Life’s Many Teachers {by Martha Furst}

Editor’s Note: Surprise! Two guest posts in one day! This will not be the first time this happens this week… so just be prepared :) This post comes from a friend of my mom’s who has tried to get healthy in the past, but until recently, nothing would stick. She talks about what has shifted in the past few months that has finally allowed her to make healthy changes in her life– and she has also found that being healthy is not as hard as it seems when you can break it down into small, attainable goals. Have you had success using that strategy? Tell us about it in the comments!

I may be the least likely reader out there to do a guest submission. I don’t think I would have even considered it had I not been wandering, just a few days before the request for guest submissions, through the natural food aisle of my grocery store in northwest Illinois. Suddenly I thought to myself, ‘WWCE?” Yeah, kind of like the too often, “WWJD?” I was asking, “What Would Claire Eat?”

This really happened. And I guess I have to take this as proof that following The Ascent Blog is creeping in my consciousness.

As I said, I don’t think I’m your typical follower. I’m a 50-year old large woman, not doing CrossFit, and not very likely to do CrossFit. I’ve struggled with weight and emotional eating for decades. But I’m on an interesting trajectory now, summed up by the saying, “Once the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Initially a relative of Claire’s sent me the link to the blog. Cute, interesting, what’s paleo, didn’t register. Clearly the timing wasn’t right. But around the start of the 2012 holidays, good things and good teachers began appearing in my life. I connected with a friend who is a kick-ass personal trainer (though not CrossFit). My mother had died of cancer during the summer of 2012, and who would have ever guessed that I would have turned to exercise in my grief as something I could hold on to?

Then I did some simple goal setting, around number of workouts per week and pounds I committed to losing per month. Recently I read something equating happiness to accomplishing doable goals. How many New Years of similar resolutions unfulfilled had I seen? Decades, I’m sure.

My next teacher was a friend in her late 50s who has an outrageous number of friends stricken by cancer. Out of her experience, she committed to eating five vegetables a day; I took that on as a new goal.

And then, teacher #3, The Ascent Blog, wandered back into my path, and I was already on a very good workout trend and eating lots of vegetables. So with Claire’s journey, I was now getting doses of inspiration, protein-focused diet, and even grocery lists. I had never eaten almond butter on a banana before, and now have. Ate bison chili for lunch. Am eating more kale (although I was already eating kale, and still want to try the kale with bacon, because everything is better with bacon).

And I’ve lost 10.5 lbs since Christmas. And other than a few days of panic here and there, I’m not fighting it, it’s just a byproduct of what I’m doing—eating a lot less sugar and processed carbs, etc; more protein; more fruits and vegetables (although I’m probably more Zone aligned than Paleo). I’ve also built a lot of strength in my workouts.

So, as we head into spring, today I read the following from a little day-by-day grief book I have: “Like the butterfly emerging from the cocoon after a long darkness, we will shake caterpillar dust from our wings and realize we can fly.” Cheers to The Ascent Blog!

  • Mom

    Great post, Martha! It’s true, everything IS better with bacon. And, your comment about turning to exercise in your grief made me realize that I rely on exercise to reset my warrior energy when I start to feel whipped by life. It is a powerful tool.

  • NJ Paleo

    Great story, Martha! You are doing it the right way, taking things a step at a time, making lifestyle changes that you can love and embrace. One thing I learned in a sales training seminar (ugh) was that if you do the behavior, the results will follow — true for just about anything!

  • Simone

    Crossfit’s not the be-all, end-all of working out or being healthy! To each their own, and it sounds like you’re well on your way to figuring out what works for you — and that is AWESOME. Claire got me to try almond butter, too. :) Thanks for sharing your story! All of these guest posts are so inspiring. :)

  • Jennifer

    I love this post because it isn’t like all of the others. It is awesome that Claire has been such an inspiration, as I am sure she is for so many others!
    And love the teachers walking into your life analogy.. it is great to know that when we are ready for things that there are people in our lives who can teach us the way. Keep up the progress! :)


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