My Weight Loss Journey (42 pounds and counting…)
Growing up I was a relatively active, fit kid. I played outside at every opportunity I could find. I remember weighing in at 96 pounds in the 6th grade. I ate whatever I wanted including lots of white bread with peanut butter and jelly. My favorite meals were school lunches (remember the hotdogs wrapped in bread?) with chocolate milk. My parents weren’t big fans of cooking back then. Both of my parents worked hard and my mom was going to night school for her MBA so, as a result, we often ate out at Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, etc. Now don’t get me wrong. My parents cooked homemade meals that were relatively “healthy”; but, a lot of nutrition-related knowledge has changed since I was in grade school. Back then, it was common knowledge that diet coke and fat-free cookies were “healthy”. I’ll save any outbursts on the dangers of these food items, for a later post.
Interestingly enough, when I reached junior high, I continued to eat the same and with the help of puberty and fun hormone bursts, I grew taller and significantly wider. I recall purchasing size 13/14 jeans back then. Junior high wasn’t easy for me as sometimes the popular kids would make comments about my backside and how big it was. I remember being embarrassed to take my clothes off in the locker room for gym class. I maintained this weight and size through high school – and thankfully, the bullying comments ceased in the new environment. When I reached college I made an effort to walk every day and to research every diet I could find. I tried high protein low carbohydrate. I tried high carbohydrate, low protein. I tried vegan. I tried vegetarian. I tried Atkins. I tried The Zone. I tried EVERYTHING! And yes, I did lose some weight and got down to 137 pounds but I could not maintain my diet because I was always hungry.
Then I headed off to graduate school and despite the year-long nutrition course I took in, I still did not know how to eat. I continued searching for the perfect fitness and nutrition plan. I joined a gym and worked out two hours a day, 6 days a week. I worked with a trainer. I did every class the gym had to offer and lifted weights. I tried eating only whole foods. I tried eating 6 times a day. I exhausted every fitness program and eating plan. I even signed up for a 103-mile cycling race, in an effort to get fit. Despite all of this, I remained a tight size 12, 170 pounds and frustrated at my lack of progress.
At some point, I gave up my gym membership for financial reasons (I was a poor college student) and invested in some pilates DVDs and followed a strict 1200 calorie diet. I went from 170 pounds to 140 pounds in a few months. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin as a 5’9″ tall women. And while this was a great accomplishment for me, I stayed at or around this weight (+ 5 pounds) for 11 years. After a while, I felt that I still could achieve a greater fitness level and a better body composition. It wasn’t until my gut was chronically bloated from inflammation, dysbiosis (overgrowth of the wrong gut bugs) that I felt determined to search out new options.
My friend Mary introduced me to the paleo diet in an effort to get my gut healthy (for awesome recipes and a wealth of info, check out her website here). It helped a little at first; but, I didn’t see results in my waistline until I started minimizing carbohydrates. Even on the paleo diet, I found myself overeating plantains, sweet potatoes, beets, etc. in place of the grains I had given up. Once I started watching my carbohydrate intake a shift occurred. I continued to eat whole foods and to consume lots of quality fat, proteins, and vegetables. I began to see changes on the scale and on my body. Essentially, I was following a more Primal Blueprint diet and was able to get down to 140 pounds again.
But shortly after my progress, the infamous “plateau” struck and struck hard. While I felt better (I stopped getting sick; my itchy skin issues went away; my abdomen was firmer and flatter, etc.), I still was in pursuit of the losing the last “vanity pounds” so to speak. I was a healthy size 6-8; but, I really wanted to push my personal fitness boundaries. I had just turned 40 years old and I wanted to be in the best shape of my life. I wanted to continue to enjoy my favorite “cheat foods” without starving. I wanted a challenging workout that didn’t make me curse at my television. I wanted all of this while continuing to see progress. It sounds nearly impossible, right?
I did some research on portion control and found ranges that fitness experts recommend. I started tracking my caloric intake and keeping my daily range within a healthy, but effective level. I did not give up dark chocolate, red wine, and artisan cheeses. I picked an exercise program that I thought would challenge me and help me improve flexibility, strength, and endurance. I kept a tally sheet of my portions and kept my calories and carbohydrates under control. I ate more protein and more vegetables. I ate less fat and tracked my workouts and my progress. I chose to cook as much of my own food as possible. Suddenly, my plateau was busted. My weight started dropping…and dropping…and dropping.
Today, 4 months after this decision to push my fitness level, I weigh in at 128 pounds, my size 2 jeans are loose on me now and I am the leanest I have ever been in my life. I have continued to see progress in my strength, muscle definition, and overall body composition. Yes, it has taken me 20 years to figure out what works for me. Yes, it has been frustrating – and at times, I have given up on my routine more than once or twice. Regardless, my goals remain true: to become the best version of myself that I can create – and in doing so, to share with you (in future fitness and weight loss posts), all the tips, tricks, and recipes that I have found the most useful. My goal is to assist you if weight loss and improved fitness are part of your journey, too.
Now don’t get me wrong. I realize we are all different and there is no ONE magical fitness and nutrition plan for everyone. I also realize that your goal may be to be healthy and happy. You may simply want to look hot in your skinny jeans. You may want to feel confident naked. You may want to keep up with your energetic children. You may want to prevent disease and avoid inheriting the illnesses of your relatives… We all have different aspirations. However, if my research; my personal experiences; my mistakes and my victories can help you, then I want to assist you in every possible way. Remember: health is a journey, not a destination. So, make it a joyful one…
You can learn more about how I lost weight, how I have kept it off and how I have helped my patients to maintain their weight loss, using my best tips and tricks in my new book: The Forever Fat Burner.
You can grab a copy on Amazon HERE
What are your reasons for aspiring to be fit and healthy? Tell me in the comments below.
“Look your best. Live your best. Love your best.”
All of the best to you,
Please note: It is possible that for some of you reading this, medically-assisted weight loss may be a necessary avenue for you to try. If so, it would be wise to talk to a practitioner who specializes in weight loss with a well-rounded, safe, and holistic approach. Look for a licensed practitioner that will review of your hormones, blood chemistry, stress levels, sleep habits, potential sensitivities/allergies to foods, liver detoxification pathways, etc. If you are in the Portland, Oregon area, you can make an appointment at SANTÉ Aesthetics and Wellness. I personally assist the physicians in the Medical Weight Loss program and have seen phenomenal changes in the health and lives of many people!