Thursday, July 15, 2010

The night I knew I had to get healthy

Happy Thursday! This week is FLYING by! I have been busy with work and a few side projects, so I haven't posted as much as I usually do--forgive me!  :) Since I stepped out on my own into personal training business  I have been thinking lately about what made me stop the lifestyle I was living and make a change. It could be because summer means potlucks, BBQ and getting to see everyone in "small" clothes. 

Everyone has moments where we realize that there needs to be a change. Whether it's a healthy lifestyle change, a job change, a relationship change, whatever it may be. For me, the moment, I knew I had to make a change in my life and start toward being healthier was about 6 years ago! 

I was the heaviest I have ever been. I was a smoker, I drank too much, too often and to fill a void. Food? Same thing. I ate whole bags of chips, I ate sweets, I snuck food, I ate when I was sad, blue, anxious, happy etc... I ate because I was unhappy and I was unhappy, in part, because I ate. I was in a stressful business partnership, I was in an unhealthy relationship and I was about to get a wake up call. 

I decided I was going to donate plasma for extra money (ugh! what a horrible desperate thing to do, had I known then what I know now, I wouldn't have done it!) and had to weigh myself in as part of all their flaming hoops. Well, I didn't own a scale at home and in all honesty, I didn't much pay attention to how my clothes fit, I just bought bigger and bigger clothes. Even the bigger clothes would get tight. It kind of "snuck up on me."

I had the most BEAUTIFUL vintage dresses that are now 8 sizes too big! 

When I stepped on the scale I realized that I was 10 pounds heavier than the last number I had seen, the last time I had weighed myself the year previous. My heart sunk. The year before I was the heaviest I had ever been. THIS was now 10 pounds over that. I came home that night and called my mom, I remember lighting up, pacing around my apartment waving my smoke around and told my Mom how much I weighed. 

I was really distressed and Mom was straight with me: Unhealthy. It's not about being slim or wearing skinny jeans or being hot. My HEALTH was at risk. It was unsafe, unhealthy for me to be at that weight.  I ate like junk, sugar, fat and TOO much. I smoked almost a pack of cigarettes a day. I knew I had to change and it was heavy on my heart when soon after, I had a customer of mine ask me THAT question.  

WE ALL hear horror stories about THAT question: Are you pregnant? I was mortified and whether or not it was inappropriate, having tipped the scale when I did and having that woman ask me "that" question, I was at my breaking point. 

I tossed out the sweets, the snacks, on my post about my weight loss journey, I talk about having to change everything I ate and the way I thought about food and health. Eventually I had to deal, honestly, with the root issues of my eating and that was a journey that was MUCH longer than the weight loss. It's funny how our body WILL DO what we want to do, even if sometimes our mind needs a little more coaxing. 

The golden WW weekly weigh in chart!

I cleaned up my diet, I bought a cheap stair stepper off craigslist, starting losing and then joined up with Weight Watchers. There I realized that my portions were HUGE even though the food was healthy and I came out of a plateau to lose my weight and start on my new life. 

There were a few months in the January after my loss, that I gained about 8 pounds back and neglected my weight training, but I caught that, took those 8 pounds off again and have sustained it ever since! That was six years ago. But despite the fact that little by little, every day and every week there could have been something I noticed and took action on (Huh, my pants are too tight. Huh, I can't breath when I run to the bus.  Huh, I lay awake at night worrying about throat cancer. Huh. HUH.) 

But it took a big hard slap in my face, it took a woman I love and trust telling me yeah, you need to change. I knew that NIGHT on the phone with Mom that my lifestyle had to change and that meant my life had to change. 

That's a scary thing, changing your life, getting OUT of your comfort zone, eating new foods,  kicking old habits, being honest, being good to yourself. It's not easy, but I will say that if I can make a change, achieve and STICK with my goals, then anyone can. 

6 ways to step toward a healthy lifestyle

1) Identify your goal- always start with a specific goal. Weight Watchers made me pick a goal weight. You don't always have to have an end weight set in stone, but you should have some sort of goal: 10% of my current weight, this pair of pants, being able to climb X number of stairs while still breathing. A specific goal is one that will be attained, you can always add on to that with additional specific goals later. But if you have no goal, you won't even know what kind of result you want to see! 

2) Get a partner- A walking partner to meet up at the park, a girl friend to meet you at the gym for yoga, someone to join Jenny Craig or WW with you, a co-worker that wants to quit smoking and walk instead! A personal trainer to help you through and work you and motivate! We all know that doing anything alone is much harder than when we have someone with us, find a partner! 

3) Do one thing a week to make a change- You don't have to go ALL out at one time! Don't set yourself up to fail, focus on success of one thing a week. Drink your water, eat more salad, walk on your lunch break, look into a gym membership, skip that smoke break, cut the calories at happy hour, park in the farthest spot! Focus on your one lifestyle change and hit that one thing with fervor and build on that! 

4) Write it down- It is PROVEN that when we write down every bite we take, we will shed more excess.  You will 1) be surprised by how much we nibble and snack and 2) you will really get a picture of what your diet consists of. Take one day and write down what you eat, even that handful of M&M's, even that Ranch dressing. Track your activity too and see how the two collide and the results! 
5) Think of food as fuel- Food and water at their most basic are fuel for us whether we are marathon runners or stay at home Mom's, food helps us get through our day and fuel us along! Check out sites like Spark people to plug in your food for the day and see where you are lacking in nutrients or where you are indulging! Water too is vital for energy, weight loss and flushing toxins! Our bodies are amazing machines, created to use food as fuel as well as enjoyment.

6) Process- Don't avoid the hard stuff. This journey of healthiness is a lifelong process and being in that mind set will help! There will be ups and downs, there will be days you would like to hit Control- Alt-Delete. We all have them, but don't let them add up to feelings of defeat! Just lift your head high and move on making your NEXT choice, no matter how small, a good one. 

What is your one FAVE tip that helps you stay on your healthy journey?? 


Shan said...

Like everyone, I have times I just want to skip my run. (And sometimes I do.) But one thing I like to use as a motivational tool is a quote from a Nike Running ad several years back. It said something like, "If you had gone for your run when you first started thinking about it, you'd be back by now." Because don't we all spend a whole lot of time, some days, hemming and hawing and trying to think of excuses not to exercise? I try to tell myself not to think about it on those days I don't feel motivated--just go.

Mon said...

Hi Mary,

Thanks so much for posting a little about your journey. It is always so educational and motivating to understand how other folks have worked through health challenges and a weight- loss journey.

I have been pondering my 'before' story for the past couple of weeks and have yet to know where to start. I was an overweight child that developed disturbing habits at the age of 13. I tried many things over the years to lose weight, but they were often done in an unhealthy way and thus never really got me anywhere. Things are very different at this stage in my life and I am finally on a healthy path that feels incredible. Hopefully I will find the inspiration for my 'before' story soon.

In terms of my biggest motivating factor, its simple - becoming a Mom. I want to be healthy and fit when I enter that chapter of my life and I want to be around for a very very very long time. I also want to be a health advocate and role model to my children and that has to start with me getting my act together. I don't want them to be overweight children and to experience the things that I did.

Thanks again for sharing you story!

Megan said...

Great post!!!

I agree with your previous post, that the thing that made me want to stay healthy is becoming a mom. My weight has always been in the healthy range, but has started inching up over the past couple of years. I'm trying my hardest to keep it down and keep things under control.

I love to run -- but I love to eat, too!!! The hardest thing for me is finding balance, and not thinking I can overindulge in sweet treats just because I had a good workout that day.

Thanks for sharing. :)

Karen said...

It is not easy but can be done and look at you! It doesn't even look like the same person. Great post!

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

i think my favorite thing was that it's not about changing everything right now, just pick one thing at a time. It took awhile to get where I was, it was going to take awhile to get healthy

Mary said...

I should say (as I re-read this!) that whether we are a marathon runner, a stay at home mom or a SAHM who runs marathons!! Didn't mean to make a distinction between the two, there are SO many amazing running mama's out there. :) Love you guys! Thanks for your thoughts on a post that actually is still a little hard to write!

Shan! I got your email, will reply SOON!
Mon-thanks girl, before and after pics and stories get easier the farther out we get, but still impact us personally when we look back. I have my FULL story in 3 parts under my top post tab--check it out!

ALSO, if you have a before and after story with or without pics, send it my way and I will post it on the blog!!

sunflowerramos said...

Thank you for this post. I have printed out the 6 steps and I will keep them with my food journal.

The Curvy Life said...

Mary! You rock doll! I love that you took the time to share this as difficult as it was for you! It is always so helpful to read other people's journey and see where they came from.. it makes it easier to realize WE can do it too! Thanks for putting yourself out there!


teacherwoman said...

I think that the most important thing is to take it one step at a time. Instead of changing everything about your lifestyl, pick one thing and then slowly add other things on.

KymbelryFunFit said...

Hi Mary: If you had not posted images, I would not have been able to picture you anything but fit as I know you only as a fitness pro and blogger. What a testament to your hard work to know you are healthy now and an inspiration!

Diego said...

Mary, your hard work and determination is extremely inspiring. My fav tip for staying on my health journey is never straying too much from the plan. It's ok to skip one day of exercise or have a special treat every once in a while. But anymore then that, and going back to a healthy routine becomes difficult.

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