Editor's note: This is the final column in a series as three RiverTown Multimedia reporters take part in the Slim Down with RiverTown weightloss challenge.
Nearly three and a half months later, and the 2019 Slim Down Challenge has come to an end. However, the conclusion of the challenge does not have to bring your healthy lifestyle to a halt.
READ MORE: Slim Down With RiverTown
We hope that you've learned as much about yourself and maximizing your health as we have and that you continue with your best practices going forward.
I can't believe the final weigh-in was last Wednesday. There have been many ups and downs, but the challenge has opened my eyes to many possibilities regarding exercise and nutrition.
The different activities in the winter and summer that I tried have allowed me to see what the Twin Cities have to offer with exercise. On the other end, I tried different recipes and found different foods that I enjoy.
The steps I took in this challenge are the stepping stones into the future with my health. I want everyone to understand that the challenge doesn't have to be done after weigh-ins. Instead, I challenge everyone to continue their exercises and nutrition programs into the summer and for future years.
I couldn't be happier with what this challenge provided me both physically and mentally because I feel stronger and happier after these 13 weeks.
Hopefully, everyone learned something about themselves. As team members, I would encourage you to challenge other team members and continue focusing on yourself and your future with a healthy mentality.
Whether it was exercising or your nutrition plan or finding routines you enjoy, it's time to reflect and carry some of those moments into a future plan after the challenge concludes tonight.
Congratulations to everyone for the steps you have taken in this challenge and for encouraging each other each day for the last 13 weeks. You should be proud of yourself: Whether it was small steps or big steps, each step matters. You learn from everything and can incorporate it into your future with planning more exercises and different recipes.
Enjoy the summer and I wish you the best of luck with the challenges you continue to pursue in the future. For now, congratulations on finishing the challenge and enjoy celebrating your achievements.
I learned a lot about myself throughout the 2019 Slim Down with RiverTown Challenge.
This challenge was the first time I intentionally dieted since I was diagnosed with bulimia in 2014. I'm not going to lie, weighing myself and being more cognizant of calories and nutrition labels was terrifying at times. Five years ago, I would have allowed myself to become obsessed with counting calories and burning more calories than I consumed every day.
However, this time around, I learned that it's not always about what you see on the scale; rather, finding out how to love and care for yourself should be the priority of any diet.
I wasn't healthy or happy back when I was experiencing the most severe stages of my eating disorder. I weighed the least I had since my freshman year of high school, but I was constantly irritable and wasn't able to enjoy anything that didn't have to do with losing weight.
Now, I'm about 20 pounds heavier than I was right before I was admitted into the Melrose Center, but I'm probably 20 times happier than the version of me who could fit into a size 2. My day isn't ruined if I cheat on my diet, and I'm no longer doing long-term harm to my body by purging everything that I consume.
Instead, I'm trying to eat healthy on a regular basis while I manage a hectic job, training for a marathon and still trying to make time for my social life every now and then. I definitely had more lapses in my diet these past three months than I had hoped, but the most rewarding part was how I responded to those lapses. I didn't try to skip meals, overtrain in my workouts or purge a single meal. That's the progress I wanted to see.
Going forward, I'd like to become more diligent about my meal planning. I feel so much more energetic when I don't overeat or snack late at night - and that goes for getting enough sleep, too. I'm running about 45 miles per week at this stage of my marathon training, but I need to make more time for stretching and tending to my aching body instead of rushing to the next thing on my to-do list after a gruesome run.
So, as you can tell, there's still a lot of progress to be made. But that being said, I'm also able to realize how far I've come. I hope you're able to make the same realizations and hold yourself accountable while still acknowledging how worthy of love your body and health are.
When I started out doing this challenge 13 weeks ago my goal didn't quite match up with Slim Down. I wasn't aiming to lose the most weight or even focus on that. I just wanted to focus on living healthier in other ways. That's what this should be all about, right?
For me, that meant working out regularly, planning healthy meals and getting better sleep. Throughout the challenge, each of these things happened at its own pace and steadily built into habits, or starting to resemble habits anyway.
The first that worked out for me was the meal planning. I detailed this earlier in my columns, but essentially I started to plan out five to six meals a week and prep them every night. It almost became a fun game - what can I make different from last week? What's a way that I can make this meal healthier?
Sometimes I still ate out or didn't always cook all my planned meals, but for the most part I found a way to plan out meals in a way that made me eat healthier and in better portions.
Sleep has been difficult, there's always one more sports event to watch, TV episode, movie, etc. But being more cognizant of my goal has helped me improve at that, too.
Working out regularly came last. It wasn't until the last few weeks of the challenge that I committed to going to fitness classes at a gym. It's been good (aside from the intense soreness) and it makes me feel better and more energetic.
At times, I felt like I had almost stopped participating in the challenge with my goals. They had fallen into the background and it became easy to forget how things had improved, even incrementally.
I think that's one of the things that can be difficult with getting healthier or at least the way we painstakingly zero in on weight as our metric for it. So why not pounds? How many did you lose? How many did you gain?
But one of the biggest things I've tried to focus on in the challenge for myself and in my columns is how health goes far beyond that.
So as this event has come to a close, I've spent more time reflecting and focusing on the progress I have made in the things that are less quantifiable. It's been up and down, but overall things are positive. It feels good, you should do it, too.