Growing up I didn’t learn much about healthy eating habits or lifestyle choices. I played sports because it was fun and that kept me relatively fit despite my poor eating habits. When I stopped participating in sports around my Sophomore year in high school, I began to gain weight little by little. By my Freshman year in college I had gained nearly 50 pounds, weighing 178 pounds at 5’2″. I can remember the day that I saw that number on the scale – I was going into surgery to have my tonsils removed. I remember thinking at that moment: Wow. Something needs to change.
I had struggled with insecurities about my body for as far back as I can remember – I felt “fat” even when I wasn’t. I developed into an emotional eater. When I was frustrated with myself, sad, overwhelmed, stressed – I would eat. I wouldn’t stop eating until I was so uncomfortable I wanted to puke. The first foods I would choose were foods I told myself weren’t good for me – my usual choice was Taco Bell or McDonalds. When I would attempt to loose weight and didn’t see the results I wanted as soon as I wanted them, I would binge again, feeling defeated. It was a vicious cycle that wasn’t getting me anywhere.
My insecurities developed into social anxiety – I went from a girl surrounded by friends to one who struggled to reach out and develop friendships. I avoided many social situations, especially those that involved swim suits or even tank tops. I believed that people wouldn’t want to be my friend because I wasn’t thin.
In December 2012, I started seeing a therapist because I felt that my anxiety and insecurities were out of control. I remember our first session together – her first advice to me was take care of myself. She gave me two goals: 1 – sleep more and 2 – start working out. So it began.
I had been a chronic yo-yo dieter my entire life.
I’ve done Atkins, I’ve done the ‘starve yourself at 1000 calories a day’ diet, I’ve cut out fats, I’ve cut out carbs, I’ve stopped eating sweets completely. Sure, it all worked – the results were instant, but not lasting. This time I was determined to do it the right way. I had all the nutrition knowledge, all I needed to do was apply it and be patient (that’s the hardest part).
This journey became more than a goal to feel comfortable in my body – it became a transformation of who I was inside and out. I’ve acquired many, more valuable things than a smaller pant size. I am now more realistic, more patient and I’ve learned the importance of “delayed gratification” – characteristics I believe are key in transforming your lifestyle.
It doesn’t just take determination – because I had that, and it couldn’t outrun my impatience.
There is something else I need to address here- some people would say that I should love myself at any size. There are several campaigns now that are all about loving your body the way it is. But I have to challenge that and ask, are you truly loving yourself if your feeding yourself poor foods, emotionally eating, binge eating, etc? The way I see it, in loving yourself you learn to take better care of yourself. Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually is all key to living healthfully. If you eat foods that nourish you and make you feel good, exercise, and pursue your spiritual side – that is loving yourself. I agree with many in that most women and men are setting unrealistic expectations of themselves (expectations that society and media have placed on them) and thus unrealistic and unhealthy goals. I believe that this is one reason people quit so easily – they can’t achieve that unrealistic ideal that they set out to get. It’s true that some people are genetically created to easily obtain a six pack – something they can maintain all year round without much effort. The majority of us aren’t genetically blessed that way – if we want a six pack, it takes a lot of work and a lot of discipline. Bottom line, I agree that you should love yourself, regardless your pant size – surely, you can eat well, exercise, be spiritually grounded and be a size 14. You probably even have a better cholesterol level than the women who is a size 2, eats horribly, and brags about how she never has to workout because she’s naturally thin.
So, back to my story. In January 2013 I started my transformation with Jamie Eason’s Live Fit program. This program was great to start with because it planned out my workouts for me. I didn’t follow the nutrition plan because I felt confident doing this part on my own. In April 2013 I met Josh, my now husband, and he introduced me to powerlifting, something I do regularly now. My current program centers around three compound exercises (exercises that require several muscle groups working at once): squats, deadlifts and bench press. I also incorporate accessory exercises (exercises that support the main lift and help develop the muscles required for that lift) into my workouts. I add HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) cardio into my workouts as time permits and depending on my energy level that day. My nutrition plan includes tracking my macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) – I have calculated these in ratios specific to me and my goals and have based them off of scientific studies and sports nutrition recommendations. I eat enough protein to support muscle repair and growth and no more than what is necessary and scientifically proven to be useful. I definitely don’t skimp on carbohydrates because they are my body’s primary source of energy and help fuel my workouts. For some of you, some of these terms are completely foreign to you and that’s okay. Counting macronutrients may seem overwhelming to you and that’s okay too. Most people trying to simply live a healthier lifestyle don’t have to get this detailed with their diet and my choice of exercise isn’t the only way for someone to reach their fitness goals. I’m just sharing my story, so stay with me here.
I eat wholesome foods the majority of the time and allow myself to have treats as I please. There is no food that is off limits. I have learned to make healthier choices when it comes to what some might call “bad foods” by making them at home or choosing restaurants that have a healthier take on these items. I don’t feel deprived of anything because there isn’t one thing that I completely restrict from my diet.
It’s a freeing and empowering feeling.
Here I am in 2012:
Emotional eater; No self-control; Instant gratification; Unrealistic; Insecure; Handicapped; Able to perform highly in every aspect of her life, while failing to care for her health
And now, in 2015:
Educated; Confident; Strong – inside and out; Loving herself by eating well, living well, exercising, and growing in her spirituality; Delayed gratification; Self-control
I hope that my story inspires you. My core purpose for this blog is to empower people by educating them with science-based nutrition information. It’s true that this field is always growing and changing and new research is coming out all the time – but it is also true that there is a lot of information out there that could actually harm you rather than help you, specifically when it comes to weight loss. I am here to help, so if you ever have any questions, please ask!