New Year, Renewed Focus: #aHeartFitFriday

Before we start a new year, I always spend some time looking back...

When I reflect on the past several years, I can honestly say that I embarked on a fitness journey that has changed my life. I always knew I needed to exercise, and even dabbled in working out a little bit over the past few years. I would go to the gym in high school and college, and try to run or do the elliptical and hate every minute of it, and so I would always get burned out and stop making time for exercise. Then, I got engaged and the pursuit of a "bride body" motivated me through my last year of college, and I got some pretty good results. I weighed less at my wedding than I had my entire four years of college, and had gained more muscle tone than ever in my life (at that point).

After I got married, the gym we used at that time had terrible equipment that was falling apart and rickety, so I stopped going and cancelled our membership. I was just learning how to cook real meals, and I really didn't like any vegetables besides plain old salad, and I really liked stuff like macaroni and cheese and I packed on the pounds pretty quick. Within 7 months, I was 11 pounds heavier than I was at our wedding, and all the fitness progress I had made pre-marriage was long gone.

I decided it was time to do something about it, and so started counting calories and renewed my commitment to exercise more often. We joined a nicer gym that was on our way home from work, and I started making healthier meals. I found a bunch of exercise videos on Netflix and did those from home occasionally. The results were slow, but by the end of 2011, I was almost 25 pounds lighter - significantly less than I had weighed my entire adult life.

The past year I really started trying to focus on making exercise a way of life. I started noticing that there is a huge difference between old people who have been active and exercised their whole lives, and those who were sedentary their whole lives. I've maintained my weight loss for an entire year, and while I am content with who I am and the way I look, I know that to be optimally healthy into my older years, I need to work hard to be at a healthy weight and continually, habitually pursue exercise as a way of life.

If you read this blog at all, you know that I have been renting and reviewing exercise videos from our local library, as a way of keeping myself accountable, and just having something fun to do on the blog. It has been a great way to really challenge myself to keep trying new forms of exercise and keep my body guessing. I know it has been a major factor in me both maintaining my goal weight while continuing to lose inches and gain muscle tone over the past year.

My sweet friend, Erika, is starting a new weekly link-up to give a sense of community to renewed fitness goals and a place to share tips, successes, struggles, etc. Her idea to start #aHeartFitFriday came at just the right time, because I was really wanting to start something fresh with the new year. I've been preparing for a Whole30 starting January 1, where we are cutting out all grains, dairy, and added sugars for 30 days.

But I also really want to live a balanced life where everything in moderation is okay and I'm not stressed out because something has wheat or sugar in it. For some reason, with women especially, we can get so off track and make dieting an obsession and exercise a means to an end that really isn't healthy. I don't want that. I want my pursuit of health and fitness to be a way that I glorify God through my life because I'm taking care of His Temple.

Make sure to check out Erika's blog, A Heart More Focused. And if you'd like to join us, be sure to link up with her on Fridays, or tweet/Instagram with the hashtag #aHeartFitFriday