Project Healthy Holly
Seven months ago, I made the decision join Project Healthy Body looking to regain my health and vitality. In that time I have learned how to put myself first, possibly for the first time in my life. Seven months of hard work, introspection, and remaining coach-able has also landed me at a terrific milestone: I just reached a healthy BMI. That doesn’t mean that I have somehow arrived and I can go back to my “normal” life because being a healthy person IS a normal life for me now. I just started PHB part 2, so this is a good time to take stock of how far I have come on this Healthy Person journey.
I was raised, like many women, to be a “good girl.” This was a loaded term meant to quiet down power, and my voice, in deference to first my parent’s desires and expectations, and then the world’s. Thus, I have always been the consummate people pleaser. Looking back now, it’s hard to admit that I prioritized myself last, if at all. I cared for my kids, parents, husband, friends, job, but not myself. Frankly, it’s a miracle that I even took the time to join PHB because the “authentic Holly” was buried so deep underneath the “good girl” persona.
When I filled out the PHB intake forms last November I was shocked. I had almost no connection to my mental and physical health. I couldn’t remember what I ate most days and exercise was haphazard at best. I felt very gray – neither happy nor sad. Jennifer said I sounded disengaged and apathetic as I operated on autopilot. In looking at it objectively something clicked, I was simultaneously baffled that the solution seemed so obvious – I just needed to begin participating in my own self-care, and suddenly I was excited to begin the hard work of healing.
Project Healthy Body’s course and supplemental network introduced me to the concept of slowly adding in healthy micro habits. In December I started drinking my hot lemon water and taking a good probiotic. Then I added in my green drink, my movement, my supplements, and ate the formula a little more each day. I did each of these things for a week and the added-in something new each week. This slow progression along with constantly asking myself, “What would a healthy person do?” was making a big impact. I started to see myself as a Healthy Person, and best of all, I was no longer on autopilot, I was actually engaged in my own health.
In January, I met my coach, Gretchen, and the group of amazing women that I would be working closely with. The PHB Community helped me dig into why and how I became an unhealthy person in the first place. I met my negative roommate, Betty – that inner critic who tells me that I am undeserving. I learned about the past scripts I created for myself and how all of these things contributed to my weight gain. Before PHB, Betty was either shaming or enabling me. I wanted that to change because I would never be mean to my family the way I was to myself. I began to focus on being present and no longer living in the past or the future. I found I loved hiking. I did yoga with friends. I felt my feelings. And I had moments of failure, which stung and were hard but each time I would learn so much that I ended up grateful for those missteps. I began to connect the dots. Knowing what I learned, I could no longer give into the self-hatred and I fought back against Betty. The authentic me was starting to speak up – telling me to get back up and get back to the hard work of healing. Each time that I got back up, I learned a little more.
Then the pandemic happened, and life happened, and I fell off of my bike and back into victim mode. I thought, why does this have to happen when I am just getting healthy? One evening, just before the schools shut down, I bought a boat-load of candy because, “eff it.” The world is upside down, I am going to have to add “teacher” to the already exhausting list of roles and pressure I was facing. STOP, I told myself.
Box breathing: 4 in, 4 hold, 4 out, 4 hold.
I reached into my PHB toolbox and threw the candy away. “What would a healthy person do?” I asked myself. One healthy habit at a time, I clawed my way back on my healthy bicycle. Through this program, we learn about the importance of resiliency. Life doesn’t stop happening just because I drank a spinach smoothie this morning. I went back to what I knew I could control: movement, hydration, fuel, sleep, and thoughts. I reached out to my PHB network of healthy woman and my coach. They were all there for me. We were all there for each other.
I devised alternative solutions for my emotional triggers. I started going to meditation classes offered through the Who Quits Healthy Network by Tay & Val of M Meditation. I was, and still am, completely besotted with their classes. I sat still and meditated. I journaled. To say that sitting still is difficult for me is an understatement. But I was a little healthier every day. I would stumble often, but it was a little easier to recover each time. I ate healthier, I meditated a bit more, I hiked and I ran, instead of eating and being on autopilot. I said„NO“ more often, and I listened. I learned. I practiced health every day and I really believed it mattered most.
Today, I am a healthy BMI. It is mind blowing. Lots of things in my life are changing and uncertain, but I have the tools and the resilience to walk through anything. I truly love this healthy and authentic version of myself. I am still working the program. One of our assignments in Part two was to study Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies. When I first took this quiz, and for most of my life, I was an Obliger: a person who follows external expectations, but has difficulty with internal expectations. No surprise there because I was living my life in service to others. I took this quiz today and the result was Questioner. I took the test a few more times to be sure, because this was a big transformation for me. The questioner falls squarely into my authentic, scientific, and more healthy mindset.
Today, I am still learning and evolving. As I give myself permission to be me, I am recreating myself. I have changed what I eat, what I do, and now how I think. I look forward to what’s next. Glennon Doyle says, “This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.” Right on. This is my life, I’m directing, and I am a grateful.