Monday, January 23, 2012

My weight loss and fitness journey

My whole life I have struggled with weight. Even as a child, all my friends were thin and I was a little chunky. I can't say I was "fat", but definitely over weight. I always hid it pretty well and knew how to dress to cover it up but I still never felt comfortable in my skin. I remember as early as 3rd grade thinking I was fat and jumping rope on the back porch or running around the neighborhood to try to lose weight. I'd run around the neighborhood, come home, and step on the scale thinking I MUST have lost a pound at least!  I had no idea what I was doing. I did not know anything about nutrition or certain foods being "bad" for you.  So, I ate whatever I wanted.

Fast forward to my first pregnancy. I was 20 when I got pregnant and still had no clue about nutrition. I thought that when you were pregnant, you should eat a lot of food and whatever you are hungry for. I gained A LOT of weight, 73 lbs to be exact.

I was completely miserable and depressed. I was also a single mom-to-be and the stresses of that weighed on me tremendously. After I had baby girl, Addy, I didn't have a lot of money and all of my paychecks went to her food,  diapers, and clothes.

I didn't eat much. Average day, I would eat less than 800 calories. I was counting calories but still not paying attention to nutrition.  I started working out at a local gym. Running on the treadmill, doing elliptical, and some weight training 5 days a week. I also started taking ephedrine diet pills as a way to accelerate weight loss. I was jittery and short of breath most of the time. I had no idea the damage I was doing to my body. And I might add, I really didn't care.

I lost By Addy's first birthday, I had lost almost 100 pounds.  Here I am in Maui after having lost all my baby weight and then some.

Looking back, I still wouldn't consider myself "healthy" because I got sick all the time and my weight would fluctuate like crazy.  I was addicted to the diet pills, I had to have them every day.  Once I stopped the ephedrine, I gained 10 pounds just like that.  But, I felt better.

I got married and got pregnant with my 2nd child.  I did a little better with this pregnancy but I still gained a whopping 50 pounds.  Here I am about 3 days before I gave birth to Eli.

The weight didn't come off so quickly this time since I wasn't taking the diet pills and I wasn't starving myself.  Here I am in Maui with my husband for our anniversary:

Eli was 6 months old and I hadn't lost really any weight yet.  A good friend convinced me to join up with her at a gym she was going to and I jumped at the chance.  We started taking turbo kick classes and strength training classes together.  Plus, I had heard about the South Beach Diet so I gave that a whirl.  I lost 20 pounds in about a month with the combination of working out and the South Beach Diet.  A couple months later, I had lost 30-40 pounds.  Here I am in Cancun with my husband after losing some weight (Eli was almost 1 year old).

However, it was not feasible for me to stay on the SB Diet forever.  I was sick of it and I love bread.  That's a problem with the SB Diet.   So, I gained a few pounds when I dropped off that program.

A couple months later, I started a meal preparation program, where you go in twice a week and pick up all your meals, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 2 snacks.  It was a limited amount of calories per day (1500 or so) and healthy foods.  I LOVED this!  The food was delicious and healthy!  I had no idea those 2 things could go together.  I was on the program for about 2 months and lost 15 pounds.  I was down to my pre-pregnancy weight again!  Here I am after I had lost weight on the meal plan.

(Check out the guns!) :)

However, it was also not feasible to stay on this plan forever.  I was spending $600 per month just on my meals.  That did not include feeding my husband or the kids.  The rest of the family was still eating fast food 3 + times a week or quick dinners, such as boxed mac n cheese, frozen pizza, and frozen chicken nuggets.  I was still working out at the gym doing my turbo kick and strength training.  I would leave work at 5, pick up kids from day care, go pick up fast food for them, and then drop them off at the gym day care for 1-2 hours.  I would leave the gym and it was their bedtime!  I'm not really sure why I thought this was a good idea.  When I think about it now, it kind of makes me sad.  I missed out on that sweet quality time I could have had with them after work.

So, after I stopped the meal program,  guess what happened??  I gained 10 pounds fairly easily...  A couple months later, I wanted to start another meal program without the high cost, so I started Nutrisystem.  Yes, this of course worked for me because it was, again, limiting my caloric intake.  BUT, the food was not fresh, all pre-packaged foods with basically no expiration date.  Plus, if you wanted fresh foods, you pay extra at the grocery store for your fruits and veggies.  And, once again, my "health" did not include the kids or my husband...they were still getting fast food or whatever box meal I could throw together. 

Anyway, so then we move into pregnancy #3, Sophia.  Here I am right before I got pregnant with Sophia:

I had determined when I got preggo with her that I wouldn't gain as much weight.  I was still working out at the gym then at 8 weeks, I had a hemorrhage and that ended my workout regimen for a while.  I didn't step foot in the gym for the rest of the pregnancy but I did start walking on my treadmill at home at 7 months pregnant.  I managed to keep my weight gain to 40 pounds, which was still on the high side. Here I am just 2 weeks before I gave birth to Sophia:

After Sophia, I was pretty busy.  Breastfeeding a newborn and caring for 2 other kiddos was a lot of work!  I lost about 15 pounds pretty quickly since I was regulating my calories.  But, at 8 weeks postpartum, I found out I was pregnant again...I hadn't lost all my baby weight and was starting this pregnancy higher on the scale than any of my others.

I had another hemorrhage at 9 weeks with Baby Chris but it didn't stop me this time from walking on my treadmill.  I only gained 20 pounds with that pregnancy since started out so high.  The last pregnancy, I felt the best and most healthy.  Here I am with my babies when Christian was 9 days old.

But I still had a way to go to lose weight from 2 babies now.  Now I was a stay-at-home mom, after retiring right before I had my last baby.  So, I had to figure out how to make weight loss work now that I was home with the kids.  At first, it was a struggle since I had constant availability to food or snacks (unlike at work).  But, I downloaded an app for my iphone (myfitnesspal) to log all of my calories for the day.

My deal friend, Sara, asked me to join her in training for a half-marathon when I was 2 weeks postpartum.  I was starting from ground zero since I had just had a baby and I had to take it real slow.  We were on a 4 month training plan to finish the 13.1 mile race.  I loved it.  Running became my new outlet.  It was my time to de-stress, turn up my music and just zone out.  Also, I was doing circuit training at my gym a couple days a week in addition to the running.  I dropped 40 pounds in 4 months and I felt great!  I felt the most healthy I had ever felt in my life...after 4 kids!   Needless to say, I completed the half-marathon.  Here I am the day before my first half-marathon:

I came across a book, Skinny Bitch, which was very helpful.  I was not a big fan of the vegan and the political undertones but there were some great points.  It really helped me to look at food a different way.  

After the race, I took a short break from running to try out some new things.  I cancelled my gym membership (due to costs).  We had lost my income when I retired plus my free car, then my husband also had to buy at that same time.  So, I worked out at home.  I did Nike Training workouts on my iphone (an awesome app), did a piloxing DVD (Pilates Kickboxing), and winsor pilates DVDs.  Then, it was time to train for another half marathon so I started running again.  I found that the weight just dropped off and stayed off.  I am now at my "goal weight".   I still see imperfections that I could probably get rid of if I continued to lose weight, but I feel healthy and fit.  I'm not trying to be "skinny", I just want to feel healthy.  I am a size 4 now and I wore a size 10-12 during high school.  I have no desire to wear a size zero, be super model thin, or have body builder muscles.  I think curves are sexy (and lucky for me, so does my husband!).  As long as I feel strong, healthy, and fit, that's what is most important to me. 

My journey is not over and never will be.  My "diet" is not temporary, it is a daily lifestyle.  I eat healthy probably 80-90% of the time.  So, I allow myself to splurge during special occasions, holidays, or date nights.  I am definitely not about deprivation. 

Thank you for coming along my journey with me.  I hope this encourages some to lose weight or become fit, despite your circumstances.

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