My 16 week Health and Fitness Challenge.
Almost 2 years ago I re-started my health and fitness lifestyle by jumping in the deep end to challenge everything I had known and try out a 30 day Energy and Performance program. Many of you may have seen the photos floating around on social media, but if not I have posted them again below. Within 16 days I had a dramatic transformation and this continued on for an entire year. 2015 was a really great year health and fitness wise for me. I had never felt so balanced, my energy levels were the best they had ever been, and I was able to maintain a lean and healthy body composition with ease and simplicity. This past year though has been challenging, and while I still have maintained my health I know I have been a little of track with my nutrition and my training has been almost non-existent.
In 2005 I was involved in a car accident in which a car t-boned into the passenger side of the car where I was sitting. I suffered minor injuries to my neck and left shoulder girdle. In the early days I had many issues with my shoulder mobility and pain in my neck that lead to headaches and finding it extremely uncomfortable in my day to day activities. After the initial year or so I managed to take care of it enough to reduce the impact in my daily life to a lower level of discomfort, and became more aware of the things that irritated those areas. However this year I have had massive issues with my back and neck literally locking up so badly that I am unable to move for a number of days. The first occurrence was in February in which I hurt it so badly I was unable to move for almost a week, which as a result required around 6-8 weeks of almost no activity. On return to training I was super careful and slowly built back up, but even alongside more treatment (massage, osteo, chiro, acupuncture) the year was basically a yo-yo effect of injury and starting over.
This past week after a good 8 weeks rest and ongoing treatment I finally feel that I need to commit again to a personal challenge to get me back to my own best when it comes to my health and fitness goals. Now of course I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I do feel ‘squishy’ and out of shape physically (for ME), but the big driving force behind this focused change is that I wholeheartedly don’t feel my best when I know I am not eating well and moving my body consistently. Unfortunately sometimes it is out of our hands and well ‘shit happens’, even for us fitness professionals. I am a little kinder to myself these days and have learned to silence my inner critic so that I could use the extra time to focus on other areas of my life, with a mindset approach that sometimes we just have to take time out and listen to our bodies. It did again reinforce my appreciation for the ability to move my body and the choice I have in the foods I eat.
Food wise I always maintain good eating habits because I value my health and know the importance of the good nutrition. I have however since going overseas in September and on return, been overeating on what I class as ‘occasional’ foods. There has been a little too much indulging which although is a part of life, does affects my moods, my energy, mental clarity and general wellness. So I decided to commit to the 16 week Isabody challenge to refocus on setting my healthy habits and get back to where I feel my best. When I know I am making all the right decisions when it comes to my nutrition and training, I feel my best, and I know I function more ‘badass’ than when I am not at the top of my game.
SO attached are my before photos. Of course I am still ‘in shape’. But for me I know that the shape I am in currently in is due to my consistency over the years with my healthy habits, but it does not reflect my ‘best’, because I know I have allowed myself to slide a little due to circumstances. Injury is of course not an excuse to let your health slide, because that is no reason to not eat mindfully. It is ok though to have compassion for ourselves and know that we aren’t perfect, and well, sometimes life just happens.
I wanted to take this opportunity to use my challenge to share with you how I utilise ‘progress’ photos in a positive way that supports your personal growth and self improvement, without them being a sole measure of success and your value.
Here are the words I write to myself that I would love to encourage you all to do-
“This is my starting point. Before starting though I want to acknowledge that I already respect and appreciate my body for the ability it gives me to do the things I love to do. I am grateful for the privilege of a healthy body and movement. I am so appreciative of the fact that I get a ‘choice’ to move and do the things I want, and when I want because there are so many who don't get that choice due to serious illness and debilitating injury.
I am choosing to work on my nutrition and exercise to first and foremost to create more energy and take care of my health. My happiness levels are not attached to this photo, the after photo, nor any photo. My life's purpose and joy is not tied to how I look in a bikini, how lean I am, a number on the scale, or whether I have abs or not. The things in my life that need work now, will still need work no matter how my body shape changes. I understand that overall health and wellness is a combination of not only physical, but mental, social, environmental, spiritual and financial. Although I am excited to see the physical changes and it's perfectly fine to have body goals and work on my physique, it should add something positive to my life, not make it worse. I am working on being a better person at the same time as building a physique that is strong and looks how I personally want it to look, not how society, social media or anyone else prefers.
Although I looking forward to seeing the changes I make, I also know that there comes a point where I am going to accept where my body naturally sits at its leanest and healthiest weight. I will not sacrifice things that really matter most, such as my relationship with family, friends, and loved ones, and I will not let it interfere with my career and study goals, nor will I miss important events such as weddings, celebrations, birthdays or other significant life events. Because I understand that while my goals are important, so is living a beautiful and happy life.
I commit to following the new program that I have selected as the best fit for me based on my preferences, lifestyle, personality type, and what I am confident will work for me. And finally I will always remember that the before photos never represented a negative, miserable, not worthy person, but just simply another point in my journey through life.”
I hope this helps you understand why and how to use challenges and 'before and after' pictures effectively, in a way that allows you to give some focus back into areas of your life that you feel are needed. I will continue to blog about my progress and keep track of my approach to share with you along the way. Remember that getting in your best physical shape not only has to do with the ‘food and exercise’ but also importantly, about what is going on the inside (mindset). The key to long term health and happiness is to create balance across all areas of life. Focus firstly on getting the body healthy through balanced nutrition and the right training, as this results in you feeling more positive and gaining more mental clarity, which in turn allows you to work on finding inner happiness and greater purpose. The badass body becomes the bonus.