Lessons Learned The Hard Way

by Kelly Colobella

Right now the year is turning over, people are making resolutions… getting healthier, losing weight, going vegan (hopefully), and doing things they want to do to better themselves and the world around them. I was never a big resolution setter… I figure, if you want to change something enough you will just do it, you won’t wait for a significant date for it to start. This could also be why I don’t celebrate anniversaries (because I don’t know when they occur). I also stopped setting fitness goals a long time ago out of frustration from not seeing results. I’m finally beginning to understand why things weren’t changing for me.

My son was born 6 years ago and during my pregnancy I gained around 70 pounds (I don’t have an exact number because I stopped weighing myself when I was afraid I might hit 200). Since his birth I got really involved in fitness. I started small with a 5K, then got into kickboxing, triathlon, fitness classes, boot-camps, Pilates, etc. Then I started getting more intense… cf type workouts, tackle football, strongman, and weightlifting. I became very active and simultaneously very obsessed with losing weight. I felt that I was putting SO MUCH work into training that logically, I should be shrinking (but I wasn’t).

I had my hormone levels tested, tried supplements, and used a Body Bugg, I consulted nutritionists and trainers and I spent hours each day reading articles on the Internet about fitness and weight loss. I have so much useless knowledge about supposed fat loss equations, different ideas on protein, and recovery methods that it’s got my head spinning. In the end, I was following a VERY strict meal plan and working out up to 18 hours a week. I was so frustrated and angry at the repeated “don’t give up” and “work until you puke so you can get there” mentality. I WAS working that hard and I WAS NOT getting anywhere. Was I the only one? What was wrong with me? I was getting stronger but I did not have those abs of all the beautiful people on gym memes and in magazines.

Finally, I gave up. And here is what has happened over the last four weeks…

My focus shifted from weight loss to my passion for veganism; Specifically, making a statement about veganism with my strength. My body is changing a lot–and I’m really excited. After six years of stressing over weight loss! The weight I am lifting is dramatically increasing and still, my thighs are shrinking (I was prepared for the opposite effect). My arms are getting definition that I have never seen before and when I look at myself in the mirror, I seriously can’t believe how much I have changed in such a short amount of time.

I have gained a lot of great tools through my research on nutrition and weight loss and this has helped me change the way I eat and the way I look at food. It has become my lifestyle. I don’t look at processed foods and sugars as food anymore. I know that if I consume them, they won’t make me feel good and they won’t do anything for me nutritionally. I don’t go for the “easy” meals. I cook and eat my veggies (so many vegans don’t eat their veggies, it’s so strange to me). So I don’t “diet” anymore. I am just in the habit of eating well and It has become less of a sacrifice and more of a way of life. I have developed a passion for fitness… even though I’ve been bitter that I work so hard in the gym and don’t see the results that I feel like I should be seeing I’ve grown to love it. It’s become a huge part of my personality… I feel like the other gym regulars are my friends (even though we only speak through the silent language of mutual respect and head nods). It’s part of my routine, and something that makes me feel alive, like my morning coffee (if I drank it). I now am training for powerlifting competitions… so I have a focus that is far from weight loss, a focus to show people how strong vegans can be.

Not everyone is built the same… I used to think the workouts made our bodies but now I believe that we have different strength and weaknesses naturally, and I don’t know anyone who is content with that. The people who don’t seem to lose the weight, the people who lift that want to gain weight and can’t, people who run marathons and never “look like a marathon runner”… Embrace your strength, nurture your passions, and enjoy the ride… getting in “shape” should not be a job, but a lifestyle. When you change the way you think about fitness… when it becomes something you enjoy rather than a job, it’s going to stick. It’s going to become a part of who you are, and how you live… instead of something to stress about. And as I have learned… I’ve found something that works for my body type, makes me happy, and I am not longer obsessing on the over-all picture, just what is happening now. Letting go of that stress and focusing on my strength rather than some idea in my head of what my body should look like… seems to be exactly what I have needed. I feel liberated, and excited to see what the next four weeks bring…

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