Though we’ve never met, I really love this girl! Domi is the blogger behind Eat, Pray, Lift and she’s been a wonderful “blend” for a while now. Listen as she tells you one of the best decisions she ever made…and MAKE this decision if it’s a problem in your life!! Thanks, Domi!
The Best Decision I Ever Made:
Choosing Health Over Aesthetics
Hey yall! I’m Domi, the writer behind Eat, Pray, Lift. I’ve been reading Lindsay’s blog for about 2 years now, and I look up to her not only as a blogger but as a sister in Christ. Lindsay has generously let me guest post for her before, and when she mentioned needing guest posts for when little Porter arrives, I jumped at the chance!
One of the suggested themes for these guest posts was “Best Decision I Ever Made.” At 23, I have my fair share of decisions that I am thankful to have made (as well as those that I regret), and I am hopeful that the years to come will bring opportunities to make even better choices ahead. So far, though, one of the best choices I have made in terms of health and fitness has been taking ownership of my health. I’ve been living a “healthy lifestyle” (i.e. training/working out regularly and eating well) since I was about 13, but for the majority of that time, my “healthy” actions have always been driven by vanity. I know that body image and self-esteem could warrant their own post (or series!) entirely, so suffice to say, those factors were major driving forces in my workouts and my diet choices. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good, but it should not be the sole motivator behind anyone’s fitness endeavors, let alone a consuming focus or obsession, as it had become for me. It wasn’t until the past year or so that I began to reorient my focus from aesthetics to health. By looking at my lifestyle choices as an investment in my wellbeing rather than a means to an end, I found a new level of enjoyment in my training and diet, and I discovered a new appreciation for my body.
There are a few particular ways that I’ve been able to reorient my focus from fitness for vanity’s sake to fitness for health’s sake. It started when I stopped using hormonal birth control. I had been on the pill for years as a matter of convenience, and I finally realized that it was silly for me to still be using it when I had not practical need for it and I was not enjoying any of the side effects of hormonal supplementation. (Birth control can be a very personal issue, so obviously my experience should not be taken as prescriptive. You do you, you dig?) About 6 months after stopping the pill, all my lady matters were quite self-regulating, and I felt a much-improved sense of overall wellbeing.
After realizing how much better I felt being off of birth control – when I had been taking the pill out of habit for years – I started to wonder what other ways my health might be improved with a little more attention. I requested a full lipid panel from my doctor, and then put some serious effort into studying up on the numbers I got in my results. For me, this was fun, because I’m a huge geek like that. But more importantly, this was really valuable knowledge – heart disease runs in my family, and I realize that to be proactive about preventing heart disease in my own life, I need to start now. By consciously keeping up to date on my test results, I know what improvements I need to work on, and I can tailor my workouts towards those goals.
Perhaps the most impactful change I’ve made has been incorporating more of a mind-body focus into my approach to fitness. For years I avoided yoga because I knew it wasn’t going to be something that burned enough calories to “count” as a real workout. More recently, I started incorporating a home yoga practice once or twice a week as a means of giving my body (and especially my joints) a break from the more high-impact/high-stress training I typically do. What I’ve found is that yoga can actually be quite challenging in its own right, and the physical benefits – flexibility, a better mind-body connection, etc. – translate into my workouts and my everyday life. It’s also been very helpful in rehabing some chronic overuse injuries that I’ve nursed for years. In addition to practicing yoga, I started to put more priority into mental health “exercises” such as journaling and simply taking the time to read a good book for an hour a week. I found that by setting aside time to invest in my mental/emotional wellbeing, I was able to make better choices in relation to my health. For example, rather than working out as a means of self-punishment, I could choose workouts based on what would benefit my body best.
I could go on for awhile about all the ways that my workout and diet have changed since I switched my focus from aesthetics to health, but the bottom line is that it has been more than worth it. It’s ironic – my body has definitely changed for the better since I started working out to improve my health rather than my pants size, but what’s changed even more is how I see myself. I think it’s important to recognize that there is a difference between caring for your body as a temple, and treating your body as an idol. I have an incredible appreciation for my body now, one that goes beyond how I look on any given day. It took me years to realize this, but our bodies are incredible gifts. To be healthy and have the ability to move, dance, run, squat, swim, jump, and live the way we do is an amazing gift, one that we take for granted far too often. As recipients of such a gift, we have a responsibility to take care of our bodies and our health, and the more consciously we do so, the more we are able to appreciate and reap the benefits of our health. By putting my efforts towards maximizing the health I’ve been blessed with, I have become so much more appreciative of my abilities and confident in my potential.
QUESTION: Tell me, friends, what is your main motivation behind your exercise and diet choices? Do you try to keep tabs on biomarkers like cholesterol, A1C, triglycerides, etc? What’s one thing your health enables you to do that you are grateful for today?