The journey to change

Enjoy this guest post, written by Lisa Richardson, a participant in the current Her Heart Challenge.

Why is it the things we want the most are often the things that come with the greatest obstacles and barriers that feel insurmountable?

Being healthy is something I’ve always desired to be, but struggled to follow through on. As an emotional eater, I found myself reaching high highs and low lows on the roller coaster of life. Despite feeling confident in my roles as mother, daughter, caregiver, educator, and hospital worker, I woke up one morning and realized I was lost in my life, and had prioritized everyone and everything before myself.

A chance to change.
I knew my life depended on doing something to help me realign a healthy mind, body and soul. For me, that opportunity came with the Her Heart Challenge. It is without a doubt one of the scariest, but best things I have done in my life.

When I received the notification that I was selected to participate in this magnificent program, it was a crystallizing moment for me that I would now be a part of a group; a group that would hold me accountable for doing what was best for me and supporting me in meeting my goals.  No excuses, no opting out, no doing it alone.

Starting the journey.
Our kick-off weekend set the tone for the next 12 weeks.  Each Challenge member shared deep sentiments about their journey and what brought them to the Her Heart Challenge. It was evident that, though we all may have taken different paths, our end goals were the same. My eyes filled with tears and my heart filled with joy, because I felt understood and known in a room full of people I had never met before. After listening to others speak, I knew this was truly my chance of a lifetime to accomplish my goals and support others in accomplishing theirs.  As we ate together, bunked together, talked, laughed, did yoga and water activities together, I realized the hard work ahead.  As I left the campground, I wondered if I would be able to finish strong and become the person I deserve to be.

Halfway through the program.
For the last six weeks, we have carved out committed time every Wednesday to learn how to be better to ourselves. The first class was full of energy and excitement. With the adventurous weekend behind me, now I had to learn how to mix expectation and inspiration with a chaotic workday, family demands, and all of the “Are you kidding me?” moments we have in day. At each class, my unhealthy choices are front and center, but even more importantly, solutions for change are always offered. Not just from the speaker, but also from my fellow journey members. These interactions fortify my resolve to keep going when I am tired, and allow grace to cover me when I miss the mark!

Each class has a theme. At “What’s for Dinner?” for instance, I learned that planning and being prepared would yield wins around eating. And in “Getting Active!” I learned that all movements count. I faithfully wear my Fitbit and find the competition of trying to get enough steps to pass Anne C., make me park my car a little further away at Kroger our take the steps instead of the elevator at work. My life is transforming week by week, because I am internalizing the information and no longer being passive with what I know.  Even classes about “Controlling Glucose and Hypertension,” which I thought I was knowledgeable about, have helped me learn to think differently. The ability to not just know, but also truly comprehend, is a noticeable reality around my interaction with food and what I choose to put in my mouth.

Last week, Dr. Dave Johnson led the class, “Barriers? Being Mindful”. So far, this class has moved my cheese the most. I am and I have always been an emotional eater. Food has always been associated with emotional times in my life. It does not matter if the experience is tied to joy, sorrow, frustration, or anger, I always turn to food to soothe, celebrate and comfort myself. The techniques we practiced around mindfulness and being in the present are changing my landscape of thinking and reacting, in particularly with food.  I am more aware of not only what I put in my mouth, but also why I am putting it in my mouth. No more mindless eating for me, that is my refined goal. I’m certainly not saying I believe one class has cured me of a habit that took me a lifetime to form. But what I am saying is that when I turn to emotional eating, I am aware of what I am eating and why I am eating it. For me, this is my first step to changing this behavior.  My second step was calling and making an appointment to meet with Dr. Dave Johnson one-on-one. I have decided I want to get to the place where eating is something I do when I am hungry and not as a solution or comfort to an emotional moment. 

The ability to know, do and understand is where this journey is taking me.  This journey is the opportunity for me to close the knowing-doing gap, which is my ultimate goal to becoming holistically healthy.

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