A few weeks ago I posted a picture from the beach on Instagram noting that I was having a moment of “holy cow I’ve changed” and the comments made me realize many folks don’t know much about my journey. New friends and readers just know I’m currently a crazy running fool who enjoys my healthy lifestyle.
Feeling brave enough to post the picture of David and I gave me reason to look back through some old pictures and remind myself as well just how far I’ve come on this journey. At some point in the last few years I went from thinking about weight loss to thinking about a body that could perform. The number on the scaled stopped moving, but the shape of my body is far different. There never was an AH HA moment that turned everything around for me. It was more a lifetime of talking negatively about my body, feeling like my body didn’t portray the athlete I felt was inside me and knowing I wasn’t eating the right things.
As a child, I was always involved in athletic activities. I tried everything: dance, soccer ,basketball, horseback riding, softball, volleyball, swim team…my parents are saints. I was the tallest on the basketball team, but too timid for defense and too slow for offense. I enjoyed soccer, but was best at goalie where I didn’t have to sprint. I thought dance was fun, but I was always the chubby girl in the leotard on recital day. I found volleyball and swimming in high school and luckily I had some natural ability in both…but I never wanted to push too far outside of my comfort zone to become really good.
And yes I was chubby. Not the kid you pick on for being fat, but the one that adults always say “she just hasn’t lost her baby fat”. Then I went to college and wondered why in the hell I still had baby fat at age 18.
What I really had was just plain fat. While I grew up eating solid meals of meat and potatoes at dinner time, my mom is the first to admit she hates to cook and LOVES packaged foods. Easy, fast, quick, cheap that’s the mantra for getting it on the table in a lot of American homes and ours was no different. In truth being on sports teams in high school didn’t really help much either! The swim team practiced twice a day and we ate like it, but once we stopped swim season we still ate the same mega muffins and yes SODA was a key beverage in our home.
I reached my highest weight of 165 my senior year of high school. I felt bad in my body. I was unhappy. I worked out at the YMCA, but really didn’t know what I was doing, just that I wasn’t going to go up from the size 12 jeans I’d finally had to cave and buy.
When I started losing weight it was all about the scale; that number dictated my life. Good day or bad. Happy or sad. Success or failure. It really saddens me now to think of all the days I wasted worrying about my weight. Again, my mom will be the first to admit she wasn’t the best role model for body image as she did and still does make statements about “being fat” when she has in fact always been petite. This “fat talk” went on in my head day and night, right up until I went to college.
That’s right I did the whole weight loss project backwards by losing the Freshman 15 instead of gaining it. What I now know is even more important than my weight is I was carrying a lot of unhealthy fat from poor eating habits. Interestingly enough my routine nature is part of what helped me begin to lose weight in college.
I found certain foods that I enjoyed and simply went back to them over and over and over. I knew the calories and the portions and while I wasn’t yet eating for health by any means I was beginning to understand portions. I still enjoyed weekly pizza and ice cream or I might have lost it all in that first year, ha!
Throughout college I was consistently finding new ways to exercise. I walked A TON, did Tae Bo in our apartment, used the machines at the gym…though rarely the weights as I still thought that would make me bulky. Finally my senior year, I caught the running bug and slowly that began to change the way I felt about my body on every level. I became proud of myself, I felt more confident, I wanted to tackle other healthy habits and oh yes…I wanted to run more!
By the time I graduated from college, I had lost about 20lbs and just run my first race ever the Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon. I got my first solo apartment and this is where things really started to change. I began cooking vegetables, thinking about fruits as snacks and preparing meals. A few years later a friend introduced me to blogs and whole new world of learning about healthy choices was suddenly available to me!
Since then the progress has been consistent, as you’ve seen through my 30 Day Challenges and constant discovery of new foods. My thinking switched from what not to eat, to focusing on eating 7-9 servings of vegetables thanks to one challenge. Another helped me stop using the scale all together as I wrote love letters to my body and realized just how amazing it is to have run 6 marathons.
Slowly the weight continued to come off without me even focusing on it. Instead, I was focused on reaching new goals in running or other areas of fitness. I can’t begin to describe the difference emotionally and mentally it makes to be focused on positive goals, rather than negative.
Last year I had the great fortune to finally find a doctor that was willing to take the time to work with me and find answers about my ongoing health issues. After discovering an allergy to eggs and dairy, I eliminated those foods and over the next few months, I watched my body shape change dramatically. I lost a few lbs, but looked incredibly different as the inflammation disappeared.
I also began drinking a protein shake every morning to help overcome a parasite and with that my body began absorbing protein again so my muscle tone started to improve. These little changes have been huge and a fantastic reminder that the scale just doesn’t tell the whole story.
For the last 6 years I’ve been within the same 5lb range, which is a loss of about 35lbs and I reduced my waist size by about 7 inches. People often say that maintenance is harder than losing the weight. I’m glad to say that because I took my time with the process, I don’t feel this is the case. I’ve created a whole new lifestyle, not a diet or a regimen that I must follow. I simply enjoy being active and don’t think twice about reaching for fruits and veggies at each meal.
I don’t believe in Raw or Paleo or any of the other dietary types circulating right now. I do believe in learning about food and how it makes you feel and making choices that feel good…and enjoying a freaking cookie without guilt! If you are looking for specifics:
Starting: 165 Current 130
Body Fat: 18%
Workouts: I post weekly logs, but I obviously run a lot because I love it. Avg 30 MPW, 2-3 days strength/core, 2-3 days cross training, lots of stretching and walking almost daily.
Goal: Am I in perfect shape, heck no. I hope a year from now to post another before and after with new progress on my fitness goals and seeing different changes in my body from that focus.
There you have it my journey…how I went from hyper focused on the scale to enjoying an active life that is fueled with tons of fruits and veggies! So when I talk here about loving to run or enjoying spaghetti squash, it’s sincere. I’m fascinated with finding new ways to be active and enjoy a healthy lifestyle because I think it’s fun to feel great and I know that it’s all about progress, not perfection! Now it’s time for me to get to planning the Spring Bootie Buster Challenge as I love seeing other people enjoy the journey too!
I am grateful for an inner drive that always has me pushing forward and looking for more.