What Runs U returns! And today’s post is from Emily, who struggled with weight issues and has come full circle to the robust lifestyle of a healthy eater.
Her story is complete below and long but well worth the read. She’s an incredible inspiration and she has proven that hard work PAYS.
Starting out: I was a healthy kid that came from a healthy relatively active family. Growing up we did lots of hiking, camping, and backpacking. I started gaining weight at about 8 years old after my parents divorce. At first it was just a bit, I was that one chubby kid, then at the end of Jr. High I grew a few inches and lost about 10lbs and was average again.
Around my sophomore year of high school we (my family and I) started noticing that I was really depressed and I started having horrible anxiety attacks. At that time I was put on a series of medications and was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder (which basically means I’d freak out over nothing).
At this time the weight just started PILING on. The reasons for this are 3 fold: 1) the biggest side effect of the class of medications I was on is weight gain, 2) I am a binge eater, when I become stressed, tired, sad, angry, etc I eat, 3) secondary to the depression I literally had trouble getting out of bed in the morning let alone doing anything active.
Flash forward: Just over 3 years ago I weighed right around 250lbs (I am 5’4″, so we all know that wasn’t quite the right weight for me) I would estimate my Body fat to be about 40% at that time (so scary!). I knew that I needed to do SOMETHING to help myself, but I didn’t know what that was. I had talked to my doctor about what to do and his response was always “exercise and eat right”, and I always thought after this conversation “Great, WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?” Honestly, I get fired up just thinking about it, don’t you think I would have done that if I’d known how????!! I mean really, a guy says to you we can either hack out part of your stomach with the possibility of you being seriously ill for the rest of your life, or you can exercise and eat right (um, no brainer).
Also, at that point the idea of stepping into a gym was horrifying, to me the gym was a place the pretty skinny people went to look at each other and compliment themselves on how pretty and skinny they were, NO WAY was I walking into that!! So, I used my anger at my doctor to my advantage and did research on gyms (specifically gyms that were unintimitdating), I found a small privately owned gym that had personal trainers.
I was at that gym for about 7 months working with a trainer that I found to be totally unmotivating and very negative. (It was one of those places where you meet your trainer once every 2 weeks and they follow you with a clip board writing one workout you’re supposed to do for the next 2 weeks). I was keeping a food journal, but after about the 4th time the trainer lady said “Really, you ate that much of food ‘x’, what were you thinking?!” I said screw it, I’m not keeping a food journal anymore (I mean really, if you know what you want me to eat and how much tell me and I’ll do it, but no, no guidance just criticism).
During that 7 months I lost MAYBE 15lbs (horrible, right?). So, it was right around this time that I started getting really tired, tired to the point that I’d wake up, shower, get dressed, and literally feel like I could go back to sleep, I was also having weird IBS symptoms, though cutting out the dairy, fat, spicy foods like the doc told me to really wasn’t helping.
So I went back to my FANTASTIC (note the sarcasm) doctor, he said we were going to run tests for diabetes, anemia, and all the other fat people diseases (all of which turned out to be negative). Then he wanted to do a sleep study for sleep apnea (I knew I didn’t have apnea, so I told him no) I left the office feeling down trodden.
At that time my Mom was starting a new “diet” that a friend had told her about “South Beach” so just for laughs I tried it with her. The first phase of SB you basically cut out all carbs with the exception of non-starchy veggie carbs for the first 3-days I was miserable (like, thought I was going to die dizzy nauseated sick miserable). Then, about day 5, it was like some one flipped a switch and I felt great. All of a sudden I wasn’t tired and I wasn’t having the constant IBS type symptoms. We stayed on SB phase 1 for about a month, I lost 15 lbs and felt great. Then we went on phase 2, where you can start adding in some good carbs including wheat based products, and I started getting sick again. This led me to a gluten free diet, which I am religious about now! As far as I am concerned GLUTEN FREE IS THE WAY TO BE!! And no, I don’t really substitute, rarely I will get a pizza craving and will do a GF pizza or will bake GF cookies, so my diet now tends to be naturally lower in carbohydrates.
So, 1 year in I have lost 30lbs. I quit the first gym, because the trainer lady was horrid. And I was on my own . . .
I spent a few months struggling, I maintained my 30lb loss effortlessly without exercise, and found out later that I’d dropped another 10lbs in that time. Then, By sweet Serendipity, I met trainer man #2 Yosef, who I really consider my first trainer. At my first measure with Yo I weighed 210lbs, I was 35% bodyfat, and I was motivated. Yosef asked me what my goal was, and I said I want to weigh 150lbs. The first thing that Yosef said to me was “we are gonna do this together!’ and I thought, “holy crapy, he’s going to help me!!!!!”
My first workout was a killer, I went home and sobbed to my Mother, I hurt everywhere, I was exhausted, I didn’t know how I could do it, and I seriously thought that bypass surgery might be the answer. Then I got a text from Yo he said I did a great job and to keep it up. And that’s how it was with Yosef, I spent a year thinking there’s no way I can do this, then my cheerleader would step up and push me through it!!
Yosef also helped me with my diet, told me how much to eat, when to eat, how to eat (yes, I can do this), he also had me journal, but it wasn’t scary anymore! I basically stopped eating all starchy carbs after 5pm, and I switched from white rice to brown and Idaho spuds to sweet potatoes . . . just basic little changes.
Yosef had me doing a reaction cycling class 1 time per week and we met for training 2-3 times per week that was mix of resistance and HIIT training. I took to cycling right away, it is still my perferred form of cardio (in fact this spring I am planning on getting my certification to be an instructor, I love the idea of cardio and building some leg strength, AWESOME).
Just under a year into our training I was down to 170lbs and had hit a plateau for about 2 months, wasn’t gaining, but wasn’t losing was also going through some emotional stuff (which probably means my diet was slipping). At that time Yosef had to leave our gym to finish his teaching credential which meant I had to move trainers . . . and (drum roll) Yosef sent me to our head of PT, the Marine, the scary quiet guy, Victor!
I started with Victor in October, and he said we would be at my goal by December if I did what he said! In addition to my weekly spin class Victor had me get into his boot camp class once per week, he also started me kick boxing with him 1-day per week, and my 2-days with him of resistance and HIIT training. And by December I was at goal!!!! And by January I was down almost another 10lbs, and at the low end of the average body fat range!!!!!!
Since then my goals have changed I am down to 135lbs and I maintain about 15-16% bodyfat, and my goal is to constantly challenge myself. I still work with Victor 2-days per week, I take a series of classes weekly and we have started incorporating crossfit WODs at least once per week, though I usually do an extra crossfit day on my own.
Crossfit is the activity I love to hate, I have seen a huge difference in the cuts on my legs (yes, my legs are cut now, woop!) I am also noticing a difference in my back, though the back and arms are always slow going for me. I continue to have little goals (I wanna do an unassisted pistol squat, I wanna be able to lift 100lbs, I want to get the time on that one WOD below 2min 30seconds, I want to maintain). Additionally, I am always looking for ways to improve my diet (hence the looking into Paleo). My other goal right now is to help others, I have started a group locally called Lifestyles. It’s a weight loss and maintenance support group, all are welcome! We are having our second meeting in January, and I am super excited about it! 🙂
Okay, so that’s my journey in a nutshell!!
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