As a special education teacher, I talk to my students a lot about goals. Probably to the point that they tune me out and give the “I know, Mrs. Johnson…” chorus. I set goals for myself daily. Sometimes they are in the form of a to-do list, sometimes they are resolutions. At times I write them down and other times they stay in my head. The thing I have learned most about goals is that goals are not about the final product most of the time. It is about the journey. It is about the daily decisions that make up the journey. It is about the actions, not just the ideal.
Growing up I was active. I swam on the swim team as a year round sport. They say swimming is one of the best sports for you and I swam 2 1/2 hours a day, five days a week, reaching anywhere from 4500-6500 yards in a practice. I knew that black line on the bottom of the pool all too well. I loved swimming and I loved being active, but I was overweight. I thought that because I was so active and still overweight, it was just the way it was, and I could do nothing about it. That didn’t change the fact that I hated it. I wanted to be thin and sometimes pretended I was. I was under the impression because I was so active, that I had virtually no control over my weight.
My first year of college was a difficult one for me as I transitioned into living on my own and navigating the social and academic pressures of college. With the stress of school, I figured I would have no more time for a sport so I quit swimming. I remember stepping on a scale my second semester of college and reading 160 pounds. I was in shock, I was hurt, my stomach sunk. I wanted to make a change but I didn’t know how. The only thing I knew was that I could not keep going the way I was going. I was unhappy and had no energy. It was after that moment, and in a search for a new stress reliever, that I decided to start running. I started with a mile, I slowly moved to two, then three. I remember the first time I ran four miles. I was walking on a cloud! I felt like I could do anything! After I began running I lost about 10 pounds but quickly put about five back on the summer I went to Germany.
All throughout this time I tried different things with eating but I ate because I enjoyed food, for satisfaction and because it was in my schedule. I overate without even knowing it. When I moved out of the dorms and into a house I started cooking for myself. As I learned new and healthier recipes to make, I quickly began to loose weight. I could not have told you what I was doing, I just tried to cut out the crap in my diet, eating when I was hungry, and running. For me, at that time, it was a recipe for success! I lost 30 pounds by the time I was going into my senior year of college. I was feeling happy and more energetic!
Although, at that time making those changes worked for me, I still did not have a grasp on what I was doing to make that change. I did not know much about fitness and nutrition. I just knew, I never wanted to go back to that feeling I had when I stepped on the scale my freshman year of college. When I got married, my diet had to change again. I had to learn to not cook for just my tastes but for my husband’s as well. I had some pretty frustrating moments with this. You see, Aaron is a picky eater. When we got married, he was pretty much a meat, potato and junk food type of guy. He did this but never gained a pound. I became frustrated very quickly. I felt completely torn because as a young wife, I wanted my husband to like and eat what I cooked but I knew if I just cooked what he wanted, I would quickly gain back the weight I worked so hard to lose. I did gain back about 15 pounds over the course of a year and a half for a few different reasons.
It was January of the second year that we were married that I finally made a goal. I knew exactly how it felt to be healthy and I knew how it felt to feel completely out of control of my health and my weight. I made a goal to lose the weight I had gained back and finally be intentional about what I was doing. I started with counting calories for the first time in my life and eventually moved to portion control using the 21 Day Fix. I learned how to eat just enough, just what I needed. I learned portion control, eating a balanced diet, and I learned that I did not need a dessert every night (I have quite the sweet tooth). Throughout the year I had my ups and downs but now for the first time in my life I feel healthy and like I am in control. It also helped that last August, Aaron decided to join me in my journey. We are now navigating this world together! Fitness has been my stress reliever. Fitness has helped me to be happier and healthier. Fitness has helped me to feel empowered as a woman.
I continue to make goals for myself. I want to run my first marathon this year – for me that will be a huge accomplishment since the start of my running journey in college with just one mile! I want to be in great shape. I want my body to continue to be the temple that I am taking care of so that I can best fulfill the roles that I am called to be in right now as a wife, teacher, and friend. My bigger goal has changed though. What I want now does not have to do with a number on a scale, it is about a healthy lifestyle. It is about the daily decisions that I make to get up and work out and to make smart choices with my eating. I’m not perfect, but by the grace of God I continue to grow. I’ve gained tools and I’ve gained knowledge, but more than that I have gained a passion. Each day is a new day and one more step in my journey.