it sounded familiar in a way

For six months, I had it all together. I worked out at least five times a week - usually nine. I split my time between two gyms and anticipated sore muscles. I took pleasure and found excitement in counting my calories. I felt accomplished and sure of myself. I determined that nothing would stop me from reaching my goal.

I completed a 5K on Thanksgiving Day, on the elliptical, and loved that I spent the beginning of a holiday dedicated to food exercising. I promised myself that Christmas would be much the same. But it wasn't.

There's no easy way to lose weight. Setbacks happen. Life often gets in the way. And sometimes exercise isn't a priority.

I promised myself that after Christmas I would get back into the groove. I announced that I was starting the South Beach Diet again. And I did - for a day.

I'm struggling right now. And I'm not doing a very good job of planning meals or making my health a priority. I want to do those things - but I haven't.

This weekend has been a lot of ups and downs. We've gone out to dinner, cuddled on the couch, spent time with family, and I went to baby shower. We've talked a lot about the future as well as what is happening right now in our lives. And there's a lot happening.

Being healthy is a part of all that is happening. New opportunities are presenting themselves, and I know that I can't really put all of myself into those new opportunities without being healthy. And I want all of it - the health, the writing, the opportunities, the things that are waiting in the shadows but have not yet made themselves known. I want 2011 to have been the year I began my weight loss journey and 2012 to be the year I finished it.

But I'm scared. It's been so easy to slip back into old habits like drinking diet coke instead of water. It's been so nice to spend my lunch break reading or eating or shopping instead of sweating in a zumba class or on the elliptical. It's become almost second nature to say that I'll just start again next week.

At the beginning of the year, Shay Sorrells posted about the seven biggest mistakes she made after being on The Biggest Loser. Having spent the past few years not watching the show, I watched all of season 8 in a matter of weeks thanks to Netflix, so it felt as though I had just gotten to know Shay. Her story resonated with me as I work in the field of social work, and I've seen or heard many stories similar to hers. I wanted, for my own selfish reasons, for her to be one of the ones who never slipped or struggled.

Reading her post, I recognize myself in almost all of her mistakes. Because I've done and said all of those things. I've allowed myself to convince myself that if someone else says it's okay then it is. I've allowed myself to not push myself and to rest because I just didn't feel like going to the gym.

The thing about her honesty that really got to me was the fact that after she put it all out there, she talked about her goals and what she was going to do to pursue them. I know she's not perfect - none of us are - but being reminded that someone else out there is struggling and fighting through it was exactly what I needed. She was exactly what I needed.

So I am starting again tomorrow.

The plan is the South Beach Diet for the third time (third time's a charm, right?).

The plan is to take my gym bag to work and spend my lunch hour sweating on the elliptical.

The plan is to go to the grocery store tomorrow evening armed with a list and the determination to eat healthy.

The plan is to put my health first so that I can be faithful to what all God is calling me to.

At the end of January, I plan to start a boot camp through the university I work for. I'm excited for the chance to push myself and try new exercises. I can't wait to show myself what I can do. Before then, though, I want to get back into the gym on a daily basis. I want to spend my lunch hour sweating and maybe a few early mornings too.

Starting Monday, I'll be chronicling all of my struggles and successes with exercise here. Because I need to do that for myself. I need to be honest and truly accountable for whatever I do - or don't do - at the gym. I need to keep track of what I eat, how much I eat, when I eat, and why I eat - sharing a few recipes along the way as well. I need to remind myself of how much better I feel when I choose diet coke over water and fresh food over Arby's.

I need to rediscover my love of health. Because that's what my journey is all about. And if I lose weight along the way, even better.

(title from "between the lines" by sara bareilles)

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