I have thought about my weight and size every day of my life since I can remember. From an early age I was teased by my older brothers and kids at school for how much I weighed. My brother was a bean pole and we are close in age and therefore constantly compared. If I was signed up for an activity or sport it was in hopes that I would lose weight. I would get conflicting messages at each meal about needing to eat, or eating too much. Growing up in an Italian family means food is a big topic. We love our food, we show love with food, we take pride in cooking. Sometimes there were good messages of eating natural foods rather than an American diet full of preservatives and fast food. My father wouldn’t allow for things like Spaghettios in our house. My parents argued that it didn’t make sense to order out when we could just make it ourselves. Sometimes the messages were not so great. My mother was the queen of fad diets in the 80’s and 90’s. Remember the cabbage diet? Or the grapefruit diet? Big winners in our household. And the reason for the diets were always about vanity. It was to fit into a dress for an event, or the usual “this is it, I am getting back into my clothes” speech. These lessons were passed down to me ever since I could remember.
To make matters worse, I was a dancer. I begged my mom to join ballet and since she felt that it would help my posture and hoped it would make me “skinny” by someone else’s standards she agreed. Surrounded by naturally thin girls, being the girl with curves, never a flat belly, and I was even taller than most of the girls growing up; my size was noticed. I was a yo-yo all through my adolescent years and adulthood turned out to be no different.
College was a struggle through cheap beer and food, and once I started dating my ex-husband, the pounds started to really add up. The natural weight gain that comes from being in a relationship is a common struggle. Suddenly you have more dinners out, more pizza nights in, less trips to the gym, less of an importance on your appearance as you fall comfortably in love. My ex didn’t exactly have a healthy lifestyle either so it wasn’t hard to gain the additional 45 pounds in our first 2 years together. I had a momentary lapse of sanity where I hired a personal trainer, ate whatever she asked me to and was able to lose all of that weight. Most of which was during our 3 month breakup in our early 20’s. Once we got back together I managed to keep the weight off through our engagement and wedding. Inevitably it all piled back on plus another 20 pounds by the 2nd year of marriage. Our two daughters were born and only made it that more difficult to make healthy choices. Forget exercise unless you could count bouncing a crying baby and pacing the floors at 2AM. I found myself at 272 pounds, overwhelmed with life, and no positive direction.
I was over 100 pounds overweight, depressed, struggling to take care of two under two, in a loveless marriage headed for failure, and dealing with the news that my father has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. I don’t think I could point out all of this so clearly at the time, but I knew I wasn’t happy. I knew I needed to lose weight. I knew what the scale said. Because again, my weight and body image were constantly on my mind at any size. It wasn’t until we had an upswing in my dad’s treatment that I snapped into focus mode. I promised myself at that moment that I wasn’t going to stop this time. No more yo-yo. Even if there are struggles, setbacks, discouragement, I couldn’t stop. I needed to make that change. For the very first time in my life, it became about more than fitting into that dress.
July 2017 – Visiting my brother in Seattle, WA. This was after a very tiring walk that I struggled to complete.
I started with my usual tools. I joined Weight Watchers for maybe the 4th time and joined the neighborhood gym. I started seeing some progress but the weight was coming off very slowly. I lost about 10 pounds, and then I found a CrossFit gym near me. I have always had more success when someone was pushing me to work harder. I was incredibly intimidated to walk into this gym filled with athletes but I thought if I want to make the change for good, I have to do something drastic. It was hard. I was sore all the time. I started out with 3 days a week and moderately watching what I ate. Over time I felt a little stronger. I was now 20 pounds down, but the scale seemed to stick there for months. Knowing I had much more to lose, I decided to make an even bigger change and overhauled my diet completely.
I started out with the idea that I would try the Paleo diet for 30 days, just to see if it would get me out of this plateau. I was working out way too hard, now 5 days a week, to be seeing no results. So I started off on August 1, 2018. The plan was I was to be strict for 30 days straight and then I would add things back in to make it a more manageable life. No grains of any kind, no dairy, no soy, no legumes, no alcohol with the exception of wine or cider….and Tito’s vodka. I had to make it realistic! No processed foods! No junky oils! No refined sugars! It was going to be tough. Dairy and bread were big hitters in our household. My daughters were not following the plan so there would be temptations in our home. But for 30 days, I figured I could stay strong.
By the end of the 30 days I was 15 pounds down and felt amazing! I didn’t even know I was feeling bad! I no longer struggled with acid reflux or eczema. I no longer had digestive issues. I was eating well and never went hungry. I didn’t have to count points, calories, macros, grams of fat, or whatever else. I just lived my life, knowing that I just don’t eat the things that don’t fuel my body properly and it was working. So I continued for a second month finding no reason to stop. Another 15 pounds down! Now I had lost a total of 50 pounds and was starting to feel like myself again. I had more confidence than ever. I was seeing improvements at the gym as well. I was stronger emotionally and physically. Nothing is more motivating than results.
As this became just my new routine and life I stopped thinking of it as a diet. This wasn’t a temporary fix to lose weight for an event or vacation. This was life. This was a better way of living. It was not about losing the weight anymore. It was about nourishing my body properly for the hard workouts. Investing in foods that are organic and eating meats that are raised as they should be and not for mass production. Eliminating processed garbage from my system became more important than the next jean size. Getting my first pull-up is more important than seeing my arms in a tank top. The focus has shifted and that is how I know this time it’s for real. There is no going back to that yo-yo dieter. There is no more feeling defeated by my weight. It is about investing in me and seeing that I am worth it. This is my transformation.
I am now 85 pounds down from that original turning point. I have earned the next chapter in this journey which will be a tummy tuck and breast lift to remove the excess skin that happens after a large weight loss – and two pregnancies that did a number on my abdomen. It is a constant reminder of where I was and who I was just a few years ago. Going through this next transformation will be saying goodbye to that conflicted girl obsessed with her weight and if the clothes will fit. It is saying goodbye to putting myself last.
A snippet from my journey.
I started CrossFit in September of 2017 and Paleo in August of 2018.