As the year 2012 comes to a close, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on the past year and thinking about how different my life is from a year ago.
A year ago, I was sedentary. Very sedentary. Climbing a flight of stairs was so tough. I would get winded, and would then take a long time to catch my breath again. I was tired all the time. If I went out shopping, I would have to sit down to rest when I got home. I was focused on food – what to make, what to prepare, when the next meal was going to happen, if we should go out to eat, what we might eat, what we could snack on.
Clothing was another matter. Almost nothing in my closet fit. I remember buying some pants and a sweater a year ago – size 4X! That amazes me even now, but was very discouraging to me then. The funny thing was, I didn’t see it when I looked in the mirror. Denial? Skewed body image?
I think that buying that size 4X was one of the things that helped me decide that I had to make some changes. The other was that I was so tired all the time. Another was that I was watching my kids gain weight. Earlier in the fall, I had called the new Lifetime Fitness and inquired about rates, etc. I never was able to go in there for a tour, but on New Year’s Eve of 2011, I took a phone call from one of the membership consultants at LTF and for some reason, I agreed to join.
When I walked into the LTF building on January 1, I was very self-conscious. I weighed over 300 pounds and knew that I needed to be there, but it was so hard. I felt like everyone was looking at me, judging me, and staring at me. We went upstairs and met the personal trainers, and I felt much better. We met Moses, and he immediately made me feel comfortable. He was friendly, encouraging, and never made me feel like I didn’t belong. In fact, everyone we met there was warm and welcoming.
The next day the boys and I did our intake assessments. We talked individually with the trainers about our goals and then we set up some group training sessions with Moses. I remember our first training session with him, and the workout wasn’t too terrible. He told us that he wanted to work on core strengthening with us and he made me feel like he was invested in our success. One of the first workouts was 55 minutes of core strengthening and then I swam 10 laps. We would also do some exercises at home, planks for 30 seconds, side planks, wall squats, bridges, reverse bridges on a ball and leg lifts.
During that first week of January, I set some goals (not resolutions) for myself. They are as follows:
1. Lose 5 pounds per month – total of 60 pounds for the year
2. Exercise 5 – 7 days per week
3. Less time on computer, more time doing other productive things
4. Organize house
5. Make 50 things this year – 1 per week and keep track! (this did NOT happen – ha!)
6. Daily log of food and exercise.
One of the other things that I did was to look at examples of people who have been successful in weight loss. I happened upon the blog of a young woman who has lost 130 pounds and has kept it off for over 3 years. One of the things that she does every day is have a big salad for lunch. I decided to do the same and started incorporating this habit into my life.
Another thing that I did that was very beneficial to me was to access the metabolic testing that is offered at LTF. During the course of the testing, I was told that I wasn’t eating enough food and that I needed to up my caloric intake by 500 calories per day. I did so, and moved beyond a plateau I had been sitting on. I recently re-tested and was told to eat 200 more calories per day and more on the days I work out as my metabolism has increased!
As we continued working out, I started losing weight. I made a decision early on that I was not going to focus on the weight loss, but instead focus on building new habits into my life and eating better. I knew that if I kept working out and eating right, the weight loss would follow. I got stronger and more able to do things. One day when we were working out in the gym, I saw a kickboxing class going on. I asked Moses if he thought I could do that, and he said he did, and then had me talk to Rus, the instructor.
A couple of weeks later, I went to a Thai Kickboxing class taught by Rus. It was so hard and I thought I was going to die at a couple of points, but I finished and managed to complete the class, even though I had to make some modifications. There was no way I could do a burpee, and at the beginning of the class, I could not run with everyone else, but Rus was so encouraging and welcoming and I knew I could come back. Rus continues to push me and encourage me in every class.
Over the course of the year, I have gotten so much stronger. I can now run at the beginning of the Mixed Combat Arts (MCA) classes. I take the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) class, which is really really hard, and I love all of the MCA classes, boxing, kickboxing, Capoeira and MMA are all high on my list. In fact, I usually take the MCA classes 4 times per week. In September, I took part in our school Jog-A-Thon. In 2011, I was barely able to walk around the field once. In 2012, I did 10 miles! We have a parent volunteer at our school who teaches fitness classes for us once a week, and I am able to participate in those classes. I can hold a plank for 2 minutes, I can do burpees (not just one), I can jump rope for 2 minutes without feeling like I am dying, and just the other day, I bench pressed 100 pounds!! On January 1, I am participating in the Commitment Day 5K!
In July, I stared working with a new trainer, Alex Freig. Alex has pushed me and helped me to become even stronger. He cheers me on and makes suggestions to help me out. Once, when I was starting to focus on the scale, he suggested that I stay off the scale for a week. I did that, and then stayed off it for a month. He’s been a great cheerleader and champion and challenges me. He encouraged me to enroll in the Commitment Day 5K. I value his input and feedback.
Today I am wearing shirts that are now XL, not 4X. The sweater I bought a year ago can wrap around me almost twice. I’ve dropped down 4 sizes in pants! I’ve had to buy new underwear twice! I’ve lost 70 pounds! My kids are healthier too. They have both lost weight and gotten taller. They look great and are wearing smaller clothes too!
We eat so differently too. We always have fruit in the house. None of us eat the quantities of food that we used to. We all eat more vegetables and very little in the way of processed foods. I find that I can no longer eat pork. I think it’s too rich for me. I prefer to eat chicken or turkey or fish as opposed to beef, and I find that I am not as focused on food as something that provides pleasure, but rather as something to fuel my body. I may think about eating something, but then I know that it’s going make me not feel good, so it’s easier for me to pass it by.
I don’t fully know and understand what happened to help me hear that click, but I know that part of what has allowed me to be successful this year was my determination that I was not going to focus on losing weight, but instead focus on living a healthy lifestyle. The other thing that has helped me is that there are so many people who support me and cheer me on, from my kiddos, one who said, “Mom, I can put my arms around you now,” to my friends and colleagues who continue to support me and show excitement, to Rus and Alex, who know how to push and challenge me, to my family, to people I exercise with, and many more. Being very public about my journey has also been an important component. It may sounds silly, but I “check in” on Facebook when I go to exercise, and I also belong to a group of people on Facebook who make monthly commitments about exercise and food. All of those structures also help me to be accountable.
I still have more weight to lose, but I know that as long as I keep doing the things that I know help me to be healthy - work out 5 days per week, make good food choices – will continue to help me lose the weight.
I’m still pondering my goals for 2013, but I know that they will include the following:
1. Exercise 5 days per week
2. Make good food choices
Life is good!
Before Pictures - July 2011