After a complete year of living a healthier active lifestyle, this is what I’ve learned:

1. Runner’s High Apparently Doesn’t Kick in After 3.1 Miles. I set a goal in 2013 of running a 5K. Since I had quit smoking weed in high school a thousand year’s ago, I was looking forward to that runner’s high all marathoners talk about. By mid-autumn, I had been unsuccessful in running a full 5K. I had walked a handful, alternated running and walking a bunch but never ran a whole 5K. In November, at a 5K held by a Pentecostal Church to benefit foreign missions, I went all in and decided to run the entire thing. I figured if I was going to die at least do it around folks who believed in divine healing. I kept waiting for that runner’s high to kick in but all I got was a side cramp and lungs that felt like I was breathing in razor blades. No runner’s high but with the finish line in sight as I realized I was going to finish having run the entire time, what I got was a big lump in my throat and a huge sense of accomplishment. I had run an entire 5K.

2. Feeling feelings sucks. In 2013, I resolved not to eat my feelings. Do you know how bad a bad day feels when you don’t shove a cupcake in your mouth to forget about it? And, if you decide to just say screw it and eat the cupcake, you are now cognizant of the fact that you are using the cupcake to make you feel better. At that point, either way, the cupcake has lost its appeal and no longer makes you forget all about whatever it was the upset you. On the other hand, not eating feelings keeps me being able to only buy one seat on an airplane, not buy my clothes at Nashville Tent and Awning and keeps little trucks with flashing lights and wide load signs from following me around. There are perks to not eating my feelings. Note to self: In 2014, learn other coping mechanisms.

3. Most People Push Food. If I ate every time someone thought I should, I would be as big as the broadside of a barn. Why are people so concerned with when I eat or how much I eat? I don’t need a slice of cake at every wedding, birthday party, bridal shower, or girls’ night out. NO means NO, people…..whether it’s sex, drugs or FOOD.

4. If You’ve Lost More Than Twenty Pounds, You’re an Instant Party Hit. If people hear I’ve lost weight, boom, instant hit at a baby shower, bridal party, cocktail reception, you name it. People are curious about what I eat, what type of exercise I do, anything and everything pertaining to how I’ve lost weight. My answer is simple: eat better and exercise; what works for me may not work for you but eating healthier and exercising in some form or another works for everyone. After they hear that no easy quick fix answer, my popularity fades pretty quick.

5. Eating Healthier Doesn’t Equal Deprivation. Now that I’m eating healthier, I eat more food than ever, 4-6 times a day. I used to wake up, drink a Diet Coke, go all day without eating, come home at 6 pm, basically set up a buffet and graze the rest of the night on junk food until bedtime. Now I eat all day long, just better choices, whole grains, lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and LOTS and LOTS of water….with even more and more trips to the bathroom!

6. I Need a Team. As a self-proclaimed know it all, I realized when it came to getting fit, I didn’t know it all. I enlisted a trainer to help me get into an exercise routine and streamline my eating habits. I talked to my doctor and made sure we were on the same page. I told all my friends what I was doing. I set up a network of friends and professionals who hold me accountable, a system of checks and balances if you will.

7. It’s OK to Ask for Help. My super independent self just cringed even thinking about asking for help but I’ve had to that this year. When my darling husband kept bringing home contraband like jars of peanut butter and jelly or Ritz crackers with summer sausage I had to ask for help and we compromised by having him keep those types of snack foods in his truck tool box. When my Moma kept dropping off sweet surprises while I was burning the midnight oil at the office, I had to ask her to find other ways to help me out like running an errand or bringing a healthier snack. Asking for help is OK. I think I just gritted my teeth reminding myself of that.

8. Try New Things. I have tried all kinds of new things in my quest for a healthier lifestyle. Some I now love and some, not so much. I tried Spin classes. At first, I thought I might die. Now, it’s one of my favorite forms of cardio. I tried celery root as a substitute for mashed potatoes. It didn’t fake me out that I’m was eating mashed potatoes but it was dang good celery root purée. I tried making flaxseed muffins. Let me just say, sawdust from my Daddy’s barn has to taste better than those muffins. I tried Hot Yoga. Nothing about me wants to be in 110 degree weather unless I’m floating like a walrus in a swimming pool with a fruity drink in my hand. Point is, try something new. Somethings won’t work but somethings will.

9. I Have Hip Bones. Ok, so technically, I knew this already but it had been so long since I felt them I had forgotten I had them. I rediscovered I had hip bones and various muscles this year. I’m still searching for rock hard abs but I’m hoping they make an appearance sometime in 2014.

10. It Ain’t Easy. I’m not going to sugar coat it. This past year hasn’t been sunshine and rose petals. To put it plainly, some days, it’s been hard as hell. Some days, I’ve cried, I’ve whined, I’ve raised cain. Other days, I’ve laughed, smiled and jumped for joy when I’ve fit into a smaller size, watched as the scales dropped or noticed a muscle I hadn’t seen before. Tomorrow’s the big day when everyone sets out with all their New Year’s resolutions. If you think it’s going to be easy, forget about it. But if you’re willing to do the work knowing that some days are going to just be plain old awful, have at it. Trust me, a year from now, you’ll be glad you did. I know I am.

Proverbs 2:10-11 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.