I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while, and with the start of the New Year I figured now would be a better time then any. It hasnt’t been a secret that my New Year’s resolution last year was to lose some weight, I didn’t really have a number in mind at the time I just wanted to make healthier choices so I could feel better about myself physically and emotionally. Over the course of the year I made conscious decisions to eat properly and start exercising more and the end result has been approximately 45-50 pounds lost. My friends and family often asked how I did it and they were often surprised when I told them I didn`t use the help of a tailored diet (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, The Zone, etc) or a personal trainer. Bottom line it was motivation, will power, and conscious decision making and the best part about that is it is absolutely free and won’t expire after a few months.
Most of you know that I was always kind of overweight since I was a child. Not to say that I was dramatically overweight or obese, but I was never all that comfortable in my skin. I remember as a teenager that I wasn’t able to fit into the ‘cool’ jean brands such as Abercrombie and Fitch and Hollister and never wanted to wear a bathing suit in front of my friends. I dabbled with some dieting fads such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and I did lose some weight (10-20 pounds) but would usually just gain it all back within a couple of months. When I went to live in residence at University I did gain some weight but attributed it to the “freshman 15” and brushed it off as something that everyone did. As I eventually moved into my own place, I continued to make horrible food choices such as ordering lots of pizzas, eating boxes of Kraft Dinner, baking cakes and eating nearly half of it in one sitting I ballooned to well past the 200 pounds. Not only was I incredibly unhappy with my appearance but I felt fatigued constantly and was very susceptible to illnesses. I hated shopping for clothes, I never wanted to be in pictures and found myself always volunteering to take the pictures of my slimmer (and by the way fabulous) friends. I remembered last November as I was going through pictures that were taken the night before I untagged nearly all of them because I simply looked enormous, I was too ashamed to even look at them. It was at that point I decided I needed to make a change and that I wasn’t going to continue living like this any longer.
It defiantly wasn`t easy and I took small and gradual steps towards changing my diet in order to stick with it. You don`t have to make a dramatic change overnight to achieve weight lose goals, in fact doing that will only sabotage your efforts because you will probably lose interest in your goals pretty quickly. A year ago I used to eat pasta about 5 days a week and buy lots of high fattening or high calorie snacks. So in the beginning I decided that I was only going to have pasta one meal a week and buy only one snack type food when I went to the grocery store. If I immediately transitioned to the nearly gluten/sugar free diet that I am on now I would have lost interest pretty quickly. Over time I decided to cut more and more things from my diet such as bread, sodas, and the more I cut out the less I found myself craving these types of foods. I am convinced after reading Dr. William Davis’ book Wheat Belly that certain foods like ones that contain wheat have addictive qualities that not only make you want to eat them more but also can make you hungrier. I also found that I was able to replace certain cravings with healthier alternatives.For example my replacement for chips are Mary’s Organic Crackers which are gluten free, made completely out of seeds, and contain great healthy fats that keep you full. I also find that eating particularly sweet fruits such as green apples and clementine’s curbs my craving for sugar. I also make a point to really ask myself if I am eating something because I am hungry or if there is something else wrong. What many people seem to forget that food is really just a tool for survival. There many foods that we eat today that offer no nutritional value (I’m looking at you sugar sodas) but we simply eat/drink them because we enjoy them. I totally get devouring an entire tub of ice cream when you have been dumped or failed that exam you have studied so hard for but you need to ask yourself is it really going to make you feel better? In the moment maybe but in the long run it will pack on the love handles and make you feel even worse which will turn to more emotional eating until you’re stuck in a vicious cycle you can’t escape from. It is important to get rid of this idea that you are entitled to food even when you are not hungry. For the first time in history food is over abundant and it is easy to forget that there was a time when McDonalds and Starbucks was not on every block and available for dirt cheap prices. So now whenever I crave any kind of junk food I take a moment and reflect on whether or not I really need to eat it or if it is even worth sabotaging my health goals; 90% of the time the answer is no.Looking back on it I found that I was using food as a kind of emotional crutch and many of the habits that I had developed could have been easily described as a binge eating disorder. I was a textbook example of an emotional eater and food became anything I needed it to be for me at the time, a best friends, a vacation, a boyfriend, it was a means of escape for me. I know it sounds strange for me to be comparing my relationship with Kraft dinner and cheesecake to that of an abusive partner but that’s how it honestly felt at the time. It was a shitty relationship that needed to end. I am not saying that I never eat candy anymore or that I don’t eat pasta from time to time. I still love those foods! Anyone that tells me that they hate cake or chocolate is either lying or absolutely insane. I do eat them but just not in the same quantity that I used to. I may make my favorite fattening foods once every couple of months or enjoy the occasional cake at a party or special occasion. I am not telling anyone to write off certain foods altogether but eat them in small moderation and trust me they are more satisfying now that I don’t eat them all the time.
Before I made my New Year’s Resolution I wasn’t particularity fit or active. I did ride horses 2-5 times a week (depending on the season) and was competing but I was often got tired quickly and couldn’t even finish some of my jump courses because I was out of breath. I remember thinking to myself when I made my resolution that it isn’t fair that I expect my horse to be fit and in shape with defined muscles when sat at home eating chips and watching TV. It was completely hypocritical and the extra weight was probably not helping my poor horse jump any higher. My dad was nice enough to include me in the family plan at the YMCA on Argyle and at the beginning I made a point to go to the gym at least once a week and signed up for a beginners Pilates class. I found myself looking forward to my ‘gym’ days and got chummy with the people in my exercise classes, staff, and other regulars. I built my own little community within the gym which made going not such a chore. I also re-discovered my love of swimming and doing similar drills that I used to do when I was a competitive waterpolo player. As I stated earlier you do not need a personal trainer in order to achieve fitness goals. Not to say that they aren’t useful, they are great if you have an injury and need a more structured routine or if you are trying to achieve a very specific body type or weight goal; but unless your goals are very specific, I would save the money and invest it in something that you can enjoy and make you active such as a bike, a really great pair of running shoes, or even a massage because you’ll need one after all that working out you’re going to do. Many gyms also offer great drop in classes that can show you great new routines and instructors that can both challenge you and make sure you are doing certain exercises correctly. My favorite free classes offered at the YMCA are Total Core, Total Muscle Control, and Spin classes. There are lots of others that I am going to try but bottom line I definitely recommend getting a membership to a great gym that you can see yourself going to on a regular basis and that offers free classes. Also I feel it is important to talk about insecurities and feeling comfortable at the gym. I know I felt insecure lifting 5 pound weights next to the guy bench pressing 150 pounds. As someone that has been very overweight, I know how it feels to go to the gym just to feel intimidated by the super fit gym rats around me. But believe me when I say that no one is judging you or thinks less of you because you cannot perform at the same levels. If anything, they too were in your position at one point as no one is simply born with lean muscle and high levels of athleticism. They too had to work very hard to the point that they are at and you will be there someday if you work hard at it too, I promise. Though I have never personally encountered anyone who judges overweight people exercising at their gym or made snarky comments about obese people making genuine efforts to get healthy are complete assholes who are not worth a moment of your time. Anyone who tries to make an effort to be healthy should be applauded not jeered or subjected to body snark. People who do this clearly have deep seated insecurities and are the ones with the problems. After I started to go to the gym on a regular basis I defiantly noticed differences not only in my body but with my overall health. As I mentioned earlier I was also susceptible to illnesses but now I find I am hardly sick and always full on energy. When I ride I do not get nearly as tired as I used to and can finish jumping courses and dressage tests without breaking a sweat. I now feel almost as healthy and fit as my horse and I’m sure Rocky appreciates the lighter load.
As I got more serious about monitoring my diet I found that I could find most of the answers to my questions about certain foods and its benefits just by googleing it. I stumbled upon lots of great websites such aswww.livestrong.com and www.womenshealthmag.com which give you access to informative articles about health and some really great recipes. I also loved to use youtube to look for great at home exercises and health blogs from very informed dieticians and personal trainers. My personal favorite channels to follow are lean secrets (love Brenda Lee Turner, one of my main motivators when I started) and SarahsFabChannel (I found Sarah’s channel is especially helpful because it is geared towards young women in their 20s). However the one website/youtube page that really inspired me was Laura Must Lose Weight. When I watched her first videos I remembered feelng that I look a lot like she did when she was 50 pounds over weight and inspired me that if she could do it, then I could do it too. Since then has completely transformed her body and life and is now a fitness coach and body builder. She is so sassy and unapologetic about who she is and I love it. When I see people with such drive as Laura I feel inspired. Though I do not recommend trying to find a good book on dieting at Chapters there are some books and magazines that I find informative and helpful. Trying to find a good book about healthy eating is a real pain in the ass. When I went to Chapters to try and find a good one, I found them all contradicting each other and had no idea which philosophy to buy into. I find that much of dieting is trial and error, everyone’s body is different and what may work for me may not work for you. This is why I recommend reading free-online articles and experimenting with diets that they recommend and see what works before investing money in a book. For example, I found that a gluten free diet has helped me reach my goals so far so I borrowed (thanks Uncle Chris!) Wheat Belly by Dr. Willaim Davis to help me understand why gluten free diets are effective and construct gluten free diet strategies. I also love picking up the odd Women’s Health or Shape Magazine for tips and motivational stories. Though I do find they tend to repeat themselves they are still great reads to pick up from time to time.
As I travelled back home from West Palm Beach where I spend my Christmas, my mom was sure to let us know that our suitcases had to be less than 50 pounds or else we would be charged. I weighed my bag and it was 47 pounds and also had to haul it from my parent’s condo, to the airport and back to my apartment. I remember thinking how heavy the stupid thing was and that when I came to the realization that a year ago, I may as well have been hauling that suitcase around me everywhere I went. That suitcase was about the same weight was what I had lost in a year and if I had still chosen to stay that way I would probably be paying for it now in joint problems, back issues, cancer susceptibility and even diabetes. I never want to haul something that large around with me 24/7 ever again. So if weight loss is your New Year’s Resolution you have to be sure that you are doing it for yourself and yourself alone. You cannot do it to appease a family member, a boyfriend, or even societal standards but for simply you and your health; because at the end of the day it is you that has to live with your body and you have to be okay with it. I’m still working towards my goal of health and still want to lose a bit more weight but am more interested with overall fitness goals. However I think my New Year’s Resolution this year is to help others with weight loss or fitness goals. I’m not a doctor, a nutritionist or a personal trainer but I have been at that point before and I know that it seems impossible but you can do it if you try. If anyone has questions don’t hesitate to ask, but I figured I should write this to answer most questions that I got asked frequently over the year. Anyhow I hope all of you have a Happy and Health New Year!
These are the pictures that triggered it all. I had to hunt them down because I detagged myself but now they are out there for everyone to see. I was probably at my heaviest in both of these about about 205-210 pounds
About 185 pounds so roughly 20 pounds lost, felt better about myself but not quite great.
Im really happy here! lol, This is the point where I really started to feel a difference and look noticeably different. Roughly 175
I remember looking at this one and freaking out because I thought my face looked different. It was weird because I didn’t notice a difference till I looked at this picture. I was about 168 here and feeling proud because I don’t even think i was that thin in high school.
About a month ago and not only fitting into clothes that I couldn’t in years but they were actually becoming too big for me! Had to throw away half of my wardrobe.
Last night New Year’s Eve Shenanigans about 50 pounds lighter then the first picture taken.