Since I lost my weight in 2009, I had done a pretty good job of keeping it off. I went to Costa Rica weighing about 175 lbs (about 10 more than my ideal weight). I don't know how much I weighed upon our return but that number ballooned even higher after reintroducing myself to some of my favorite foods (especially cheese) that I hadn't enjoyed very much during our time there. When I finally weighed myself back on Sept. 12 I was about 190 lbs...25 lbs more than my ideal weight. Oops. It was time for a change. So I decided on a reverse New Year's Resolution. To lose 25 lbs by the New Year. 111 days. 25 lbs. The challenge was on.
So, I have spent the past few weeks changing my eating habits and exercising again. And as of Monday (2 weeks after starting), I was down 6 lbs. More than that, I feel stronger, faster, healthier, and just all-around better. Oh, and my clothes fit better. I still have a long way to go, but it has been a good start.
I was thinking about how nice it is to celebrate these victories. Then I read Psalm 21 in my devotional time one day. I want to highlight a few verses that share one thing relevant to this that I took from this psalm:
1 O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults!You see, I think it's great to celebrate our little victories. But that's because I think it's a great opportunity to remind ourselves that our victories come not in our own strength but in the strength of the Lord. God is the one that gets the glory and the credit for our victories. They are reminders for us to thank God for His goodness and favor.
7 For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
Since early on when I started running again years ago, I have run with a mantra: "In His Strength. For His glory." I run with God's strength and do it to glorify Him because He's so good! So I do celebrate a great start to accomplishing my goal. I celebrate to thank God for the strength to have a great start. Let's never lose focus or forget to thank God for His goodness to us and the strength that He gives us!
BONUS: Running Tips
Since I'm sure some of you reading this are in a similar place, trying to lose weight, I thought I'd share a few personal tips. Healthy eating habits are also critical and a different discussion altogether. These are strictly some tips regarding the exercise. I'm not a medical professional nor a running professional and these are just personal thoughts, not official scientific advice:
Change up your runs - Do not run the same distance or pace every day or even every week. You should vary course, distance and pace. Some examples of types of runs you can do are:
- Distance runs - Run an easy pace where you can talk and aren't breathing heavy for your longer runs.
- Mid-distance runs - Run a pace where you are breathing a little heavier, not really able to carry a conversation.
- Hills - Find a hill at whatever grade and length you're okay with and do repeats by running up at a good pace and then jogging back down. Repeat at least 3-5 times.
- Intervals - This is best done at a track or around a block. You run a lap fast, then jog a lap. Repeat at least 4 of each (8 total laps). If one lap around the track is too much to start, do half the lap.
- Fartleks - During a normal jog you can randomly pick an object within view and sprint to that object before returning to your normal pace.
There are obviously many other types of runs, but this gives an idea. The point is that if you run the same distance and pace and route all the time, your muscles will start becoming adjusted to it and you'll eventually stop improving. By switching things up, you'll be better off in the long run (pun not initially intended).
Be creative with running routes - I recently did a running route that had me pass by all the houses in which I have lived in Malden as well as the hospital where I was born. This made for a far more interesting run because I had lots of little destinations and had lots of opportunities for reminiscing as I run.
Cross train - Even if you prefer running like I do, cross training is always advised. I haven't always stuck to this, but I am this go-round. You can swim, ride a bike, row, etc. The idea is to still do cardio activities but not running.
Create a plan - In order to make sure you are changing things up, you should create a plan. This also helps ensure that you are more likely to not take off days when you should be running. You are more likely to follow a schedule if you actually create one. I continue to tweak mine but it currently looks like this:
- Monday - Speed drills (hills, intervals or fartleks)
- Tuesday - Cross-training (biking)
- Wednesday - 5k (mid-distance) running pace
- Thursday - Off
- Friday - Long distance jog (the goal is to still get faster as you continue training)
- Saturday - Weight training or crossfit style workout (or active family activity)
- Sunday - Off
I will still walk or do other activities during off days or other days beyond my workout at time, but your body needs rest from strenuous exercise at least once a week (in my opinion). The key is that you have constant goals.
Set attainable mini-goals - Set goals along the way aside from your ultimate goal. Make sure they're attainable. But little victories give us confidence towards bigger victories. And they remind us that God is with us, giving us strength!