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Everyone on social media is participating in the decade challenge, posting a picture from 2009 and 2019. I generally spend the month of December reflecting on the year. I don’t write much. I just journal and take a break to absorb and process. Between the decade challenge and several recent losses, I got a head start this year and spent most of the time between Thanksgiving and now reflecting on how much has changed in the last 10 years.

I tried to find pictures of myself, and there weren’t many. I found exactly three. I wasn’t at my highest weight yet, but I had a growing mid-section, was struggling with health issues (heart disease, chronic rhinitis, and rheumatoid arthritis), and experiencing acne for the first time in my life. I was quickly losing my confidence and didn’t want people taking pictures of me.

I was 34. I had been smoking for almost 20 years. I drank about 2 liters of Diet Coke a day. I usually skipped breakfast or got it on the run at McDonald’s on the way to work, because I hit the snooze 7 or 8 times before getting up. I worked for a global company in a job I didn’t hate but didn’t love either. I was frustrated because I was married to a man who loved his work, and I resented it. I was raising a teenager who was struggling with depression and anxiety. I saw myself as healthy, but I was anything but.

I ended up gaining so much weight and visceral fat that the size 16 jeans pictured above got, so tight I couldn’t fasten them. I started wearing long shirts to cover the fact that my pants wouldn’t button, because I was too ashamed to buy size 18 jeans. The picture below isn’t at my heaviest. There are none. I saw this picture and made sure I wasn’t in front of the camera again.

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my 45th birthday. I now eat healthy and clean 90 percent of the time. I haven’t smoked in over seven years. I ride my horse as often as possible. I hit the gym at least three days a week. I meditate and do yoga. I’ve lost 8 inches around my waist and am back in a size 12 for the first time in 15 years. I sleep like a baby, and I haven’t used caffeine in 9 months. I don’t even use an alarm to wake up anymore. I’m still working on my sugar addiction, but I’m making progress.

I’ve grown so much as a person, and I’ve become so much clearer about what I want and how I want to live. I love my job, my home, my family, and my life. I wake up every day–even on the bad days–and can’t believe that I get to live this life. I’m so grateful for the last decade of growth and progress. My life is only getting better. I’m really looking forward to what the next decade brings.

What are you grateful for as we move into this new decade?

Tanya

Author, Speaker, and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach in Tennessee

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