In 2013, I’m embarking on an experiment to find optimal health. Well, maybe it’s more like a quest. Part experiment, part quest.
I LOVE making compound words. Just one of my many
annoying wonderful traits.
And so I am embarking on an experiquest of health.
Well, 2012 was the year to find optimal body size. I had a goal to get to a certain body fat percentage. I achieved my goal and had the lowest body fat percentage I’ve had since elementary school. Take that, fourth grade me. And the result?
Partial and short-lived satisfaction.
I met my goal.
I was the leanest I’d ever been.
I did not appear to be mid-second-trimester pregnant.
I only had one chin!
It wasn’t enough. Reaching that goal really didn’t bring what I had hoped it would, and for a few reasons. First, I’ll blame my skewed body image.
A twenty-something American woman with a skewed body image? Shut the front door!
The road to getting that lean was littered with frustration, tears, and discouragement. I was so focused on an ideal image that every time I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t see how far I had come, but only how far I still had to go. I hated my body and was constantly thinking negative thoughts about myself.
As you can imagine, I was a real gem to be around during that time. Super upbeat.
In the end, I did make progress. 7% of body fat progress. In comparing my before and after shots, I was ultimately pleased with the results. But it came with the cost of months of anxiety and self-loathing. And even with the progress I had made, I was still unsatisfied with how I looked.
Another problem with setting a body composition goal was that once I reached it, my mind checked that goal off the list as “complete” and I lost all power to continue focusing on being lean. I held on to my new leanness, barely, for about a month before the holidays hit. Once that happened, it was no holds barred – crappy food, alcohol, bad sleep, inconsistent supplements. I had worked so hard for months to achieve a goal, and then all too easily I backslid.
My goal was too short-sided. I wanted to get lean. I got there. End of story and end of efforts. I need a bigger goal, a lifetime goal. Enter the year of health.
I am now thinking of favorable body composition as a happy byproduct of an overarching goal: health. A side effect, but not the goal itself. By focusing on being healthy, I’ll enjoy the body composition I want, without the self-loathing. My love handles are sure going to appreciate the break from being squeezed and cursed. Sorry love handles, you didn’t deserve those obscenities. It’s me, not you.
My hypothesis is that increasing my base level of health will create a whole slew of enjoyable byproducts: a lean body, more energy, more patience, better focus and mental acuity, more restful sleep, the mental and physical capacity to pursue new interests, and probably the most important – the ability to enjoy a long, healthy life with my loved ones. Chasing health is a life-long pursuit. It’s not something I’ll be able to check off my list because there’s no end to it. And because the goal itself is not tied to how I look, but rather how I feel, hopefully those negative feelings will be no more.
And so the experiquest begins. I have a big whole plan and structure planned out, but if I write about it right now, I will be out of things to write about for the week. Don’t want to give too much away in the first post! (I will not fall for that amateur trick!)