I have been active most of my life with my parents placing a tennis racket in my hand at age 5 and continuing that sport through high school. I was also a regular gym member, exercise machine user, and group exercise class participant through high school and college. After college, working full time and starting to date my now husband through a long distance relationship meant less gym time and more travel and eating at restaurants. I gained 40 lbs. over the first two years of our relationship.
More for vanity than anything else, in 2001, I approached losing weight by keeping a diet diary, eliminated dairy, and used the treadmill at home for 45 minutes on weekdays while watching my taped (on VHS!) soap opera. The weight came off but I was not motivated to maintain my routine. I would sign up for programs and memberships here and there but never attended consistently.
In 2006, I had 40 lbs. to lose again by the time my daughter was 18 months old. I never really lost the pregnancy weight. I was in a habit of eating my snacks and meals and then finishing whatever was left on her plate too. It was when I returned to a full time job that the combination of a high stress environment, walking throughout the hospital where I was working, and only one set 30 minute lunch break to eat all day resulted in dramatic and quick weight loss. But I didn’t have energy, I wasn’t exercising, and I knew my calorie restriction was squashing my metabolism. Skinny fat.
Around the time my second child turned 2 years old in 2011, I had 45 pounds to lose (yes again) and I knew it wasn’t all “baby weight”. I was having frequent stomach aches and underwent medical tests that revealed mild fatty liver, a condition that is associated with developing diabetes (runs in my family) and can lead to forms of hepatitis but the good news is that it was reversible. Shortly after this, I was diagnosed with a breast lump leading to a biopsy that was fortunately benign. That really shook me up and woke me up to get up and get moving. It wasn’t about the size of my jeans but avoiding my genes! I bought a few sessions of weekly group personal training but I was so deconditioned and discouraged that I never purchased more. I was complaining to a very fit friend and fellow wife/mom/business owner and she told me to cut out processed food and start working out at home. I borrowed some of her exercise DVDs and some from the library. For the first 3 months, I did a beginner Jillian Michaels DVD 5-6 days a week during my kids’ nap time or after their bedtime, didn’t eat out at all, and did not eat any processed food (chips, crackers, etc.). I lost 15 lbs. and despite the initiative it took, I loved the convenience and efficiency (40-50 minutes) of exercising at home. I continued doing this for 2.5 years, making food changes along the way, and reached my goal. Often times, I worked out around 9pm or during my son’s nap time. Exercise didn’t interrupt my sleep how it use to and I quickly learned, that during nap time, I should just start (and finish!) even if my son was babbling in his crib awake. In 2013, I started my life changing practice of hot yoga, incorporated jogs, and in 2014, I joined a boot camp.
Since I was working so hard physically through exercise, I naturally wanted to make better eating choices as not to “undo” my work! The biggest change I made was cutting out processed food for 90 days and then limiting my intake of it. If I am tempted by it, I don’t buy it! This also allows me to eat what I want at restaurants and social gatherings; I’m a big believer in the 80/20 rule. Make good choices 80% of the time! I don’t believe in restricting yourself and being miserable nor do I believe in any diet that cannot be maintained long term. The bonus has been feeling better overall – increased energy levels and capacity to care for my loved ones. It has been life changing to see how taking care of me, putting myself on “the list”, and getting sweaty has benefited and positively influenced my family. Today, I surround myself with those that inspire me and as a family, we support one another’s interests from bike riding to ballet to karate to swimming. I exercise as many days a week as I can and enjoy and look forward to high intensity interval training, hot yoga, power walks, and short runs! (see Where I get Moving!)