From Morbid Obesity to Marathons and Muscle
How I Changed My Life One Meal and One Mile at a Time
I’ve had issues with my weight and appearance as long as I can remember. My main problem was that I was a stressed / emotional eater. For me, food became what nicotine or alcohol can be to others. An unhealthy lifestyle, deep sense of grief (my mother unexpectedly passed away at the age of 46), and back-to-back pregnancies lead to my heaviest weight and essentially my “breaking point”. By the time that second child was a year old, I weighed 245lbs and felt pretty darn bad about it. I could never buy any clothes I liked and even those at the stores for bigger sizes didn’t always look good on me, mostly because I gained all that weight in my midsection… not the most feminine proportions. As my children were getting older and becoming very aware of my actions, I needed to make a change so I could be the right kind of role model for them.
In the summer of ’09 I made my first attempt to do something about my weight; I started an exercise program that allowed me to bring my kids along. It was the first time I had exercised in 5 years, and it was a rude awakening as to how out of shape I actually was! I felt absolutely terrible after that first workout, but still joined a gym later that summer. I was happy to be exercising and I was building some stamina, even a bit more strength, but I had yet to really change my diet at all.
Fast forward to winter ‘09 and I just felt like… okay, I am going to do something, but I’m not going to expect immediate results. A year feels long and fast at the same time, so if I can just look better than I do right now by this time next year, I will be happy. Even once I started exercising, my appetite was insanely high, so I still needed help with cutting down on the food I was eating. I went to a medical weight-loss clinic for 2 months and was able to lose 15 lbs., but stopped going (mainly because it was too expensive).
While the 15 lb. loss was enough to keep me motivated, I still didn’t set any goals. No weekly loss goals, no short or long term goals. Just– Do better. I was once eating SOOO BADLY and SOOO MUCH that just having smaller portions and less fast food, in combination with going to the gym 2-3 times a week, carried me to a 40 lbs. loss by the summer. By the time we were “back to school” (I’m an elementary teacher) in 2011, I weighed around 185. I still had no set goals for myself, nor did I even really talk about my weight loss with anyone, as I didn’t really want anyone rooting for me because that would make me feel like a failure if I didn’t continue to progress.
Then there was my mid-life the following winter, but all that stress and sadness gave me a new motivation to push harder than ever. I always said that I wanted to be able to run, to become a runner… so I went out and bought a fancy pair of $100 running shoes! I knew I’d never quit after spending so much money on them. I downloaded a running app on my phone and followed it at the gym and everywhere else outside. I pretty much got hooked on running, finished the app on my phone, and ran the Houston Rodeo 5k. Since then, I’ve run 4 half marathons, many 10ks, and ran the full Houston Marathon in January 2014. I really did become a runner!
From then on, I’ve mainly focused on cleaning up my diet and paying attention to macronutrients. I dedicate about 60% of my available workout time to weight lifting and the other 40% to running. I have maintained my new healthy size for 2 years running, continuing to push for more fat loss and muscle gain.
Since the start of my journey, I’ve lost 95 lbs. and went from nearly a size 22 to a size 8-10 (depending on brand / style) and I feel much better about the way I look. But the part I’m most proud of is that I’m setting a good example for my children, by living a healthy and active life in front of them. They know their mom eats healthy foods (plus cooks it for them, as well) and they know she loves to run & workout. This is not something new for them to see from me, it’s just my “normal” now, habits which I hope to make part of their normal lives, as well.
5 Helpful Tips That Worked for Me
*If I eat something terrible for breakfast, I don’t let it ruin my whole day. I once just said, “screw it” and eat badly for the rest of the day.
*I try to stop eating as soon as I’m full, with absolutely no problem leaving food on my plate or even having to throw it away if I have to.
*I don’t weigh myself often. Maybe once every two weeks. I always give myself a higher “estimate” before I step on the scale, which I can accept and not feel bad if I pass. Sometimes I’m right and I don’t let myself feel bad, but most of the time the scale is less than what I expected. Feel great!
*Portion size is everything. Too much healthy food is still overeating. When possible, don’t eyeball it, measure your food with measuring cups/spoons.
* I’m learning to not let myself excuse poor food choices with exercise, like “Oh, well I ran five miles this morning, this bag of chips is no big deal,” which is what’s been keeping me from progressing even more.
Follow Chelsea on Instagram – @chelseasfitlife
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