I bet you just read that in Regina’s whiny voice. Let’s hope so.
This blog is brought to you by my inspirational nightly bubble bath, the chocolate cake I had for dinner, and a glass of wine. All of which make me feel better about myself.
To start off let me say that I am in no way a nutritional expert or a gym rat guru. I’m just a normal girl who happened to lose quite a bit of weight. Here’s my story.
Once upon a time in a land called Kentucky, there was this girl (me) who really liked her mommas fried chicken and if something didn’t have gravy on it, it wasn’t worth eating. This girl was extremely unhealthy. So she made a change.
If you missed my parentheses, that girl was me. Yes, I carried around 220 pounds on my 5’1 frame. Not good. Not that some women can’t handle or look fabulous at that weight or any weight for that matter, but I was not healthy! I was the girl who got winded going up the steps or it took entirely too long to walk a mile. My weight issue started not with me gaining weight (although we will talk about that) but with my obsession to lose weight.
Growing up I had body dysmorphic disorder, a disease that basically makes you see yourself completely different than you actually are. And this disorder works in two ways, either you see yourself as extremely fat when you aren’t, or you see yourself as skinny when you’re actually overweight. I was the first type. If you’ve read my “Over the shoulder boulder holder” post then you know I was a stick growing up. Until my freshman year of high school I was very skinny, although I always thought I wasn’t. In a way I blame my mother. She was and still is constantly on diets. Regardless of whether she needs to be or not. And I grew up in a home where someone was constantly criticizing their body. So from the time I was in 5th grade I was on a “diet”. I weighed literally 70 pounds. My real issue started when I began middle school (as most problems do). I was the girl who wore the 00 or less but was constantly watching what she ate. I was perpetually on a diet. I really wanted to weigh 85 pounds. I wasn’t anorexic. I ate. But it was always diet food and never a lot (my sister actually battled anorexia and almost died her 7th grade year). What most saw as bones I saw as fat. It was a constant struggle. One that I didn’t recognize as what it was until long after I’d gotten over it. The turning point in my problem did not happen voluntarily. Instead I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. A disorder that stunts growth and metabolism. Because of this, I have to take supplements to have a metabolism, my body doesn’t produce one naturally. I was officially diagnosed the end of my 8th grade year. Also, in that year I gained nearly 40 pounds in about a month. This was a huge shock to my body and my disorder. I went from being able to control every single thing my body went through to having no control at all. It was horrible. So I completely back peddled. I gave up. On everything. From 8th grade until my senior year I gained almost 140 pounds. A lot due to my disease but also due to my own hatred of it. My mind said this, “It doesn’t matter what you do, you’ll still be fat.” This was a horrible mindset to have. So, I decided to beat my disease. I wasn’t going to let it run my life anymore than it had to. So, I made a change.
My change officially started my junior year of college. I almost died of heart failure. I was carrying around too much weight on a frame not intended for it and my heart couldn’t take it. My chest pains became so severe that I was nearly hospitalized. Thankfully it was treated before it caused irreversible damage. But it was scary and it was a wake up call.
I started losing weight by going back to the old habits I’d had in middle school that I knew worked. But let me tell you now, eating low amounts of calories is not the way to lose weight! I was so wore down and exhausted that exercising was the last thing I wanted to do. It’s like someone giving you a toothpick and telling you to build a house. My body was saying, “you only gave me 300 calories today, I am not giving you energy!” So my body constantly went through ups and downs. Which also caused my stretch marks, something I’ll live with forever.
What really worked for me was realizing that it wasn’t about how much you put in your body, but what you put in it. All those low-calories, low-fat, carb free diets are crap. I ate so many carbs I thought I would die, and I lost 60 pounds. The key is to eat whole wheats, whole grains, leans mean, fruits, veggies! All the things in life that are natural and good! The whole myth that if something tastes good it probably isn’t good for you is a myth. You can eat amazing foods and still eat healthy. Here are my tips for healthy eating:
1. Cook every single thing you put in your mouth, or at least prepare it yourself. Sure those little microwaveable meals are easy but they are not healthy! At all!
2. If it grows in a plant, you can have as much of it as you want. This means fruits and veggies. Even potatoes.
3. Don’t eat portions bigger than the recommended sizes. This was a major thing for me! As long as serving size was taken into consideration, you could eat it. Just don’t go overboard.
4. If you have a craving, you can give in. Like I mentioned, I had chocolate cake for dinner. Do I do this often no, but will I want chocolate cake again for dinner, absolutely not. It’s all about moderation and not making yourself feel like you’re dieting.
5. Don’t call it a diet. Because all diets are doomed to fail and we don’t fail.
6. Find healthy alternative for meals you already love. I make a low-fat personal pan pizza that is absolutely to die for. I’d rather have it than a full fat one any day.
7. Just because it has low-calories, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. You can have like 60 mini cheese ball puffs for 140 calories, but you probably shouldn’t.
8. Drink water and lots of it. It’s a natural weight loss supplement and will help you stay full longer.
9. Never ever take weight loss pills. Period. End of story. I’ll be mad if you do.
10. And finally, reward yourself for good work! I made myself a sticker chart (yeah, have I mentioned I’m a teacher?) and gave myself a gold star for each time I met a goal or resisted falling back into old habits. I also put it where I knew people would see it. It kept me accountable. I also recommended keeping a food and exercise log/journal.
Now, diet is not the only thing that needs to be changed. I also changed my physical activity. I began running, up to 3 miles a day. This definitely wasn’t easy. The only activity I had was getting up to get another snack. This was probably the hardest part because it took the most dedication. It also took the most time. You don’t just go to running three miles overnight. I had to condition my body. But it was well worth it.
Overall, I did not lose the weight because I was unhappy with how I looked, although looking back now I realize how much better I feel about myself now, but because I was going to die if I didn’t. I come from a family of heart problems and I was putting so much work on mine. I do not in any way think that anyone who weighs 220 pounds or more is fat. I think fat is a mindset. You are how you feel. But I do encourage everyone to follow a healthy eating lifestyle regardless of if you want to lose weight or not. And yes, it’s easy to fall back into old habits, and no it’s not the end of the world if you eat McDonalds for dinner. Just know what you’re eating. As you can see from my twitter, I don’t always eat at home or make my own food, but I do it more often than not.
I hope this helps those of you who do wish to make a change. But I will say this, if you can’t love yourself at your heaviest, you still won’t love yourself at your smallest.
And now my water is cold and I’m officially a prune. Yes, I wrote this in the bath. So what.