Thanks to Megan for letting me inhabit her little piece of the internet today and share my weight loss journey will you all. Megan and I met at the Pretty Muddy mud run last summer and became fast friends.
(Please excuse our sweaty faces, we had just finished a marathon outlet-shopping trip!)
I remember the first time that I realized I was fat. I was about 8 years old at summer Church camp where the counselors took our photo that was going to be used for an art project. When it was time to pick up our photos to complete the project I couldn’t find mine because I didn’t recognize myself. No way that chubby girl was me.
Needless to say I grew up the ‘fat girl’.
Here I am at 8 years old with a perm, buckteeth and a peace sign shirt. Thanks mom.
From outward appearances, I had a perfect childhood…loving and happily married parents, a brother that I was close to, a beautiful home, a good education, we took nice family vacations, etc. I was active in sports and played outside with the neighborhood kids all of the time. However, I grew up in a very social family that owned restaurants so food, good food at that, was always around and at the center of all of our family gatherings. Every Sunday we would go to my Grammy’s house for breakfast where she made homemade pizza, linguisa and toast. With regular coke. For breakfast.
Food soon became my comfort and coping mechanism.
For various reasons that I don’t need to bore you with, my weight skyrocketed during high school. At my heaviest I am guessing I weighed around 250 lbs. Being that large in high school was not easy and I ate my feelings. As the old saying goes “I eat because I am an unhappy and I am unhappy because I eat”. Anyone remember that scene with Fat Bastard in Austin Powers?!
I was one of those people that would sneak fast food on my way home from school, throw the wrappers out of the window so I wouldn’t get caught, then proceed to eat a full dinner with my family. I wish I could get into that 17-year-old head of mine and smack some sense into it. But if I did that, I wouldn’t be the person I am today nor would I have developed the coping skills I have now to help me get through life’s harder times.
Here I am in 1998, the summer going into my senior year of high school. This was near my heaviest weight of 250lbs (I am 5’8”).
250lbs (17 years old) vs. 165lbs (33 years old)
So how did I get from my heaviest weight down to a healthy weight?
The weight started to come off during college when I came out of my shell…you could say I blossomed. I lost the first 30 pounds without really realizing it due to the fact that I was out of the house and eating in the cafeteria gave me more control over my meals. I added in exercise at the school gym, got down to around 180lbs and hovered between there and 200lbs for the 5 years after college. In late 2012 I got to 165lbs, my lowest weight since grade school. Over the past year and a half 15 pounds have slowly crept back on and seeing recent pictures of myself has definitely kicked my butt in gear to get back in better shape.
This is the most recent full body shot I have, taken a few weeks ago.
I am not a trainer or a nutritionist so please note that what has worked for me may not work for you. In a nutshell, I am just a girl that used to be big and the weight has come off through a lot of hard work, exercise and eating right (and a few heartbreaks, but that is a whole other blog post)!
Here is what has and what does work for me:
*When I was in my mid 20s I discovered the combination of kickboxing classes and body pump weight classes at 24 Hour Fitness. An hour of cardio followed by an hour of weights did and still does wonders for me. I also belong to a power vinyasa yoga studio, which I am obsessed with. On average, I work out 7-12 hours a week, 1-2 hours a day/6 days a week. Some days I will do a 6am body pump class followed by a yoga class that night or do a back-to-back turbo/body pump session in the evenings. I am single and do not have kids, therefore I realize that my responsibilities may be different than other people who may not have the time or money to spend at the gym. FOR ME, I am motivated by gym classes and because they are what keeps me motivated to stay physically active, I sacrifice in other areas of my life in order to afford it. My advice would be to do what works for you. If it’s doing videos in your living room, awesome. If it is running in your neighborhood, awesome. Just find what it is that you love and make it part of your daily life.
* I wear a heart rate monitor when I work out which keeps me accountable. It is a really good way for me to gage the intensity of my workouts. (I use the Polar F4 watch/strap combo).
*I don’t eat foods like the picture below on a consistent basis. I am laughing in this photo because of how ridiculous the size of the burger is. At my heaviest this would have been a snack.
*I take extreme control over what food is in my house. I identified what my weaknesses are and figured out how to overcome them. I am a grazer, so other than produce, I do not keep anything in my house that would tempt me. Those 100 calorie packs aren’t effective at portion control for me because I will eat 4 packs in a sitting and I don’t keep bread in my house because I will toast an entire loaf with butter in one evening. Don’t even get me started on the hot, fresh tortillas from HEB.
*Lots of water. If you don’t have a water tumbler with a straw, go buy yourself one. I drink so much more water if there is a straw.
*Most importantly, I finally decided I wanted to be HAPPY. There is nothing more attractive than a happy person. In my opinion, you will never reach your goals until being happy and all that comes along with it no longer scares you.
Deep down I will always be a “fat girl”. I vividly remember when I bought my first pair of single digit sized jeans and thought, “no way…these must run big because there is no way am I this small.” I will always have that little self-doubt devil on my shoulder, but you know what? I accept that, embrace it and appreciate the struggle I have been through because it has shaped me into the person I am today.
I am currently finishing my Masters in Public Health degree at the University of Texas with the goal of working in childhood obesity intervention programs, specifically for girls. Without a doubt I know that the reason I made it through this struggle was to help others like me. (BTW, if anyone out there has an MPH, please let me know…I would love to pick your brain.)
To end, if I can leave you with any piece of advice, it would be that if you are a mother of an overweight daughter, please, please do everything in your power to get her healthier. The number one thing is to model good behavior (trust me, if you sneak a cookie in the car she will find the crumbs!), work out with her, get rid of the TV and computer in her room, don’t tempt her with junk food in the house, get her into counseling if that is what she needs. Even if she hates you for it, I’m sure you would rather her hate you for a short period of time compared to hating herself for a lifetime.
Oh, and if Megan pressures you into signing up for a ½ marathon, you run the friggin’ ½ marathon. It is kind of hard to say ‘no’ to her. :)