When we set the theme for the March/April issue, we knew we didn’t want to rely too heavily on a dramatic body transformation. While stories about people who have gone through a weight-loss transformation are impressive and inspiring, we wanted to make sure we also honored other types of transformation. Sometimes the most important transformations happen internally. Katie Johanningmeier has been working on transforming her health for the past few years.
Katie is a therapist in private practice, and she says that her own wellness journey has helped her be a better coach to her clients. “It has helped me to recognize more what my boundaries and limits are: learning to say no and having a little more mental fortitude and being more assertive and being able to verbalize needs a little more,” she shares.
She says that exercise is “just what I do. There are times I don’t look forward to it, but mostly I do because I feel stronger and more able to do activities. I have the stamina and endurance to go hiking and knowing that all the stairs are going to be hard, but I can do it.”
When asked what being healthy means, Katie says, “It’s not just one thing. It’s multiple things. Sleep, eating, doing things that bring you joy, especially when your stress level is high—doing little daily things that are preventative.”
Katie says part of her transformation has involved reframing her thoughts. Instead of saying “I HAVE to do this,” she says, “I GET to do this for the rest of my life. It’s a privilege to be able to move my body.” She adds that she doesn’t believe that depriving yourself of things you love is a sustainable way to live, saying, “You can treat yourself now and then. I find joy in food and always have. I was worried that I’d have to give things up. But it’s more about being mindful about it.”
We asked Katie some questions about transformation and her advice for seeking sustainable change for ourselves.
Rochester Women: What are some new habits? Old habits?
Katie: A new habit that I have worked on developing is to keep physical activity at the center of my weeks (this includes weeks and weekends). The rest of my appointments and schedule I tend to work around those priorities. I don’t always have a concrete plan of what I am going to do every day, but overall, I know that I need to think about what time of day will be best to do something active on the days I am not meeting with my trainer. Basically, just get it on the schedule. Block off that time and get it done. Another new habit that I have found (is planning my meals). An old habit that I find myself falling back into is not always being prepared for meals throughout the work week and this can not only be stressful but that can lead into poor eating habits.
RW: How does the word transformation resonate with you?
K: At the first mention of transformation, I found it to be a little cringeworthy, because I usually associate it with this huge life-altering shift, as though I have lost a ton of weight like we see in those before and after pictures. I also feel like the term ‘transformation’ can place unnecessary pressure on a person because, as humans, we are fallible and are likely to face the temptation of old habits. If we feel like we have, transformed then that could make it feel as though it is impossible to get back to where we were before.”
But in reality, or at least what I have experienced, my “transformation” has been small changes over time. Some are noticeable to others, but some are only noticeable to me, and I am okay with that. I think it can be easy to get caught up in wanting validation and recognition from others because, if we are honest, that can feel pretty good. But then what happens once we stop receiving that validation from others? Do we stop the work we are doing and give up because people don’t notice anymore? The big transformation is happening on the inside, in our minds. Because often that can be the main barrier to taking the steps needed for any physical transformation. To me, transformation is the result of hard work and small but consistent habits.
RW: What advice would you give someone who would love to have a health/wellness transformation?
K: I would encourage someone to “just get started,” whatever that looks like; don’t wait for the right or perfect time to start. The more you take care of yourself and you feel the benefits the more motivated you are to keep going. Surround yourself with others who have similar health goals, whether it’s doing fun stuff outside, joining a community sport team, or meeting up with others to swap healthy and delicious recipes. As a female, it has been invaluable to surround myself with other like-minded women of all ages who just want to have fun and be active. It is so inspiring!
It’s important to note that our seasons in Minnesota can greatly influence our health and wellness routines throughout the year. I have noticed that it is easier to be more active in the warmer months because we have longer daylight hours to accomplish outdoor activities. But I have also taken up snowshoeing in the last few years because it gets me outdoors in the winter. I also joined a volleyball team this past fall. You might have to get creative in the winter or look to other resources that offer options for indoor activities.
The last thing I would say about this is to know that this is a lifelong journey, and it will look different depending on what stage of life we are in. So, settle in and enjoy the gift of being able to find out just what your potential is.