Choose to live

The mirror is often the first place we become inspired to launch our weight loss journeys.  We notice the extra bulges here and there.  We poke and prod and frown and turn around in circles in frustration.  We imagine ourselves at that perfect weight or size like all the people on TV or in the magazines.  We hit the ground running in pursuit of happiness.

My experience has been that sooner or later, weight loss motivation based solely on what you can see in the mirror will fade.  You (and me in my 20s) find yourself eating that thing (or things) you swore off while sitting on the couch as your gym membership fees vanish from checking account through the automatic withdrawal you set up.  Before you know it, you’re back in front of the mirror, poking, prodding, swearing off carbs forever.

Here’s the sobering truth that eventually got me off the vicious cycle:  how we eat and our lack of exercise in America is killing us.  This is not a scare tactic.  It’s the truth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity is directly linked to four out of the top 10 causes of death in the United States:  heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some forms of cancer.  The American Heart Association says heart disease is the leading cause of death, but 80% of those deaths are preventable with healthy eating and exercise changes.

Our choices can save our lives.  Our choices can end our lives, too.

Our celebrity obsessed culture places a lot of importance on how we look on the outside, but when the appeal of a perfect body fades away, so does our motivation.  We have to flip the script, and realize the deadly ramifications of a poor diet and lack of exercise should be the thing that sends us to the gym or grocery store.

I am not going to lie to you.  After losing nearly 100 pounds on this health and fitness journey over the last five years, it is fun to wear clothes I dreamed of for so long, but that is the LEAST important thing about battling obesity.  It’s my health and what’s going on inside my body.  I had extremely high blood pressure and body fat percentage years ago, which put me at a high risk for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.  My health and fitness journey has removed those risk factors.

Here’s another truth.  If I had based my journey solely on what I looked like on the outside, I would have given up a long time ago when it became clear certain stretch marks would never fade, or I would have excess skin in some places.  My body is not, and never will be, perfect.  That’s okay, because the real point of this journey is being healthy on the inside.

Is my journey perfect? Nope.  Do I make the right choices all the time?  Negative.  Those moments when I fall off the wagon with a missed workout or that extra piece (or two) of cake, I remind myself that it’s not just about keeping up an appearance of health, but about truly being healthy.