Working on weight loss is, more often than not, an emotional roller coaster—especially for anyone who has really gotten serious and set down health and weight goals. Let me tell you, it usually isn’t quick, it definitely isn’t always easy, and there’s lots of trial by error. One thing is for sure though, those who stick with it day after day, year after year, will gain a confidence in themselves they never knew existed and a body that loves them back.
The 6 Year Journey
My journey began in 2010 when I came home from a missions trip teaching English in Albania. My hormones were out of whack, the scale showed I was 10 pounds away from tipping over into the 200’s, my eyes were crazy dry, and I was struggling to fit into a bridesmaid dress for a wedding I was in that summer. Oy vey! I was a ball of emotions. Emotions that drove me to make drastic changes and start viewing food differently.
A moment of complete and utter honesty about something that makes me blush and feel like one of those TV diet commercials. I used Ideal Protein, a weightloss food system. There, it’s out. Yes, Ideal Protein is a part of my story and I’m so thankful for it. It began my process of thinking about vegetables, proteins, sugar, and carbs – how much I REALLY needed to be eating vs. what I THOUGHT I needed. It jump started my body. For me, it wasn’t a long-term solution nor was it a band-aid. It was a springboard to a fuller understanding of what a healthy lifestyle was.
I was officially diagnosed with PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome) and told to look into the paleo lifestyle. Veggies and protein were my new best friends. Dairy, grains, and sugar were enemies. Eating burgers wrapped in lettuce, making eggs for breakfast, baking with gluten-free flours and starting to experiment with coconut and almond flours made up the bulk of my summer. Not only did I feel better cutting out certain foods, my acne began to clear and the weight was slowly coming off. By the time I headed back to college, I had lost 10-15 pounds and was feeling a heck of a lot better. People at school noticed and complimented me. My confidence was growing and I knew I was doing something right.
My last semester at college I joined a study abroad program in Israel. Because I had lost a good amount of weight, I tried to keep eating clean even while living in the land of milk and honey. I slowly began to gain back 5-10 pounds. Mediterranean food is healthy, lots of salads and fruit. What my body didn’t like, though, was the delicious breads and humus platters that were out at EVERY meal. You haven’t had good hummus until you’ve visited a country where it’s a main staple. In my head I knew that my arrival back home would be met with jumping right back into the healthy groove I had started cutting out before I’d left.
Month 9 – Year 5
Being back in the states and living back at home allowed me to focus back in on clean eating and what my body needed. I cut out processed sugars, started eating salads, learned how to BBQ meat, and carried a bottle of water around with me everywhere. I got a job as a manager at a clothing store in the mall, and fueled my desire to lose weight with the joy I had at finally fitting into clothing that before had looked “blah” on me. I was beginning to get a womanly shape rather than looking like a block. I put time into searching for recipes, reading articles and blogs on PCOS and hormones. My mom was my number one cheerleader. She came alongside me and helped me understand my body–paying for blood work, healthy foods, and vitamin supplements. I started using the essential oil Progessence Plus from Young Living, which helped to regulate my period.
It was during these years that I came across a company that specializes in supplements for women with PCOS. Taking these supplements opened up a whole new world of victories both on the scale and off. I lost the last 5ish pounds of stubborn weight but more importantly, I actually FELT better. My emotions (spells of crying, feelings of highs and lows, tiredness) were stabilized. I stayed on these supplements for the better part of two years during which time I solidified a lifestyle of healthy eating and exercise. During these years I went through a difficult breakup which hurt and stressed me out to the core. I had no appetite to eat and felt sick when I did. Over those couple of months of stress and anxiety I lost 4-8 pounds, which surprisingly stayed off once I started eating more normally.
I was now able to backpack and explore parts of the countryside that before had only exhausted me, caused my joints to hurt, and took my breath away to the point of sickness. My acne, though still present, was wildly better and my skin had a healthy glow. My knees, which have always been creaky, allowed me to start light jogging on the treadmill. I was happy because I was healthy.
I had successfully lost 20 pounds since college, but was still not at the weight I wished to be. One month I decided to push myself and cut out ALL sugar, even fruits, and eat only proteins and veggies. I did this for a whole month solid and lost about 10 pounds. Again, the weight stayed off after resuming a less strict way of eating. (I should note, more normal for me means low carb intake, low sugar intake, and low to no dairy. Not the standard American diet)
The 2 year Plateau
After those last 10 pounds were lost, I hit a plateau. Sure, my weight fluctuated up and down 3 pounds here and there, but nothing major. I continued to be as active as possible, started a gym membership, continued eating a diet low in sugar, dairy, and grains, and learned how to live in my new body. There were new emotions to work through – finally having a body that would fit into cute clothes, a body that could climb mountains, a body that could help someone move without getting winded, a body that started feeling actually pretty…but with a mind that still saw myself as fat and uncute. Those mental hurdles took time to overcome. Friends and family laid the ground work by stopping me when I’d say, “I’m fat” or “This makes me look fat.” To be completely honest, I still struggle with these feelings from time to time, and it’s during those times I either have to remind myself of truth: I am enough in Christ, and health is a day by day journey, not a year to year one.
The 8 month train wreck
Marriage! That beautiful, wonderful, life changing experience I had dreamed so long about finally happened….9 months ago. So, that brings us up to present times. Over the course of the first 8 months of marriage, I gained 14 pounds. 14 POUNDS people! I am appalled at myself. Newly wed eating out, ice cream runs, “just because” treats, and new recipes are FUN…but they can also come with a consequence – for me, 14 pounds. Yeah, that was put to a stop by…
The 6 Week challenge
5 weeks ago, my friend Brenda invited me to join a health challenge she had put together. The buy in was $8.
The rules were:
1. No sugar allowed except for one cheat day a week
2. Drink 64 oz of water a day
3. Stop snacking after 7PM
4. Eat at least 2 fruits a day
5. Eat at east 3 veggies a day
6. Personal prayer/devotions/meditation every day
7. Brushing teeth twice a day and flossing once
8. A personal challenge (I chose cutting out coffee for 6 weeks).
I love lists, I love a challenge, and I love competition. It didn’t seem to crazy so I was in.
I am now just finishing up the last week of the challenge and I have currently lost 10 pounds. I’m gonna say though, I’m fluctuating up and down by 2 pounds every couple days…so this week I’m working on consistency and not giving myself a cheat day so I can finish out strong.
Counting the Non Scale Victories
Weight loss is not just about how you look, if the opposite gender finds you attractive, or what clothing you can wear. It’s also about the victories you can now achieve off the scale. Victories that hold more value and importance than what the reflection in the mirror is telling you. These victories can take any form. For one girl I follow in Instagram, it’s the chance to ride on her husband’s motorcycle, which she used to be too heavy for. For another it was being able to go out floating on the river with her friends since she now had more energy and could fit onto the boat with everyone else.
For me my non-scale victories looked like this:
- Hiking up a mountain
- Being able to lift more weights at the gym
- Sustaining a run longer
- Fitting into clothes without little lumps or bulges
- Getting a full nights sleep without waking up
- Going to bed really truly tired
- Seeing aches and pains dissipate
- Clearer skin
- More frequent bowel movements
- Feeling less bloated and more like myself
- Healthier hair, skin, and nails
- Craving Sugar Less
- More energy
- Reduction in stress
- Seeing my period return on a regular basis
Picking a weekly goal
Sometimes health doesn’t mean following a massive protocol. It can be the day-to-day choices we make to add up to a month and then a year of better choices. Think about picking a goal each week to stick to. Not 10, not 5, just 1 simple little goal. Maybe one like:
- Drinking a certain amount of water each day
- Cutting back on meat/having a meatless day
- Cutting out sugar or carbs/grains
- Exercising 4-5 times a week
- Getting to sleep by a certain time each night or waking up at a certain time each day
- Eating a certain amount of veggies each day, say maybe 2-3 servings
- Going on an evening walk around the block
- Keeping a food journal for a week to see what you’re actually eating
One Small Change a Week Adds Up to a Lifetime of Health
When you make small changes, you will be less likely to become overwhelmed, and the confidence from being able to start and finish a goal will help you achieve more and more goals as the time goes on. Again, weight loss doesn’t have a quick fix. It takes time and diligence. I guarantee that if you stick with making lifestyle changes rather than jumping from one fad to the next you will see long-term results (rather than yo-yoing up and down on the scale) and your body will feel better more consistently. Don’t wait for your body to start screaming at you with health issues to live and eat differently when you can start now. Just think, if you stick with even just one or two of the goals listed above for one year, heck! even six months I’m positive you’ll see changes mentally and physically. What do you have to lose?!