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Healthy Progress, Not Perfection

Healthy Progress, Not Perfection

How anyone can keep up with the diet trends these days, I’ll never know. If you’re getting your health information online, what’s good for you and what’s bad for you is simply a matter of science… or opinion… or scientific opinion. It’s all very confusing! But the one thing I think everyone can agree on at this point is that what you put into your body matters.

Through much trial and error, goal setting and failure, laziness and exhaustion, I think I’ve found a routine that works for me. I think. The jury is still out. (And this all could change tomorrow, so don’t take my word for it.) But let me share a bit of my journey in case it is helpful to you.

Since physical wellness can have a massive effect on your emotional and mental wellness, it’s something to take seriously. In high school I was an athlete, so I was working out vigorously six days per week. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. My teenage metabolism didn’t hurt either. But when basketball stopped, the eating habits didn’t change. Because I was of the mindset that restrictive diets never worked, I never dieted, but I tried to start working out again.

At that point, with a toddler, a full-time job, a ninety-minute commute (each way), and sixteen hours of school per week—not to mention being a single mother—I couldn’t get enough sleep, let alone enough time to work out.

This also meant that food had to be fast and convenient. Within a few years, my weight was back up to ABOVE my nine-month pregnancy weight. My joints hurt. I was always tired. I couldn’t run. Something had to change. It only took thirteen years of failed workout commitments and the inability to follow through for me to get serious.

After two years of watching my friend do the Keto Diet and lose fifty pounds, I decided to give it a go. It had become obvious based on my eating habits that sugar was my biggest vice (other than coffee, but try prying that out of my cold dead hands, I dare you!). Keto is a very low carb, high fat diet where the goal is to train your metabolism to burn fat instead of store it. Although this might work for me, it is not for everyone, and should be researched thoroughly, with the help of medical professionals, before considering such a major change. According to the diet, I’m supposed to eat between 20 and 50 grams of net carbs per day—most of us net several hundred.

The night before I started Keto, I cried. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to stick to it. This was a massive overhaul. The first two weeks were difficult; every single eating habit I had had to change. But because I had made a firm decision to change my life, it wasn’t an option to “cheat.” There were days that I questioned my decision, days that I reevaluated, but three months later I’m down five inches on my waist and eighteen pounds.

It is working for me because I listened to my body. It does not mean that it will work for everyone, but hopefully my experience can put into perspective the necessary evaluations that, if you decide to dedicate yourself to them, can completely alter your life.

I am extremely proud of my results and I’m looking forward to meeting my personal goal of twenty-five pounds gone. But diet was just half the battle. The physical exercise was the other habit I needed to form. But what to do? I don’t enjoy the gym. Running is still too much for my poor untreated shin splints, and the weather in St. Louis doesn’t support a year-round outdoor workout.

Enter: pole dance fitness.

Yes, POLE. No, not stripping. Actually, I’m working to change the stigma surrounding this alternative fitness style. What I found with pole was a way to be active without having to hit reps at a gym. What I found was a freedom to move that would make me feel great about myself. What I found was a positive environment where my skill level mattered very little, and my desire to have fun mattered most. Now, I’m teaching beginner classes, which means that even when I don’t want to attend class, I’m accountable to others. Regardless of how I feel when I enter that studio, I never want to leave once I’m there.

And now that I’ve dropped almost twenty pounds from my dietary changes, my progress and skill levels are increasing much faster. My confidence is going up not because of how I look, but because of what I’m able to do. This directly impacts my mental and emotional wellness.

Ah, how it comes full circle.

We tend to compartmentalize our wellness: physical, emotional, or mental. Sometimes these can act separately, but more often than not they all affect each other. Cutting sugar and adding pole dance fitness works well for me, and if it stops working then I’ll change it up. What works for you or anyone else has to be very personal. It starts with figuring out where you are, where you want to be, and then finding the path between the two. Understanding that the path is very seldom straight will help when you feel like you’ve strayed. Keep at it. Fall off and get back on. Reevaluate when necessary. And never ever stop.

The point of pursuing perfection isn’t to reach it; it’s to constantly improve.

This post reflects the views and experiences of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on self-control from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.

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Mika Cohen is a world traveler based in St. Louis, MO. Her passions for coffee and culture allow her to connect people across the globe. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she looks for any excuse to find adventure - and write about it. Share a virtual cuppa Joe via Instagram @thegoodgrind.

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