January 10, 2012
As I sit here eating my green salad with peppers, avocados, and tomatoes, followed by my pan-grilled chicken breast sautéed in a splash of extra virgin olive oil, spiced with dill, garlic, basil and pepper with sliced zucchini, in my head I am identifying the good carbs and proteins I am ingesting. Each bite I take is a reminder that one year ago I would never have given a second thought about how the food I was putting in my mouth would affect my life and my overall health. In January of 2011my weight topped out at 180 lbs. at 5’ 5”. I was overweight according to every assessment I looked at based on body mass index. I was embarrassed by my weight; I hated to look at myself in the mirror, avoiding even glancing at my reflection. I knew how bad I looked. I had even started undressing and dressing in the closet or the dark so that my husband—who had met me after I had been in Iraq several months, working out every day—wouldn’t see me and think how disgusting I was. I won’t even go into the intimacy issues I was experiencing because of the way I felt about myself. I attended a formal in October of 2010 and the dress I bought for the event was a size 15. My clothes were extra large, and the pants I was wearing were size 14 or 15. It was the most I had ever weighed in my life and the worst I had ever felt about myself. I woke up one morning and knew something had to change—for the sake of my own health and well-being, not to mention the health of my marriage.
I came across Stacey Poyser, owner of Evolution B2B. She was advertising herself as a personal trainer. She lived a couple of blocks from me and was training something called CrossFit. I had no idea what CrossFit was, but I knew that I needed someone to help me with getting a handle on what I was afraid was a horrible weight gain spiral. For years I had worked out half-heartedly—a requirement of my commitment in the National Guard. I was one of those soldiers who would start working out about a month before a scheduled PT test and stress about it to the point of near illness until the day came to take it when I would squeak by with barely passing scores. Outside of my time in Iraq where I had started weight training, I ran every once in a while; I thought I ate ok; but I was working full-time running my own consulting business and raising two kids. Who has time right? I had bought a treadmill in 2009 and used it periodically, if only to avoid my husband saying I told you so when it became a clothes rack. But I had an excuse anytime I thought I should workout. I had too much work to do, I was too tired, I didn’t have the time or I didn’t have the energy. So I knew I needed someone to whom I could be accountable. I needed to pay money and have someone call me up and yell at me if I didn’t show up. I had to have someplace I had to be to work out so that I could put it on my schedule. I talked with Stacey and really liked her. Felt like I connected to her as I listened to her tell her story. So I signed up. I had no idea what I was getting into.
My first few training sessions with Stacey were tough. She started with photos, a tape and an overall assessment. I stood in her living room in my sports bra and shorts, fighting a desire to curl up in the fetal position out of embarrassment. When I saw the photos I knew I should be embarrassed. Stacey walked me through an eating plan and talked about nutrition. She lent me a book about healthy eating and stressed that working out was only a small part of the battle to be healthy. Nutrition was the most important aspect. This wasn’t about some fad diet or magic weight-loss formula. This was about being healthy. I drank the water (not the Kool-Aid—too much sugar in the Kool-Aid) and never once have I looked back. I committed initially to working out three days a week and soon ramped it up to four days a week. I started reading labels of everything I was eating. I went cold turkey and cut out all sugar, white flour, and bad carbs out of my diet. I committed to clean eating. I also became more conscientious of what I was feeding my kids and started talking to my children about healthy foods and too much sugar and exercise.
I CHANGED MY LIFESTYLE.
One year later I am still a work in progress but I have lost 50 lbs. The formal gown I bought for the October 2011 formal was a size 2, compared to a size 15 one year previous. I bought a pair of pants at Old Navy recently that was a size 2. My measurements dropped dramatically:
· Left arm: 13.75” to 11”
· Neck: 13.25” to 12.25
· Chest: 39” to 33”
· Waist above my naval: 38.5” to 30.5”
· Hips: 42.5” to 34.5”
· Thigh: 22.5” to 18.5”
· Calf: 15.5” to 14”
I have a lot of people ask me how I did this. For those that are looking for an easy answer or a magic pill to lose weight, sorry but you probably won’t understand. This has been one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. There is not a damn thing easy about any of this. There were times I had no energy to continue. After some workouts every fiber of my body hurt so bad I couldn’t move. It sucked, every day. Frankly it still sucks but it has become a good pain, a pain that I need or my day just isn’t complete, my head isn’t clear, and I struggle with seasonal affective disorder in the rainy cold months of the Western Washington winter. I work out five days a week now, something I need to help me through my husband’s current deployment. Every day is a commitment to eating clean, living healthy and being the best I can be for myself and my family.
It was only recently that the magnitude of what I have accomplished has hit me. But I haven’t done this alone. I made the commitment but I also asked my family to make the same commitment for me. I added 90 minutes I didn’t have to my day to go work out and I that’s the only way it gets done. That means that on some days I have to get up earlier or work later to get in the hours I need to for my job or get everything done that needs to be done for my family. I also asked my family to commit to eating better. I am still working on my husband but my kids are there!!
If I have any words of advice it would be this: Yes I know you work long hours, don’t we all, and yes I know it’s hard to find time to work out, and yes it is expensive to eat whole foods, yes, it is hard to eat healthy in our busy world, but figure it out because this is life or death in the long run and I am damn sure that no one’s tombstone says Here lies Joe Smith—he wishes he ate more junk food and weighed more. And don’t blow me a bunch of smoke about not liking this or that or not eating this or that, because if you want this bad enough you are going to figure out a way to make it work. Harsh words yes—but this is a hard truth.
I am not perfect and would never profess to be so, but once on this road I have NEVER EVER ONCE looked back and said geez—I sure wish I was still fat.