How A Barbell Got My Mind Right About Food

I, not anyone else, told myself I was a lost cause.  I didn’t believe in myself. I had been obese and unhealthy for too long.  It was taking its toll on my health and my head.  I had gained and lost 35 pounds too many times to believe I had what it took to get healthy.
Mike and I, Christmas 2013 (I think)…about 10 months prior to JenX Journey’s beginnings. Did the shirts work?
Little did I know that of all things, a barbell would change my life.
Who knew that the pursuit of physical strength would lead me down a path to my own emotional and mental strength. I would never have written this as my outcome in a gazillion years. But now that I’m here, it makes total sense what was missing all those years.
I have realized I was not pursuing the positive side of my goals. My head space was full of “don’t be fat any more – you’re embarrassing to be around so get busy and lose weight.” I was not pursuing anything POSITIVE that was going to come from my effort.  The moment I started wanting and demanding more than just “weight loss will make me happy” was a turning point. I had to translate that in to what I actually wanted to be, do, have a result of my weight loss.  That had been lost for all those years.
I was focusing on the “less” of myself.  The weight loss. Loser. But that wasn’t going to make me happy.  That wasn’t really going to change things.  Problem was, I thought it would.
What I’ve realized is that we need more.  Sometimes we need a challenge, something hard.  Harder than we think we can do to shock ourselves out of that negative cycle or abyss that we can get stuck in.  To prove to ourselves that we are more capable than anything we ever dreamed.
For me it was walking in to a CrossFit box a year after my weight loss doctor suggested that I try it. Yes, it took me a whole year to get the confidence to walk in for the first time. 
Who knew that because of CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting I would one day lose 115#, keep it off, become a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, a Pn1 nutrition coach and be a success story myself.
IF YOU TOLD ME THIS FIVE YEARS AGO I WOULD HAVE LAUGHED IN YOUR FACE.  
And then secretly hoped within all my wildest hopes that you were right.
Posting this picture of my hubs and boys who I had the pleasure of spending time with this weekend (so my heart is full) and the source of my confidence and love.  They all entertain my JenX Journey shenanigans!!  Love you boys.
The crazy thing is that I never in a million years would have wanted and dreamed this for myself.  I never even allowed it to creep in to my possibility of thought.  But deep down, I’ve known forever I’ve had MORE in me.  I never gave up.  I was exhausted trying, but I never gave up. My confidence was buried so deep after years of trying and failing, I barely knew myself any more.
BUT…the moment I started working with a barbell, it completely changed my mindset.  Here’s what it did.

It made me focus on something other than my obsession with food and weight loss. Putting my body through physically and mentally challenging workouts means you learn very quickly you need to fuel yourself appropriately.  Do I want to lift with a pizza or Big Mac in my gut from the night before?  Or something more balanced.  My choice.  I learned that one very quickly (and PS, don’t CrossFit hung over).

Got my negative head talk right. If my body can do it then my mind must follow. I had so many head games going on with my weight and food that pushing myself out of my comfort zone exercise-wise was just what I needed.  It helped me realize that my goals and my health (not a number on the scale) was about how I wanted to feel (strong, no longer weak) and what I wanted to do (which is be kick-assingly healthy by the time I retire to do amazing things like see the coolest places in the world that you can’t get to by car).  And that means a lot of intense hiking. So it was my choice.  Was a pizza or Big Mac going to get me closer to Havasu Falls or a HIIT workout?  It put my mind in the right place.

I HAD to believe in myself. Lifting heavy weight forced me to believe in myself when I was mostly filled with doubt. There was a time I would walk in to any room and my instinct was to survey the room and decide – was I the largest person there?  Most of the time I would say, yep – you are the most pathetic and out of control one here. I knew that deep down if I was ever going to change, I needed to get out of my comfort zone. Rattle my core.  Wake myself up.  Do something that was going to require my all and something that didn’t revolve around food.

It’s a process and you have to practice patience. It made me realize my journey with food will take awhile (maybe a lifetime) to figure out, which meant one thing at a time.  Be successful, then build on the next thing. Often we pursue perfection then quit in 3 weeks when we screw up. In weightlifting, its slow and steady and one thing builds on another. We start with a PVC pipe, then a trainer bar, stay there a while, practice technique/form. Then a women’s bar, stay there a while, practice and work on form. Then add some weight, SLOWLY…and so on and so on continue to practice form and technique. Learning to eat in a way where you not only lose weight but can maintain it for the rest of your life after 20-years of obesity and depression is not an easy thing.  I’m on year four of my journey and still learning. My CrossFit and food journey are now hand in hand.  It is a daily pursuit and a quest to do the best I can. Knowing I will fail regularly along the way, like in weightlifting, helped me understand you just get up and try again. Embracing failure is part of my process.

You’re always training.  With food, you are always ON THE WAGON. Weightlifting and CrossFit training is ongoing and never ends. You’re always just trying to get a little better than you were the day before. I know now, in terms of food – I’m never off the wagon.  I’m always ON THE WAGON.  If I go off plan, screw up – planned or unplanned, I get right back on with my next meal (or at least I try) and I don’t stop trying until I’m back. Its not that you fall down, we all will time and time again, its how quickly we get back up that matters.

It’s an intellectual practice as much as it is physical.  Maybe more. Lifting in many ways is mind over matter.  You have to tell yourself you can do it.  But you also need the appropriate training, form, and technique. Food/eating feels like a physical practice, but for disordered binge eaters like me, a lot (if not most) is in my head. And planning, strategy and eating stuff I like is a big part of success and compliance for me. 

That a lift isn’t always pretty when you do it, but you can get the same result even if you aren’t always perfect.  Same with food.  Its consistency and effort – not glamorous stuff that gets you to your goals. Its not about perfect form (“eating clean” all the time), its consistency and putting in the work (planning) that matters. Come on, we live in the real world and our eating plans should reflect that!

Who is this?  Who is that? Sometimes I’m without words.  How is that me?
Peace out, friends.

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