Several of you know my history and my continued effort to lose weight and to just live a healthier lifestyle in general. For those of you who don’t, I’ll give you
I guess weight has always been an issue for me from probably late elementary school on. In middle school, everyone is in that awkward stage anyway, but adding a little weight to that awkward isn't fun. In high school I became a little more active being in marching band with several hours of outdoor practice daily. It helped, but I was still uncomfortable. My sophomore year I lost 30 pounds very quickly but was
Then in college, like with most people, the weight started adding up. And quickly. Being an art student, I had weird and long hours in the studio and the easiest thing to do was grab lunch or dinner from a fast food place on the way to campus. Or to visit the campus center which was basically fast food. In 2009 I had a 1920s themed birthday party and when I went back and looked at pictures, I knew I had to do something.
My university had just opened a brand new student center with an incredible gym so I started going religiously. And I started counting calories. And it worked, I lost around 30 pounds again, but I still wasn’t technically healthy about it. Packaged frozen Healthy Choice dinners and low calorie packaged foods, diet soda instead of regular, things that really did make a difference but still contained so many chemicals.
And eventually, the weight stopped coming off. And I even gained 5+ pounds back. When I was finished with school, I lost access to the gym so that stopped too. Then at the end of 2010 I decided I needed to get back on track. I signed up for my first ever 5k and started training. I am not a runner and it wasn’t easy. But when I finished 10 minutes under my goal, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to push myself further and to complete more races.
I did another 5k a month or two later and then kind of fell off the running for a few months. And then I decided to train for a half marathon. Crazy right? After doing Zumba for a few months, I stopped attending those classes and joined a gym in order to focus on my training. My Saturday mornings were spent waking up at 5am to go run countless miles in the freezing cold. That Thanksgiving, I ran my first 10k.
I logged well over 100 miles in the course of my training. And when I crossed that finish line, 30 minutes under my previous best time, I was so proud of myself. I can’t even describe the feeling. I was also exhausted, in pain, and wanted to eat all the food haha.
Since my half marathon, a year ago this weekend, I’ve remained dedicated to the gym. I go at least four days a week. I’ve continued to run and have done several 5k races with two coming up. And I’ve managed to lose another 30+ pounds. This past fall I competed in a 5-month weight loss competition at work. During those five months alone, I lost 22.6 pounds and my team came in 3rd place out of 25 teams. Again, counting calories and pushing myself a little harder in the gym paid off. People were always shocked when they asked what I changed and I’d respond with, “Actually, if anything, I’m eating more now than I was before.” And I do. I eat breakfast, a snack, lunch, a snack, dinner, and sometimes a snack after I workout.
So what am I doing to maintain? I still count calories religiously. Everything I consume gets tracked. Every glass of water I drink gets tracked. Every calorie I burn gets tracked. And with Livestrong’s iPhone app, it’s super easy to keep up with. Nine and a half months ago, I completely gave up soda of any form. And most recently, I’ve incorporated a “clean” diet into my daily routine. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t eat 100% clean. But things that are easiest for me to control are my breakfasts, snacks and lunches. I eat fruits and vegetables instead of yogurt and granola bars. I switched from 2% milk to unsweetened almond milk. I make a concerted effort to only pack all natural dishes for my breakfasts and lunches and I find that that is key. Packing my food the night before ensures that I’m eating healthy, that I’m not just grabbing something out of convenience. It prevents me from making a trip to the vending machine at work or to a drive-thru at lunchtime. I’ve been doing this for about three weeks now and I can’t believe how much more energy I have at the end of the day. I’d make it to the gym before, but there were nights it was an absolute struggle to get out the door. I had zero motivation and just did the movements until I got my workout in and could go home. Now I’m full of energy and ready to go and I actually still have energy when I’m done. And I honestly contribute this to keeping chemicals out of my body. Another thing I think has helped with my success is that I don’t have “cheat days.” I don’t believe in cheat days. If I want a handful of m&m's, I’m going to eat a handful of m&m’s. If I want to order French fries with my dinner, I’m going to order French fries with my dinner. I also love to bake, so if I want to bake cookies and cupcakes and brownies, you best believe I’m going to bake cookies and cupcakes and brownies. I don’t believe in depriving yourself of those things. It is absolutely okay to allow yourself those treats, just do it in moderation. This is also probably the reason I don’t push my clean eating a little further, haha! But it works for me. It may not work for you, but I’ve found what works for me. I’m not 100% happy with my body just yet, but I am happy with the effort I've put in and the results I've seen. And hopefully, with time, I'll mike a few more changes and learn to love the body I have.
So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to share recipes with you as I go. The “clean” eating is new to me. These recipes are new to me. It’s going to be trial and error. I’m not claiming to be in any way an expert about anything I say. In fact, I’m sure many people would tell me I’m doing everything all wrong, but like I said, I’m doing what works for me. I’m also going to force you to indulge because like I said, I like to bake. And sometimes you just need to be caught with your hand in the cookie jar. If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them. If you have any suggestions, I am all open. Hopefully I'll be here to motivate you. And hopefully, you can motivate me too.
So, who's ready to eat?