Friday, August 15, 2014

Before & After

Far Left Dec 2012: Middle June 2013: Far Right June 2014

My Health Journey (at least one small part of it).

Way back in December of 2012 a lot of great things were happening in my life. I had just completed my student teaching, was living with one of my best friends, and finally graduating college with two degrees. My health however was not in great shape. At this point in my life I realized that I was at the heaviest I had ever been (A year or so prior I had had another "this is the heaviest I've been moment" but that new number had surpassed that old record high considerably). I started to come to terms with how much weight I had gained and tried to take some steps to lose it. At the start I was: 191 pounds. (pictured below)
During January 2013 I started taking small steps to losing weight. I became a bit more active and started watching what I was consuming. I didn't really see many considerable changes. 

In February of that year I was in a pretty serious car accident that put me in a hospital bed for awhile and then left me recovering and relearning how to walk. I was in a wheel chair for a good amount of time and over several months eventually worked myself back into walking without assistance. 

In March 2013 while I was recovering (now living with my parents) I decided I really needed to take control of my health issues. It wasn't just that I was overweight according to the internet- it was that I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin- simple activities were harder to do, my energy level was crap. I knew I wanted to change but still wasn't quite sure how. 
My mom and I dove into this crazy rewards program we developed for ourselves. That started with a juice cleanse and worked into the 17 day diet. Honestly, this plan was really effective for me. The intense diet worked well since it focused on healthy food choices. It didn't leave room for empty calorie choices and was so drastic to my regular eating habits that I had ridiculously great results. I also wasn't able to do much physical activity at the time so it worked out better for me to focus on food choices. This wasn't the first time I had tried the 17 day diet. Both times I had a lot of success with it. The hard part is what happens after!
Aside from the dieting and the healthy changes we were making during this time I discovered Sarah Jenks. She's a blogger who started the live more weigh less movement. I started reading about emotional eating and learning about how people can use food to fill a lot of other voids. I did some soul searching and started focusing on living more. If you haven't read her stuff and have struggled with diets that don't work- you must read it! By starting to focus on the positives and loving myself just as I was at 190, I was able to really enjoy life and not feel like the diet was punishing me. Instead it was just one tool to help me get back to a healthy lifestyle.

By June 2013 I had reached about 175. However, like most normal human beings, after you come off of an intense diet it's easy to gain some weight back. (which is why so many diets don't work). So by mid July I had bumped back up to 185. I remember it was hard not to be discouraged but rather than feeling defeated I just kept plugging along. I decided to do the 17 day diet again and had some more success. I incorporated more exercise into it this time and by August I was fitting into my old skinny jeans back at 175. 

In August 2013 I started my teaching job. This rocketed a series of crazy life changes. I went from a pretty sedentary lifestyle to a full time on your feet all day job. I had the new job to get used to and in October moved to a new city closer to school. I remember trying to stay pretty healthy during the start of the year- but honestly I think all the changes helped distract me from being so focused on food that by the time November hit I had lost another 10lbs. (165) These months are proof that having a fulfilling life can really help you avoid emotional eating! 

The holidays happened and I gained some and lost some like most. Can't say no to those dang cookies! But in February 2014 I was about the same weight (167). 

When the new year hit I did a lot of searching to find inspiration about being healthy. Making better choices and having a healthier lifestyle. I was starting to feel complacent and not happy with myself, which is ridiculous right? I mean come on, I had lost over 20 pounds, I should be screaming with joy! But society has a way of making us feel really inadequate. And a lifetime of looking in the mirror and seeing all your flaws takes more than a few months to un-do. I re-read some of the Sarah Jenks material online and got re-inspired to like myself just as I was. 

I focused again on making more consistent healthy choices. I used my knowledge of nutrition and started tailoring it to what works for me. I tried incorporating elements of what the 17 day diet teaches but not depriving myself of the things I love. Last May I even tried being a vegetarian and doing daily exercise. 

During May 2014 I was down to my lowest weight I had been in ages, 153. I had lost a total of 38lbs. And honestly those last 15 pounds from February to May wasn't because of any crash diet, it was just by making consistent healthy choices and from focusing on my overall mental and emotional health! 

Since then I have slacked off a bit. The end of the school year got stressful and I totally turned to food for comfort. (bad me, I know better). Then the summer hit and I've been kinda living it up food-wise. I've been spoiling myself and indulging in maybe one too many ice cream cones. I'm back up to 167. But honestly, that's reality. When I'm eating healthy and living a healthy life style my body naturally and gradually lets go of that weight. But when I'm using food as entertainment, comfort, or some other thing I tend to over-eat and not make great choices about what I'm eating. 

So what's next?
I'm experimenting again with vegetarian dishes to help re-inspire my passion for healthy cooking. I'm purposely choosing not to do a crazy intense diet because I'm looking to make long term changes that will last. Also I'm planning on cutting myself some slack. I'm not going to get mad about gaining back a few pounds, and I won't beat myself up if my pants are a bit snug. I'm going to try and appreciate myself and my life right where I am now.

Here are things I've learned in the past year and a half about food/health/dieting that have really made a huge difference for me! 

1. Eat whole foods. (try to avoid processed foods or prepacked stuff)

2. If you want bread or chocolate or peanut butter just eat it. (The trick to this is buying great quality bread or chocolate. This way I don't have to feel like I need it every day or to binge on it because it's "not allowed". I can just enjoy great quality treats every once and awhile.)

3. Try to move daily. (walk, jog, dance, whatever works- just do something). 

4. Get excited about what you are eating. (In April I was getting super bored cooking the same chicken and veggies every night so I shifted to a no meat diet that way I'd be challenged to try new things. best. choice. ever. Cooking ended up being a fun thing to look forward to and made the meal taste that much better)

5. Make your plate look pretty. (this one may just be for me, but I swear it helps. Arranging your food really beautifully on a cute plate, or using colorful veggies on purpose can make your meal really visually appealing- not only will it be delicious and healthy but you can even instagram it.. lol #foodpic)

6. Try to address the issues in your life instead of filling them with food. (a lot of us eat when we are bored, sad, lonely, happy, celebrating, tired, etc. The trick to not over-eating is to start only using food for when you are hungry.- I still struggle with this, but take it one day at a time). Read this post on emotional eating, it's eye opening!

7. Try to not let your weight govern how you live your life. (so many of us put our lives on hold while we are dieting. We tell ourselves how fat we are and then punish our bodies with crazy restrictive diets that set us up to fail. Learn to love and accept yourself now. LMWL really helped me with this concept- and it's life changing once you grasp it. Start living the life you want right now- not after you are your goal weight. We only get one life and I'm pretty sure at the end of your days you won't care what size pants you were wearing- you'll care that you lived.)

So there it is. Lessons I've learned about health. It's only taken me 24 years to realize I don't want to spend the next 24 years in a perpetual cycle of dieting and gaining and dieting again. I'm honestly feeling happy at this weight. (Even though pretty recently I weighed less.) It's not that big of a deal. 10lbs or even 40lbs doesn't change who I am, or how happy I can be. I've had a great year and a half and I can promise you most of that happiness is because I'm trying to pour myself into living my life and not holding myself back regardless of whatever weight I happen to be. Honestly, the most dramatic change about my "after" picture isn't my pants size it's my mindset. 

I challenge you to really think about your relationship with food and with your weight. If you don't like what you find- dare to change the way you think! 

Comment below, or message me if you'd like to chat. I'd love to cheer you on in your own health journey or have a discussion about your thoughts on this post!