Lately I have been thinking about my “healthy tipping point” – when healthy living really clicked for me. I’d like to think that I have always made health my number one priority, but that’s just not true. While it has always been important to me, it really didn’t click until a few years ago.
Growing up I was an athlete. I played every sport imaginable, focusing on water polo and swimming in high school. Being young and active, I didn’t have to think much about food or weight. I was never concerned with my weight or body imagine in high school. I was lucky to have parents that kept me fueled with healthy meals and we rarely ate fast food or drank soda.
In college, exercise and nutrition was more of an effort. I had to consciously get myself to the gym and was surrounded by less than the best as far as nutrition goes. In the past I never had to think about it. I had water polo practice for hours every day and there was always healthy food in the house. Now it was up to me.
Throughout college my motivation for being healthy went up and down, and so did my weight. At that time I was concerned mostly with my weight and appearance and not so much my health.
My healthy tipping point happened when I started to look at food as fuel and rediscover my inner athlete. It wasn’t just about what I should eat or what would “make me fat or skinny”, it was about what my body needed and wanted. If I can pin point the exact time that this happened, it would be during my training for America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride – my first century.
Training for a century ride requires a little bit of science when it comes to nutrition. If you don’t fuel properly you will not be able to reach your goal. I got really into researching and reading about this sport and what my body needed to perform at its best – and I have never looked back.
The other event that contributed to my healthy tipping point is signing up for my first half marathon before I had even finished my century ride. I knew myself well enough to know that if I didn’t have another event on the horizon, when the century ride was over, I lose motivation and probably fall into a slump. So I signed up for the America’s Finest City Half Marathon which was only 8 weeks after the century ride. This gave me little time to slack off in between training.
Since finishing the century ride and my first half marathon, I have not looked back. I know what I need to motivate myself and stay on track and look at my body in a whole new way. I don’t really talk about my weight loss on the blog because this is not a weight loss blog. Plus, part of me doesn’t want to remember my unhealthy self. But I am proud of what I have accomplished and how my body has changed along with my thinking.
Here are my tips for motivation and what worked for me:
1. Sign up for a race. It doesn’t matter what it is, but having a race to train for is my number one motivator. When I am not training for a race, I still get out there and workout because I love it, but it is different.
2. Learn what your body wants and needs. Don’t listen to what magazines say or advertisements. Do you research and educate yourself. You will feel empowered in your food choices and your body will thank you.
3. Think of food as fuel. Whether you are a student, mother, 9-5er or athlete, we all have certain things we need to function at our best. Food is fuel no matter what you are doing. You don’t have to be an Ironman to think of food as fuel.
4. Don’t freak out. One meal, one cookie or one weekend won’t make or break your health. It is all about balance!