Friday, September 19, 2014

21 months in - the journey

it's been a long one, and it's not over. i'd usually do this 'review' process around the end of the year to see where i'm at, but now is a better time. i've certainly come to the end of something. i have finally come to the end of being in the 'obese' range on most conventional BMI charts that compare height to weight. at 5'5 and 215lbs my BMI was around 35, and now i'm down to 173 which put me around 28. of course these charts don't know that i have more muscle than the average female my height/weight, so a proper BMI measurement at some point may be helpful. i'm still overweight, but not obese. says these charts. and that's something.

i've struggled with my weight for many years. when i was ten i was diagnosed with hashimoto's thyroiditis. for years my energy and weight would fluctuate, i would spend months at a time absolutely exhausted yet unable to sleep. no matter my efforts diet wise, it didn't seem to matter. i steadily gained weight, roughly 8 pounds a year since high school. being 'fat' never bothered me, but feeling unhealthy does. the last twenty pounds i gained i could really feel. it gets harder to walk, to bend, to move, to work... i was getting in the way of myself, and tiring myself out just carrying the extra me around. not to mention what goes on inside when carrying extra pounds...

insult to injury
long since my underyling health issues fully developed including digestive issues i've been living with since around the same age, i had done some of my own additional damage. pills, alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, poor food choices, sugar, salt... the list goes on. there was a good number of years that i didn't much care about the state of my well-being, and i think most of us have been there. but not everyone recovers. i hope to recover.

the time had finally come where i felt motivated to do something about it. to take responsibility for my own health and well being, knowing no one else can do it for me. western medicine had no solutions, conventional dieting and exercise only served me temporarily. i had to make a change in my attitude towards myself and my health, and i had to make some real lasting lifestyle changes. but first i had to accept that i got myself into this mess, even if blindly i got here myself.. and i can and do have the power to dig myself out.

time to change
at the end of 2012 i made a resolution, and i made it publicly. i announced that i would do what it takes to find better health, and lose the weight. i started this blog to keep track of my progress, but also to keep me accountable. as soon as i started posting, people engaged in conversations about my proposed journey. people i would have never expected to read my blog started talking to me at work about how i was doing. this alone gave me tons of motivation not to give up, everyone is watching and cheering me on.

by the end of 2013 i had tried everything from running, to diet plans, to various meal replacement and weight loss products only to see temporary results. i did yoga, pilates [which are both great by the way, if you stick with them!], various 30, 60 and 90 day challenges, even that green coffee bean stuff. each thing did have an effect, but only short term. by the end of the year i was right back where i started weight wise, but much more informed. i learned that above all diet was key, before exercise routines and gym memberships, i had to start with what i'm made of, what i eat.

i had learned something precious. there are products and programs out there that do work, some that don't. many offer a 'boost' in the right direction, but without diligent maintenance it's easy to fall off. i finally found something that i wish i had found in the beginning, but at the same time i'm glad that i hadn't tried it right away as i wouldn't have known the true value when it comes to cost, quality and effort involved. before i get into that, i'll write a little more about finding my own path.

life's unexpected challenges
things happen that make you think.. unfortunate things mostly, like losing someone close to you. my cousin was only 32 when she lost the fight with cancer in March of this year. my mother was only 55 when she passed in May after spending the last twenty years of her life on disability. both of their lives were very much in the hands of western medicine, neither had much of a chance. it's hard to get your mind around things like that. it's difficult sometimes to continue searching for better health when it seems so impossible. headed down the same path health wise it really made think, what is wrong here? what are we doing to ourselves? i feel like now more than ever i must think 'outside the box'. i decided to start doing my own research.

self education
we have an infinite supply of information available to us every day instantly, and a lot of the time for 'free'. it takes a little sifting, common sense and citation but self education is completely possible and recommended. if you don't have any idea where to start looking, there's at least a couple dozen good 'food docs' out there these days that showcase the awesome power of food. there are two good ones to start with, Food Matters, and Hungry for Change. watch either or both and look further into the stories of the people shared and you will find leads to endless information.

beyond food documentaries i have also picked up many texts about nutrition and researched some of the fundamentals of nutritional science. what do we need to survive? to thrive? i've asked these questions before, only now i'm finding answers. and i've also found that everyone is unique and what works for some won't work for others, but overall the more raw vegetables fruits and foods included in my diet, the better i feel. juicing is an absolutely amazing discovery which helped to really kickstart my journey to better health.

making the changes
i learned the hard way... start slow. trying to change everything at once is simply too overwhelming which increases the chance of failure. for me anyways.. i've heard [and read] the same from others who have been successful in changing their routine and building healthy habits. i started by adding good things to my diet, ultimately crowding out foods that aren't as good for me and have less or no nutritional value. after eating good foods that aren't saturated in processed oils and salt and sugar, now if i reach for these things they just don't taste as good as i remember.

incorporating more exercise into my lifestyle was more of a challenge than i thought. a part of my struggle being that i was already living a reasonably active lifestyle, it seemed daunting to attempt to add more physical activity. the first thing i did was invest in one of my now favourite tecky little gadgets, the fitbit. now i know exactly how active i am and when, and i can see when i haven't been very active and challenge myself to get up and do something. it's better than an app that requires you to always have your phone on you, as it's tiny and discreet and the charge on the battery lasts about a week. i still use it to this day.

the first few months of 2014 i did little more than replace breakfast with smoothies and fresh pressed juice, and keep track of my steps making sure to get a little extra walk or jog in if i didn't meet my goal. i'd hit the gym a few times a week to make use of the machines. i noticed that on days i had made a juice i felt a lot more energy and didn't need a nap half way through my day. i was losing roughly one pound per week, which is substantial! i've more or less kept that rate up, as i'm 37 pounds lighter than i was in January.

as time went on making better food choices was reflexive. on the days i'd laze out and grab a quick snack, i'd feel it in my guts within the hour, instant regret. reaching for junk happens less and less often. my body craves the good stuff now that it knows what it's missing when i don't eat well. also i'd feel sluggish and sore if i didn't get enough activity in for the day, so i'd find a good workout to add to my routine.. my body now craves good exercise as well. and that's how i built some healthy habits!

where i'm at
fifty pounds seemed like an impossible weight loss goal at first, but now that i've come this far i'm confident i can [eventually] work myself back into the athlete i once was, maybe even a better one. i'm also sure that working through the last ten pounds may well take about as long as the first forty but i've learned something key: don't give up. it's okay to feel like crap some days and it's okay if i slip up, but it's important to never ever ever ever give up.

now back to my major discovery.. Beachbody! i owe the last ten pounds, and the simplification of my diet to this company and their incredible products. after learning the hard way all on my own that their workouts are the most effective, i was glad to have found them. i'm also glad i went through everything that i did first. i feel that i have a greater appreciation for finding a system that works for me that was designed by professionals that know their stuff. it gets even better..

i'm probably the hugest skeptic when it comes to health products and meal replacements, i've tried them all. when i became a Beachbody Coach i told my own coach that i'd totally rock the workouts and help others get into them, but i'd be highly unlikely to try their shake products. firstly because i'm sensitive to whey, and second there's no way their shake ingredients could even touch the lineup of healthy smoothie boosts i have sitting in my cupboard. she insisted that i give them a try at least, to get a feel for the products. after doing my research i found that they did indeed use a lot of those exact same boosts i had bought separately, and that they have a vegan option!

i was thrilled and had to try it. i've tried a few other vegan protein shakes and meal replacements and not liked the taste, even when blended with things. with my Shakeology, the taste isn't so bad, and it really satisfies my hunger. i am truly, absolutely amazed, and how much easier it is when traveling to make sure i get everything i need in a day.. instead of trying to find all my boosts and healthy stuff when traveling, i just need to bring a few packets of Shakeo with me, and suddenly it's way easier to be healthy on the road! what a relief, and what timing.

here's where i'm at now, 173lbs. little tank. Beachbody's PiYo workout [my new favourite] has helped me through. i'm strengthening muscles i forgot i had! i finally crushed a couple pounds off the plateau i've been stuck at [176lbs]. now just barely past it, i know it's going to be a lot of work moving forward. it's worth it to know i'm prolonging my life, and improving the state of the vessel that i'm experiencing it through. surviving is one thing, but to thrive.. that is my goal. and it's ongoing...