08 November 2007

The best investment you’ll ever make...yourself!

At some point in our lives, we will all hit an inevitable slump. Sometimes this arrives in the form of a mid-life crisis, or for some of this, we hit the brick wall much earlier in our lives.

We live in such a fast-paced world these days and it’s all too easy to get swept up in the rush. Work hours increase as does or dependency on technology and, worst of all, less time is spent truly focusing on our own wellbeing. Stop and think about it for a moment, if you can. When was the last time that you seriously asked yourself, “How am I doing?” I’m not referring to money, career aspirations or how much you own; I’m referring to your mental and physical self.

While a “self check” may sound simple, for many it can be a difficult and frightening task. Have you ever sensed that something wasn’t quite right in your life but were too afraid to actually confront the issue? Sometimes continuing in that downward spiral seems easier and more familiar. However, as I discovered more recently in my own life, apathy or avoidance will get you nowhere in the end.

Although I am relatively young, I feel as though I have already encountered my first brick wall. Despite being extremely happy with my new marriage and home, I cannot honestly tell you that I felt happy with myself. I was putting far too much time and effort into my work, my house and, while I’m ashamed to admit it, “keeping up with the Joneses”. For well over a year, I convinced myself that the superficial was far more important than my own well-being. Consequently, I started getting sick, gaining weight, and feeling generally despondent and miserable in my own body. I hid my “brick wall” very well, but I knew that I had reached a point where something had to change. I had to regain control of my body and my sanity…I needed to invest in myself.

For several years I have been an active member of an online forum for newly-wedded women and brides-to-be. Who knew that what started as fun source for planning my wedding, would eventually turn into a lifeline and reality check?

Several months ago, feeling quite discouraged by my slump and by an equally depressing post-cruise weight, I started browsing “health and fitness” forums. Low and behold, I was surprised to encounter an amazing network of women who were feeling the same as myself…many who were trying to surpass obstacles far larger than my own. By listening to these women, I felt inspired to begin my path to a healthier lifestyle.

I joined Weight Watchers, something that I had never believed in before. I have always equated these programs with fads, likely to fail in the end. As it turns out, I was wrong! The plan is simple – it’s not about dieting, it’s about being more aware of the foods and quantity that you do eat. It’s about “eating to live” and not “living to eat”. The change was easier than I thought. I eat when I’m hungry and I don’t consume as much as a full-grown man. WW taught me that, while I was eating very well, I was simply eating too much. I still have my indulgences, but they are more controlled. I don’t have wine every night any more…it turns out that is was only fueling the fire and acting as a “downer” for me. Now hubby and I split a bottle on the weekend and I see it as a treat rather than a household staple. No folks…I was not on the verge of alcoholism, I just loved a good glass or two ; P

Seeing as my eating habits were starting to change for the better, I felt a renewed confidence in myself; I also noticed a significant boost in my energy levels. While exercise has always been present in my life, it was one of those things that would sit by the wayside in favor of “more-important” activities. Not anymore! I now make a conscious effort to set aside exercise time everyday, whether it be walking into work rather than bussing, hopping on the elliptical for an hour or simply doing a few reps with free weights. I have also joined lunch hour aerobics and a strength training classes at work. By adding variety to my exercise, it actually becomes fun rather than monotonous. I no longer groan when I think of squats, I actually crave them…more than food itself.

Since confronting my “brick wall” three months ago, I have truly started to change both physically and emotionally. I’ve lost 14 lbs. and finally have a normal BMI, I have a renewed interest in work and life in general, and I feel FANTASTIC! More importantly, I feel like I’ve gained to upper hand and have started to take control of myself again.

Only three months into my “transformation”, some people may simply regard this as a passing phase. I however see this as a change of lifestyle. I am certain that life will throw more challenges and brick walls my way, but I am happy to know that I have the ability to overcome them. The answer is quite simple and I can’t believe it took me this long to figure it out - a slump exists simply because you allow it to do so.