By Leota Harriman
I’ve written a lot here about strategies for getting exercise as I make my way toward better health and fitness. Exercise is super important for physical fitness, but I am not one to espouse a one-size-fits-all approach. One size does not fit all, and it’s possible to be physically fit with all sorts of body types.
Still, for me personally, weight loss is a big part of the health equation, as I have been carrying about a hundred extra pounds for more than 20 years. That takes a toll on my joints, not to mention my heart and lungs, and it can also lead to feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem.
I’m not a doctor, and I’m not a personal trainer. From the beginning, this column has been simply me telling my story, as I wend my way through the jungle of this journey myself. I have hoped that my story will resonate with yours.
Recently I’ve been coming more and more to the realization that as an “emotional eater”—or someone who turns to food to celebrate, to commiserate, or to numb myself—that I have to address some of the root causes of why that is the case. I need to work hard on personal development.
This means confronting demons from my past that I might prefer to leave buried, because it is painful and time-consuming to dig them up. But my journey toward wellness is holistic: I aim to be whole in body, in mind, and in spirit. To have a healthy body without the other pieces of the puzzle might be possible, but somehow I doubt it would be lasting. I am seeking a lifelong change away from bad habits and toward health-supporting habits.
This past week I attended a conference for an essential oils company. (Full disclosure: I am an independent rep for this company, and I have a financial interest in essential oils.)
What I saw at the conference included some really amazing people who have taken their own self-development very seriously, as I also do. It was really inspiring!
Through five days of travel, with lots of eating out, it was challenging to stick to my fitness program. I did have a luscious piece of chocolate cake (I regret nothing!) at a coffee shop one day, but other than that I did a decent job of sticking to my whole-food, whole-grain diet. I wasn’t perfect, but I also didn’t jump off the rails like I would have done gleefully in years past whenever my routine was disrupted.
While I was at the conference, I got a lot of exercise in the form of walking, including lots of stairs. On Sunday, I did what I jokingly called “airport crossfit,” kicking my bag across the Salt Lake City airport, which saw 10,000 people through its doors that day, leading to hours-long lines winding through the facility. I definitely counted it as exercise.
Where I had problems is where I always have problems: I eat too much.
And I know that I eat too much because it is one of the ways I numb my emotions.
So. Knowing that and addressing that are two distinct things. My intention is to be mindful, to stay in the moment with my meals, and to always ask myself whether my eating pattern is taking me in the direction I want to go, or not.
Planning meals ahead of time, and meal prep on the weekend for the coming week help me immensely. I’ve built good habits there in recent months. It’s one more instance of pushing myself beyond the limits of what is comfortable.
Do I want to think about every bite? No. It’s tiresome and frequently it’s a reminder of where I’m falling down on the job, not to mention being one of the few places I still beat myself up. I don’t like shining a light into that dark and dank corner.
But if I am going to make the kind of changes I need to make in order to truly be healthy and whole, that’s what must be done. I don’t expect it will be easy. But as my daughter once advised me, I do hard stuff all the time, and I will do this hard thing, too.
What are your strategies for living a healthy and fit lifestyle? I’d love to hear them. You can call me at 505-286-1212 or email [email protected]. Or look for my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” and join the ongoing conversation.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at [email protected]