Is Butter a Carb?

Our vacation has come to an end. I’ve blasted your Instagram and Facebook feeds with pictures, making up for all of the years that I forbid to have my picture taken. img_2988I’ve beaten Wes at putt-putt (he beat me in the rematch), and I’ve tasted all of the delights that Myrtle Beach has to offer. All in all, I would call that a success.

It was made abundantly clear to me that our vacation was over, when about an hour into our ride home, Tyson puked a whole sippy cup of milk up all over his carseat. It was made clear again, when he did the same thing a couple of hours later. Just in case I didn’t get the messaged, we drove straight from the beach to a baseball game, after which I picked Levi up at his Dad’s house, and he too puked in the driveway before we could leave. My vacation is officially over! It’s back to the real world of puking children, birthday parties, and baseball games.

It’s great to be able to get out of town for a while and have some fun, but when you’re trying to lose weight, it can also be a stressful time of trying to stay on track. I wanted to share my vacation strategy while it’s still fresh in my mind, so that hopefully the next time you go on vacation, you don’t have to beat yourself up.

Wait For It…

So here’s my big earth-shattering advice for sticking with a diet while on vacation. My advice is, don’t.

First, I guess I should mention, that we normally take a vacation once a year. For me, this is time spent with my family, resting, having fun, and being carefree. img_2566This is the one week of the year, that I allow myself a free pass to not measure, plan, or calculate my meals. During this week, I just listened to my body and ate what I was craving. Eventually that meant switching from a two piece bathing suit, to a one piece, but that’s okay.

Most mornings, I stuck to my normal breakfast of overnight oats and iced coffee. But I also allowed myself to enjoy a breakfast at Paula Deen’s

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Breakfast at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen

one morning, stuffing myself with some delicious Apple Cinnamon French Toast and Hash Brown Casserole, that I’m certain contained actual potato chips.

Most days for lunch we had bologna sandwiches on the balcony, after a morning on the beach. Other days we had hamburgers and fries at River City Grill, while Tyson had crayons and cheetos.

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Eating the crayons at River City Grill

 

My strategy on vacation is to not worry about how many calories, carbs, fats, or proteins I’m eating, while trying  my best to not make myself sick. It’s amazing to me, how my body responds now to the way I used to eat all of the time. It’s hard to tell if my body just can’t handle eating that way anymore, or if I just got used to feeling bad when I ate that way regularly. Either way, the meal that really hit that message home to me this week was my delicious breakfast at Paula Deen’s.

It was amazing, and I would totally eat it again, just to be able to say I had sampled Paula’s breakfast, but man did I feel that meal for the entire day after, which was why I chose to eat a salad for dinner that night. img_2887

What About Exercise?

My “go with the flow” attitude for food on vacation, also goes for working out. I would love to tell you that I was up at the crack of dawn, doing boot camp classes on the beach at sunrise, but that definitely wasn’t the case. I basically just did what I felt like doing. Some mornings I got up before Tyson and did some gentle yoga, and one morning I snuck away and walked a couple miles of the beach.img_2925 I did have a little activity, but there was no structure or reason to any of it. I just did what felt good and relaxing. On vacation, I don’t have any plans for crushing workouts, or staying on track with my food, I just remember that this is a lifestyle, and not a diet with a deadline.

Damage Control

So what happens now? This morning I stepped on the scale, to assess the damage. Before we left for vacation, my weight was already up a couple pounds because I was getting ready to start my period. The morning we left, I was 135 lbs, and this morning, the day after we got home, I was at 140.4 lbs. It’s important for my sanity, to remember that these pounds are not pounds of fat. It would be pretty crazy to gain 5 pounds of pure body fat in 6 days.

To gain 1 pound of fat, it would mean eating 3,500 calories above my maintenance calories. Meaning, I would have to eat close to 6,000 calories a day to gain that much body fat. These pounds are mostly water weight, and can be lost again just as easily as they were gained.

To get these extra few pounds off, I’ll tell you what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to be going into a crazy, restrictive diet. I’m not going to be doing any detoxes, or flushes, or fasts. What I’m going to do is just pick back up where I left off. Making this a lifestyle isn’t about what you do one week on vacation. You aren’t going to undo all of your hard work in one week. The key is, jumping right back into your routine when you get back. Shortening the amount of time it takes you to get back to business is the key. img_3163Just like I had to immediately leave the beach and jump right back into puking children and baseball games, this morning I got up like I normally would, and hit the gym before I had time to talk myself out of it. I had one more “splurge” meal, at Tyson’s 2nd birthday party today. Because…cookie cake. Then I went to the grocery store and bought all of my food for meal prep tomorrow.

Everyone loves to enjoy themselves and loosen the reigns on vacation, and I’m no different. I hope by me sharing my thoughts on vacation, it will help you see that losing weight long term, and changing your lifestyle, doesn’t mean depriving yourself for the rest of your life. You can go on vacation, relax, and enjoy time with your family, without worrying about sticking to a “diet” or fitting in structured exercise. Reducing the amount of time it takes you to get back into the swing of things is the key to continuing to make progress toward your weight loss goals.

It’s all about finding the balance that helps you sustain your weight loss long term, without making you feel deprived.

Pardon Me, Your Self-Love is Showing

Body acceptance has always been a concept that eluded and confused me. I understand the need to love yourself as a person no matter what size you are, and I always felt like I did. I loved the person that I was, but I wouldn’t say that I loved the body that I was in. The idea that I would one day be able to stand in the mirror at 100 lbs overweight making googly eyes at myself and saying that I loved my body, was a bit ridiculous to me. I’m sure there are thousands of women that truly love their bodies,

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July 2016

and I think it’s great that there’s this movement, telling women that they can learn to love their body, no matter what size they are. But I honestly didn’t see how it was possible that I would ever truly love my overweight body. I seriously doubted there would ever be a day when I made some viral Instagram post bearing my stretch marks like trophies and being confident enough to display them for the whole world to see. It wasn’t just that I didn’t liked the way my body looked, I was frustrated with how my body was making me physically feel. The idea of loving my body no matter what size I was, just seemed like another thing to add to the list of ways I should be feeling but definitely wasn’t.

Let’s Think About This

What was my body doing for me at that size? I was exhausted, I didn’t really want to leave the house unless it was for food, and it was hard to move. I had to brace myself and rock to get off of the couch. Clothes that hid my body were bought, over clothes that I actually liked, and I felt like I’d hiked 4 miles every time I walked in and out of work. I wouldn’t say that I absolutely hated my body, but I definitely didn’t have a good relationship with it either.

And Here’s Where Things Get Weird

Bear with me, because this might sound a little whoo-whoo. I wouldn’t consider myself especially touchy-feely, or emotional normally, but somewhere along the way, I started to feel differently about my relationship with my body. I’m not really sure now, what prompted my views on my body to change, but one day I realized that I needed to start viewing my relationship with my body, as a relationship. Sure, maybe my body wasn’t exactly helping me live my life the way that I wanted to, but like any relationship, I had to start realizing, it’s a two-way street.

If I looked at my relationship with my body as a relationship, I would’ve kicked my butt to the curb years ago! I was an abuser,

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July 2016

and the taker in this relationship for sure! I have put my body through a lot. I’ve starved it, neglected it, put it through two pregnancies, surgery, and the list could go on. There were times where my body couldn’t deal with what I was doing to it, leaving it with scars, and minus an organ. (I’m speaking of my gallbladder, which I’m almost certain had to be removed because of my rapid weight gain.) But all in all, she’s a tough old gal, who only wants me to love her with my actions and not just my words.

Taking Care of Me

I had to start holding up my end of the bargain. I had to start learning how to take care of this body, because it’s the only one I’m ever going to have. That’s the thing that is a bit confusing to me about the “love yourself at any size” movement. I think it’s so important that we love ourselves for who we are, whatever size we are. However, I don’t feel like that should give us a free pass to make lifestyle choices that leave our body unhealthy, although I’ve been guilty of this the majority of my life. I feel like at some point, we should really evaluate how we’re showing love to the body we say we love. I’m in no way saying that every single woman needs to be the same size, and we are all at different stages in our weight loss journeys, both mentally and physically. We were also all created with unique frames and proportions. What I am saying, is that loving and respecting your body, regardless if you have weight to lose or not, may also mean trying your best to keep your body healthy.

So when I began taking steps to take care of my body, initially, it was just because I wanted to have more energy for my day to day life.

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October 2016 (size 20) to June 2018 (size 4)

I started paying attention to the things I was putting into my body, and the nutrients that helped me feel my best. I practiced how to stop using food to deal with my stress, and learned how to use it to fuel and to nourish my body instead. My body had been treated like crap for years, but started responding almost immediately to the new kind of attention I was giving it. My body responded to my effort by dropping over 100 pounds of extra weight, and giving me the energy to feel like I could do more with my day than just get it over with.

In My Humble Opinion

So almost two years later, I still feel like my opinion of the body that I’ve worked so hard for should be 100% positive. I should be so proud of all of my hard work, and not be able to see anything negative about my body at all.

After my weight loss, I definitely have more energy, I can buy clothes in any store, and I can do active things with my family with confidence.

 

My relationship with my body is definitely vastly different than it was two years ago. However, here’s how I honestly feel at this point of my weight loss journey: I love the person I have become through this process and who I am still becoming. I have proved to myself that I can set a goal, and that I have to mental toughness and determination to achieve it. Even after losing 112 pounds, there are still things about my body that I would change if I could snap my fingers. But I also have a deep appreciation and respect for the things that my body is capable of. My body has been a trooper for these 30 years, through all of the abuse that I’ve done to it, and it has given me two healthy, handsome children.

I Said All That to Say

Weight loss can definitely help you feel so much better in your body physically and mentally, but weight loss is never going to be a cure-all for your self-image. Changing your body, can greatly impact your health and day to day life,camerarolltempimage but if you don’t love the person that you fundamentally are at 300 pounds, you’re probably still not going to like the person you are at 150 pounds. Maybe you’re where I was, and couldn’t see how any plus-size person could honestly say they loved their body. That’s okay. You feel how you feel. There may never come a day, when you wake up and are in awe of your mom-bod, and that’s okay too. But when you start treating yourself the way that you would treat a friend, you can work toward being proud of the person that you are, and showing yourself love through the way you treat yourself and how you treat your body. The rest will fall into place. It’s amazing how our bodies can bounce back and respond, when we hold up our end of the relationship.

The Ever Elusive “Lifestyle Change”

What the heck does that even mean, “Lifestyle change?” Every legitimate fitness person ever, typically preaches the same general message when it comes to weight loss. These 2 simple words, are repeated over and over in top tips and tricks, magazine articles, and interviews…lifestyle change.

Two years ago, if you had asked me what lifestyle change meant, this is what I pictured: Everyday, for the rest of my life, I must wake up and do at least 15 minutes of morning yoga and meditation. img_1661.jpgNext, I will float into the kitchen, and whip up an Instagram worthy Acai bowl, complete with fresh slices of kiwi and perfectly placed strips of chia seeds. After I’ve nourished my body with a bounty of fruits and vegetables, I will go on a brief 6 mile run. I’ll be wearing a perfectly matched outfit, and I’ll end my run, looking like a goddess. Then, I will make my way home to stuff my face full of kale, quinoa, and green juice. I’ll have to repeat this routine day in, and day out for the rest of my life.  A perfect specimen of health and fitness.

It honestly sounded exhausting! I spent my days taking Levi to school with greasy hair, a newborn attached to me 24/7, pumping, sleeping, eating, and watching TV. I felt like it took everything in me, to just get through the week.IMG_8004 Between work and family, I was totally drained, and the only thing that the aforementioned lifestyle seemed like to me, was more work. I had no visions whatsoever of spending my mornings in the gym and my days eating steamed broccoli and boiled chicken. But I knew that I did have to start getting some of the weight off, if only to have more energy. I could still remember what my body had felt like at 150 lbs. That was the lowest weight I had been able to achieve after taking Phentermine, and even though I was far from healthy, just being at a lower weight, I remembered that I physically felt better.

That’s what I was trying to get back to, but this time, I really couldn’t muster the energy to go nuts from day one. I knew I wanted to do flexible dietingeventually, because I had dabbled in it before I had gained all of my weight back. A friend had made me a meal plan years before, but I knew in order to make long term progress, I was going to need to learn how to do it for myself. That being said, when I first started my weight loss journey, I wasn’t quite ready for flexible dieting yet. I needed to take it slow. I had a lot on my plate, and I felt like going hardcore right from the start, was just setting myself up for failure.

Taking Baby Steps

There were certain habits that I knew would have to change. Common sense things, that would need to be adjusted, if I wanted to reach my goal. One of those things was sweet tea. Whenever I would eat at a restaurant, when the waitress asked me what I wanted to drink, it was almost like a reflex. I couldn’t help it! Asking me what I wanted to drink, was like asking me my name. Auto response: Sweet Tea. I finally realized, that by drinking Sweet Tea with every meal, I was adding hundreds of calories into my day. Those were calories that I could’ve been eating that would’ve actually filled me up. I knew that was a pretty obvious habit that I would need to change. I knew I could still have it sometimes, like with a “cheat meal”. I just couldn’t have it all the time, and reach my goals.

One of the next things I did, was to start planning my meals ahead of time. Actually making a grocery list, doing meal prep, and eating the foods that were on my plan. This was a huge adjustment for me, img_0319-1and this was something I started practicing before I was actually tracking macros. I still couldn’t wrap my brain around macros, but I was just getting into the habit of doing meal prep and actually eating what I intended to. I had to practice every day. I had to practice NOT finishing my kid’s food that they left on their plate, not nibbling on their goldfish crackers, and not picking at all of the treats left around at work.

Looking at how I was eating before, it’s easy to see how these small changes alone, helped me to start seeing progress. I started losing weight, little by little. As my weight began to drop, I started to want more. If I had been able to see results from these small changes, I wanted to see what I was capable of when I really dialed in my food, and I started going to the gym.

That’s when I started really learning how to track my macros, and I decided that I would start working out at Planet Fitness. I knew several people who worked out there, and they all loved it. And let’s be honest, it was cheap and involved very little commitment, so if I flaked out again like I usually did, no harm no foul! I truly felt like this time was different though.

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My Free Planet Fitness T-shirt, size small!

I really wanted to stick with it and see it all the way through. I was so sure, that I walked straight into that Planet Fitness at just over 200 pounds, and asked for a size small t-shirt. That girl working the desk and I, both knew that I wasn’t a small. But I knew I intended to be!

I started out doing the 30 minute workout at Planet Fitness, stalking other gym-goers to see what machines they used, and how they used them. Then I moved onto doing a workout plan from Jamie Eason, and eventually put together my own workout routines based on which exercises I enjoyed the most for each muscle group, and what I felt were the most effective. Eventually I switched to a larger gym that offered childcare, because after working out at Planet Fitness for a year, I knew that this was a habit I wanted to continue, and I wanted to be able to go without having to find someone to watch Tyson while I went.

Stacking Habits

As the weeks went on, and I kept stacking one new habit on top of the next, eventually those small changes here and there, have amounted to some big results. So here’s the part of the blog where I throw in a weird example. Hear me out!

When I was preparing to go back to work after maternity leave, I knew I was going to need to start pumping, so that I would have enough milk to send with Tyson on the days that I worked. I hadn’t made it very far into breastfeeding with Levi, so this time I was determined to make it work. So when Tyson was about 3 weeks old, I started pumping after each of his feedings. Day one of pumping began. I awkwardly strapped in, went into full dairy cow mode, and patiently waited. After 20 minutes, I looked down to inspect the fruits of my labor…one measly ounce. Not one ounce from each boob…one ounce total. This was not going to be easy. I was determined though, and stuck with it, pumping after each of his feedings for the rest of the day. The next time was the same, one ounce. Each time I pumped, I only was able to get one stinking ounce. But I kept adding ounce on ounce, until the end of the day I had one whole 4 ounce bottle. It seemed like it was going to take forever to get any kind of stash going! I kept with it though, and even though most days I could only pump 1-2 ounces after each feeding, by the time I went back to work a month later, I had 100 ounces in the freezer!

The point is, small things eventually add up to big things! Ounce by ounce, I stored up a good amount of milk, and it was the same with weight loss, I just kept collecting pound after pound making little changes here and there. Tweaking things as I went along, until now I’ve lost a total of 112 pounds.

Two short years later, my daily routine has completely changed from what it used to be, and it happened so gradually, that I didn’t even see it coming! It didn’t happen overnight, it happened one little habit change at a time. Two years ago, my typical morning involved taking Levi to school, taking care of Tyson, and eating and sleeping as much as possible throughout the day.camerarolltempimage That was all I felt like I could handle. Now I routinely hit the gym 3-4 days a week, immediately after taking Levi to school. I get groceries regularly, and meal prep every week. Sometimes, when people congratulate me on all of my hard work, I almost feel like a fraud. Intellectually, I know that losing 112 pounds with diet and exercise is not easy. I know that it takes dedication and discipline to form new habits. But because I did it gradually, and didn’t try to fix every one of my bad habits at the same time, it really doesn’t seem to me like it was all that difficult! I just let myself naturally progress at my own pace, as I craved results more and more. I knew what my ultimate goal was, but this time I wasn’t in a huge rush to get there. I knew scientifically that I would reach my goal in time, I just had to actually give my body the consistent nutrition and time to get there.

Lifestyle Change In a Nutshell

Now if you ask me what does “lifestyle change” mean I would explain it like this: It’s not about eating perfectly, or spending hours everyday in the gym for the rest of your life. It’s about forming new maintainable habits that support the body and life that you want to have outside of your fitness routine. Lifestyle change is about finding a balance between reaching your health and fitness goals, while still living your life.

How you truly change your lifestyle, is just by stacking one new habit on top of the next. You get there by continuing to build and add on new goals. Pushing a little farther and a little farther, as you feel like you’re ready for a new challenge. Now that I’m at a point where weight loss isn’t necessarily the goal anymore, I can continue to make progress with new goals.

My new goals, are continuing to share my story and hopefully help others, to keep pushing myself with my level of fitness, to keep adding in more whole foods and vegetables into my day, and to get my Personal Training and Nutritionist certifications. Outside of fitness, my goals are to continue using my new body to experience life with my family. Enjoying days at the pool, trips to the beach, and hiking with my husband, and being able to fully enjoy those experiences without my body holding me back, because that’s what true lifestyle change is all about.

Why “Eat Less, Move More” is Crap

It sounds so simple, Eat less, move more. Any idiot can do it. So here’s my problem, if it’s this simple, why are there so many educated, intelligent people, still struggling with their weight?

First, a little back story. In the words of Sophia Petrillo, “picture it”, I’m nineteen years old, married, in school, and working at a small hospital. Like most people overwhelmed with the stress of school and work, I put on a little weight. Not a lot, but enough that my clothes were getting tight. img_7595-1So finally one day, I got up the courage to ask one of the dietitians that worked at the hospital, if she had any tips as to what I could do to lose those extra pounds. I figured if anybody knew, she would. Imagine my disgust when she, without even looking up from what she was doing, uttered those four nasty little words, “Eat less, move more.” You don’t say. Insert eye roll.

Now at this time in my life, I had no clue about flexible dieting, macros, or nutrition. However, even then, I distinctly recall having the immediate thought, “what a load of crap.”

Obviously I never asked again, and went on to go through years of the ups and downs of the diet/binge cycle. Thanks for the earth-shattering advice!

It’s Not That Simple

“Eat less, move more” is not the answer. It’s so much more complicated than that. When you hear those words, while they may be true in a very broad sense, they don’t even begin to address the real reasons why we can’t lose weight. Calories in versus calories out is only the tip of the iceberg.

The reason we don’t lose weight isn’t because we don’t know how. It’s pretty common knowledge these days, that to lose body fat, you have to burn more calories than you eat. We don’t have to get all reflective and mushy about the reasons why we gained weight necessarily. For me it was simply apathy and stress. The reason we can’t lose weight, is because we can’t keep our head in the game long enough for habit to take over. We haven’t decided to really commit to doing it.

The “Kinda” Zone

I was forever stuck in the “kinda” zone. I “kinda” need to eat better, I “kinda” need to lose weight, I “kinda” would like to look better. It took me a while of feeling horrible in my body and feeling embarrassed about how much I had let myself go. Finally, I made the choice to change my mindset and do what it took to change my body. img_7596

Our success starts and continues with our mindset. We have to decide that it doesn’t matter how long it takes, there are no deadlines. We need a true lifestyle change in order for this to be sustainable. Even if that means doing what seems like the harder thing, of not just following a diet plan, but learning how to make our own.

We women are unstoppable when we decide. Ask my husband, when I get something in my head, and I decide I want to do it, I’m freaking doing it. I obsess about it until it’s done. I’m sure people would say the same thing about you. We are powerful and capable when we move from “kinda” to actually truly deciding.

We’re More Powerful Than We Think

We’re way more complicated and powerful than “eat less, move more”. All that tells me, is that I’m an idiot for not being able to do this. img_7598Now go starve yourself and run on the treadmill. Both of these things sound horrible to me now, and sounded even worse when I was 100 pounds heavier. A dumbed down answer like that just doesn’t do it for me. If it was that simple, no one would struggle with their weight.

Taking Action

If you can be a sponge, figure out your why, and truly decide that this is something that you want to accomplish, then you can. You can decide that you’re going to figure this out for the last time. Let it be a process. Understand that it will be trial and error. But when the errors happen, you course correct and move on. I have said this before, but I’ll continue saying it, this is all a mental game. It’s not all about “looking better”. My true motivation this time around, has been to just physically feel better. img_7597What has been an unexpected surprise to me, is that while my confidence increased some from looking better, the main reason my confidence increased, was because I set a huge goal, and I accomplished it. I decided I was smarter and more complex than “eat less, move more” made me feel. I decided that I was going to look at this like a calculated, scientific experiment, and that I was going to do what I needed to do mentally, to keep going and see what would happen. I was going to eat and train smarter. So much can change in a year if you keep going. I’m nothing special. My body functions just like everybody else’s. Truly, if I can do this, you can do this. It all starts with your mindset and your decision.