Getting My Health On

In the past, I have prided myself on my laissez-faire attitude towards wellness. My whole life, I’ve had the great fortune of being as healthy as an ox, and I was a pretty active child/teenager, so my punk attitude about health really didn’t affect my life all that much.

When I ate with people, I liked to be the person that could eat ALL the food solely for the purpose of being that down-ass lady that could eat as much as a crew member on The Deadliest Catch.


But then other days, I would just run around and forget to eat, and then I’d get so hungry that I’d eat whatever was in front of me (which was mostly Taco Bell). I never worked out because I told myself, “Katie, you hate the gym and you can’t run at all, so what’s the point?” I drank a lot of booze because I started drinking later in life and felt like I had to catch up on all the stumbling around and vomiting that I had missed in college. I smoked Parliament Lights because why the hell not?

Things were pretty kick ass for a while.

Then, all of a sudden, they weren’t.

I couldn’t fit into most of my awesome clothes. I didn’t feel confident when I was naked (which, believe me, has NEVER been a problem before). I couldn’t catch my breath when walking up stairs or even walking briskly on a sidewalk. I had gotten sick from drinking more times in the last year than I had in my entire life. I was spending an obscene amount of money eating out because I never had any food in the house. My mind and body didn’t feel strong. I felt powerless.

I had a cold about three weeks ago that came on really strong and went away just as quickly as it had come”¦ It lasted about three days total. I didn’t smoke during these three days because I knew better than to inhale straight tar into a body that was battling to make me better. Then on the fourth day, I woke up and I felt fine. The cold was gone, and in its place was this odd desire to go for a run. I don’t run. I hate running. In middle school, I used to get in trouble in PE on the days that we ran the mile because instead of racing the rest of my fellow students, I preferred to take a leisurely, twenty minute stroll with my friend Urbyn around the track. I don’t know what possessed me, but I put on some exercise clothes, laced up my sneakers, and left the apartment running.

I made it about a quarter of the mile before I nearly vomited all over myself.

As I stood there and caught my breath, I thought about just turning around and walking back to my apartment. And then I didn’t. I walked out the rest of the half-mile and then turned around and walked another half-mile back to my apartment.

I didn’t smoke that day. I went grocery shopping and got myself a lot of the unprocessed food that I like to eat, but had always told myself that I didn’t have the time or the money to buy and cook. In the next week, I started following a bunch of exercise blogs and learning about nutrition and strength training. I started working out a little bit every day and eating more food than I ever have in order to fuel my growing muscles.

Here are some things that I learned in the past month:

  1. Fuck the Scale: Seriously. In the past three weeks I’ve maybe lost a pound. Maybe. Do my pants fit better? Yes. Does my skin look brighter and more taut all over my body? Yes. Does my stagnant weight mean that all of this work has been for nothing? Fuck no. Scales are always wonky anyway, and every one of them measures differently. If you want to track progress, use a tape measure, but the way you feel really should be enough of an indicator.
  2. Food is Fuel: I never really understood that statement before, but now that I’ve started exercising, I know that my body needs food not only for energy, but also to repair itself. I have been doing mostly strength training, so I have to eat a lot more protein than I’m used to in order to keep my body going.
  3. Take it One Day at a Time: If I can just try not to smoke today, then I have succeeded. If I can get off my butt for half an hour, then I’m doing good. I haven’t smoked yet, but if I slip up one day, I’m not going to beat myself up about it and throw the baby out with the bath water. Just as long as I’m not smoking every day anymore, then I’m a happy camper.
  4. Do What Makes You Happy: I still don’t like to run, but I found out that I really like basketball and football drills as my cardio exercise. They’re high intensity and I don’t get bored because all of jumping and dropping to the ground.
  5. Do What You Can Today: I always used to say “I’ll eat healthier when I have more money to buy more groceries. I’ll work out when I have enough money to get a gym membership. Tomorrow I’ll BLAH BLAH BLAH”¦” Once I came to terms with the fact that I’m broke and I’m just going to have to make do with what I have, things got a lot easier. I do lots of exercises that don’t involve anything but my own body weight. I find a lot of those expensive workout DVDs floating around on the Internet for free. I just went and resold a lot of my clothes and took the $40 to go buy groceries. The circumstances may never be perfect, but so what? Just making an effort always makes me feel a lot better about things.
  6. EAT THAT DAMN PIECE OF CAKE!!! Just eat it if you want it. It’s going to bug you if you don’t and the goal is never to keep yourself from enjoying life. If I want booze, I drink a big glass of red wine. It’s full of antioxidants and I can still get tipsy with the best of them!

All in all, I just feel better. I don’t think I’ll ever want to run a marathon (but good for you if you do!) and I’m pretty sure I can’t live without ever eating bread again, but when I’m sweating and in a deep squat in the middle of my studio apartment, I can’t help but feel like Wonder Woman.


17 replies on “Getting My Health On”

I joined a gym last month. I’d been thinking about it for ages but I kept saying ‘well I barely work out now, so why get a gym membership when I’m only going to waste money. I’ll see how often I can work out at home, and then if I keep it up I’ll get a membership.”

Dumbest rationale ever. Since I joined, I’ve worked out more than I ever did at home.

A new gym opened up last month that’s right by my work and open 24/7. I did my research online and got a tour of them, and then signed up right away. They’re convenient, nice, AND cheap (rates are either 10 dollars or 20 a month, I have 20 because that way I can use the massage beds cuz dayum). Since then I’ve been going 3 times a week for about 45 min to an hour. I LIKE going. I feel good when I’m working out (or at least, when it’s over.) I’ve lost weight/my body feels different. I’ve bought protein powder because 1) my brother told me to 2)I’m concerned about getting enough protein while maintaining a low cholesterol rate because I don’t like beans.

It’s only been a month and I’m already stronger and healthier than I was last month. I should have joined a gym a long time ago.

Great article! My fitness motivation has basically just been “Do what makes you feel amazing.” If it’s running for half an hour while playing my six different remixes of “Run the World (Girls),” then I do that. If it’s yoga, I do that. If it’s a freeform workout, I do that. If I need to sit my ass on the couch sometimes and watch tv, I do that, too. But the more I get up and do things, the less I want to sit on the couch and do nothing. It’s a pretty great feeling when that switch happens.

Yes to all of this. I think when many people start working out, they get fixated on the number on the scale. It’s a better approach to just focus on how you feel. I think if you do decide to keep track of weight, maybe check only once a week at most.

One thing that can help if you’re trying to start running is something like Couch 2 5K app. You could do this without the app to. You just start off by alternating running and walking; gradually you decrease the length of the walking intervals until you can run 5K.

The other thing that helped me was sort of “tricking” myself. On days that I lacked motivation, I’d tell myself that I’d just go for a few minutes, and if I really wanted to quit, I could. But the hardest part is usually just getting out of the door, so I’d end up doing the entire work out.

I really appreciated the rules you put forward. Trying to get healthy shouldn’t be fixated on weight-loss, it should be fixated on trying to get healthy! I’d definitely say I’m healthier now than I was when I was thinner, but people acted like I was “doing something right” to stay thin. Hell no, I wasn’t exercising, I just wasn’t eating enough but didn’t realize that.

i have definitely learned that thin does not always mean healthy and strong. i went vegan just as a challenge to myself and got down to 114 lbs (WAY too small for me)… i was healthy in terms of what i was putting in my body, but i had NO muscle so everything was straight up droopy.

I’ve been doing the 100 Days of Burpees challenge (link in the sidebar), and I can’t believe what a difference it’s making, not just in things like muscle tone and stuff, but also in my water consumption, my sleep habits, and my general “not passing out when I walk up a flight of stairs”-ness. And I really truly started from a place of total laziness and lack of any kind of fitness or awareness of my own health. I’m really happy  with my baby steps.

i just got done working out.  you basically detailed the epiphany i once had about exercising.  when i started working, all i did was lament about my lack of gym membership (after having a free one throughout college).  but, i realized i could afford hand weights and so i do whatever workouts i want in the free ondemand section offered by my cable provider.  i also run, which has become an awesome way to cope with my anxiety and stress.

I have never slept so well as when I was working eleven hour shifts cleaning up dog poop at the emergency shelter. Physical activity is the name of the game when it comes to getting me to sleep at night or I’ll end up thinking until two in the morning.

Yeah I once spent 2 weeks working on a potato harvester. We did 10 hour days and I came home and slept like the dead every single night. It was wonderful. I now have a desk job and unless I have done something to tire me out, I won’t sleep and it starts a bad cycle of being grumpy and not sleeping.

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