With January fast approaching, and my Whole365 on the horizon, I wanted to share my weight loss story.
My journey starts way back in 2002. I was 16 and had just gotten into a new relationship with an older guy. At that time, I was slim, active and was loving life. He drove me around, which meant less walking for me, and we ate A LOT. Lunches would consist of Kraft Dinner at his place, or taking a drive to the local McDonald's or chip truck where we would order ridiculous amounts of food and share it amongst our little group of friends. I'm sure everyone remembers high school and not caring much about what we put in our bodies, or worrying much about how it would affect us later in life. I was no exception. I would eat as much as my boyfriend and his friends, coupled with little to no exercise, it quickly caught up with me.
Fast forward to 2007. I was 231 pounds, depressed, eating my feelings, and still trying to eat as much as I could. I ignored my stomach's cries to stop what I was doing and trudged on. I eventually thought I needed to stop this ridiculous cycle and sought help in the form of a book called The Fat Smash Diet. After reading through the guidelines, my boyfriend (who was also overweight) and I dove into this lifestyle change. I told my dad and step mom about my plans, and they were overjoyed, having been meaning to talk to me about my weight gain. I asked Dad to take some "before" pictures for me, which he willingly did. After our photo shoot, I looked at the small preview of my pictures on the camera, and was brought to tears at the sight of myself. I had never seen such honest pictures of me, because the mirror lies. I had rolls I never knew existed, and about three chins. These pictures were devastating. But they were also motivating! I was determined now more than ever to get my life back on track.
After following the Fat Smash for the recommended three weeks, I was down 30 pounds and feeling like I could take on the world! But here is where I went wrong... I decided that since I had done so well, I would "treat" myself with a Baconator from Wendy's and a large fry and coke. It was greasy and disgusting, but it was my treat and I was determined to eat it all. After all, I had earned it. Boy was I wrong. After that, it was a fast food frenzy again. I had learned nothing in the previous three weeks about how I should be feeding myself. I thought that if I lost some weight, I would just stay there and could do whatever I wanted without facing any consequences, I was still young after all. Of course, that's not true, and I was quickly packing the pounds back on. I was disappointed and angry, which meant reaching for sugary and salty treats as comfort. Which meant I was back in my vicious cycle.
About a year after my failed diet, my boyfriend and I broke up and I moved in with my dad and step mom. There I was only eating three meals a day, and I had started going to the gym three times a week. I'm 21 years old at this time, and watching the weight melt off my body. In the first year away from my bad habits, I was able to lose 70lbs and was at a healthy 155lbs. I felt sexy for the first time in my life. I was able to shop in the stores I had only dreamed of shopping at in the past. Everything was great. However, my sugar dragon was still there, still trying to claw its way back out.
At the end of 2008, I met the man who would eventually become my husband. We had a whirlwind romance that led to a pregnancy early on in our relationship. While I was thrilled to be starting a family with him, I had completely forgotten about my food rules, and figured "I'm pregnant! I should be able to eat whatever I want, and it'll be fine!" Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Before I knew it, I was back up to my highest weight: 230lbs. I waited the six weeks after giving birth, and decided to try and get my weight back on track. And I did! In the form of home workouts. Having a new baby, I wasn't able to go to the gym like I had done before, and turned to Beachbody workouts, as well as a Nike fitness workout program for the Xbox. While keeping my eating in check (I had cut out soda and junk food and only stuck to my three meals rule that worked so well for me before) and eventually brought myself back down to 160lbs. This took about two years, and I maintained it for just as long.
Now we're in 2013, I'm hovering around 165-170, and hubby and I decide to have another baby. I told myself I would keep up with the workouts and eat sensibly, but of course I did the same thing with this pregnancy as I did with my first. Threw caution to the wind and ate like a pig. After I gave birth this time, I was 239lbs. My biggest ever. I was depressed and angry again, but why? I knew what would happen, I'd been there before. The problem was that I. Couldn't. Stop. No matter how hard I tried, my brain/body would fail me, and I ended up face-first in a bag of Cherry Blasters every night. I found myself having to lose an excess amount of weight for the third time in my relatively short life.
As shameful as this is, I would go to the convenience store, spend $30 on junk food, telling myself I would only eat a little tonight and save the rest, but that never happened. I would always eat it all. Always. I would eat when I wasn't hungry, I would eat when I was happy, sad, stressed, you name it. Food was my drug of choice, and my sugar dragon, my best friend. I would eat in secret, too. Go into the cupboard when no one was home, eat the entire bag of goldfish crackers I had bought FOR MY KIDS, and hide the wrapper at the bottom of the garbage can. You know those "funny" memes: "I don't just eat the pizza, I eat it until I hate myself" well that was my daily reality. I started looking up symptoms of overeating disorders, and decided to talk to my doctor, who indeed diagnosed me with the eating disorder. At least now I knew that it wasn't my fault, it was a chemical imbalance in my brain and body making me feel this way. I knew I could be stronger than it, and I planned to be.
Over the last two years, I've struggled with different diets and health plans. I tried shakes, and portion control, it worked for a little while, but in the end I would always go back to the way I was with food. Too much, too often. I found I had the discipline, but only for a short time. Thanks to the Whole30, I now know why that was.
While I was keeping my portions under control, I was still eating the foods that I loved, those with no brakes. I was still allowed cheese, and pasta, and rice, and was allowed cheat days. Well, what do you think I would do on those cheats days? You guessed it, eat sugar, and crackers and chips. No wonder I wasn't able to break the cycle. I was just sabotaging myself over and over again.
Finally, I found the Whole30 and my prayers were answered. Since starting the program on October 10, 2016, I have not touched artificial sugar, only those that occur naturally in fruits and vegetables. I feel the greatest I have in my life, who knew my 30th year would be my best? I certainly didn't. I was struggling with an eating disorder and feeling like I had no hope of recovery. But now, now I feel like I have finally achieved food freedom! I only eat when I'm hungry, and I keep the sugar dragon chained to the walls deep in the cellar where it cannot see the light of day. Yes I still have cravings, some days are worse than others, but I can control my impulses a little easier now. Most cravings only last about 3-5 minutes and then they go away. Sometimes you just have to be tough on yourself to get to your goals. Don't allow yourself to have cheat days, because they just reinforce bad habits, and it's a slippery slope.
Today, I am a mere ghost of the person I used to be. A much healthier and happier picture of myself. I'm 164lbs, but that doesn't even matter anymore. What matters is how I feel, how my clothes fit, and what I put in my body. I finally learned how I'm supposed to feel, and that is happy. I'm supposed to feel happy!