I have been waiting for the right time to write this. It seems that there is never a perfect moment to talk about a health journey, since we can spend a lifetime trying to stay on track.
So let me start from the beginning...
I have always struggled with my shape. If I'm perfectly honest with myself, this struggle has been due to a deep discontent with how I look. I'm 5'8", the tallest woman in my immediate family, and have never been able to share clothes with my sisters. I remember borrowing an article of clothing from one of them; later it was given to me because my body had stretched the fabric, and she could no longer wear it.
That was a long time ago. I still can't share clothes with my sisters because I'm too far away, but the impact of moments like that has lingered. My adolescent body has slowly changed into my more womanly figure of today, but my insecurity and discontentment are forces that must still be reckoned with.
I've never been embarrassed to tell people my weight, and there have been moments when I've relished the surprise in their responses: 'Wow, I would never have guessed! There's no way you could weigh that much!'
The most I've ever weighed was 178 lbs, and that peaked in May 2011. I kept thinking back to when I was 140 lbs after coming out of the hospital 2 years prior, and so I started to run.
Running has always been my go-to sport. It's easy, my legs are strong, and it doesn't cost a dime. I'm sure I look a little bit funny, but I think everyone has a quirky running gait. I ran for 4 months, from May to September, and got down to 166. Then I got plantar fasciatis in my right foot, and had to stop so I could let it heal. I took up swimming instead, another one of my favourite things to do. I went swimming for 2 months, then stopped. [I've recently discovered that if I don't switch to a different form of exercise every 2 months, then I will simply get bored and stop exercising altogether.]
By this time I had started seeing a naturopath, and told her that I'd like to get down to my goal weight of 140lbs. In January she gave me a meal plan to follow so that I could start to lose weight. By that time I was 168 lbs and feeling very desperate. We decided that 145lbs would be the best weight compared to my height and body type.
The meal plan was very balanced, and is based on low glycemic foods (those that contain low sugars). I didn't have to count calories, but I did have to make sure I got a certain amount of the following foods every day, which would total to 1300 calories a day:
-nuts and seeds (1 serving)
-legumes (1 serving)
-Category I veggies (most vegetables) (unlimited servings)
-Category II veggies (sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, squash, which all contain higher amounts of sugar) (1 serving)
-protein shakes (2 servings)
-Protein (2 servings)
-Fats (good ones, like avocadoes, olives, etc) (4 servings)
The low amount of calories would ensure that I would lose weight, and if I exercised on top of that I would lose it even faster.
I stayed on this meal plan for 4 months, but I have to admit that I did cheat sometimes. I tried to stay off sugar as much as possible; at one point I didn't have sugar for one full month! This was extremely hard to do, but it was a good lesson in discipline. I have never bought so many vegetables in my life, and I gained a new appreciation for spices and homemade sauces and dressings. I started scouring the web and magazines for new recipes so that I wouldn't have to live off mere salads and stir-frys. There is a world of creativity that exists, and I am pleased to say that I have enjoyed cooking and discovering healthy alternatives.
I hardly cooked unhealthy foods prior to this, but I learned how to balance my diet to make sure I'm getting all the nutrients I need every day. I also learned about portion control, and how to pair foods, such as peanut butter and apples, to make a satisfying snack more filling. I'm not following the plan as strictly anymore, but I still try to make sure that I get all of these food groups into my day.
I am now trying to maintain the weight that I've lost, which amounts to around 23lbs since January (or 33lbs since last May, if you're still counting!) It didn't happen in a moment, because I didn't gain it all in a moment. It took hard work and diligence, and that doesn't just mean the exercising and eating healthy. It's also a mental battle, which is something I have to struggle with every day. Even though I know that it's good for me to eat healthy, and I don't feel so sick when I fill my body with good foods, my mind tells me that processed foods taste delicious. It's a constant fight to over-ride the years of poor choices and justifications.
I am the most in shape and the smallest I've been in years, but even that has been a source of discontentment. My pants don't fit and I often feel tiny and vulnerable.
And yet...I feel a sense of accomplishment for how far I've come, and every day I get a bit more comfortable in this new skin. I'm also grateful for the chance to better my health, by eating healthier and exercising.
Thankfully, this journey doesn't end here...
P.s. Jake has been my biggest encouragement, and has helped me in situations when my willpower has been at its weakest. I couldn't have had a more impactful and loving (some tough love, too!) supporter than him. Thank you, sweetie, for believing in me and for eating all the random food that I have made over the past few months! I love you.