I just celebrated my 30th birthday this past week. I had such a great birthday weekend. One thing I really wanted to focus on as a celebration was "then vs. now." Now that I am 30, I feel like I am in the best shape I have ever been in my life. I decided I wanted to take a symbolic hike to celebrate turning a new decade. Rebekah and I hiked the Tanawah Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway--the trail is 13.2 miles! I know this is something I couldn't have done at age 20. In fact, on my 20th birthday, I had a big party and got really drunk. Same story for my 21st birthday except it was at bars since I was legal. Here I am around age 20 or 21:
Making pottery with Randy around Christmas time
I remember this time very clearly. This was right before I started Sugar Busters during my Junior year of college. This was really my first attempt at dieting. I lost a lot of weight on Sugar Busters-about 50 pounds. Then I decided to join Weight Watchers for the first time and lost about another 20. Then I graduated from college, got a job in the real world and slowly gained all of the weight back.
Fast forward 10 years.....here I am the day after my 30th birthday on our 13 mile hike. I am currently at the lowest weight I have been in my adult life:
I feel so much better about myself now. I feel healthy and mostly in shape. I also feel like my food choices fuel my body rather than tear it down. The day after my birthday was also another important milestone in my life. It marked my 5 year vegan anniversary. I have now been vegan for half a decade! And my what a journey that has been! When I first became vegan, I was an oreo, frito, and french fries kind of vegan. (Not that I don't still indulge every now and then!) But I had this thing that I like to call the "Vegan Survival Instinct." If something was vegan, I would eat it. I felt like I HAD to eat it just because it was vegan. CRAZY! I was eating all kinds of bad stuff. So, of course, I gained weight after becoming vegan. It took a long time to see veganism in a different kind of way. When I became vegan, it was strictly for ethical reasons. I didn't think about the health aspect of it. But somehow I got the idea that I could eat however I wanted to and not gain weight because I was eating a vegan diet. Oh how I was wrong!
So here I am about 1 week before starting Weight Watchers for the THIRD time. I was on a trip to Oregon and California visiting friends. I was so unhappy with myself. Just a week before this trip, I went to the doctor and got weighed and realized that I had gained almost all of the weight back that I lost my Junior and Senior year of college.
I deleted so many pictures from this trip because I was so disgusted with how I looked. Most of the pictures I kept are face shots but I think you can still see a pretty significant difference. The next picture is a face shot of me now. I had just finished a workout.
I still want to lose quite a bit of weight. I want to be within my healthy BMI range. But I really have to focus on celebrating where I am at now. This is a life long journey. There's no finish line. I don't have to lose the rest of my weight fast or by a certain date. As long as I am making healthy choices, changing my bad habits and learning new things about myself, I feel like that is a success. One of the things that I hear often at Weight Watchers is that it's not about perfection, it's about persistence. I sometimes get impatient and I want to be my goal weight right now, and those are the times that I really have to stop and think about the progress of my journey. I also took this picture in my workout gear. This picture is DEFINITELY out of my comfort zone. I never wear sleeveless things and I NEVER wear things this tight in public. I bought this strictly for working out, but I feel like it's important to capture where I am at now.
Here's another shot:
So this is where I am at. I work each day to become stronger, healthier and more inspired. I have a lot of work ahead of me but I know that will be lifelong. Each day and each moment is about choices. We are faced with so many choices that can really add up to improve our lives. As BitchCakes said on her blog:
"Remember that every single choice you are presented with after a not-so-great choice is a chance to move forward, a chance to choose better, a chance to just get back up and start over. You don't need to wait for the next week, the next day, or even the next meal - every choice counts. And every choice is a chance to choose differently and better. Every choice counts. Remember that. You just have to choose as well as possible as often as possible."
I love this! I think this is my new mantra. So I try to make each choice a good one but I also know that not all of them will be. But I will pick myself up and go on. Because that's life. One final picture: this is Rebekah and me after finishing our 13 mile hike. I want to bottle this feeling up. It's the feeling of accomplishment and feeling proud of myself. Such a good feeling!