I'm about to break one of THE cardinal rules of being female - I'm getting ready to share not only my AGE, but my WEIGHT...
For the first time since 1984, I actually weigh LESS than what it says on my driver's license. And, if you're like 99.9% of the women out there, you know exactly what I mean when I use the words WEIGH and DRIVER'S LICENSE in the same sentence.
Yesterday I hit my goal weight of 155 pounds. I'm 5'10" and 5 months shy of 45 years old. I've lost a total of 50 pounds since I was at my heaviest and gone from a size 16 to a size 6.
Here's the before and after to put things in perspective...
God bless Nick, my husband. He just looked at that before pick and said 'you never looked like THAT'. Well there it is, in living color - obviously I did look like that. Apparently when they say 'love is blind', it's true :)
It took some digging to find a representative 'before' photo. When you're heavy, you tend to spend much more time behind the camera than you do in front of it. And those rare pics where you are in front of the camera typically get deleted right after they're taken; found this one in the Trash on my computer.
As you start reading this, it's probably going to sound like 1,842,312 other similar stories out there.
This one is different. This one is mine. One that proves that at 44 and half, if I can tell a story like this, anyone can.
I've struggled with weight my entire life. I was your typical yo yo dieter - starvation diet, grapefruit diet, Dexatrim, The Zone, Fit for Life, Slim Fast, and Weight Watchers (3 or 4 different times over 15 years). You name it, I tried it, going all the way back to high school. Always looking for that magic 'pill'. Turns out I could have been the quintessential 'poster child' for what NOT to do - God only knows what all those years of yo yo dieting and not eating well did to my body.
3.5 years ago I was traveling extensively for my job at the time. In one month I logged 2 separate trips to Europe along with a trip to Minnesota and a trip to Louisiana. Not only did that wreak havoc with my sleeping, but my eating was out of control. At the end of that month I stepped on the scale and was shocked - the numbers staring back at me were 205. GULP
The before picture above was taken that hellish travel month on one of my trips to Europe.
Excuses? Oh, I had them. "I have a full time job with a 2 hour commute each day, a husband, two kids, I'm too busy to exercise". "I don't have time to plan meals." You name the excuse, and I'm sure I muttered it, if not out loud, at least to myself, at least once a day, at least every day.
When I was pregnant with our 2nd son 13 years ago, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Interestingly enough, that form of diabetes is in no way related to a woman's health going into a pregnancy, rather the inability to process an adequate amount of insulin during pregnancy. I followed the strictest, medically supervised diet, I'd ever been on in my life. I wasn't messing around - it was my baby I was putting at risk. Despite following it "to the'T", the diet didn't manage the insulin levels as it should, so I began taking insulin injections twice daily for the last 4 months of my pregnancy. The good news - Sam was a healthy baby and my gestational diabetes was gone instantly after I had him.
I only gained 12 pounds with his pregnancy; when I came home from the hospital, I weighed less than I did when I got pregnant. I could do it, I'd seen it work. Funny, although I could follow the strictest 'clean' diet when my baby's health was at stake, I couldn't follow through with it after my pregnancy when it was my own health at stake.
An interesting fact about gestational diabetes - after you have it you have a 50% chance of getting diabetes later in life; those are not good odds.
So, when I stepped on that scale, it was the beginning of a very loud wake up call. Nick's dad died in his mid 40's due to a long bout with diabetes, so that disease holds a little more meaning in our house than most. Bottom line - it's not something to mess around with.
That spring I made a decision to change jobs and I was stressed. One night I went for a walk and decided to run home. I'd never run in my life. Always thought I hated it. Turns out I didn't, I loved it. I gradually worked my way from walking half my route and running the other half to running a 10k in under 60 minutes. A pretty big feat for me. After eating more healthy and logging 60-70 miles a month, I'd dropped 25 lbs in 6 months.
Unfortunately, my 42 year old body wasn't as excited about the running as my mind was. First I developed IT Band Syndrome and later patellar tendinitis. It got to the point where I couldn't run more than a mile before I was in pain and had to turn around and walk home.
I bet you can see where this was headed... Depressed because I couldn't run, stopped exercising, started eating crap again and what do you know - 15 months ago I was right back up to 195 again. Ridiculous.
This is where my story really begins. 15 months ago - December 2011 - my brother and sister in law convinced us to try CrossFit. I blogged about it a year ago here.
I won't lie to you, CrossFit was (was? what am I saying? hell, it STILL IS) tough, physically and mentally. I had never done anything like it before. I was so intimidated walking in those doors the first few weeks and I was so self conscious about my body that I wore a zipped up jacket for every single 'dripping sweat' workout for the first 4 months. After 4 months of going to CrossFit 4-5 times I week, I felt ok enough to shed that jacket - it was like shedding a part of my old self.
I also tried on my wedding dress that April. The one I wore almost 17 years earlier. It fit for the most part, although it wouldn't zip all the way up in the back.
With CrossFit 4-5 days a week, combined with eating pretty well, I'd lost 30 pounds by September.
But, then life started to get in the way, the boys started football, CrossFit dropped back to 2 days a week, my old eating habits kicked back in and what do you know, I'd put 10 pounds back on by December.
Our CrossFit gym at the time was offering a free consult with a nutritionist. I met with him once and knew it was what I needed once and for all to close the last chapter of my old self and start a new one.
I learned a few things right off the bat that I'd been doing wrong all along -
1. I was waiting too long to eat breakfast after I woke up
2. I wasn't eating enough calories
3. I wasn't eating often enough
4. I wasn't eating the right combinations of protein, carbs and fat every time I ate
Fast forward to yesterday. After meeting with my nutritionist once a week for the last 14 weeks, eating a "clean" diet of lean proteins, nuts, fruits, vegetables, limited carbs and no sugar (I indulged in a glass of wine a few times), combined with my CrossFit workouts 4-5 days a week, yesterday I hit my goal weight of 155 pounds.
I think the last time I saw those numbers on the scale was probably almost 30 years ago.
Interestingly enough, I went from 30% down to 17% body fat during that 14 weeks with my nutritionist, lost 26 pounds of fat and gained 10 pounds of muscle - the nutrition did all of that; I didn't change my CrossFit routine at all. The most amazing thing about the food is the energy I have. It's like I'm 30 again! Another benefit is my performance at CrossFit - I can go longer and lift more weight - bonus!
At almost 45, I can honestly say I am the healthiest and strongest I have ever been in my life.
It certainly wasn't easy and 15 months is a long time.
It's taken me 45 years to get here. To come to the realization that I will never be skinny. I don't need to be skinny. What I need to be is strong and healthy and that's what I am. And now, if I do end up with diabetes later in life as a result of the gestational diabetes, I'll know that I did everything within my power to prevent it.
Guess what? That elusive 'magic pill'? It exists. It's called exercising regularly and eating "clean" most of the time.
Ok. Nearing the end of the story. And I know what you're thinking - she has a history of yo yoing, how is this time any different?
I know what it takes to be where I am today. I am so much more knowledgable about food and exercise than I've ever been in the past. I'll continue to see my nutritionist once a month for as long as I need to, to help make sure I stay on the right path. And I'll continue to do CrossFit 4-5 days a week.
This is my new life, new habits are firmly established and I know that I have the support of my husband, my family, my friends, my nutritionist and my CrossFit families at CrossFit Sandy and CrossFit GSL. I'm no dummy, when they say 'It Takes a Village', it really does....
Here's that wedding dress I mentioned earlier. When I wore it almost 18 years ago, when I tried it on a year ago, and when I tried it on again today...
Thanks for letting me share my story!