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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bennett

Beyond the diet is where my happy is.

Sometimes we just need a reset. Full on ctrl-alt-del. Two months ago, I started on that path. After coming off my personal race “season” for the year, I had packed on weight and had run my body through the ringer with 2 half marathons, a 15-mile relay trail race (my first ever), 2 10-k races, and a whole lot of training in-between. My last race was the Houston Half Marathon and it hurt. It hurt bad. What also hurt was that my weight was the highest it had been in over 4 years. It was starting to mess with my mood and my mind. Since I’d begun my journey through perimenopause a few years ago, I didn’t need any help in the mood department. Prior to the race I’d already decided that I would start day 1 of my rest the very next day and let my body heal, and I had 2 and a half hours to decide exactly what that looked like. I took inventory of that while I ran.

My first goal was to let my injuries heal. That meant that I had to stop running. I absolutely hated the thought. Honestly, I still hate the thought. I see all the running memes or my runner friends posting on Strava or RunKeeper and I start turning green with envy. I look at my running shoes and sigh. My pile of running shorts and all their bright colors is just sitting there waiting….

Ok, this is getting weird. I love to run. You guys get that by now.

The plan was to give it 90 days. Three months of no running. I’m now two months in and I still have parts of my body that are healing so I’m glad I made that choice. And not only am I not running, but I’m also prioritizing rest. I’m getting to bed at a relatively consistent time and sleeping soundly. And apart from going to the gym two times midweek. I let my body wake up before I get out of bed. It’s been so helpful. Am I working out? Yes. That’s a big part of the plan. I’m in the gym, strength training four days a week and I’m out walking a few times a week. I’m staying consistent and making sure I get the best out of my time in the gym. Instead of having a size goal, or working on PRs, I’m working on just being consistent with my time and intensity.

My second goal was to get my body back to a healthy weight. And that meant focusing on 30 pounds of fat that had to go. I had a closet full of clothes that didn’t fit, I felt like crap all the time, and I was finding that because it hurt to run with all that weight, I was considering giving it up. REALLY! The thought crossed my mind. And that’s not cool. So that had to happen. It was a great time to tackle that too because I didn’t have to worry about fueling for running. I had to instead focus on fueling my body for my goals. And as a health coach that helps people lose weight, I had a plan that would work. So, starting the day after my race I shifted to focusing on hydrating better, losing the alcohol, and eating small macro-balanced meals throughout the day. I also got more consistent in taking the supplements my doctor and I talked about. That’s it. All I had to do was create a plan and then execute every day and be consistent. Would it be challenging? Yes, at times. Would it be worth it? Well let’s see after the 90 days is up!

My third goal was to prepare my mind for what comes after I heal and get back to “fighting shape”. So at least 3 times a week I’m journaling. Some of it is about my personal wellbeing, some about my career goals and how I’m learning to be a better leader and coach, and some is just reflecting on my family and writing down those experiences. I’m also spending time in personal development. I’m revisiting some concepts about habit creation and anti-inflammation protection. I’m beginning my deep dive into how to thrive through all stages of menopause since it’s apparent I’m going to be here for a while.

That’s it. That was my plan. Reset my body and mind. So how is it going?

Today is two months into the three-month plan. I’m 19 pounds down, my body feels immensely better, and my mind (while it’s really jonesing for the meditative long run) is feeling a lot more even keel. I’m getting more done around the house. I’ve even focused on a decluttering project that’s going through 15 areas in my house that need to be cleaned out and I’m almost halfway through that. I’ve also begun evaluating how I show up to work as a manager and coach. I’m taking time to do things that I love, like putting makeup on every day. I’m finding a new sense of community with those around me and I’m connecting with friends more often… and reconnecting with some I hadn’t seen in a very long time. My heart is full. This the stuff that's beyond the diet. This is where the happy is.

What I’ve come to realize is that health is not all about the diet. It’s about how we approach managing our lives around what matters most. Yes, one of the main shifts in this season was so the next season would be more comfortable and that required a lower number on the scale, but it’s more than that. It’s about really envisioning the life I want to create. A life that focuses on what I want and less on what happened. More of what I want to live for and less of what I want to forget. More of growing through my learned experiences and less of looking back at old pictures and feeling like such a failure. More smiling and laughing and less trying cover up anxiety, pain and frustration.

Last year, my word was “become”. I was focused on dreaming about what I wanted to become and thinking about how to do that. And as I started this calendar year, I reflected on that and realized that I’d become ready to take my whole world to the next level. Beyond the diet. This year my word is “connection”. And I’m finding that I’m not only connecting more with my family, my friends, my employees, and co-workers, but I’m also connecting again with myself. The more I focus on those connections the easier a lot of things fall into place. Here is what I mean…

When I go to a party, and my focus is on being present with my friends, I’m way less focused on the fact that I really want to share a glass of wine. The wine doesn’t matter. The friend does.

When I go to the gym my focus is on the connection between what I work today and the outcome in the future. It doesn’t matter that I’m not pushing or pulling as much weight as I did last year. I’m doing what I should do for my future self. Not my present accomplishment.

All this said, when I decided to do a reset, I didn’t realize that it would be as big of a reset as it has been. When I decided to heal, I didn’t realize how much would change. Maybe “change” isn’t the right word. Maybe, it’s more like taking things to the next level. My focus has improved. My intention is clearer. My path forward feels less uncertain. There's more in my world to smile about. I’ll take the weight loss for sure, but there is so much that I love about the rest of my progress these last few months.

So when I talk about the last few months of progress and people start to ask about what I eat our how I exercise, yes I tell them about all of that. But I hope that they see that it's more than the diet. That's about building my future self that's thriving in the physical and the mental.

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