I have never been a naturally athletic or fit person. Throughout my childhood, I dabbled in a few sports here or there, but ultimately found I despised them and was utterly horrible at each one I tried. I was the kind of girl who would rather sit and read, write, or draw while eating a giant bowl of ice cream. My biggest vice has always been sweets, which was bread into me as a child by habitual dessert indulgences after meals and weekly ice cream treats after school with my grandma. (The long time joke was that I had a “second stomach” for dessert only, as I ALWAYS had room for sweets after I was “full” on my meal!)
These habits and behaviors followed me throughout school and into my adult life: lack of physical activity, over-indulgences daily in sugar, refined carbs, and later, even alcohol. I would go through bouts of intense “resolutions” to lose-weight and change, and after a few days of pushing myself too hard with exercise and dieting, I’d burn out, binge, and be back where I started. As a young adult trying to find my purpose and passions, I was miserable. I hated my job, was struggling to adapt to married life, and most of all I hated my body and my self. I was negative, self-loathing and unhealthy. After a lousy day at work I would come home and plop in front of the TV to eat and numb myself on food and mixed drinks.
In March 2010, my life changed: I was laid-off unexpectedly from my job, which was a blessing in disguise. I was absolutely the lowest of lows, feeling worthless and like the biggest failure. As I wallowed for a few weeks, something angry inside me woke up and decided that this mindset was ridiculous. I knew I needed to change myself in order to change my life, but I had just been reluctant to do so for the sheer effort it would take. It was then that I decided to begin taking a bit of time each day while I job searched to explore yoga, and give some loving attention to my body.
I began practicing yoga with a few simple beginner DVDs at home, and then searched for places to practice in town. One of the first places I came across was a church that offered free yoga on Tuesday nights. I had been to the church a few times before, but wasn’t activity participating in any church at that time in my life. So, I went to yoga there, and soon found myself in a loving, supportive community of peaceful, joyful people who wanted nothing more than to see me succeed. Within the month, I had landed a new job.
As I started this new job, I had the opportunity to redefine myself. I was enjoying my yoga practice and the feeling of self-care by doing so, and felt like I was ready to change even more. At that time, my friend and I signed up for a group-fitness class at a local women’s gym, which would get us both started on an exercise routine for the first time ever. The class was twice a week for 30 minutes, using body-weight-only exercise routines. Before the class began, I did a weigh-in with the instructor, to get a grasp of how much I wanted to lose. I hadn’t owned a scale at all in my adult life, so I still thought I was roughly around the weight I was back in college… boy was I shocked! I had put on over 30 pounds from high school to then! I knew it was time for real change.
After one month with my fitness class, I was feeling so proud and successful for sticking to that consistent amount of exercise for the first time in my life! Since I was young and exercising for the first time ever, I figured the weight would magically melt away with this new routine. I was wrong: it did not. I only lost half a pound in that first month! I realized that even though I was young, I would still need to exert more effort and attention to my food in order to change my body. I was worth the effort it was going to take to change myself physically and emotionally!
It was through very gradual changes in my lifestyle that I eventually managed to completely transform my eating and my body. I started with cutting back on “empty carbs” and noticing the calorie-counts in my food for the first time ever. As I became more and more away of my food, and bravely began cooking new foods and healthier recipes, I felt better and started seeing my weight drop as I continued with my exercise routine. I began to love exercise, and treat it as a part of my daily life, rather than a chore that I had to slug through painfully. I found support from my family and friends, and tackled new goals and challenges with them alongside.
Another huge part of my motivation and success was having the group encouragement of my online friends at SparkPeople.com. I joined that community in July of 2010, and discovered how blogging and sharing my goals and setbacks with others radically changed my own motivation and dedication to true change. (You can see my personal Spark Page and story here.)
It took me 8 months to radically transform my life and my body in 2010. By the end of November, 2010, I had lost 40 pounds and dropped five pant sizes! I was a whole new person, with more hope, optimism and self-love than I had ever had before. Living well became part of who I am—not just a diet to reach a certain weight. My identity changed with my body and life. I saw that it didn’t matter if I “was never an athlete” in my younger years, because I am now! I can be healthy, be fit, and live the life of the person I’ve always imagined!
Since reaching my goal weight, I have maintained relatively close to the same weight, and the same clothing sizes. I have shifted to intuitive eating for my body, and am continuing to find new ways to deal with set-backs and slip-ups in my life and goals. I am not perfect, but I understand so much more about my health and body than I ever could have imagined before! I am truly happy, and hope to share and inspire others to find this same happiness with their lives and bodies through healthy living.
My journey has taught me more than I could ever learn through books (but to be honest, I read a lot of books now, too!). I know through personal experience how transformational making small changes over time can be, and I want more than anything to help you reach the same joy and success in your journey. If you feel ready to commit to redefining yourself and life in a new healthy way, I can help. Trust me: though the big picture may seem impossible or too far away, it is worth the dedication and effort it will take to make it a reality. You are so worth it!
Be well, Live fit.