Like many, I have had issues with my weight as far back as I can remember. I come from an immigrant family, and moving to a new country as a child I became very shy and had trouble making friends. As a result I was an easy target in the schoolyard. I changed schools often because of this and learned to seek comfort in food from an early age.
In my teenage years, I wanted so desperately to fit the mould of skinny and beautiful. I tried every fad diet I could get my hands on; soup-, banana-, cabbage –diet, you name it I tried it. It even went as far as me ordering diet pills from an add I found in a magazine. The diet pills unfortunately caused permanent damage to my stomach leaving me with a bleeding ulcer. I am now more prone to them, never fully recovering; I have had several more during the years.
As the years progressed so did my unhealthy relationship with food. I developed a binge eating disorder, and slowly started gaining weight. I tried several times to get myself in shape. I would loose a few pounds, binge, think everything was hopeless and gain it all back and then some.
With each passing year my binging progressed, and in secret when I was sad, mad or bored I would consume large amounts of food. It didn’t however spiral out of control until 2011. My father passed away suddenly a few weeks before his 53th birthday from a coronary heart attack. I found him. My world came crashing down.
In my devastation, I stopped caring about myself completely. My binge eating disorder took over and I became depressed and bitter. I ate my emotions. A doctor’s check up that year showed that my blood fat levels were alarmingly high, and the doctor was worried that I would develop type-2 diabetes like my father. I couldn’t have cared less.
I hit rock bottom at the end of 2012. I weighed in at 221 pounds and was clinically obese. Everything in my body hurt, my knees, my joints, I had constant headaches and was tired all the time. I was miserable. In a moment of clarity, I decided enough was enough. Something clicked inside of me. I didn’t want to change to look prettier, skinnier or become more likeable. I wanted to change so I could live a long healthy life, for my future children and myself. I made a vow that day that no matter how long it took; I wouldn’t give up on myself. I was in it for me and no one else.
I started with my nutrition and by changing my diet. I joined weight watchers – and while weight watchers taught me a lot about food, I grew tired of converting everything to points and stopped losing weight after a while. It was time to move on – so I made the switch – I cancelled my weight watchers subscription and started counting calories instead.
With a little research I calculated my Total Daily Expenditure, subtracted 15-20%, and have never looked back. I eat mostly whole foods, veggies, fruits, berries, lean protein and complex carbs. I try not to deprive myself of anything. I have learned what triggers my binging and can say I am in recovery. I treat myself to cookies and cake and of course Quest Bars but make sure to fit it into my day. It’s a lifestyle change not a short-term diet.
Quest bars have been a big part of my diet. I eat them as a snack before my workouts and they keep me full with tons of energy. Doesn’t hurt that they are insanely delicious as well.
Along the way I added exercise. I workout mostly at home or go for a run. I mix cardio and strength workouts, and have built a little mini gym with dumbbells, resistance bands and a barbell at home. I bought a FT4 Polar heart rate monitor that has been a very useful tool and makes me push a little harder when I work out.
When I started my fitness journey I could barely walk to the store without huffing and puffing. This spring I have run four 5k races. I am going to run my first 10k race in August. I generally workout 6 days a week and aim for a 500 calorie burn minimum per session.
I have had tremendous support from family and my close friends, they haven’t always understood but they stick by me. In the beginning it was hard to explain why I wanted to choose restaurants to eat at, bring my own food to gatherings or workout instead of going to the movies. It gets simpler with time. My rock has been my boyfriend. He has been at the finish line of all my races.
To date, I have lost 74 pounds and plan on losing a bit more. But I have gained so much more – confidence, strength and a new perspective on life. It still amazes me how strong the human body is and what the mind can achieve when you find your own determination. It is never too late to invest in your own well-being, so take care of yourself. Health truly is wealth.
My 5 tips to getting fit that I learned along the way:
1. Establish a routine
Habit takes over when your motivation to workout might fade – so work on establishing a good workout routine and a meal plan that you enjoy. Make it a part of your life, and everything becomes simpler.
2. Never deprive yourself
You can eat and enjoy everything in moderation. Find a balance that works for you.
3. Don’t starve your body
Eat wholesome and nourishing foods that give you energy to workout and live. Fuel your body, don’t punish it!
4. Try new things
Get out of your comfort zone. Try a new workout routine or some new recipes. Keep it fresh and you won’t get bored.
5. Be consistent
Life tends to throw us curveballs and the path to success isn’t always a straight line. You just have to be committed and stick to it.
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