6 Years Ago….

Face Before/AfterI’m a sucker for all those timehop/memory features things that social media has these days. It’s always fun to remember what was going on in my life in the past. Today is one of those days I don’t need a reminder of. You might already know my story in some aspect or maybe you read about it but I wanted to share it again for those who maybe don’t know. 6 years ago this very day, I made a decision that would change the entire course of my life. I decided enough was ENOUGH. I was tired of being overweight, tired of my knees aching, tired of being a slave to food, tired of using food as a means to soothe my emotions, tired of not being able to wear any cute clothes, tired of accepting that I was just “big-boned” and tired of being trapped within my own skin. I had gotten to a point where I was starting to accept that I was never going to be anything but overweight/obese. For my entire adult life I had been this way and it seemed impossible to be anything else. I had tried diets, workouts, but nothing ever stuck and often times after losing a little weight, I’d gain it all back and then some.

Before & After6 years ago I was 244 pounds and there were times before that when I was even heavier. Today I am about 85 pounds lighter but my weight still fluctuates, last year I was at my lowest weight and that brought my total lost to 108 pounds. Since then I’ve gained a little bit back because I was less active because of back pain and even fell back into some old habits, but what changed 6 years ago is still true. For me it was two BIG things and although they might sound a little obvious, I assure you, it’s not just that cookie cutter “Diet and Exercise” change. It’s a little bit simpler than that and less daunting! I tell everyone.. if I can do it, anyone can.

So here’s the two MAIN things that completely changed everything for me:

  • Learning more about nutrition and how to make BETTER choices but most importantly, KEEPING TRACK of everything you eat. That might seem tedious, and it definitely takes an adjustment but it was incredibly ground-breaking for me because a lot of my problem was the amount of food I was consuming without even realizing. The mindless snacking, the bites here and there, the handful of this and that, the going back for seconds and not paying attention to portions. Just being accountable to keeping track of everything that I ate, really helped me to see what I was doing to myself. Here’s the thing, you can STILL EAT the not-so-healthy stuff. Just try to make wiser choices majority of the time. You hear all the time “moderation is key” and it’s pretty true, but you also have to know yourself and your pitfalls. For me, I really have to be wise about eating anything with sugar, because I have a bad sweet tooth and a sugar addiction, but I don’t completely deprive myself either because then you want it even more and when you mess up (and you will!) then you spiral back out of control!
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  • Getting Active. Plain and simple.. I know, I know… *insert a collective groan here* No, seriously.. don’t groan, don’t roll your eyes. It’s not as bad as you think! It honestly doesn’t take much. When I first started, I didn’t join a gym, I didn’t dive right in to a hardcore workout. I slowly added activity. I looked at my daily routine and tried to pick out the periods of time where I was being a couch potato and I simply replaced that with activity. You don’t have to give up Netflix to lose weight. I watched the same amount of TV and movies, I just eliminated the part about being glued to the couch. I stood up and marched in place while I watched tv. That’s it. That’s all I did to start. After that I added more and more. When I had lost most of my weight I was then fast-paced walking around 3 miles per day plus doing a 30 minute workout of my choice. I notice Fitbit added this new goal where they encourage you to have 250 steps for at least 9 hours of your day. It’s the same concept. The more active you are, the more calories you burn! Get active! Any way that is easy for you!
  • Beyond that.. a lot of it is a perspective change. Believe you can do it. Tell yourself you’re going to do it. And remember that you will have bad days, you will fall off track, you will still gain weight here and there… but don’t let it defeat you. A weight loss journey isn’t about watching the scale go down EVERY DAY or EVERY WEEK (it’s going to go up and down). It’s remembering where you started and your OVERALL progress and the downward trend.

    16-04-12-11-46-55-689_decoSo it’s been 6 years of ups and downs on the scale and ups and downs of life. Yes, I lost a lot of weight and my appearance has changed but if you ask me what changed most through this process, it wouldn’t be my appearance or my health. Making that decisions 6 years ago ended up being far more than just a healthy change. It was a life change. My personality evolved. My confidence boomed. It empowered me to believe I can truly do ANYTHING I put my mind to. Since then I have been more brave, I have been more social, I have been more able to step out of my comfort zone. I still can’t even believe myself sometimes. I used to be a very different person 6 years ago. So if I look back, one of the main reasons I am thankful for making that initial decision is because it gave me LIFE! It’s enabled me to actively pursue finding my purpose in life. It’s enabled me to do and try things I never would have tried 6 years ago. It’s unlocked a passion for health and fitness and encouraging others through their own journeys.

    Recently, even I have forgotten about that passion and today and right now as I’m remembering where I was 6 years ago, what I was facing 10 years ago. I’ve decided to get back on track. To find my will power again and to remember again, that I am stronger. I am stronger than that craving. I am stronger than that desire to be lazy. I am stronger than using food to soothe my emotions. For that matter… SO ARE YOU! So if you find yourself in that place that I was (and currently am), please don’t feel defeated. YOU ARE CAPABLE! And YOU CAN DO IT TOO!

    It’s very much a battle and a war with yourself that you are fighting, but you have to also be doing it for the right reasons. Do it for your health! Do it out of gratitude for being alive and having a body. Do it to stop taking your health and life for granted. Do it to extend your life. Do it so you can be a blessing and an inspiration to others. You’ll find if you have the right reasons, you will do far more than you ever expected or imagined!

    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

    Philippians 4:13

    The Comparison Trap & Finding What Drives You

    Along this four year health and fitness journey I have often gotten people approaching me asking me questions about how I did it, if it was hard, asking for advice or people just looking for motivation or accountability. I gotta tell you, it’s one of my FAVORITE things about the entire process. I love sharing my story, my progress and my struggles. I love giving hope to people who are currently standing in the same pair of shoes I once stood in. I not only welcome but I encourage others to feel free to come to me if they ever need to talk or are looking for help or just a little encouragement. I hope that’s what this blog is for some people because I know it’s always been and still is a huge comfort to me when I find people out there who have faced and fought this same battle. YES! I said it, it’s a BATTLE and I’m still fighting it every single day.

    Give Up Being PerfectI hate to admit it, but I often find myself getting caught up in the comparison trap. It’s really NOT a healthy place to be but, unfortunately, it’s extremely easy to get stuck in it. We’re surrounded by beautiful people on TV and in Movies, of course, but a lot of times it’s not always the photoshopped models in magazines that we compare ourselves to. It can just as easily be someone walking by on the street or even people you know and are close to. I know I struggle every day, even being in the best shape of my life, comparing myself with others and looking at people and wanting what they have. Wishing I could be like that naturally skinny girl I know that never eats anything healthy and can still confidently rock a bikini like nobody’s business. I catch myself thinking: “If I just had her tummy, it would be so much easier to shape the abs I want.” WHY do I do this to myself?

    After confessing that, I feel like I should clarify something: I have never been more confident in my own skin or in myself than I am right now and yet I still get caught in this comparison trap. Although many of us might not admit it, I know it’s pretty common. I bet even the most beautiful and most confident women out there have similar thoughts from time to time and that makes me kinda sad. Where does this come from and how is this even encouraging to those who are trying to lose weight and be more healthy?

    You have to find something that drives you and drives you for a good purpose. I suppose wanting to have a body like someone else is one way to get motivated as well as wanting to get in shape for bikini season, for a special event or wanting to shed weight from your pregnancy, those are all good reasons to start getting serious about health and fitness but what happens when you meet that goal or make that weightloss deadline? What then? Better yet, what happens when you DON’T meet your goals?

    This is why you have to find something that not only drives you but KEEPS driving you. When you do that, you will not only meet your goals, but you will surpass them!! I’m not saying you shouldn’t set goals, you absolutely should and it’s NECESSARY to set goals along the way, but I’m saying your journey should be MORE than that. Think about the people you know who have had success losing weight AND keeping it off. I bet they’d all tell you that it wasn’t diet and exercise, but a decision to live a healthier life. If your goal has an expiration date then most likely your results are going to expire too.

    So you might be asking what drives me? Well, I have a few things that constantly drive me (because, back up plans are wise!) and maybe one or some of these will help you find your own! So here are three ideas..

    Respect & Care for the Body You’re Given

    Our bodies are a gift from God. If we spent more time thinking about our bodies this way, I think we’d all find we would be a little bit more conscious of what we’re doing to it, what we put into it and what we’re thinking about it. Instead of fueling it with things that will eventually lead to health issues and instead of comparing our bodies to others, we should be thankful we have an able and healthy body! My brother was born with a heart condition and he was a HUGE reason I decided to take better care of my body. He was born with health conditions that he had no control over and yet, I was born in perfect health and was not taking care of myself. I got to thinking how much he would have loved to be able to live a long life and have a healthy body and here I was taking that for granted. Don’t take your body and health for granted. Respect it, appreciate it and be thankful for it!

    Make It About More Than Looking Good

    Psalm 139:14A lot of times we want to lose weight because we want to look better and be more attractive. While this often comes with the territory when you lose weight and become more fit, if it’s the only thing driving you, then it won’t last. First off… you are already BEAUTIFUL. Until you learn to love and appreciate yourself and the skin you’re in, you might never really commit to changing it. The main reason you need to ditch ‘appearance’ as a driving factor is because it can steal your motivation. I’m going to be honest with you, it takes A LOT of time and a LOT of hard work. Think about the years you’ve been overeating, eating unhealthy and/or neglecting physical activity. It took you YEARS to do the damage, it’s going to take a considerable amount of time for you to see the change you really want. I’ve lost over 100 pounds and I am STILL unhappy with the appearance of certain parts of myself. I know how easy it is to adopt the mindset “Well, I’m not seeing a change on the scale and that little fat roll is still there, why should I keep going?” Here’s why… every time you quit it just gets harder to start again. You’ll remember when you DID see a difference and wish you hadn’t lost all that progress you had made. So if you make appearances your driving force, you will always be unhappy. Make it more about FEELING your best, HAVING more energy and BECOMING a stronger healthier version of yourself! Nothing builds strength more than wanting to quit and, instead, persevering. I have pretty much let go of trying to be a certain weight or trying to look a certain way and I’m just trying to keep healthy. That’s not to say I don’t still have areas I’m trying to improve on, but that’s not what keeps me on the healthy path. Remember: You are ALREADY beautiful and you were fearfully and wonderfully made by God himself!

    Don’t Do It For Anyone Else But Yourself

    Be TRULY free...I know sometimes we feel pressure from our families and loved ones or maybe we feel pressured by society, but you can’t make a LIFE change for someone else. In order to succeed, it has to be your choice. Not only is it easier to have motivation when you’re doing it for YOU, but it is so much more rewarding when you can look back and see how far you have come and it was ALL your doing! I am a stubborn person and I mean REALLY stubborn. I don’t mean to say that if someone tells me to do something I just won’t do it. No, I’m the really really BAD stubborn type of person in that if you pressure me to do something, I not only WON’T do it, but I will do the opposite just to be spiteful. It’s terrible, I know! I’ve been this way since I was a kid (Sorry Mom!!) and definitely not much has changed there! So for me this is a given but for others it might not be as easy. I know it’s easy to be consumed by what others think of us and to do things more because we care what others think, but be reminded today that it’s not about what others think of you and sometimes you can’t even trust what you think about yourself. On those days, be driven by what GOD thinks about you. He loves you unconditionally, he thinks you’re special, strong and capable of far more than you even imagine. If that won’t motivate you, I don’t know what will!

    So if you’re having trouble finding motivation or staying motivated, think about what is driving you and find your BEST driving force(s)! Maybe you want to extend your life so you can meet your grandkids someday or maybe you want to have the energy and stamina to keep up with YOUR kids. There are so many more reasons to get more healthy and be more fit, make sure you pick the ones that will keep you the most motivated and constantly REMIND yourself of them on a regular basis. It’s all too easy to forget why you’re doing it in the first place!