My greatest passion is empowering others to improve their quality of life and achieve their goals by choosing healthy thoughts and habits.
Personal Experience With Newton's Law: An Object at Rest Tends to Stay at Rest
It's interesting that even when people know something is good for them, they are often hesitant to make the changes necessary to improve their quality of life.
Before I began my weight-loss journey, I had realized for several years that I was overweight, and by more than a little bit. In fact, I can't actually say for sure how much weight I lost, because I got to a point when I had no desire to weigh myself. I know that I was over 200 pounds, but I can't tell you how much over.
In the back of my mind I knew it would be good for me to start exercising and paying more attention to my diet, but I just didn't have the motivation to do it.
For the most part, I felt like exercising just led to feeling bad about myself, because I couldn't keep up with anyone around me. I just ended up wheezing and coughing and making people feel bad for me.
I knew that it would be good for me to eat healthier foods, but I wasn't really inclined to make any changes in my diet.
In my early 20's it was fairly normal to go out for nachos, mozzarella sticks, or burgers on a regular basis, and of course, none of those delicious delicacies felt like they were complete without a giant milkshake to go along with them.
I was eating the same things my friends were, so I didn't think I was doing anything particularly harmful to my body. It just turns out that my body metabolized food quite differently from my friend's bodies. Many of my friends seemed like they could eat anything and still look like Barbie dolls, but that wasn't the case for me.
A diet like this combined with minimal exercise was a road to disaster when it came to my weight.
Motivation to Get Moving
It's funny that after years of wishing I was thinner and healthier without putting forth any effort to change my lifestyle, all it took was a beautiful spring day to get me to try something I hadn't done in years.
I was halfway through my second semester away at college when for the first time in months, the snow melted enough that you could actually see the ground.
I grew up in an area where snow was a rarity, and I hadn't realized how tired I was of the bitter cold winter until the weather warmed up and I remembered how glorious it was to walk around in jeans and a T-shirt just soaking in the warm rays of the sun.
One day I came home from class, and I had a crazy inclination. It was a beautiful day and for the first time that I could remember since elementary school, I thought that I'd like to take advantage of the weather by going for a run.
To be honest, even as I changed into my exercise clothes, I was second guessing myself. After all, I'd spent most of my life hating running. Growing up, I always dreaded the days that we had to run the mile in P.E. class.
It seemed like a crazy idea, but I knew that running would be good for me, and I figured that I should probably take advantage of the fact that for some strange reason I actually wanted to do it.
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Off to a Rough Start
Well, as you would probably expect, my first run wasn't easy. It was a good opportunity to enjoy the weather, but I didn't find the act of running exactly enjoyable.
I was so out of shape that I couldn't run very far without stopping. I would tell myself that I had to run to the next phone pole on the side of the road and then I could take a break. I'd walk past a few phone poles and then repeat the process all over again.
When I came home I couldn't stop coughing. I thought I was going to hack up a lung. It turns out that's what happens when you haven't been physically active in ages. I ended up pulling out the inhaler that my doctor had given me to deal with asthma issues that I had from time to time.
When I went to bed that night, I wasn't really sure whether that run that was mostly a walk was a success or a miserable failure, but I did feel successful for trying. In fact, even though it was hard for me to run, I came home having more energy than I had before going out on my little adventure.
Overcoming a Hatred of Running: Running is Addicting!
Even though my first experiment with running had been less than pleasant, I decided that I would try it again. I wasn't good at running, but it didn't kill me, and it kind of felt good just to know that I had done it.
For the first few weeks, progress was slow and improvement was extremely hard to measure. Even though it seemed like I would never be able to run around the block without stopping, I kept telling myself that I was going to do it someday.
I never timed myself or pushed myself to run quickly, but I did push myself to run a little more and walk a little less each time I went out.
It didn't take me long to realize that there is a secret to maintaining a habit of running. The secret is that once you get in the habit, even if you have to force yourself to do it, you soon feel addicted.
Before long, it was easier for me to go for a run than to skip a run, because on the days that I missed a run, it really did feel like an important part of my day was missing.
I'm hoping that this will be encouraging to some of you that hate running like I did. It turns out that if you can just convince yourself to run for a while, running becomes something that you crave.
Let me remind you that this all happened when I still wasn't very good at running, so it wasn't necessarily a consequence of running being a whole lot easier than when I first started.
It turns out that if you can just convince yourself to run for a while, running becomes something that you crave.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
While the progress I was having with speed was pretty slow going, the progress I was having with weight loss was something worth taking note of. After not having exercised for such a long time, it was amazing to me how quickly the weight started to come off once I decided to get active.
I still wasn't running far, but you could definitely see a difference in the way I looked, and I could notice a difference in the way I felt. I was healthier and stronger, both physically and mentally.
After all, running is really a mental game. It's just a matter of telling yourself that you are capable of putting one foot in front of the other, even when it seems hard.
It turns out that when I started running a change in diet came naturally. I wasn't the healthiest eater on the planet, but running was hard enough work that I was starting to think that it wasn't worth it to pack in quite so many calories every day that would require hard work to be burned off.
Running is really a mental game. It's just a matter of telling yourself that you are capable of putting one foot in front of the other, even when it seems hard.
Conquering My First Mountain
By the time I went home for the summer, I was in much better shape than I had been in when I left for school.
People were amazed at how much weight I had lost, and they kept asking me how I did it. That's when I started telling people that I literally ran my tail off because it wasn't far from the truth.
Being in much better shape at this point, I made a goal to conquer what to me felt like a mountain. In truth, it was a fairly steep hill near my parent's house. To the top of the hill and back was about two miles round trip.
Again, things started out slow. There was a construction project going on near the top of the hill, and I often felt self-conscious about the fact that by the time I got to that point I was walking and still completely out of breath.
I trained my mind not to give up, and I worked on trying to run a little farther each day. It probably took me about two months before I made it to the top, but I did it, and when I did, I felt like I was on top of the world.
Conquering that mountain, or hill as most people would call it, gave me the confidence to really up my running game. I had proven to myself that I could do hard things, even things that at one time seemed completely impossible.
Branching Out to New Realms of Fitness
When I went back to college in the fall, I had the courage to do some things that I hadn't been willing to try before.
In the past I had little desire to enter a weight room. I didn't know what most of the equipment was for, and even if I did, I probably wouldn't have been able to lift anything. At least that's what I thought. Going to a weight room seemed like a recipe for embarrassment.
As the weather started to get colder, I knew that running wasn't going to be an option for long. The snow was on its way back in. I started hanging out at the gym, and even started making friends with people that I would see there on a regular basis.
I was dedicated to maintaining an exercise program. Sometimes I would do the weight machines, and with my new found confidence and improved body image, I would even go swimming from time to time.
I wasn't going to let a little bit or even a lot of sub-zero temperature weather keep me away from reaching my fitness goals.
Spring Comes Again
When spring came again, I was in a totally different state than I had been the previous year. I was so excited to go running that I even attempted it a few times before the ice and snow had completely melted away from the sidewalks.
I was in great shape. Again, I don't know exactly how much I weighed when I began this journey, but by this point, a year down the road to improved health, I had lost at least 60 pounds, and I felt wonderful.
I started to really push myself to run farther each day. It was crazy to think that just a year before, I could barely run from one phone pole to the next, when at this point a mile was like a short warm up run.
By the time I went home for the summer, I was up to running five miles on a regular basis. I felt like I could fly. It felt like a huge burden had been lifted from me, and the truth is that it had.
I had lost enough weight that people who had known me for years had to take a double take when they saw me. When I went home that summer, I'd run into people I'd known in high school, and some of them had a hard time recognizing me.
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Taking My Health to Another Level With Nutrition
It's been over ten years since I went for that first difficult run on that beautiful spring day, and I can definitely say that all that running greatly improved my quality of life. It led me to other hobbies such as swimming and Piyo, a combination of Pilates and yoga that is one of my favorite workouts.
With these new habits, I felt great, but it wasn't until recently that I really discovered the benefits of healthy eating.
Sure, I had learned to have more discipline when it came to portion control, but when it came down to it, I still wasn't very good at eating the 3-5 vegetables a day that the food pyramid recommends. I was feeling pretty good about myself if I fit an apple in sometime during the day.
About two years ago, I started delving into the science of nutrition and how the foods we eat effect our bodies.
My mom had been diagnosed with cancer, and I was terrified. I was worried about her, and also worried that I might have the same trial in store sometime in my future.
I ended up getting my hands on a book called Beating Cancer With Nutrition, and it changed my life. It was full of stories about people beating cancer by making healthy food choices, and it was full of useful information about what foods are the best when it comes to preventing and fighting cancer.
This book really motivated me, and I decided that I wanted to beat cancer before it ever had a chance to start. Since reading that book, I've made a point of eating my fruits and vegetables and limiting my sugar intake as much as possible.
Some people see the way that I eat and assume that I'm on a diet, but I don't like to look at it that way. I think that diets are usually seen as temporary, and what I've done is make a permanent change to living a more healthy lifestyle.
I was already in good shape from getting into a habit of exercising regularly, but improving my nutrition took my health to another level.
I feel better than I've ever felt before. I'm full of energy, and I know that my body is getting the nutrients it needs to fight off the illnesses that I am exposed to. Not only that, but I've lost about ten more pounds.
Check out this article for some motivation and tips to kick your sugar addiction!
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Most people don't realize the harmful effects that the sugary foods they eat are having on their bodies. Sugar is addicting, but it's worth giving up and you can do it!
If I Can Do It, You Can Do It
Some people see me and think that I'm an exception to the rule. They see that I was successful, but think that they never could be. That's just plain not true. I'm just an average person, and if an average person like me can do this, I know that any other average person can do it to.
I know what it is like to be so out of shape that you feel like there's no hope of ever being in shape again. I know what it's like to hate shopping, because no matter what outfit you put on, you still feel like you look fat. I know what it's like to get winded just walking up the stairs to your apartment.
I also know that the work it takes to overcome all of these challenges is completely worth it. I know that all it takes is a positive attitude, dedication to your goals, and a lot of hard work to find yourself in the healthy body that you've been dreaming of.
I'm not going to tell you that it's easy. It wasn't. I hope that I made that pretty clear. I wasn't joking when I said that I could barely run from one phone pole to the next. My muscles hurt, it was hard to breathe, and sometimes I felt like giving up, but I didn't, and that's the important thing.
I am a firm believer that as long as you are persistent, you will be successful. Don't expect to lose 100 pounds overnight, but do realize that each night that you go to bed knowing that you took some time to exercise during the day, you have had a success.
Celebrate each phone pole that you run past. Push yourself to conquer your own mountains. You are absolutely worth it. You have so much more potential than you realize. You can do hard things as long as you don't give up.
The results are so worth it. Back when I began my journey, I honestly didn't understand how my lack of physical fitness was affecting my quality of life. Now I am ten years older, but I feel the best that I've ever felt in my life.
You deserve the absolute best. Don't settle for a quality of life that is beneath your potential. Spoil yourself by giving yourself the gift of health.
If I can do it, you can do it. It might take some courage to get yourself out the door for that first run, but I challenge you to take that first step on your journey, and I promise you that if you don't give up, you will be amazed with where you end up.
You deserve the absolute best. Don't settle for a quality of life that is beneath your potential. Spoil yourself by giving yourself the gift of health.
This is one of my favorite workouts! It helped me tone my body more than running, swimming, or any other workout.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Rebecca Young
Tell me about your successes and challenges! Do you have questions or additional words of encouragement for others? Let's root each other on along the way!
Heather Tucker on December 27, 2016:
It was fun reading your story. I started running a lot this year and someone asked me if it was fun yet. I thought it will never be fun. I was wrong. Just a few weeks later it really was fun.
Rebecca Young (author) from Renton, WA on July 03, 2015:
I'm glad that you guys enjoyed my hub! My hopes were that it would end up in front of the right people, and it looks like it did!
Laura on June 26, 2015:
Becca! You are so awesome! Thank you for writing this & sharing it! Love this & love you!
Esther on June 26, 2015:
Loved your story and your journey. I am now just starting mine! Its hard to stay focused when your muscles ache and it's just easier to sit. This is so inspiring and I will think of you every time I don't want to hit the pavement!!
Rebecca Young (author) from Renton, WA on May 07, 2015:
I'm glad you found it encouraging! That was my goal!
RTalloni on May 05, 2015:
Thanks for sharing your experience and being an encouragement to everyone who is trying to exercise more. Though not everyone can run, this post can inspire anyone to do what they can do to improve their health. Congrats on your successes from start to finish!
doterraBarb from Salt Lake City, Utah on April 23, 2015:
Becca, this is so inspiring to me! I had no idea this was a part of your journey! Thank you for sharing.