Make the Decision, Take the Step

by in Competition, Health & Fitness, Musings April 11, 2014

“Tell me exactly what you eat to look like that.”

Those are the words I heard while changing in the locker room at my gym after a workout.  I had heard those words, or some variation of that same comment, multiple times before.  Maybe I am just a little slow to recognize the obvious, but on this particular evening, a light bulb went off in my head as I tried to answer this woman’s question.

How could I possibly – and why would I – go into detail about what I eat on a daily basis?  Is that really what she wanted to know?  Although I have heard this question in some form several times over, from men and women, I never felt like I could give them the answers they were looking for.

I am five feet two inches tall, 45 years old, and the mother of a 18-year-old scholar/athlete/soon-to-be-Navy man. I have spent much of my lifetime struggling with the same issues that many other women spend their lifetime dealing with – insecurity, poor self-image, low self-confidence, multi-tasking to a fault, and putting myself last.

Why do I get asked questions like that, when I am just as normal as the next person?

I saw the need for a change, and I made it happen.

Ten years ago, no one would have asked me about what I ate, because I looked just like everyone else who had gotten caught up in the fast-paced, convenience food lifestyle – puffy, round, and soft all over.  Sure, I thought I was in good shape.  I had started running when I turned 30, and had completed nine marathons, several triathlons, and loved to weight train.

But I knew.  I knew what I looked like in the mirror without clothes on.  I knew that I felt uncomfortable in my clothes, and that I didn’t want to go to the pool with my son because I didn’t like how I looked in a bathing suit.  I knew that for someone of my stature, the clothing size I wore was far too big.  I knew that the scale seemed stuck at a number that was close to fifty pounds over my appropriate weight, and that was on a good day.  I knew that my desire to hide under clothes was not psychologically healthy, nor was it attractive.  I knew that somewhere along the way I had let myself down.

I am your typical middle-aged woman who got caught up in starting a family, then raising a child as a single mom, and somewhere along the way I lost myself – somehow I had gotten so caught up in surviving every day that I stopped (or had I ever started?) doing any of the things that would make me a stronger, fitter, healthier, wiser woman.

At that moment, I realized that I had to start taking care of Me.  How could I take care of others if I am not healthy and strong?  How could I be the exceptional role model that I wanted to be for my son if I did not develop my own inner and outer strength?  How could I possibly be adequately prepared for the next half of my life if I did not value and nurture how I was developing as a person?

At that point, I took control.  Not firmly – that would come later – but hesitatingly, I took control of my world…and it started with what I ate.

The truth is, it’s all about what you eat.  Food is fuel, after all.  When you start fueling your body with what it needs to function at its optimal level, you will be amazed at how your body responds and changes.  It makes sense, though…when you feed your body junk, you will look and feel like you are carrying around that junk.  When you feed it balanced, essential nutrients in whole foods, it will thrive, develop, grow and function like the amazingly beautiful machine that it is!

Today, at 45 years old, I am in the best shape I have ever been in.  I am the woman who ten years ago didn’t want to go to the pool with her son, but now has the body and the confidence to strut onstage in front of hundreds in a blinged-out bikini and five-inch heels at national and international Figure competitions…and win.

Most people don’t know what I used to look like, but they see where I am now and they are brave enough to ask for information.  Bravo to them!  The courage to say “I am not happy with where I am right now, and I am ready to change” is the FIRST step to making a significant difference in your physical health and overall well-being.  No one can do it for you…but you can certainly learn as much as possible from others to pave the way.  Are you ready to make the choice to make the change?  One step at a time – that’s how every great journey begins.