Monday, January 11, 2016

Dispelling Exercise & Eating Myths

Every New Year's people see the blank slate of a new year and make resolutions. I decided a few years back to make life changes instead - to tackle things that would change who I am. Up til now those things have been working towards bettering me as a wife, mother, friend, Christian, etc. This year I visited my friend Tina on New Year's Day and ended up leaving with a physical life change that I really needed to do, but had been putting off. Some of the responses I've received from those around me have caught me off guard though, so I'd like to give voice to my side.

Besides my husband and my sister, the ladies in my new
work out group were very encouraging. They immediately
began sharing their experiences and answering my
questions about exercise and healthy eating.
My friend Tina mentioned a workout group she wanted to get back into, but had no one to go with her. The way she described it was really appealing and I told her I would gladly check it out. The next day, my husband went to buy a Fitbit with his gift cards and suggested I get one too because it would motivate me. Within three days of having the Fitbit and corresponding app, I was hooked. Seeing results in real time was quite motivating. By the end of the first week of January, I attended three work outs, worked out on my own at home (T25) a couple nights, and made changes to my eating. I am an unhealthy eater, but all I've done for now is cut the main culprits: junky snack foods and drinks other than water (which equals lots of calories and sugar). To make myself truly understand how much bad snacking I do, I decided to count calories on my Fitbit. It's amazing what I've learned about the calories in different foods and the equation between burning and consuming them. After one week of dedication, I've lost two pounds and am as ready as ever to keep it up.

Sounds good huh?! When I've mentioned a couple times over the past week that I am counting calories, I've had people actually laugh or make remarks.They aren't made with mean intentions, but hurtful nonetheless (and ironic as some have made their own goals). It also shuts down the conversation, not allowing me to talk about my new journey. But I also know why. I am tall, small chested, and not what people would call fat at all, although I have junk in the trunk, if you catch my drift. I have a pouch of a stomach that I can typically squeeze into my jeans, which hides it from my shirt front. I have no muscle mass either - my arms and legs jiggle where there should be some strength...I'm not that old! But since I don't make it a habit to parade around naked or scantily clad, no one would know this.

Realize, it's not being overall healthy that throws people off, but the idea of me counting calories, which naturally leads to weight loss. However, counting calories is what I need to do to discipline my eating habits, because I am not naturally motivated or knowledgeable enough to do so. It's a starting point only. I don't know where it will lead or how far I will go, I only know I want to make healthier decisions than I already am in my every day living. There are other reasons for this decision and I want to list them here in and effort to dispel the myth that some people (particularly those of my build) don't need to make certain eating and other lifestyle changes.

1. The jeans I bought in November are hard to get on. That sucks. I don't buy many pairs at a time, so I tend to get a couple really good pairs and stay with them. For some time I've consistently fluctuated between two sizes, keeping the currents in my closet and unused under my bed, switching as needed. I'm done. I want to wear the nice ones I bought. The only way to do this is to count those calories until I have better eating habits and can reliably resist or give in to temptation as needed without having to consult my Fitbit.  Counting calories is a starting point for better eating. 

2. My chiropractic health. I have had consistent problems with my shoulders, neck, and upper back for years. I go through months where I am at the chiropractor often and have even missed work due to pain. My chiropractor told me I needed to take up Yoga or something to strengthen my back and shoulders - we're talking muscle people! I didn't do so when he told me, but recently have noticed my back is getting weaker. After holding a baby for twenty minutes, my shoulder hurt the rest of the day. The day after babysitting, my body was so sore, it felt like I had worked out. I'm 36 - this is not good, especially since I can do something about it. Also, poor eating can affect how you feel overall. Not eating well, sitting around snacking, is not helping my overall feeling, making it harder to get myself enough energy to exercise and deal with the chiropractic pain. Besides, why waste all that exercise time by eating poorly?

3. I have a history of sleep problems. I typically go on five hours of sleep a night. Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) at one point, there isn't much I've found I can do about it. If I nap or not, I still have trouble falling asleep at night and don't sleep well or for very long. So, it's good to nap if I feel tired, but that eats into time for other things. It's been five years since my anxiety issues have passed and yet I've found nothing to help my sleep get on track. Feeling better through exercise and healthy eating may be the trick. Although I slept an average of five hours a night last week, I had a couple 6 hour nights and a seven hour night.

4. Although I've gained 30 pounds of my current weight in the past six years, this whole thing is not about weight loss. Yes, I do need the few pounds gone to fit my clothes better, but other than that, this is about doing something good for myself. I am/have been involved in a few service groups and feel friendship means being a real part of someone's life. I will always do these things, but I need to make the time I need for a better me. Also, having my first child at age 19, it felt like child-rearing years would last forever. I enjoyed them, but with teenagers now, I've reached a point in life where they don't need me around all the time and I have the time and money to do things for me. For example, my husband and I want to go on the honeymoon we never had on or around our 20th Anniversary...that's four years away. So as soon as possible in the next six years, I plan on laying around on a beach in Hawaii, at a resort in Mexico, or on a Bahama-bound cruise boat...and bathing suits don't hide what your every day clothes do! If I'm going to do this, I'm going to look and feel great doing it!

5. My father is skinny. He buys shorts in the boys' department - size 14. When he and my mother have gone for physicals, his numbers have come back higher than hers in things like cholesterol and triglycerides. They call it "skinny fat." So, while I have (had) the metabolism and genes, if the inside isn't healthy, then your skinniness means nothing. 

6. It's important to be healthy, I've put it off long enough. Period.

So that's my goal and those are my reasons. I know I don't have to justify anything to anyone, but I think the point has to be made that we don't know everything going on in someone's life and why they are doing what they are doing. Exercise without healthy eating will not be a benefit and healthy eating won't truly benefit you without exercise. I know this rings true with others because we all need a level of health awareness in our lives, regardless of our body's build or current state of health. I've just finally hit the point where I need to do this.

The mindset itself is the biggest change.


  1. Good for you Jennine! I think you hit the nail on the head why people maybe have made comments about this - you're tall and skinny so people don't think that you need to do anything. They are also likely reminded that they aren't being as proactive about their own health and fitness and don't like that.
    But this is your journey! If counting calories works for you, it works for you! Get it girl! You're setting a wonderful example for your family and others!

    1. Thanks Eva! I wanted to write to dispel that thought about skinny equaling fit. Appreciate your support! And I'm sure you will be seeing my updates on Facebook!

  2. WOW you have started hard! I'm so proud of you :)))

    It's true everything you said regarding weight/healt: thin people can be unhealthy too! You, being slim, are the best example, but don't worry, you'll soon be thin AND super healthy.
    I'm quite the opposite - it's not that I'm fat, but I'm not thin either, but I eat a lot of vegetables/fruits/food cooked by me in general (maybe on a weekend I eat hot dogs, for example, but I make the bread, the cakes that I eat, etc.), and I exercise 5 times/week, so I think I can be in the healty group. OK, I could eat better sometimes, but... It's difficult.

    So I'm really interested in what you do, how you feel after the workouts, and so on. Will you write more post with your progress?
    I also think your back pain is due to lack of exercise. Consider doing abs, because these muscles also hold your back and your posture in general.

    I'm also glad you have better sleep at night too - it's no coincidence, Jennine! I always have had trouble sleeping when I don't exercise (apart from exams periods and other stressful times).

    I mean, how great is to feel yourself better, healty and energized! :)))

    Lots of kisses!

    1. Ah Isi, you have been so encouraging from the moment I considered a Fitbit! Yes, I will write more posts! I took a before picture and might even consider using before and after pics. This time last week it hurt to move the day after my first work out. Today, I feel fine. And my back feels really good right's funny you mentioned it because I was just thinking it last night.

      Thank you! Let's keep together on this health journey through FB!

  3. Sounds like you've made some great goals1 Keep it up! I'm a terrible snacker - I've found that I just can't have junk food in the kitchen. If we have chips or something, they go in a cupboard downstairs where I can't munch while making dinner or packing lunches.

    1. Yep. When I started counting calories I started seeing how many calories those snacks were packing on. Like, 9 Hershey kisses equals half or little less than that of the calories I'll eat for a lunch! Crazy!

  4. Lots of smart comments here! The only time I've successfully lost weight is when I combined better eating (and calorie counting) with an uptick in activity (more walking because I moved to the city and didn't have a car). I love having a FitBit, it definitely can motivate me to get some extra activity in when the weather is nice and I'm not too busy otherwise. Good luck with your goals this year!

    1. The Fitbit has made all the difference! I think it's the reason I've gotten a little addicted to any of this, I can see results.