Happy Friday Beauties!
I'm finally writing the post that I can no longer avoid...
Over the past few years I've shared a lot of information on eating healthy, getting in shape, creating balance and practicing self-care. But I've successfully avoided sharing much of my personal journey.
There is a reason for that. Three reasons in fact:
- First, it is never my intention to spur comparison. My intention is to inspire you to look inward, appreciate your body and find what works for YOU, not me.
- Second, I have never seen my story as incredibly inspiring. I've never been significantly overweight. I've also never had an insanely hot bod. There isn't a big WOW factor. I'm just a normal woman who's gained some weight, lost some weight, drank too much, ate too much, ate really well, ate really poorly, been lazy, been active, etc. etc. I'm just a normal woman with ups and downs like the rest of you.
- Third, I NEVER want to appear as though I am perfect or have it all figured out. Because I don't. Even though I'm a professional, I'm still a work in progress.
But ultimately, you guys have continually asked to hear more of my own journey and so today I'll share part 1 (it's a long story, I'll do my best to pare it down).
I've lived through a lot of ups and downs and a lot of different seasons on my health and fitness journey. And I'm thankful to say that the older I get, the healthier I feel and the more I love my body.
I can honestly say I feel more confident and appreciate my body more than I did when I was 21.
But it didn't just happen. Physical fitness and self-confidence don't come naturally with age. I've strived and worked for both with a lot of trial and error.
When I went to college I gained the expected freshman 15 (or 20, who knows). I didn't fit comfortably in my clothes, my face was bloated, I ate like crap, avoided photos, was tired all the time and ironically, was focused on losing weight every single day.
I tried to lose weight by eating salads in the dorm cafeteria, trudging away on the elliptical and forcing myself to run after being out late with friends.
I used artificial sweeteners in my coffee, tried to follow weight watchers, ate egg substitutes, low-fat foods, lean pockets, diet Dr. Pepper and 100 calorie snack packs on the regular.
I was putting loads of thought and emotional energy into losing weight but was ignorant to the fact that I was sabotaging my efforts in so many ways by the choices I was making.
I was uncomfortable in my skin and looking back, truly uncomfortable in my life.
I knew I needed a change.
Eventually I moved to California to live with my cousin, his wife, and their two kids. They are health nuts in the best kind of way. Every morning they wake up and immediately strategize how they'll each get their individual workouts in based on their busy schedules and childcare needs.
In all honesty, I thought this was kind of overboard and extreme, but now that I have a kid of my own I totally get it. Without strategizing and planning workouts won't happen. But I digress...
During this time I continued in the same well-intentioned, but largely misdirected pattern.
I started running every morning...and rewarding myself in the afternoon with Ice Blendeds from The Coffee Bean. I went to yoga on Saturdays and rewarded myself at dinner with a big burrito + extra chips and guac. I earned it right?
I continued to feel uncomfortable in my skin. Not because I was largely overweight, but because I was not living in balance. Because I wasn't in my natural state of health and well-being. My clothes weren't fitting. I was struggling with confidence and peace.
I was punishing myself with workouts and rewarding myself with unhealthy foods.
It's no wonder my weight continued to climb.
Eventually, I returned to college and stopped working out completely.
And it was the best decision.
You can read about that part of the story right here.
Once I stopped using exercise as punishment and unhealthy food as a reward, things began to change.
I have a distinct memory of a thought entering my mind one morning clear as day:
"you're not going to change the way you look and feel if you don't change what you're doing each day."
I realize that may sound simplistic...and it is. But at that point in my life it was the most profound realization I'd had in a long time.
Over the years I had put A LOT of time, energy and emotion into thinking about losing weight.; into hating my body; into thinking about how I should work out; into reading articles and books about how to get fit.
If only I had put the same amount of energy into actually DOING.
The truth is, I was doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.
Since that day, I've poured time and energy into working from the inside out; into changing my thoughts and internal conversations so that they translate into my daily life; into realizing which things work for me and my body and which things don't; into embracing the fact that if I want to see and experience change I ACTUALLY HAVE TO CHANGE WHAT I'M DOING.
I quit the gym.
I completely gave it up.
No more long, boring cardio sessions while watching Real Housewives.
No more elliptical.
No more stair climber.
I didn't enjoy it, it wasn't working, it had to go.
Pilates taught me to re-connect with my body. It taught me how to enjoy exercise again. It left me feeling positive and strong. It got me off the hamster wheel.
Pilates alone doesn't provide a huge calorie burn so it helped me break the cycle of rewarding myself for exercise with unhealthy foods (aka: replacing my hard-earned calorie burn).
A new cycle began.
A cycle of keeping the good thing going.
So instead of bingeing on treats after my workout it felt more natural to cook a healthy meal and enjoy it with a nice glass of wine.
Pilates taught me to listen to my body and pay attention to its needs.
My perspective of what it meant to be healthy continued to change, and my body followed suit.
I started reading ingredient lists instead of nutrition labels.
I started shopping at the farmers market.
I stopped getting take-out for lunch.
I started paying attention to the way food/exercise made me feel.
I quit using artificial sweeteners and started using real sugar instead.
I stopped watching calories.
I stopped wearing a watch while running.
I eliminated all negative self-talk.
I spent more time in workout clothes which lead me to be more active on a regular basis; walks, Pilates, goofing off with friends, impromptu tennis matches, etc.
My workouts became less about punishment or obligation and more about the way they made me feel.
I began to write and blog about my experience because I wanted others to experience the same freedom and results that I was experiencing.
I've continued down this path of transformation and the freedom just keeps getting better and better.
And then I gained 45 lbs...
Prior to getting pregnant, I was in great shape. Stronger than I had ever been.
Instead of worrying about what would happen to my body during pregnancy I focused on nourishing myself as much a possible so that I could have healthy, enjoyable pregnancy.
I gained about 40-45 lbs while growing my little human and it showed. But I didn't care. As a fitness professional it was actually a nice change to focus on getting bigger instead of getting smaller.
After my daughter arrived, I promised to give myself time to lose the weight. At least a year, and if the weight wasn't gone in a year then I'd call in some reinforcements. :)
Here I am, 1 year out and 15 lbs lighter than the day I got pregnant. Feeling healthy, strong and balanced.
(I really, really hesitated posting this photo but you all encouraged me so here you go. :)
In part 2, I'll share more about how I lost the baby weight, but I'll give you a hint: it's more of the same. Freedom, grace, self-care and making one healthy decision at a time. Plus some really great recipes that include plenty of fat. :)
PS - Can you relate to my story? If you're ready to stop doing the same things that aren't bringing results I strongly encourage you to consider joining The Balanced Life Sisterhood. It's an incredible online community of women that will help you reach your goals.