Hey friends! Happy Monday 🙂
I hope the weekend was great for all of you! As always, it was fun but went way too fast.
This week, we are going to start things off with another round of motivation with a Fit and Healthy Feature.
Melanie is a blog reader (and writes a blog of her own!) and has a fantastic and inspiring “you do you” attitude when it comes to defining healthy-living that I absolutely LOVE. I can’t thank her enough for sharing her amazing story with all of us.
Enjoy! (and I’ll be back later today with some fun pics from the weekend!)
Hi! I’m Melanie and a new blogger over at Fit Girl by Nature. I am on a journey to lose weight, get fit and be healthy by eating whole, natural foods and working out in my absolute favorite gym- the Rocky Mountains!
I haven’t always been healthy. In fact, I’ve been overweight for a good portion of my life. There have been both peaks and valleys and that’s been part of the problem- the inconsistency. My closet has clothes ranging from size 6- size 24 and so I’m on a journey to get to a point where I’m maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle ALL OF THE TIME.
My real journey started in 2008 when I found myself at 361 pounds. Obviously I just didn’t wake up one morning at that weight but had been ignoring it for some time. Something clicked in me and over the next 14 months I lost 202 pounds. The pictures of me below are right around my highest weight and the second is at about 160 lbs.
I may have lost a lot of weight fast but I used unhealthy methods like starving myself and over-exercising to do it, becoming obsessed in the process and ultimately gaining back 90 pounds over the past two years. To read a more detailed account of my weight-loss story, please click here.
January 2015 was a new start with a new attitude and approach to weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. Since Jan 1st, I’ve lost 35 pounds and have been tracking my successes and failures (opportunities) weekly on my blog. Being open with not only my friends and family but the world, has been important for me this time around.
Mental- One of the biggest changes I’ve made has been a mental one- realizing that everyone defines “healthy” differently. I needed to figure out my definition of “healthy” and what works for me, my body and my lifestyle. When you need to lose a lot of weight, it’s so easy to only focus on that part of it. Getting your head around the “big picture” is the mental hurdle…to see that it takes more than just weight-loss to be healthy. To eat cleaner, incorporate daily activity, get enough sleep, avoid stress, foster healthy relationships, etc. Getting past my best friend’s or the media’s definition of healthy was a mental battle but I’m finally ok with creating/ having/ editing my own definition.
Activity- Incorporating some form of daily activity has been key. Obviously activity leads to calories burned and burned calories contribute to weight loss but it is more than that for me. Moving makes me feel good. I use that time to clear my head, to focus on where I’ve been and where I’m headed. It’s an immediate sense of accomplishment when I’ve finished a strong workout. I feel more fulfilled and proud of myself on the days when I’ve worked out than on the days I’ve just made good food choices.
When I first started to lose weight, I started a C25K program and I hated it. It wasn’t free-form enough and it just didn’t work for me and my body. So I started by walking. I would walk at a fast pace and then run when it felt right. Eventually I became a pretty good runner and while that definitely helped me to drop pounds, I was bored and did not look forward to my workouts. I actually dreaded them. I feel the same way in a gym…it’s just not me and doesn’t inspire me…I would get easily bored and my memberships would ultimately sit unused.
I love the outdoors and pretty much doing anything active outside. Living in Colorado I am fortunate to have (what I think) is one of the most beautiful “back yards” of any state. This time around I have decided to get fit by nature. I have always loved hiking and golfing but I started incorporating other outdoor activities like snowboarding and rock-climbing as well. This is where the name of my blog, Fit Girl by Nature, comes from. I still supplement my outdoor workouts with treadmill but it’s getting outside that inspires me and has re-invigorated my passion for fitness and living a healthy lifestyle.
Eating- Food has always been my vice. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but more of a “meat tooth”. I am a meat and potatoes girl. I love comfort foods and could eat lots of them. I also became an eater of convenience and immediate gratification, which meant packaged foods, ordering out or frequently stopping at fast-food restaurants. My body became a haven for processed meals, preservatives and all the wrong kinds of calories. I wasn’t nourishing my body in the right way.
I teach human physiology so I am fully aware of “why” we need to eat- so we can break down the macromolecules in our foods in order to use them to ultimately make ATP. ATP is the energy currency our body uses to perform physiological processes like muscle cell contraction and sending nerve impulses. I knew this and what constitutes “good” and “bad” physiologically speaking, yet I continued to nourish my body in all the wrong ways.
Ultimately I had a little mental one-on-one with food and whereas I’m by no means perfect yet, I have made a conscious effort to prepare all of my own meals with healthy, fresh ingredients and I’ve slowly been making a transition to more of a primal/ paleo diet. In my opinion, eliminating refined sugar and preservatives are the most important. I’ve been substituting with raw honey, coconut sugar, Grade B maple syrup, which have lower glycemic indexes and don’t affect us as adversely as refined white sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugars. I use organic fruits and veggies (when I can), grass-fed beef, free-range, cage-free chickens and non-GMO foods. Again, I’m not perfect and still indulge in an ice cream treat or granola bar once in a while but overall I try to eat clean 85% of the time. A couple of my favorite recipes are Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Breakfast Pudding, Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Thai “Peanut” Sauce and Southwest Mason Jar Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing.
Perhaps the biggest challenge I encountered was that I became obsessed with losing weight. I lost sight of the big picture- of living a healthy lifestyle- and my sole focus became losing those pounds. This is one reason I believe I ended up gaining back 90 pounds. I became so obsessed with the number on the scale that I was willing to see it go down at any cost. I was running 12 miles per day and only maintaining a diet of 600 calories or less, which was made up of convenient-type foods so not nutrient-rich. I was not supplementing with vitamins but fat-burning supplements. Diet Coke was my water and almost daily I would get to the point of passing out.
When I lost weight before (the 202 lbs), I was always so tired and ready to pass out. I had no energy to do anything. I had incredibly poor habits and nutrition and wasn’t fueling my body in the right way. Sure I lost the weight but I eventually gained back 90 lbs of it. Relationships with my family and friendships also suffered because I was so obsessed with losing weight that I made no time for anything else.
This time around, I realize that losing weight is just a piece to the puzzle and that to maintain it and to really make it more about a healthy and fit lifestyle, I had to re-define what “healthy” meant for me. I’m eating more calories so I can sustain the outdoor activities I enjoy and the foods I’m consuming (for the majority) are natural, unprocessed and prepared at home with healthy, clean ingredients.
I’m also ok now with not being perfect. I mostly have good days but there are still days when I give in and make poor choices. And I’m ok with that…I just get back on track the next day. If I need a rest day, I take it. I try to get plenty of sleep and not let stress run rampant. I also have made it a point to nurture important relationships with family and friends and weed out the negative ones.
The next step for me is to keep on keepin’ on. I still have about 55 lbs to lose and am going to continue to work on that. More importantly, I am keeping my eye on the big picture…about being healthy and fit and that means finding a balance in all areas of my life. Losing weight is important but it is only a piece of the pie. I started my blog, Fit Girl by Nature, to document my progress and have an accountability meter but also to share my struggles and successes.
Really figure out your own definition of “health” and “fitness”. The worst thing you can do is measure yourself using society’s, the media’s or anyone else’s yard stick. You know your body better than anyone and that’s where you should start. You know what foods make you feel good (physiologically, speaking) and when you can or can’t push yourself. Be real with yourself. Are you ever gonna be a size 4? I’m not and am ok with that. Set realistic goals and just start. Whether it’s a Tuesday or a Thursday, who cares! I tend to like to do my own thing so I started on a Thursday just because who else does that? So my Thursday is most other people’s Monday. And I like it. Do your own thing and if you can’t hold yourself accountable- find other people or ways to help you.
Find an activity you LIKE doing, inspires you so you’ll stick with it. Don’t force yourself to do something just because it’s trendy and it seems like the whole rest of the world likes it. Find what will keep you moving…even if it’s just walking…do what works for you!
It is never too late and you are never too old to start. The great thing about becoming more “healthy” and “fit” is that you can make one change at a time and can start with small changes. You don’t have to workout for 4 hours a day or eat gluten-free to be considered healthy. YOU get to define what healthy means for you and it’s OK if that definition changes along the way.
I want a healthstyle- a lifestyle that’s healthy. I recently started my blog, Fit Girl by Nature, to hold myself accountable and put my story out there while sharing my struggles and successes. I would love for you to follow and share in my journey and want to hear your stories as well! Drop in anytime or feel free to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Bloglovin’ or Twitter.
If you would like to share your story as part of the “Fit and Healthy Feature” series, please send me an e-mail! You don’t need to have a blog in order to participate in this series. Thank you so much for your motivating contributions!