March is a pretty big month for me this year. You see it marks the first anniversary since I changed my lifestyle and decided to get healthy. Why is it a big deal? Because after more than 20 years of yo-yo dieting, I never stuck with any one diet or eating plan longer than a few months. I always gave up as none of the diets nourished me or provided a lifestyle I could adopt longterm. So a year is a big deal and I wanted to share some results and some changes that have made this my new normal.
Before I started eating cleaner and more mindfully, I did a lot of the following:
- Ate a lot of processed and sugary foods
- Ate A LOT of carbs
- Enjoyed a lot of red wine
- Lived a fairly sedentary life (definitely couch potato)
- Ate out regularly at both restaurants and fast food places
- Cooked rich foods & meals high in fat and low in nutritional value
As a result of these things, I was:
- Out of shape and consistently exhausted even though I wasn’t physically active
- Living on antacids and taking medication for high blood pressure
- Depressed with a very poor body image
- Limited in terms of activity with a bad knee and ankle
- Not sleeping well
- Facing some pretty serious health issues that would change my life – for the worse
Instead of going on a diet – which I was convinced I would fail – I did the following instead:
- Started working out 4+ times a week (primarily aquafit as that was easier on my bad ankle and knee) so I could start strengthening and conditioning my body
- Cut out processed foods, fast food and eating out almost entirely from my eating plan
- Started meal planning for lunches and dinners
- Prepped for those meals every weekend plus made healthy snacks
- Focused on eating whole foods, making snacks and meals from scratch as much as possible
- Drank lots of water
- Researched all about eating clean, good nutrition, fitness and worked with a nutritionist/personal trainer and set a realistic daily nutiritional goal that focused both on calories and on a balanced macro plan that would help me build lean muscle mass and lose fat
- Cut out the wine (I still have some on special occasions)
- Ate alot of lean protein, good fats, good carbs (lots of veggies)
- Focused on the quality of food just as much as the quantity
I am sure many would call this going on a diet because we as a society place so much value and emphasis on indulging ourselves through food. For me, the defining factor for me was not just that my daily caloric target was twice what I would have had on any other diet plan but the balance of macronutrients was essential to making this a lifestyle I could sustain. In previous diets I ate diet food – processed snacks and meals that were low in calories/fat and unsatisfying. I never had enough calories to consistently exercise so the diet was all about getting skinny – not getting healthy. I was hungry ALL the time. I still ate alot of sugar – processed and in carbs. I lived on a rollar coaster on these diets with extreme highs and lows, terrible headaches and just a general feeling of deprivation. If I went off them I felt terrible. This is why diets are not the answer. Who wants to live like that? Who can??? It’s a set up for failure and it stresses your body out!
Now, because I am very active, I have a daily caloric goal of just under 2,000 calories a day. Of those calories, I have nutrient goals that emphasize proteins and healthy fats over carbs and sugars. I eat lots of vegetables and lean protein but because I don’t have all the sugar and processed foods, I don’t live on a rollar coaster anymore. No more headaches. With the odd exception, I am happy and extremely satisfied with this balance of foods. By focusing not just on calories but on actual nutrients, I make sure my body gets exactly what it needs to be healthy and get stronger. It’s a game changer. And it’s what makes this a lifestyle as opposed to a diet.
This is what everyone wants to know right? A year later and what are the results?!! Well, drumroll please …..
Starting Stats: 255 lbs with a body fat ratio of 55% (yikes)
Current Stats: 183 lbs with a body fat ratio of 37%
I went from a size 22+ in clothing and am now wearing a size 12. I have lost 37″ in total (which is over 3′) and significantly increased my lean muscle mass. I have abs!!! Seriously – that is something I never thought I would have.
Other NSV (Non-Scale Victories):
a. I have a pretty decent fitness level now! I am transitioning from aquafit and taking kickboxing, TRX and other cardio/strength classes now that I don’t have so much extra weight on me. I have strengthened my knee to the point where it doesn’t hurt at all and my ankle rarely hurts. I more than keep up in my classes and by being consistent, I am seeing very tangible results.
b. I sleep SO much better and aside from the odd time when a dish is too acidic, I don’t touch antacids at all.
c. I don’t have the same negative self image. I feel GOOD about my body and I love it’s newfound strength and endurance.
d. While my blood pressure is still a little elevated, it’s down significantly from this time last year. My doctor is so impressed with my results that she asked me for tips so that she can make them work for herself and her other patients!
My life is 100% better than it was before I changed my lifestyle. My husband kept taking destination trips off our bucket list because he knew I wouldn’t be able to walk long distances or enjoy myself. Now I more than keep up with him and he is adding all those trips back into our plans! Being overweight was like being in a prison and now I am free!
For me, this has and will continue to be, a life changing experience for the better. Looking ahead to year 2, I will continue to nourish and physically challenge my body so that I can get into the best shape of my life – and stay that way! It’s not a diet – it’s a way of life!