I am very mindful of my fitness these days. I realized this recently and I never thought I would get to this place in my life.
My daughter Maya was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last August. (I'll tell you more about that one day when I'm ready). Contrary to popular belief, proper diabetes management is not just about watching your sugar intake—you need to limit your carbs as well. After leaving the hospital with a bagful of insulin, needles and information, the first thing we did was clean out the pantry. Out went all of the "empty" calories, and in came the “good” ones. Anything that was high carb nonsense had to go. If Maya needed to change her diet, we were all going to change our diet; there was never a second thought.
Thankfully, I have always eaten pretty well ("rabbit food", my brother calls it). Our three square meals a day have been full of fruits and green, leafy veggies. While I didn't have to make any drastic changes, we have limited how much bread we eat. For the record, we still eat white bread (a grilled cheese on wheat? I can't!) But now we just have half a sandwich instead of a whole one.
Have you ever read a label on a bottle of juice? Frightening. Some of them have more than 40 grams of carbs in 8 ounces. (Sidebar: 40 grams is almost the entire amount of carbohydrates Maya should have at just one meal!) So, we switched over to water and sugar-free, homemade iced tea—we don't miss the juice at all.
We grow lots of veggies in the garden and fill up our plate with them. I still snack, I just choose better snacks: almonds, Greek yogurt and fruit. Sure, chocolate cake is more exciting, but once you get the ball rolling, you don't want to waste all of your hard work on cake. You just...don't. I do still eat goodies occasionally, but only every once in a while. Shouldn't we all be eating like that anyway?
I have been a pretty devoted yogi for a while. I love going to yoga class and I feel that it's just as beneficial to my mind as it is to my body. You have to calm your thoughts and really concentrate or you'll just end up losing your balance. After Maya was diagnosed with diabetes, things were very difficult. As a mother, you have this innate sense of wanting to protect your child at any cost. The fact that diabetes can show up anywhere, at any time, with no family history or cure in sight is heartbreaking. Every day, I wrestle with the fact that I can not fix this and it weighs heavily on me.
I remember being at yoga class soon after Maya's diagnosis. I was twisted up like a pretzel, and I actually felt the stress leave my body in a whoosh. It was a feeling so powerful, I could have cried right there on my mat. I realized then that taking care of myself is important, too, so I can be the best mom I can be. I am grateful to have a really great yoga teacher who encourages us and gets our bodies to move in ways I never thought possible. And that quiet meditation at the end of class helps prepare me for the rest of the week.
After a year and a half of yoga class and 8 months of my low carbohydrate "Maya Diet," I woke up one day and realized I'd lost 15 pounds. I was dumbfounded. My pants were all too big and my husband had to drill holes in my belts. I looked better, I felt awesome, and I was comfortable with myself. I felt strong, something I don't think I've ever felt before.
I read that when trying to get into shape, you should turn to someone stronger than you for help and motivation. My friend Terry is a personal trainer who has arms bigger than my leg; I knew he would be the perfect motivator. And once I started seeing results, I wanted to see how far I could push myself.
Squats? I do 100 a day. Close grip push-ups to work my triceps? I'm on it. Lunges? They're the worst, but I do them anyway. Having someone in my corner and kicking my butt if I'm thinking about being lazy is great for me. Without it, I wouldn't be nearly as dedicated. I'm not very disciplined, so this helps to keep me on track.
All this being said, I don't feel that being fit has taken over my life, I just think I'm more mindful. Mindful that I'm doing what is best to take care of myself in the best way I can. My losing weight and feeling better was not an overnight process. It was a change that I decided to do and it took time and dedication. Because I made gradual changes over time, rather than changing my lifestyle all at once, I think these all all permanent changes that I will stick to always; I plan on being that 85 year old woman still at yoga class!