Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Journey to health, fitness, and weight loss.

My journey has been a long and hard one, and I'm not sure where to start.  Let me start by saying that I was always a naturally thin girl.  I could always eat whatever I wanted without any worry, and I mean EAT!  You know, the cheeseburgers, pizza, subs, tacos....whatever!  Not just those little girl portions either.  I mean, BIG man portions!  Sweets have never appealed to me.  In fact, most disgust me.  My love was, and still is fast food....Arby's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy's, and Long John Silvers.

As far as working out, I started that fairly young.  I think I was 11/ 12 years old, sitting watching MTV, (back when it was good, and they actually played MUSIC!  Don't even get me started!) and Janet Jackson's " love will never do without you" video came on.  I saw her, and knew I needed those abs!  She was beautiful, exquisite in my eyes, and I wanted it all!!  I didn't know anything about fitness or healthy eating, so I did the only thing I knew to do, sit-ups!  I did them every day, all my room, during commercials, during tv shows, or whenever the thought popped in my head.  Soon after that, I started getting into exercise videos.  I didn't know anyone who actually worked out, so I learned what I could from those.  By the time I was in high school, I had a decent collection of videos.  I did them regularly.  I would work my butt off in our living room, and I didn't care who was friends, my mom's friends, family, it didn't matter.  If it was work out time, it was work out time, and occasionally I would get my mom or a friend to join me.

Then, there was college.  I ate as I always had, but started gaining some weight at 19/20.  I was still working out.  Actually harder and longer than I had before.  One problem, I had been put on a prescription that did cause me weight gain and acne.  After I was off the medication, the pounds didn't leave.  At 21, I met my husband.  I had gotten myself up to a size 12.  He had struggled with weight his entire life, and soon we both packed on the pounds.  By the time we were engaged, (8 months later) I was up to 200 pounds.  He put on 75 of his own.  I was young, so I really didn't notice a huge difference in the way I felt, but I noticed a huge difference in the way I was treated and looked at.  Not by strangers, either.  It was friends and family, but mostly family.  Up until that point, I was perceived as the pretty, skinny girl.  Though up until the weight gain, I wasn't aware of that.  I thought I was pretty, but in an average way.  I would get lots of compliments on my appearance, and was always told I should be a model, but I never took any of that to heart.  I just always thought that people were being nice to me.  I always tried to look my best, and I worked at it, but it was because I thought I had to.  I thought most of the girls in my school were prettier than me, and had better bodies.  So, when your family starts looking at you and treating you differently, simply because of weight, it's an eye opener.  It hurt me, and I couldn't understand it.  Not that they did it on purpose, because they didn't.  I realized that we all have a role and image in our group of family/peers/co-workers, and if that image changes, everything changes.  Now, of course, I knew I gained weight, and I didn't like it, but I was happy.  I had just met the love of my life, and he had asked me to be his wife.  We were planning a life together, and he was completely attracted to me, and told me I was beautiful every single day.

We had a pretty long engagement, 14 months.  I was never in a hurry to be married.  My thought, if we are spending the rest of our lives together, than what's the rush?  So, the next year was wedding planning, and the drama that comes with all of that.  I was caught up in all that, and not focusing on losing weight, until about 3 or 4 months out.  It suddenly occurred to me that very soon I was going to be in a wedding dress, and I wanted to look my best for myself and my husband.  I knew nothing about nutrition.  I had no idea where to start!  So, my mom gave me a diet that she had gotten from our local hospital.  It was a diet that they put morbidly obese people on so they could lose weight quickly before surgery.  It was basically the Atkin's diet, except I didn't follow it exactly.  I ate meat and dairy, and that was it for 3 months, along with grapefruit juice.  I lost the weight, but at times I also lost my vision from black outs, would get the shakes and sweats, and start to pass out on my husband pretty regularly.  It was scary when it happened, but I was getting thin, and at that point, that's all I cared about.  I lost 45 pounds in 3 months.  Not only did I fit into my dress, but they accidentally ordered me a size smaller, and it fit perfectly!  So, my wedding day was beautiful, and I looked the way I wanted.

I stayed on a low carb/high fat diet for 2 years until I got pregnant.  I knew I couldn't eat that way anymore, and my doctors told me so.
I still knew nothing about nutrition. I didn't know what to eat. So, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. Nine months later, I gave birth at 215 pounds. I went from my thinnest to my heaviest in 9 months. After my son was born, I felt horrible inside and out. I didn't know what to do or where to begin. Losing so much weight just seemed impossible. Plus, my life had completely changed. I went from a married woman working on her career to an overweight, stay at home mom with insomnia, postpartum depression, a colicky baby, and the closest friends or family lived 90 minutes away. I knew that the diet I did before I got married worked, but I couldn't do that again. I couldn't be home alone with a baby passing out and getting the shakes! So, we went to Barnes and Noble one day. I immediately went to the diet and nutrition section. I just stood there with a blank stare....every book had the same claims, but the how to was completely different! Who was right and who was wrong? What would work for me? What could I reasonably live with? I picked up The Eat Clean Diet by Tosca Reno. I didn't know it, but my life was about to change.

I read that book from cover to cover. It was different from the other books. It wasn't about a diet. It was about nutrition. What a eating plan that focuses on nutrition! I learned about carbs, proteins, fats, and how to combine my foods in a way that best served my body. So, I started giving my body what it hadn't gotten in years. The weight did start to come off, but it wasn't a quick, overnight weight loss. I was also working out, but I quickly learned that pregnancy weight was different. It wasn't as excited to leave, but I was determined. I ate well and worked out ten hours a week, on average. My family thought I was going overboard. I wasn't getting any support or encouragement. In fact, after I was about half way through my weight loss, I started getting a lot of negativity from people. They were fine if I lost weight, just not if I lost too much weight. It seemed like the more I lost, they more they felt threatened in some way. One day that I will always remember, is the day I heard a family member talking about me and my weight loss. They said "don't worry, she'll gain it all back." To this day, that person doesn't know how many times I've heard those words in my head. Every time I hit a plateau, wanted to quit, or wanted a cheeseburger, those words kept me pushing through. There is nothing that pleases me more than proving someone wrong, and prove them wrong I did!!

It's been a decade since I started treating my body the way it deserves to be treated. I haven't gained an ounce, and have since become a certified personal trainer. I am in the best shape of my life, and healthier than ever before. I could talk about my diet and exercise routines, but that's really not what this is all about. This is about so much more than that. It's about getting lost, and trying to find your way back, despite all the obstacles, people, and circumstances that get in your way. It's about understanding your weaknesses, but discovering your strength. It's knowing that no matter what, you won't quit until you can stand with your head up high, feeling so comfortable in your own skin, because you know exactly who you are. Some of those years were the hardest of my life, but I wouldn't change them for anything. They changed me, they helped me understand the struggle without making excuses, and they made me a better person.

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