoga) because its GENTLE and HARD but healthier (for me). I’m working on changing my attitude every day about how I look at fitness and exercise. I don’t want to just go to the gym, work crazy hard, collapse, and be done for the day. I want to center. I want to improve balance and strength so that throughout my whole day I notice my new level of fitness. I want to do PiYo, yes, but also I want to hike, walk, swim, bike, stretch, climb, all of it. Those are the things that I CRAVE to do, and somehow it never occurred to me on my “health journey” to make those things part of my ROUTINE. Incorporating those things will make me both FIT and FUFILLED.

There are two MAJOR differences between this new leg of my journey to health and my previous journey (pre-pregnancy and pre-bariatric program). One is that this new journey is SLOWER. My last experience, at 3 months in, I had lost about 45 pounds. I was on a roll. It was immediate, non stop results. And while part of me wishes this could be instantaneous (I have NO patience!) this SLOW process is what has allowed for the second major difference and that is REAL growth. Mentally, emotionally, physically. I’m growing as a person. I’m learning. I’m changing. And to me, the slower pace is really worth all that because the lessons I firmly believe the lessons I’m learning (accepting, tripping over, struggling with etc) are so very valuable and they are the pieces of the puzzle that will make this a life-long change instead of a “quick fix.” I am not just changing my body this time, but all of me, and that makes every struggle I have had in getting here, and every tough growing pain during pre-op so worth it.