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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bennett

What she said.....

Five years ago, I finally started to make the most impactful changes in my health. July 16th, 2018 I called my friend’s health coach went all in. It was right before I turned 40 and I thought I’d give this “diet” thing just one more try. And I’m glad that I did. I lost the weight. But what took me longer to change was my thinking. I think for years and years it was about the number on the scale. I found myself living and dying by a measure of gravity. Frankly, my mood and self-worth were dictated by what the scale said. I didn’t realize it then, but looking back, it was probably the unhealthiest relationship I’ve ever had. When I was losing weight, I would even weigh in the morning when I was at my lowest, and then at night before bed so I could see the drop the next morning. Later I realized that I was addicted to the dopamine response that the feedback gave me every morning that I’d lost something. And that was the highlight of my day. I’d lost weight so therefore I was a success. I’d lost a few ounces so therefore I was worthy of a smile in the mirror. I’d lost a pound, so I deserved … you fill in the blank. I think because I’d struggled with the weight loss for so long that finally seeing results on the scale was so exciting that I became a bit obsessed. If the number went down, I was terrified and I would panic. Spoiler alert, it still has a little hold on me, but I don’t obsess. To be honest… I haven’t hopped on a scale since the first week of June. My kid isn’t the only person that went on a break for the summer.

My point on this is that it was a struggle. My mindset was really jacked for a while. Even to the point that because I was so used to seeing a 215-pound Rachel looking back at me in the mirror, when I’d lost 60 pounds I would be surprised when I passed by my reflection. It happened so much in the beginning I started to call it “fat brain”. It took me a while to shake that.

Since then, I’ve been working on the mindset around building a healthy mind with goals that were geared less toward aesthetics and jean sizes and more toward strength and athletic ability. I began to focus less on the scale and more on measurements. I also started running and that’s where I found my excitement. I won’t go on and on about running. That will probably be another post because I’m totally obsessed with it. (Just check out my Instagram.) What I began to realize earlier this year is that I’d traded the dopamine response from the scale for the dopamine response from the tape measure ever week. And add to that, the size tag on my jeans was a pretty big contributor to. I started to feel a bit like a fraud. Here I am coaching people to put more focus on their daily habits and actions versus the number on the scale. I can tell them all day long that if they do the actions the scale will always follow, but why could I not shift my focus myself? It’s mind-blowing that sometimes we can give the best advice that we will never ever take. Right?

Over the last few months, I’ve started to dive into two big topics. Longevity and menopause. I’m about to turn 45 and I’m starting to transition into that menopause period of my life. It’s the start of a daily struggle with aging. And it’s really made me interested in maintaining or improving my quality of live over the next four or five decades (Lord willing). Over the last month I’ve found myself having more conversations about the things I want to do when I’m 70 or 80 and how to prepare for them now. A few weeks ago, I was journaling and the prompt was “What do you hope will stand the test of time?” and my immediate response was “My health”. And I began to list all of the things I wanted to be able to do in my last decade of life.

· Walk/hike 5 miles

· Pick up my grandkids (40 lbs)

· Carry grocery/shopping bags

· Drive a car

· Ride a bike and kayak

· Walk on the beach

· Swim across a pool

· Travel unassisted (life 40 lbs overhead)

· Get up from the floor

· Do yoga

· Change cat litter

· Walk up and down stairs

· Sit in bleachers for a long time

· Blow dry my hair

· Garden

· Take group fitness classes

· Open a jar

I’ll be adding to this list. But when I keep adding I realize that my mind has shifted a bit again. It’s not about the number of inches on my waist anymore. It’s about my quality of my life. I know that if I want to do all of these things on the list, I have to focus on a few primary priorities. First, I have to strength train consistently. And I love some RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsberg). That woman strength trained all the way up until the end. I want to be that strong. Second, I must stay in motion. One day I’ll have to give up running, but I’ll never give up moving. Third, I must fuel my body properly for the first two for performance and weight management.

I keep thinking about what kind of old lady I’ll be. I joke that I want to be a sexy grandma, but it’s really not a joke. I want to be strong, fit, stylish… and probably still rocking fiery red hair. I want to be active (both physically and mentally). And when I envision what I’ll be like, it includes that list of things I want to do. And so, It’s not all about the scale or the tape measure. It’s primarily about how I’m setting myself up now for the next 50 years. This shift has had some unexpected benefits. Since I’m less obsessed with numbers, I’m less worried about what I wear on vacation… specifically swimwear. I recently posted something on my Facebook page about wearing a bikini at any age and my sweet friend Becky came back with what I thought was the most amazing comment. She said, “the last few years, my tankini top has gotten shorter and shorter. Stare if you must! I’m busy making memories!” And I’ve quoted her no less than twenty times since then. She’s spot on. I want to be more obsessed with making memories and experiencing life, than the aesthetics.

So, let’s all take a page from Becky and be busy with making memories… for a long long long long time.

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