My wonderful husband and I, Thanksgiving 2009
Welcome to my blog! A few years ago, I found myself with two children, and weighing almost 200 pounds. I had always been thin in my younger, pre-child years, so even though the weight wasn’t gained overnight, I was still somehow shocked when I made the realization that I was, indeed, FAT. Prior to this point, shortly after the birth of my son, I had tried to lose the baby weight by jumping on a low-carb craze that was sweeping the country. While I did lose some weight, it quickly came back (plus a few extra pounds) after I returned to eating a more varied diet.
When I had my epiphany it was Christmas 2005. I was looking at the pictures I had taken from Christmas dinner…. and wondering WHY on earth I had allowed myself to be photographed in such a state of obesity. I’d been dressing that 200 pound frame for a few years by then, but somehow I was still devastated when I realized the person in those pictures had clearly at some point eaten the pretty and youthful 120 pound me alive!
My son was four at this point and I came to the conclusion that I could no longer live in the denial that I just had some “baby weight” left to lose. I also knew that I was getting older (I was 31.. gasp!) and if I wanted to be here to watch my children grow into adulthood and raise families of their own, I HAD to do more than lose weight. I had to change my views of food, exercise, health, fitness… the whole sha-bang! I’ve realized that growing up skinny handicapped me. I never paid attention to the nutrients in my food or made any effort to exercise, because frankly, I looked great without giving them a second thought. After having children, that wonderful metabolism of my youth waved bye-bye to me, and I was left overweight and needing to change every misconception I had about food and fitness.
So that day, after Christmas dinner was put away, I decided I would be a new person, transformed by the simple common sense of calories in vs. calories out. It made sense. You eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, providing your body the protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals it needs to carry you through life, and you move everyday… getting your heart rate up, building muscle, and strengthening your heart in the process. I weighed myself and wrote it on the calendar.
I had an old exercise bike someone had given us years earlier, and had given it away since I wasn’t using it. I went out the next day and splurged on a new one for myself at the local Wal-mart. Nothing fancy, nothing with gadgets, just a basic exercise bike. And I rode. I rode everyday for at least twenty minutes. Some days I rode for thirty. But I rode every single day.
Around this same time, a friend of mine mentioned a new website called SparkPeople.com. That discovery changed my life. I found that some generous soul had created a place where I could figure out how many calories I needed to be eating and how much I needed to be working out to reach my weight loss goals. More importantly, it gave me the tools I needed to do it…. a FANTASTIC calorie tracker, fitness trackers that told me how many calories specific exercises burned, and a seemingly endless supply of support in the form of articles to educate myself and groups I could join to share my struggle with others. I have made what I know will be lifetime friends there, and I am thankful each day for their support and encouragement.
I lived an overly eventful life from the age of seventeen until about twenty-five, at which point I discovered my faith in Jesus Christ, and the wonderful gift of salvation that was mine for the taking if I simple obeyed Him and lived as He wanted me to. I knew without the slightest doubt that if I made as strong a commitment to changing my lifestyle as I had to living my life with Christ at the core, I would succeed. After all, “I can do all things through Him, who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). As I thought more about my current situation, I also realized that I had been abusing the body which God had given me. We have no guarantee of the number of days we will walk upon this earth, but I do believe we have a responsibility to take care of the gift of life we have been given. Not to the point of being slaves to our bodies, but I believe that the years I spent drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes were an insult to God and the blessing He had bestowed upon me when He breathed life into me. I hope that everyone who reads this blog can find encouragement and inspiration to lead a Christ-driven life, but if it bothers you to hear about matters of faith, then you are probably in the wrong place, as I make no apologies for sharing the gospel of Christ with as many as I can.
The first week I lost three pounds… the next week, two, and so on. Before I knew it, less than six months later, I had gone down to 172 pounds! I never thought I’d be happy to be in the 170’s but after being in the upper 190’s, I was elated! Life got hectic, I got busy, and I started slacking on my workouts. I managed to maintain the weight I was at and not gain anything back, and then I got back on the bandwagon about six months later. I then dropped to my lowest weight to date of 146.
Then about two years ago, I was sidelined by a plethora of health problems. They started with unexplained stomach pains I would get after being stressed out or overexerting myself (which made me afraid to exercise too hard). I began seeing doctors and kept being told I was just anxious and that my symptoms were in my head. I was given several different medications that were supposed to be my miracle cure, but none of them helped. I became severely depressed and thought I was doomed to be in pain forever. I packed back on about fifteen of the pounds I lost and teetered around 160 pounds. The size 10 jeans I bought didn’t fit, and I found myself back in size 12’s. In addition to the stomach pains, I started having major TMJ issues. I went to doctors, specialists, and physical therapists, and the only advice I was given that seemed to help was a daily regimen of three ibuprofen, three times a day. That kept the inflammation down and the pain bearable, but the stomach pains continued to worsen and increase in frequency. Eventually, my wonderful husband insisted that we find out what was going on. He went with me to several doctors appointments and not only stood by me, but stood UP for me as the doctors tried to blow me off yet again. Thanks to his persistence, I finally had an endoscopy done in October of 2007. Low and behold, it wasn’t all in my head! I had a half dozen ulcers eating away at my belly. I was told to stop taking the ibuprofen immediately and start taking a medication to help the ulcers and control the acid in my stomach. Within a month, my stomach spasms had all but gone away. I still get the occasional one during times of extreme stress, but thankfully that is rare, and exercise no longer causes me pain.
Unfortunately, giving up the ibuprofen meant the return of my TMJ pain. This time I decided that pain was NOT going to defeat me, and I did my homework and found some vitamins and herbs that were supposed to have anti-inflammatory qualities and started trying them out. I ended up starting a regimen of turmeric, bromelain, flax seed oil, and calcium/magnesium/zinc. It didn’t take ALL of my pain away, but it did help quite a bit, and I decided that even if I had some level of chronic pain, it would not keep me from enjoying my life. I bought some books on dealing with chronic pain and TMJ (The Pain Survival Guide, by Turks and Winter and Taking Control of TMJ by Uppgaard). They helped me realize that #1 I am not alone in living with chronic pain and #2 it doesn’t have to control my life.
The purpose of this blog is to not only share my story – successes and failures alike – but to share what has, and HASN’T, worked for me over the years. I’m still on the road to being a healthier person. I know for a fact that I am healthier now than I was ten years ago, even if I was a smaller dress size then. If even one thing on this blog inspires, encourages, or helps just one person reading it, I have accomplished my goal. Thanks for taking this journey with me.