Let’s face it.
I love food.
I’ve loved food for as long as I can remember. What can I say? My mom is an excellent cook.. who came from parents that were great cooks. Delicious eating runs in my family.
Do I have a favorite meal, type of food, or food group? I would say not necessarily.
I have an insanely intense sweet tooth. Like. I’d give my right arm for a warm brownie and ice cream. Seriously. Don’t tempt me.
Am I picky? I would say no to that as well. I’ll try just about anything once.
Like sushi for example. I was anti-sushi for a lot year years. Now? Now you can’t keep me away from it.
So what happened? Honestly it’s hard for me to pin down the exact moment where things started spiraling downward. My love of cooking started shortly after I graduated high school, but I didn’t really get too serious in the kitchen until I moved out on my own. When I turned twenty-three(ish) it was no more of mom’s cooking I could depend on. It was time for me to spread my wings and fly [in the kitchen]. It was then that I learned that I loved not only cooking for myself, but really started developing a passion for cooking for others.
With the freedom to cook whatever I want, came the freedom to make all things unhealthy. My roommates and I would love to make comfort foods and desserts. Especially desserts. I lived with roommates for about a year and a half or so. Moved back home, then turned around and moved out on my own. While on my own, I made a decision to get healthy. I joined a gym and started going pretty frequently. I even signed up for a “biggest loser” competition. I did really well and lost a little over 11 lbs.
A couple of months later when I was least expecting it [you know what they say] I met the man of my dreams. We fell in love, we got married, and I gained 20+ lbs. 20 lbs turned in to 30 lbs. It was at that point that I decided something needed to give. I loved cooking, but my style of cooking and Steve’s ultra healthy lifestyle didn’t exactly pair all too well. He’d eat what I made, but deep down I know he longed for me to see the light just as much as I longed to see it myself.
Everyone has that one photo. OK, not everyone. But many people have that one photo. You know the one. The one that was taken of you and you look at it in disbelief that it’s you. Yes, that one. I think about my photo all of the time. I think to myself. How did I let myself get this way? How did I lose control so much so that I nearly became someone else? I actually have several photos.
For whatever reason a year or so ago I found myself really in to food documentaries. I was mesmerized about learning where my food comes from, how animals are treated, and what the money-makers want you to believe about food, or rather more of what they don’t want you to know. January of 2013 I watched the one documentary that woke me up. Not because it was new information or a news flash to me. But more because it was one of those ‘right place at the right time’ kind of type of things. Hungry for Change. I watched it alone, then the next day made Steve watch it with me, and the weeks to follow recommended it to anyone with a Netflix subscription that wanted to wake up like I had.
Along with several other factors, watching Hungry for Change ultimately led to our decision to complete a 30 day juice fast as well as cleanse of our liver, colon, and kidneys. On January 10th 2013 we embarked on our adventure which ultimately helped redirect my thinking towards food. It’s hard to believe we lasted the entire 30 days. It was challenging, it was exhausting, and it was expensive, but every red cent that was spent and every single day was 100% worth it to us. Through the juice fast I was able to drop 14.8 lbs. and 8.75 inches. I felt amazing and knew that with a fresh start it was going to be the year that everything changed.
Well, there were some things that changed I’ve stuck with. But there were also some things that I just couldn’t drill through my noggin. I gained a little bit of the weight back, but still worked decently hard to stay in shape for a vacation that we had last May. Once home from the vacation the number on the scale continued to climb. Around mid-September I was approached by my friend Kami who runs the website ‘No Diets Allowed’ she had caught wind of my health craze at the beginning of the year, juice fast, and cleanse and wanted to know if she could spotlight me as a motivation for others.
Cue wake up call #2. I was so embarrassed. I had gained back all the weight that I had lost from the fast, I had let go of some of the principles that had previously convicted me before, and it seemed I was right back where I started. When I emailed her back to let her know I wouldn’t necessarily be the right person to spotlight because I hadn’t continued ‘walking my walk’ I was so ashamed. It was then that she introduced me to a challenge that has changed my life. The Game On Health Challenge. A competition between those looking to get healthy, reach goals, and succeed in a friendly competition. On a whim I signed up only a day or two before registration closed. Who knew that would be the turning point for me?
It was in that moment I realized I was finished treating my body with disrespect and started realizing that I owe myself more than that. For the challenge you are divided in to teams and compete against other teams by earning points on a daily basis. I was put on a team of strangers essentially. I knew Kami (but we’d never met in real life). All I knew was that I was going to try my hardest not to let my teammates down. Week after week as I continued to work hard, it not only benefited my team but I found that it was benefiting me. At the end of the six weeks our team came in 2nd place BUT I ended up being the competition ‘biggest loser’. In six-weeks I lost 5.1% of my body weight, 8.6 lbs, and overall 7.5 inches! I couldn’t have been more proud of myself.
I wasn’t ready for the challenge to end. I became really close to my teammates and we helped each other reach for and achieve our goals. I knew that heading in to the holidays I wasn’t ready to tackle the world on my own. So I signed up for the next challenge that began November 18th and ran through Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was exactly what I needed. Structure over the holidays. While most everyone was gaining weight over the holidays I was determined to lose weight. And that I did. At the end of the 2nd round, my team came in first place. I lost a total of 9.4 lbs, 5.84% body weight, AND 6.75 inches overall. Over Thanksgiving AND Christmas I lost almost 10 lbs. Can you believe that?
I was on a roll, and decided to once again sign up for the challenge. It had proven effective twice before, why not continue the momentum. So, on January 6th 2014 I signed up for my third (and final) challenge. To date, I am down 36 lbs. I’m less than 15 lbs. away from my goal weight. I feel amazing. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Calorie counting is my lifeline. Without knowing how many calories you are in-taking there is no way to gauge where you need to make changes. When I calorie count I see positive results. I’m in control and I’m able to keep a handle on my otherwise out of control eating habits.
- Sleep is important. I know it’s been said before, but these are things that I’ve learned over the last few months for myself. Not only am I happier when I get at least seven hours of sleep each night, I also can tell that my body runs more optimally. I feel energized, rested, and happier when I give my body the rest that it needs.
- Water is just as important as sleep. I’ve gotten in the regular habit of drinking 3 liters of water [almost] every day. When Steve and I completed our juice fast one of the components of our cleanse was a lemon detox drink. The ‘lemonade‘ has become a part of who we are. Not only does it help get me to drink water, it’s flavorful, it’s healthy, and it’s addictive. It’s one of my favorite drinks and with my lemonade I hardly miss the soda and sugary drinks I drank in the past.
- Finding a workout that you love is essential. I’ve never been one to love running or the treadmill, but it was what I used to do to get my exercise in and although I wasn’t good at it I would always try my best. I never really enjoyed it. I just did it because I knew I needed to. The day that I was introduced to the workout ‘Fun Dance’ was the day that my views on exercise changed forever. There is a workout out there for everyone and Fun Dance was made for me. I have absolutely without a doubt fallen in love with it. I crave it. I attribute a good portion of my success to the amazing workout that I’ve burned anywhere from 500-700 calories in a single class. For the challenge I’ve had to workout six days a week, four of those days I spend at the Fun Dance studio.
If I can do this, anyone can do it. There are lots of great resources here on Tried and Tasty to help get your kitchen on track first and foremost. It’s been said that weight loss is 30% gym and 70% diet. Once you get your eating under control, it will get easier. Everything will begin to fall in to place. My journey doesn’t have a time limit. It is something that I will be working at every day for the rest of my life. It will be worth it.