July 2016: A Present to Myself

I turn 28 this month, and I've been consistently struggling with my health, and weight, and body image for (about) the last five years. I have disliked my relationship with exercise, food, and the way I take care of myself for about as long. For most of my life, I've been a pretty healthy individual— except for a year or so in high school, which can be squarely blamed on medications. It's the transition to adulthood and suddenly having to do "All The Things" for myself; like shopping for food, and cooking it, and doing all the household chores.

After work, it's easier to ignore the laundry in the basement, and the dishes in the sink, and just relax on the couch or by playing video games. It's easier to order food in than to meal plan, and grocery shop, and cook after you've been working all day. It's easier to not keep track of what you put into your body, and what you get out of your body. I've been half-assing not doing the 'easier' things for the past five years, and now I have 20 more pounds to lose than I did when I started "caring".

I've had quite a few revelations lately, and I finally feel ready— truly ready— to commit to my health. I'm learning to stop saying, "I don't have enough time to ," or "I don't have enough energy to ." Instead, I'm saying, "____ is not a priority." And when you fill in the blanks with things like, "my health," or "shopping for healthy food," or "cooking a healthy meal", or "taking care of myself," you start to see exactly how ridiculous your excuses are.

For my birthday this year, I'm giving myself the entire month of July— to make taking care of myself a priority. Of course, I don't want some of this to end when the month is done, but thinking of it as a month-long commitment is easier for my mind to get behind. And hopefully by August, all of this will be second nature.

Happy birthday to me.

No alcohol.

In June, I stopped drinking, and I discovered pretty easily that I don't miss it. While that was meant to be a thirty day challenge, it is one I'm going to continue through July. I'm better able to focus on other healthy choices— because buzzed!Emalee does not care that sober!Emalee would prefer not to eat massive amounts of junk food, even though she's already surpassed her daily caloric intake by leaps and bounds. buzzed!Emalee doesn't care how sober!Emalee's entire next day will be fighting lethargy and headaches and bad acid reflux.

No coffee.

I need to limit my caffeine intake; for the past 6 months or so, I've probably had about 8 cups of coffee per work day. It's a small wonder that I'm anxious all the time, or that my mind comes alive as I'm laying down to sleep. This isn't likely to be a permanent change, but I need to decrease my dependency on coffee. This month I'll be sticking to tea and water.

Track all food.

It doesn't matter if I overeat or not; I need to start tracking all of my food, long term. This is something I've done on and off over the last five years, and this month I am going to truly commit to it. I know from experience that if I don't track, I will invariably overeat. I'm hoping that as I continue to track, I'll stop obsessing over how much I can eat and when— I'm thinking that's a side effect of adjusting to smaller portions and a diet filled with more wholesome foods.

Track all exercise, and exercise daily.

Exercise can be as simple as a walk, as hard as lifting, or as miserable as running. This is a revelation that I'm embarrassed to say took me this long to understand. I've heard the saying, "The best exercise is one that you will do," but it never really clicked. In my mind, I thought of exercise as high intensity cardio— swimming, or running. But I can spend 30 minutes doing yoga or walking on a day where I don't feel like doing anything, and that counts. My goal is to move daily for the entire month of July.

Gym 2x per week.

I already go to the gym once per week for personal training; but I need to motivate myself to go twice more per week for independent lifting and strength training. I've discovered a love for squats (with the rack), and it's something I could easily be doing on my own. This is my commitment for the month of July.

What keeps you motivated to work out? What are some of your favorite ways to get active and moving? What are some of your favorite quick, easy, and healthy recipes? What has helped you to commit to your own wellbeing?

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