It’s Not a Diet, It’s a New Approach Toward Life

It’s Not a Diet, It’s a New Approach Toward Life

Some of you may know last year I lost 35 pounds. On a 5’4” frame, going from 160 to 125 pounds is a pretty big deal. It was hard…not as hard as I thought (which is probably why I procrastinated it so long), but difficult, nevertheless.

Per my BMI, at my heaviest weight I was not obese, but I was well into the overweight zone. I was tired, often. My blood pressure was rising (135/105) and my cholesterol was borderline high. For a five-year vegetarian that was not terrific.

Before my weight loss journey, I really didn’t exercise…like, ever. I mean, I had enrolled in a spin class for a few weeks with a friend, and I took some dance lessons in my early 20’s, but I was sedentary for the most part. I worked in desk jobs. Going out primarily consisted of eating food and drinking alcohol.

I managed to hold around 125-135 for the majority of my twenties. There were a few stressful times when my weight dropped a little below, and there were some other stressful times when my weight climbed to 145 or so. I love food, and I enjoy it. I didn’t watch what I ate too closely—I dieted here and there, but I was lucky enough to have a pretty good metabolism and a pretty thin bone structure.

When I hit my thirties, Sam and I started dating and got married. I think a combination of things happened. I was really happy! We went out to eat even more! There were celebratory drinks and romantic dinners! There were Saturday morning pancakes!

After a while my size 8 pants didn’t fit…then my size 10s. Then I went to the Goodwill to get some “temporary pants” in a forgiving 12 (and they were tight). I look back at pictures from our first years together, and I cringe. I was no longer comfortable in my skin, or confident. Finding myself hiding in baggy outfits and shapeless things. I lived in hoodies.

All of this was in contrast to being in a relationship with Sam, who is a gym teacher, golf coach, and pretty much Mr. Fitness (Eco Runner—HELLO?!?). Something had to be done, because I felt bad physically and I felt bad about myself. I couldn’t keep up. Sam never once said anything other than telling me I was beautiful and perfect, but I wanted to feel confident and healthy—to believe it myself.

The first steps

Counter to all the times I’d managed my weight in the past, I actually started with exercise. In January 2013, my best friend and I signed up for the Brewers 10K run (Sam did the half marathon). I procrastinated running until about June (the race was in September). At which point I half-heartedly jogged through week three of my running plan, and then repeated the same run, again and again….

Then in August I panicked. I tried to run as much as possible—almost every day. Fortunately, I didn’t injure myself. I was however, not ready for my run. When race day came, I made it through to the finish, but it wasn’t so pretty.

That small victory, running around Miller Park with my bestie, feeling like, even though I was slow, I was proud of myself. I hadn’t really lost any weight, but I definitely felt more physically fit. It gave me the momentum to keep going.

Goodbye cheese, goodbye booze

I had always “dabbled” in veganism. I would eat mostly vegan, but then Sam and I’d go out, order a big chile relleno, a jumbo margarita (or two), with a basket of chips and guac. This turned into a weekly occurrence, or even a few times per week. Not only were we always exhausted and on a major salt bloat, but we would even have a few margarita-fueled arguments (which always seemed stupid the next day).

In December 2013 we both decided, after some not-so-great blood work, and doctor’s advice, that we needed to make some changes. We decided to take a three-month break from alcohol, together. Also, we decided that it would be a good time to commit to following an entirely plant-based diet.

We started with a “we’ll try it for three months, and see how we feel.” Well, over a year later. It stuck. We are sober, exercising vegans. I don’t think you could pay me to go back. I’m so much stronger, and clearer mentally, emotionally and physically. I have energy that I never expected. I never have stomach problems, or anything. My bloodwork is great. I feel younger and healthier than I ever did in my twenties.

Tracking & Weight Watchers

I’m not a big “group meeting” person, but I really love the Weight Watchers program, and how flexible it is. I also love how accessible it is, and I use the online tracker daily. I’ve heard good things about My Fitness Pal as well, but I find that paying a little extra for Weight Watchers makes me stick to it. There are a lot of tips and tricks and interesting articles. They have a great support system with chat boards and ways to find people who are dealing with similar struggles.

I also bought a Jawbone UP. As of January 2014, I try to get 10,000 steps per day, and run 3-5 times per week. The Jawbone tracks my sleep and my steps and it’s really motivating because I can pair with some friends to cheer each other along.

A year of success

So, I have held at 125 pounds since May of 2014. I am really happy with my weight, and I’m confident with the way my clothes fit and how I look. I don’t pass things over or hide in baggy clothes. That part is really nice.

The even better part is that I feel healthy. I’m lucky to have a husband who embraces the healthy lifestyle change by my side, and did it right along with me (despite being athletic and slim to begin with—he’s seen quite a few positive changes too). He keeps me motivated and going.

This fall we started on our “super saver” plan to get out of debt and get ourselves financially “healthy” as well. As part of that plan, we’ve stopped going out to eat (for the most part) and eat at home. We cook together, and it’s so easy and Plus, it’s fun to explore new recipes and try to “veganize” our favorite dishes.

Up Next

This year, when my bestie and I ran the Brewers 10K, we shaved off over a minute per mile on our time. Yes, there were a few walk breaks, but I was more in control, more prepared, and had a few 5Ks under my belt (and with 35 fewer pounds on my frame). I didn’t have any fear about not being able to finish, and we had a great time! I can’t wait to do it again this year.

Overall, I think that the secret to my success is keeping things positive, fun and relying on my support system. Yes, there are days when I want to sit on the couch in my sweats, and eat Oreo cookies, but more and more they are fewer and farther between. I have looked at this as a new way of life, not a temporary diet, but true change in the way I am and who I am. I’ve become more open, more compassionate, less anxious.

Everyone has a different journey and challenges. I know that my lifestyle changes might sound difficult or unrealistic for some people, but for me it’s been what works and I’m happy to share it with you. I feel great and happy! It’s awesome!

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