Today marks the one year anniversary of my fitness journey. On December 14th last year, I walked into my office, sat down at my desk, and decided to make a change. I cannot tell you what clicked that day. I cannot tell you why the switch flipped. I just knew I could not go on ignoring my body and health. Let me give you a little background…
At the age of 10 I went from eating like a bird to REALLY enjoying food. Unfortunately, the weight came along with it. I can remember at the age of 12, my grandmother offering to pay me a dollar for every pound I lost. By the age of 13 I was around 200 pounds. During my 9th grade year, I decided I was going to lose weight because I was not moving to high school as a fat chick. I successfully lost about 50 pounds by eating one candy bar a day and exercising 2-3 hours every night. Sound unhealthy? It was. I was perpetually sick with some cold or virus, but I lost the weight and that was the only thing that mattered at the time. I finally hit a place that if I didn’t eat, I would get this excruciating pain in my stomach and shoulder. That was what finally brought me out of my downward spiral. Things leveled off and my weight held through high school. Then college happened. Instead of the “freshman 15” I gained 30 pounds my first semester. It continued to creep upward over the years. During that time I got married and that is when I really started packing on the pounds. I was happy and living my life and didn’t care about what I ate. Life was full of possibilities and adventures and food was totally not on my radar. When I hit 280 pounds, I tried Weight Watchers the first time. Lost 30 pounds and went off plan. When I hit 300 pounds, I tried Weight Watchers a second time. Lost 5 pounds and went off plan. I tried again and again. I would lose weight and then go off plan. Sound familiar to any of you guys? So, about 6 or 7 years ago, I gave up completely. I stopped trying to lose weight. I was so sick of constantly thinking about food and how to lose weight. I decided I was just meant to be heavy. I embraced my inner curvy goddess and got on with living. During that time of living it up, I ballooned to 340 pounds and that brings me back to where I started my story.
One Year Ago – December 14, 2015
As I said, I walked into my office and sat down at my desk. I was hot, and sweating and out of breath. My knees hurt, my ankles hurt, and my feet hurt. I was a mess. Two years prior to this, I had been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). There is a lot to it, but it basically means I don’t process sugars correctly. My doctor had told me I’d probably have the best luck losing weight with a low-carb diet. But, as I said before, I was living life and not worrying about weight at that time. So, when I sat down at my desk last year and decided to do something, low-carb was what I decided to try. I had never tried low-carb in all of my attempts to lose weight, so I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. I started THAT DAY. I had not planned it. I had not bought groceries. I had no prepared lunch with me. So many times I had to have everything lined up and ready to go before I’d start a “diet.” This time I just dove in. No safety line. No contingency plan.
I researched the crap out of the low-carb, high fat (LCHF) diet. I read the pros and cons, what the research showed, what was happening in my body as I adopted the diet, what I could expect as I detoxed from sugar. I read it all. Anyone who knows me knows I geek out on information. I love learning new things, so this was my focus for months. It started off a little rocky since I had no idea what I was doing, but I started losing weight, 11 pounds the first month. I sat down at that point and made a chart listing about 30 mini-goals that would get me to my goal weight of 155 pounds. I absolutely could not comprehend a weight loss of 185 pounds. That number was so staggering to me. I couldn’t imagine ever losing that much weight, so the mini-goals broke it all down into manageable chunks. Usually, it was 10 pound increments, but not always.
About 3 months in, I hit my stride. I had the eating plan down. I was finally past my sugar cravings. I had lost about 25 pounds, and I was feeling good enough to start adding some movement. I started with walking because that was about all I could do at that point. It was March and the weather here was beautiful, so I’d hit the track 2-3 times a week. My knees really dictated what I could do in the beginning. I’d go walk, go home, ice my knees, take an Aleve, and go to bed. If the pain had subsided enough, I’d do it again two days later. That was my routine for the first two months. In May I went to a store dedicated to running and running shoes and got fitted for a good pair of shoes. Best $120 I ever spent. Being overweight for so long, I had some pretty severe issues with my feet and ankles. The shoes helped get everything in alignment and almost immediately alleviated my knee pain. At this point, I was really ramping up the speed and distance of my walks, so I decided I wanted to add some running to my routine. BIG MISTAKE! It was too much, too soon. My body was not ready and I ended up with a case of hip bursitis. That took about 3 months to get over, but I never stopped eating right and exercising. I just changed things up. I joined a gym, backed off the intensity of my walking, and started lifting weights. What a revelation! I love lifting! Who knew?! When I reached up to rub my neck and felt a muscle there, I about fell out of my chair. I was hooked.
Exercise had always been a downfall for me in past programs. I really hated it, so I would always try to find a buddy to workout with. If they couldn’t go, it was my reason to skip it. This time, I found out I really liked competing with myself, increasing my weights, my times, my personal records. I mean, who else do you really need to complete with besides yourself? We are usually our own worst enemy, so it seems fitting.
Present Day – December 14, 2016
What am I doing now? Since June my routine has changed very little. I eat LCHF everyday. I lift weights and do cardio 2-3 times a week. I also got a Fitbit and started increasing the amount I walk everyday. If there is a time I can get up and move, I do. For all of you who hate exercise, trust me, if I can do it, you can too. I was the epitome of sedentary.
I still have aches and pains. Workouts are still a struggle sometimes. There are days I can walk 3 miles with no problem and others where 1 mile feels like a marathon. On the days when the motivation is not there, I do it anyway. On most occasions I’m ok once I get going. On the days I’m not, I do what I can, afford myself a little grace, and get back to it a couple days later. I have learned to listen to my body. If something seems off, I don’t push it. Usually things improve in a day or two. If something is hurting, I tweak my workouts and see if things improve. So far, it has worked.
My original goal was to lose 100 pounds in a year. I have lost 82. It is not where I wanted to be, but I’m not upset in the slightest! I HAVE LOST 82 POUNDS! I am almost half way to my goal weight. I have lost 24% of my body weight. Science says that every pound lost alleviates 4 pounds of pressure per square inch off knees and feet. That equates to 328 psi that I’m no longer putting on my feet! My blood pressure is down. My cholesterol is down. I have dropped my BMI 13 points. What in the world would I have to be upset about?!
When I started this journey, it was an experiment. Now, I feel better than I have in years. There are tons of goals I have hit that have nothing to do with a number on the scale. I realized that it is so much more than that. I had given up on who I was and what I wanted from life. I had settled for being less than my best self. That ended a year ago. I started a diet one year ago to lose some weight. I ended up gaining my life back. I have no regrets – not one skipped carb, not one glass of water, not one workout, not one walk. I don’t even regret the aches, pains and injuries. They have gotten me to where I am and I have learned a lot along the way. I may only be about half way to my goal, but that’s ok. This journey doesn’t end when I hit goal. It will be daily choices for the rest of my life. Luckily, I have found a lifestyle I’m happy to live with.
If you are reading this and have even the slighted inclination that you want to do something to get healthier, DON’T WAIT. Don’t wait until you have the right groceries. Don’t wait until you have a gym membership. Don’t wait until you’re motivated. Don’t wait until January 1st. It won’t be any easier to start a month from now. If you REALLY want to make a change, start now. Do something! It might just save your life.