I thought it might be best to start this blog with the story of my journey. You might want to grab a cup of coffee or some green tea (my favorite is David’s Tea…but I am sure that will be a blog post sometime in the near future!) and sit down for a bit, it’s a long one and I can be a little chatty. 🙂
Just over a year and a half ago, I was fat and out of shape. I wouldn’t necessarily say I ate all horribly unhealthy foods, but I did eat too much of the foods I was eating and had limited physical activity. Like many moms, my weight had been a roller-coaster since having kids. My situation was perhaps a little different than some because I lost weight with each pregnancy, and just a few weeks post-partum I would weigh about 20lbs or so less then my pre-pregnancy weight. While breast-feeding, I was constantly hungry and could eat anything and everything without gaining weight. That is, until my babies weaned (between 13-18 months) and then my weight would sky-rocket by35- 40 pounds because I didn’t adjust my calorie intake once my babies weren’t
sucking me dry using all my extra calories. I swore with my third child I wouldn’t make the same mistake I had the previous two times, but it turned out to be an incredibly stressful time in our lives and the last thing on my mind was making healthy food and exercise choices (and didn’t you know? Chocolate, wine and cheese are really really good for drowning your sorrows. Or so I thought at the time).
I had also been dealing with a very painful case of plantar fasciitis for years that made anything with foot impact painful (including walking). In the Spring of 2011, I found a pair of shoes by SuperFeet and had some custom orthotics made that made a huge difference, and the thought of exercising was finally something that was back on my radar. I had been in contact with a trainer, but for a number of reasons just hadn’t made the commitment to start exercising. And then I found a picture on my hard drive from that summer. I was looking for a picture of one of the kids to use for a school project, and in scrolling through the thumbnails was wondering what pregnant woman I had taken a picture of. I clicked on that thumbnail, and to my horror it was ME. I could dress myself up and suck it in and look in the mirror thinking things weren’t too bad. As a photographer, I was always behind the camera and hated having my picture taken. As a matter of fact, I did everything I could to not be photographed, but in this case I was unaware that the picture was even being taken. They say pictures don’t lie and this one told me the message I needed to hear. Or to be more accurate, see.
Then, in October of that same year, with a tropical trip full of warm oceans and bathing suits looming, a perfectly timed email landed in my inbox inviting me to try out a fitness class. That weekend after my first class I couldn’t walk down the stairs or use the toilet without pain, but I was so excited to finally start making the changes I knew I needed to make. In one month I lost 10lbs! I went on my trip and wore a bikini for the first time since having kids, and it was the most amazing feeling to finally feel that I could change my life.
It was almost a year before I hit my 40lb goal, and that year had lots of ups and a few downs, but each milestone was incredibly rewarding. I was attending our group HIT (High Intensity Training) classes with our trainer two times per week as well as fitting in other exercise such as spin classes, hiking, walking, swimming etc. I started running (very very slowly) in the spring of 2012. This was something I thought would never happen, and had been told by different medical people that I should never run or do any impact sports because of my feet. Yet my trainer believed that it was possible and in May I ran/walked my first 5km race with my son Ethan. I now run a few times a week and recently ran a 4-mile race and had my best time ever. Fitness is a big part of my life and I try exercise 4-6 times per week with a mix of cardio and weights.
It still is a journey that is full of choices. Even though it’s been 18 months since I started this journey, there are still days that I don’t make the right choices. Today I didn’t do the run I had planned to do because I chose to sit in front of the computer setting up this blog instead. That’s OK, tonight I am going rock climbing with some girls from the gym, so I am focusing on that and the fact that I have made healthy food choices today! Some days are better eating days than others, and I have days where I make poor food choices (weekends and eating out are typically tough for me but I do my best to plan ahead to avoid too many pitfalls!). I try not to beat myself up over those days and I am so grateful that each day is a new day to make the right choices and even when I fall down I get back up because my new healthy lifestyle is one of the best things I have ever done, not just for me but for my family too and I never want to go back to the ‘old’ me!
I think the biggest choice in this all has been the mental and emotional choices. The choice to start was one of the hardest, but I haven’t looked back. It’s been much more emotional than I imagined losing all this weight. I often chuckled at the amount of tears on The Biggest Loser tv show, but I can tell you now I’ve had my share of tears too. Some of frustration and some of joy, but it’s been very cathartic and allowed me to leave some of my baggage behind. While I have changed a lot on the outside, there have been lots of internal changes too, which I am so thankful for.
Now you might ask about food, seeing as this will be a big part of this blog. I didn’t start eating as healthy as I do now right away. Like with many things, it was lots of small changes that added up. When I started, I was tracking my calorie intake with a goal of 1500 calories/day. Lots of those calories were not so healthy, but as I progressed in my journey and spent lots of time educating myself on healthy food to fuel my body, my food choices started to change. I realized that I could eat MORE food if I chose healthy food. I could choose to eat one piddly piece of baking that left me hungry and wanting more, or I could eat a huge plate of salad with lots of veggies and some lean protein for the same total calories. Sometimes I will still choose the ‘treat’, but my goal now is 90/10 or 80/20. This means that I strive to fill my body with 80-90% of healthy food, but give myself some room for the odd glass of wine (instead of daily!), dessert or eating out, etc. There are so many ways to make healthy eating flavorful and fun, it just takes some creativity and willingness to try new things.
While I am not a proponent of any one ‘diet’, I have found that for me it works best when I limit my grain intake. This means not a lot of bread, rice, pasta, etc. I eat lots of veggies, fruit, lean meats (turkey, chicken, some beef & pork, seafood, fish and eggs) and some dairy. I log most of my daily intake with My Fitness Pal, and I love that I can do this right from my phone. I think my favorite part of this particular website/app is the community integration and accountability that comes with sharing my daily food and exercise diary. Not to mention being inspired by what other people are eating and doing for exercise. Even though I don’t need it as much as I did in the beginning, it is still a super helpful tool for me and one that I recommend to anyone looking to make some changes in their diet. Knowing how much your caloric intake is can be very eye opening and a good exercise in and of itself.
It might sound trite, but God has been such a huge part of my journey and I couldn’t write this without thanking Him. I was in a deep dark valley, but He brought me out of that time and place in my life in ways I never imagined. Looking back I know He placed certain people in my life for very specific reasons, and one of those people was my trainer. She has been instrumental in my lifestyle change and I know she is one of the people God put in my life. It still amazes me that He takes care of us in the big and the little things. A verse that has always been special for me is Jeremy 29:11 – “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”. It was a tough time in my life when I started down this road, but getting healthy was a big part of finding peace and happiness, and I know that was His design for my life.
I’ve been blessed with some amazing people in my life that have made this journey possible (this is starting to sound like an Oscar speech! ha. Although I think the results of this journey have been more rewarding than any Oscar could be). My husband Tim has been so supportive and has been willing to eat almost all the food that I make (Well, almost. Except for brussel sprouts and bok choy). I think there has been only one time where he really complained about what I had made, and while I don’t remember what it was, I do remember that I mostly agreed with him. I know that I wouldn’t have been as successful as I have been without him being on board, particularly with the food I make. He has been such a source of encouragement for me and I think he’s as equally thrilled with my new body as I am (wink wink). My kids have cheered me on and even will let me know when they think I shouldn’t make a certain food choice (usually so they can have more ice cream, cake, etc!). They have watched closely and I love that they are so much more knowledgeable about healthy food choices and are willing to try the different foods I prepare.
And again I have to mention my trainer who has been simply amazing… I know 100% that I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for her. I have had some physical obstacles to work around, but she has worked so hard to help me succeed by strengthening my weak areas and encouraging my strengths. She’s pretty awesome and has known just the right way to motivate me and help me stay on track. I know I can be a little high maintenance at times (LOL), but she’s taken it all in stride and continued helping me to achieve my goals. I am also thankful for my amazing HIT girls from the gym. We have such a great little community of encouragement and support that have helped me get through my rough days and celebrated the good days with me! So many friends and family have been a part of this, and I know I couldn’t have done it without each and everyone of them.
If you made it through that whole saga, thank you. I invite you to follow along on my journey and would love to hear your stories, questions, etc. If you have any specific topics or recipes that you’d like to see covered here just let me know. I have lots of different things I plan to share here related to fitness, food and healthy living, but in the meantime be sure to check out my Instagram feed as I have posted lots of food pictures and some recipes there. I will start posting more of those here as I can, but if you need some ideas and inspiration check it out (link to Instagram is above). I am super excited about this new venture. 🙂