My Road To Health: Part IV

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So where did we leave off…. :D

My Road To Health: Part 1

My Road To Health: Part II

My Road To Health: Part III

My Road to Health: Part IV

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3. Focus on the Big Picture

For many years, I thought that to lose weight one had to focus on numbers. The Scale number. The Calorie number. The Fat number. The Clothing Size number. Focusing on these numbers, over time, made me a wee bit crazy. Not straight jacket crazy, but just about. I used to think that if I had rigid control over these numbers, I would achieve my desired weight. Sure, it makes sense. I mean, when it comes down to it, calories in vs. calories out will bring you to a certain weight.

But what I have learned along my journey to health is this: You can focus on numbers until you are blue in the face, but you will miss the big picture of what living a healthy lifestyle really is.

For years, my focus was so acute and narrow-minded that I was cheating myself out of knowing what achieving health really is. My thoughts were reduced to simplistic number crunching, missing the many ways that I could expand my mind and achieve health.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that in order to lead a healthy lifestyle you should educate yourself about nutrition and fitness. I took several courses in University on Nutrition, and the knowledge that I gained from those courses was tremendous. Learning in depth about Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc) and Macronutrients (Fats, Protein, Amino Acids, Water, Carbohydrates, etc) was not just fascinating, but extremely helpful in planning a healthy diet.

As I began to lose weight that I gained in university, I realized that despite achieving a healthy weight, I still did not feel like I had achieved health. My mind was still focused on those numbers, and because of this I was missing out on opportunities to grow. I was failing to see the Big Picture in terms of my health. The happiness that comes with trusting your body and taking care of all aspects of your mind, body, and soul.

Here are some helpful tips that I have learned along the way:

1. Trust Yourself. While it is beneficial to educate yourself about calories, nutrition, and portion-sizes, I don’t believe that it is beneficial (in my experience) to continue the strict process of calorie counting for life. Over the years, I learned what proper serving sizes looked like and I was able to break away from calorie counting. I learned to trust myself. It was a scary thing, to abandon it all, but it got easier over time. I now listen to my body, my hunger cues, and how I am feeling. It is amazing the things you can think about and learn when you are not focused on those numbers. Those damn numbers. Oh, and I also ditched the scale.

Yup.

Pardon my french, but that (often inaccurate) hunk of crap can stay dust-covered under the sink for all I care.

2. Find out what you are interested in, and explore it. I have always had a passion for health and fitness, and once I started to focus on expanding my knowledge base, I became extremely interested in reading: books, research articles, news stories, magazine articles. Not all of them are good, but they all teach me something. I have learned to be critical about what I read and to challenge what information is being presented. My advice is to find out what you are interested in and explore it, learn more. Knowledge is power. I have read many of Dr. Oz’s books, books on the psychology of the brain, books on Natural living, Cancer stories, and others. Each book opens my mind in new ways and excites me to see health in a different light. My favourite books are all here in my store.

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By focusing on my overall health goals- where I wanted to be- I felt a greater sense of happiness and peace

3. Short term goals are good, but long term goals are better. I focused too much on short-term goals. I want to look good for this Birthday party, my vacation, etc. We’ve all done it, and to be quite honest there is nothing wrong with a little short term motivation. The problem that arises is when you only see short term goals. I have to shake my head when I see magazine covers enticing women to ‘shed 10 pounds by the holidays’ or ‘drop 10 dress sizes by Friday’. How does a crash diet fit into your goals for a healthy life? It simply doesn’t. At least not in my books. I am not trying to sound pretentious here because I have been there. I have been the girl that trys to drop a few pounds for a special occasion. What I have learned is that when I started to set long-term goals (i.e., Where do I see my health in a year? 5 years? Where do I want to be?) I became less focused on the day-to-day aspects and instead realized that despite having the occasional bad days, I am still on an upward, positive incline toward health. We all have bad days, bad weeks. I most certainly do. But once I started seeing my health as a long-term commitment, I was no longer as devestated about those tough days.

Sure my pants may feel a bit tight after the holidays, but I know long term I am still sticking to my goals and am making my best efforts to continue to lead a healthy life style. I like goals. I recently set a long term goal of completing a half-marathon this May 2009. Does this scare me? Hell yes. I am worried that I can’t do it, that my body isn’t made for running, and that I will fail. But this same fear is what inspires me. It is the inspiration of the unknown.

Can I do it? Damnit, I probably can. And I will try.

Thinking about these long-term goals take my focus off the day-to-day worries.

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I would love to hear your own experiences!
Have you given up ‘number crunching’ and felt a better sense of overall health?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Halie November 26, 2008

Thank you for sharing your story! I think setting long term goals instead of short term ones in this way is something I need to work on :)

Really cool photo and quote!

Have a good day!

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Jess November 26, 2008

Resounding YES!!

I must admit that I have a scale. And I use it, sometimes. But my big number crunching rejection was in calorie counting. I used to keep a running total in my head, which turned out to be a good way to make myself a little obsessive. Now I pay attention to what I eat and how many calories are in the foods I choose, but I don’t count them. I try to make healthy decisions and use MODERATION, and it seems to be working for me!

Hi, by the way, I’m new to your blog – thanks for the motivational post!

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Liz Turtle November 26, 2008

“I realized that despite achieving a healthy weight, I still did not feel like I had achieved health.”

What an insightful revelation to have! When I was at what is deemed a “healthy” weight a number of years back, I actually had a pretty horrible lifestyle. We have to treat ourselves well regardless of weight.

Also, love the picture of you! Where was it taken?

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VeggieGirl November 26, 2008

AMAZING post, yet again!! And great, inspiring goals.

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Melissa November 26, 2008

fabulous as always!

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Saima November 26, 2008

Angela–i am unable to see any posts when i click on the categories on the side bar say, ‘before and after’! could you look into this?!!

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Angela November 26, 2008

Thanks everyone!

It is so inspiring to hear about the changes you have made in your lives. :)

Saima Hmm…when you click on it, it should bring this post called ‘*GULP*’ up. Here is the link to it: http://ohsheglows.com/2008/11/11/gulp/

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ashley (sweet & natural) November 26, 2008

Great post Angela! And quite timely for the Thanksgiving holiday, me thinks. :-)

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t November 26, 2008

Wonderful post! I recently gave up number crunching when I realised that I wasn’t completely over my eating disorder(s). I had long thought that I was but I realised that the control that I had from calculating every single macro, calorie, fibre etc was unhealthy even though I was eating healthily and was not binging or starving. It was all another form of obsessive control and I soon realised that when I took that control away, I felt lost and went on a down-ward spiral.

I’m now just trying to focus on eating healthy foods and listening to my body, as well as exercising for fun and to become stronger and not purely because it’s a means to weight loss. When I stopped being so obsessive, it felt scary at first and I’m still making some mistakes whilst I’m getting used to this new way of life. I was upset today regarding my health and eating and I found your post to be just so amazingly uplifting. I know I have to stick with this because I truly feel it’s the only way I can become a health person and I need to do so much damage – tracking obsessively or falling back into an ED will not do that.

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t November 26, 2008

I meant *undo do much damage :)

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sam November 30, 2008

First of all, I want to say that I am a girl, so that no one thinks I am some creepy guy asking about this.

Angela–You have lost alot of weight, but you still seem large and firm in the breast area. How have you accomplished this?

I was 190 to now 130 (at 5’6) but my boobs have gone from in the Cs or Ds to Bs, and “deflated” Bs at that…

Any tips??

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erin May 19, 2009

hi angela! i’m jut getting into reading all about your journey and it is inspiring. i was looking through the books in your store, and wanted to suggest another one: anticancer by david servan-schreiber. i do believe that he mentions the richard beliveau books in anticancer, and in fact that they are colleagues and have done research together (but i am not 100% certain of that; it’s been a while since i read anticancer). anyway, anticancer is fantastic and really changed the way i look at food and health.

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Erin June 3, 2010

Hey Angela,

I am new to this blog, ran across it a couple days ago, and have been glued to it this entire past week!! Everything you talk about is dead on! I am also very into health and fitness, also a vegan, just graduated with a degree in public health (focus on nutrition). I also have struggled with an eating disorder.
I can relate to what T said in her post about thinking she was over her ED and then realizing that it had morphed into a different form of ED. I am realizing myself that my ED has returned, but in the form of number crunching. I have gained about 15-20 pounds in the past 2 years, I believe from having moved in with a roommate who is on the larger side. I am finding it very difficult to control my diet, my guess is it is rather psychological, feeling like if I show that I am health conscious around her that she might feel bad or something?? Hard to explain really… anyway, my point here is, that I am realizing I have been in denial of my ED returning because it scares the living hell out of me. I want so badly to just be at peace with myself because it is such a god awful disease. So I am really loving reading through your blog, and hope that I can slowly recover again and get to a point of true happiness.
*** Sorry for the long post btw!!!

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Erin June 3, 2010

Oh! also meant to add, that I wrote my senior thesis on Body Image and the Media, the psychological effects it has one women and young girls. Let me know if you’re interested in reading it!! I’m sure you’d be nodding your head in full agreement with the entire paper! Lol

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Sara July 25, 2010

I gave up numbers because they made me crazy. Now I can focus on the enjoyment of nuturing my body with healthy delicious whole foods. Like you, I used to be in the starvation/binge cycle and decided if I ever wanted to stop that the first step was to stop dieting for good and to learn about preparing delicious whole foods. I am enjoying every second of my journey… number free!

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Luiza July 25, 2013

Hey Angela! I have been trough this, and I just wanted to thank you!
Your blog (with the NoMeatAthete.com) saved me from the dark. Really!
I’m 22, married, just had a baby girl (who’s 15 months old now).
After years of an unhealthy lifestyle with food, many factors made my pregnancy a real challenge, and after those 9 months eating my emotions, I gained 75lbs! I could barely enjoy my baby, all I wanted was to shed those pounds, no matter what. Four months after that I had my pre-pregnancy body Back, but I was unhappy, starving myself, and bingeing every once in a while. Than, it became an habit. A month and a half ago, I decided it had to change. For me, for my daughter. Now I’m vegan, I’m Happy, I already strated running and bodybuilding with my husband! And all this could not happen without your words. So thank you so much! And I’ll keep reading.

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