Friday, January 11, 2013

From Tubby to Skinny...time for some journey updates

My journey is not complete...but I am at a point where I am taking a moment to look back and just be real.  This is a little bit on the tough side to write because I'm truly having a hard time associating myself with who this person was just a few years ago.

May 2008
July 2009.  That's me in the middle.  I had about 5 shirts I could wear...that was one of them.
As I'm putting this picture on here my 5 year old says, "Mom, is that you?  You look kindof weird."

Today...January 11th, 2013
Daughters room :)  ...only place with a
full length mirror in our house.  And yes, that is a
Girls Gone Strong tank that I have on.
Glad you asked!  :)

Yeah...I have a baby bicep  :)  

How much weight have I lost?
Since the start of this I have lost 80 pounds. Wowzers!  (Now, I'm pretty sure I weighed more than what I think is my top weight but we are sticking with the number I know I saw on the scale).    At the moment I am 8 pounds away from actually being in the "ideal weight" for my height.  I am pretty sure that I have never been in the ideal group...unless I was a little kid.

I have gone from wearing a tight fitting XXL to a medium/large in most things...just depends on what it is, who makes it and how it fits.  Do I still have some of my old clothes?  I have given most of it away or sold it but have a few sweatshirts and shirts that I still find comfy...a really baggy comfy.  :)

I think of this journey as phases...mostly because I can see the starting points and ending points very clearly.  I wrote about this journey mostly from Phase 2 and on and have included some links below to those blog posts that really reflect on key moments for me with this journey.

How this journey started - Phase 1
I've had three kids and those pregnancies wrecked my hips.  My hip joints (specifically the si joint) were shot...not just one but both of them.  Having three kids made my hips move in ways that caused pain almost the entire pregnancy.  My hips popped (you actually could hear it pop or something pop in there) and I was in pain all of the time.  I couldn't walk up the stairs without extreme pain and before I got help I was crawling up our stairs most of the time.  Sleeping, sitting in cars or just moving in general had pain associated with it.  There were degrees of pain though and it was just a way of life that I accepted...that is, until it hurt too much.

After having Quinn in 2007 the pain just didn't go away like it did with my other pregnancies.  An idea of the pain level...the pain during labor actually wasn't as bad as the pain I had with my hip during labor.  I actually screamed at the doctor to get him out because my hip hurt so bad, not my stomach area.  I even had drugs during the labor but I don't think they worked for that one. know what I mean.  :)

I lived with this pain for close to 2 years after my little man was born and then finally went to see a doctor.  I worked with a physical therapist who put the situation in black & white for me:  here are some exercises to do.  If you don't do them you will most likely need a hip replaced.  I was a little over 30 years old and "hip replacement" shouldn't be a solution.  I was told that if I did the work he gave me it would be about a year before I had some pain free moments.  He was was almost a year exactly when I realized that for a few moments of my day I was pain free.

Phase 2 - when I joined a gym (around 2009)
Joining a gym was something new for me and like all new things I was nervous.  Was I dedicated?  Not at that point.  I found excuses why I didn't need to go, I would stay in the women's area most of the time and workout in that safe and secure spot.  I wasn't happy with how I looked at all and I was embarrassed   I was only dedicated to workout to make the pain stop and I knew that there were a few machines at the gym that could help, so I used those and did cardio.  It didn't click until a lot later that I was capable of doing so much more and that the reason for all of the pain was all because of the weight I carried on my body and because my core, lower back and leg muscles weren't working together or strong enough.  I had the American view that I could just eat what I want and everything would be fine.  Looking at pictures from back then it really should have clicked that being in the obese category would cause health problems...but no, I had no clicks and no one said a word to me that I should lose weight.

When I started working out I was focused on calories.  I had to burn "___" calories, that was all I thought about.  Just by starting to move more I lost about 25 pounds.  I was in pain all the time as I was working out so it wasn't glorious or fun in any way but I did have some friends that went to the gym with me too.  If not for friends and their encouragement I probably would have given up.  I did my PT exercises during the day at least once and mostly just cardio machines (treadmill, elliptical) at the gym.  I tried to do leg exercises on the roman chair once and couldn't do it...not a single one.  I knew in my mind that I should be able to do these...and that was one of my first goals for myself; do at least 1 knee raise on the roman chair.

Phase 3 - yucky food and first plateau
I hit my first weight coming off and stuck at what exercises to keep doing...I was bummed.  My body was figuring things out and was resisting losing weight, no matter how many calories I tried to burn away on cardio machines.

Being real in this phase means looking back at not only what I did for exercise but also how I ate.  Our family was a frequent visitor of Baker's Square...and when you go to Baker's Square you have to have pie.  Dessert was not a sometimes food for me...I craved it and had it pretty much every day.  I craved McDonald's.  I craved french fries.  I craved ice cream.  I would even make up excuses to go to an area of town just so I could eat something I picked up while we were out.  The number of calories consumed per day were unreal!  I was also a secret eater.  I would go to the store, buy a bag of cookies and eat them in the car.  The bag would be under my seat and I would have a handful more the next time I was in the car.  So unhealthy...but yet that is what I did.  White chocolate macadamia nut die. for.  Sometimes I would eat all of the cookies, sometimes I would only have half the bag.  Food was my problem and I needed some help in that area because I have zero willpower.

I started Medifast and did that for about 3 months.  In that time I lost about 25 more pounds.  The food was gross other than about 2 things that I was able to eat but it worked for me.  The weight came off and came off fast though and was what I needed in order to get over the hump of weight that was holding me back from being able to do more and still have less pain.  I knew in my mind though that exercise was key and that I needed to continue this journey with exercise otherwise this weight was coming back.  I transitioned without gaining any weight back and kept on working hard at the gym.

Phase 4 - mind shift
I was just above 200 pounds for what seemed like an eternity.  Month after month...all I saw was that 2XX number.  I wanted out of it.  My mission was to see a number that started with a 1.  I waited for an entire year before I finally saw that number but I also learned in this phase that the scale really is just a number.  I found other ways to truly measure my success and I tried to stay away from the scale.  It wasn't making me feel successful even when I felt stronger and healthier.

This entire year was when my mind started to shift from just losing weight to actually being a healthy and strong person.  I was introduced to strength training and cycling and found two things that I truly enjoyed doing.  I was excited about this and wanted everyone to try it because I was seeing results.  I think I've invited everyone I know to come to the gym with me...and I've had about 2 people actually show up.

Inches were melting away and what was more of a routine started to become a habit.  Going to the gym early in the morning was important and necessary for me and was something on my to-do list rather than something that I thought I should do.  I was making "me" important by giving myself the time that I needed to get healthier.  If I did not make exercise a priority in my life and take the time each morning I know that I would be back to old habits and big numbers on the scale again.

Little by little I started to change what I ate.  Being a mom with three kids and a husband can make it difficult though to make drastic life changes in regards to food.  The entire year was spent replacing certain items with something a little bit healthier but slowly.  Doing things slowly and adjusting to changes one at a time was something I learned from the personal trainer I worked with.

My mind also had to grasp the changes in size that my body was going through.  Honestly, my head still doesn't have this figured out and I still go to the XXL section at stores when I am shopping clearance.  This is a work in progress and something that I am constantly reminded of as I walk into my closet to see what I can wear.

Phase 5 - almost to the finish line
This is where I am now.  I see the finish line but am not rushing to get there.  I am taking this stage the right way...eating what I should, exercising with a plan and working on balance.  The finish line is "ideal weight" according to the charts.  I am 8 pounds away from the top of that chart and I am ecstatic that I am so close...I know that one of these days I will reach that goal.

For this stage I changed two things.
  1. Started a strength training program from Nia Shanks.  It is tough.  It is amazing.  I don't recommend this for everyone because if you don't like strength training you won't do this.  It is all lifting, watching the food you eat and being dedicated to doing the work.    
  2. Nutrition.  I heard this word and so many times I would roll my eyes or mentally just plug my ears and think of my dream land of Godiva chocolate and my favorite candies in the world.  They always say that abs are made in the kitchen...and I can testify that yes, a lean body is not made by eating cheeseburgers and french fries.  I was still eating that garbage and way too much bad stuff.  Eating at a restaurant wasn't a was more of a necessity.  Busy lives mean no time to cook at home.  My husband decided that he was going to do Atkins and after a week I went low-carb as well.  Everything that I read for the last 2 years was all about cutting carbs, eating clean and healthy foods.  In a nutshell...that is Atkins, or at least a similar version of it.  I am conscious when I need good carbs after a workout and make it a point to eat green things quite a bit.  All of the treats, candy, cookies (other than a few at Christmas)...all that garbage I ate before (including fast food) is gone.  I don't count my carbs...I just don't eat the processed, white stuff that is out there.  No pasta.  No bread.  Very small amounts of seriously small amounts.   
Changing my nutrition is what got me under 200 pounds again...and I haven't been under 200 since high school.  I knew in the back of my mind that if I changed what I ate I would see the results that I was striving for.  A part of me just didn't want to give the freedom of having all of those food choices up though.  I really like eating chocolate and chips and cheeseburgers.  Making those unhealthy choices was not getting me to my goal and it was time to actually step things up a bit more.

This was the first time that I have really had someone with me, side by side, day by day, sharing in this journey.  I have wanted a friend or someone to just go along this with me, understand what I was doing and help keep me accountable but everyone has a different journey and theirs didn't quite mesh with mine.  Having my husband beside me now, knowing what I am eating each day and understanding what is good to eat and isn't has been huge.  I have absolutely zero willpower and he knows that.  If there was bad food in the house, I would eat the entire bag of it in one sitting without a problem.

I have lost 17 pounds in this phase and I feel strong, healthy and really good.  I even had to buy another new size of clothes because my winter coat was huge on me and the pants I wear running started to fall off as I run.  My pants are spandex...and my spandex was falling down.  That just shouldn't happen.  :)

My pain level now is normal other than a few rare times when I am sitting in a car too long.  I used to have pain after I ran and would have to go on the hip abductor and adductor machine to basically snap them back into place.  I haven't had to do any specific physical therapy exercises in 9 to 12 months.

What else I have done:
  • Losing weight for me has been one small goal after another.  I stayed motivated by giving myself little goals to reach one bigger goal.  Ultimately, "ideal weight" is my ending goal but is not the end of my journey.
  • I get up early and get to the gym by 5am.  I work out for an hour or two at least 5 days a week...but it is usually 6.
  • I read and read and read.  I want to know what to do, want to make sure my form is right and that the exercises I am doing are paired correctly with other exercises.  Girls Gone Strong is a huge motivator for me and they are so encouraging.  I have done things that I never thought was possible just because of this group.
  • I'm in the process of getting certified to teach cycling classes and group exercise classes.  I have been subbing for a cycling class and a few others the last couple of months and I truly fell in love with this job.  I enjoy motivating others and giving some eduction, especially in the area of strength training.  I enjoy kicking the class members' butts (and mine as well) and seeing their minds click once they have figured something out in class.  I want others to see success too because it is possible!
  • I record what I do at the gym.  At first I thought this was stupid.  Why were so many people writing things down?  I didn't get it at all.  When I started lifting weights though I wrote everything down and carry around a cute, little notebook with me.  I also use an online source called Fitocracy.  Not only is this a great place to be motived by others who are being healthy but I can hopefully encourage others to continue to work hard.  I think that is where my journey is leading towards...helping others realize that they can make changes and get healthier.  
  • I've also prayed.  As I'm on the treadmill, elliptical, in cycling class...wherever...I just pray for whatever is on my mind.  I prayed that I would continue to stay motivated and push myself.  This was a long journey and not one that I could do on my own.  
I don't know why I made the choices to be unhealthy but I do know that the path I was going towards was diabetes and other medical problems.  Health issues run in my family and I didn't want to be another statistic, lose a toe because of diabetes, have to take insulin, end up having cancer because of the crappy, processed food that was rotting my insides or have a heart attack.  I wanted to be me again and I just couldn't find who that person was through those extra pounds.

The Past Few Years
I went through some of the blog posts that I have written in the past that stick out for me and are some of my favorites.  The posts show the journey in and of itself...what I've done, what I have tried and of course...the pictures.  Oh my goodness...the pictures.

Stats of my Journey
Weight loss to date:  79 pounds

Amount of inches lost since August 25th, 2010 (over a year after I started physical therapy)
Waist: 10 inches
Chest: 6 inches
Hips: 8 inches
Thighs:  3 1/2 inches each
Arms:  2 inches each

I hope that this real moment from me inspires you to keep pushing yourself, get your butt up and out of bed on the mornings that you just don't want to exercise and to think about the goals that you might have for yourself.  If I can do this...anyone can!


Anonymous said...

Awesome Job Jessica!

I can totally relate to a lot of what you said. Especially the lack of pictures of me. Last year I lost 55lb and it's encouraging to read your blog to motivate me to keep going.

Jessica said...

Thanks, Deann. Right back at ya! did you lose weight? I like to hear stories about what other people do too...helps me stay motivated as well.