I started a diet/exercise program yesterday. (Monday)
The program is hard. And I don’t mean like… “oh this is going to be rough because I won’t get to eat ice cream anymore” kind of hard. This program is like death on wheels, smacking yourself in the face with a brick and demanding a lifestyle change at gunpoint kind of hard.
It’s not for everyone. That’s what they told us when we signed up… but they didn’t tell us why or show us what we’d be doing. In a crowded room full of probably a hundred people when the capacity was likely only 40, the guy who opened our local facility began talking to us about his life and why he thought this program was so important. He echoed many of the ideals and standards I believe in and I decided then, that I would take a chance, even blindly. He asked us to trust him, to trust the trainers and to trust the people who would help us grow, get stronger and do well.
I did… and I do… and it’s hard.
The deal they offered was incredible and I still don’t necessarily believe I can do it… but I’m going to try. 20 pounds in 6 weeks. That’s the deal. If I lose the 20 by carefully and dutifully following their nutrition plan and exercise program consistently, I don’t pay a thing for full access to as many classes as I can manage to go to, as often as I want to, 7 days a week with full access to their trainers and nutritionists, activities and seminars on health, food and overall fitness. 42 days of full access, free of charge. All I have to do, is show up, do the work and lose 20 pounds.
Yesterday was upper body and I nearly passed out 4 different times. I wanted to throw up, but didn’t. I wanted to cry, but didn’t. I pushed through that hour and I went home to my babies and took care of the normal stuff I do every day as best I could.
Today was lower body. Now, anyone who knows me, knows my lower body is a train wreck of bad and I don’t mean that in a self-depreciating kind of way, it’s just… I’ve got issues beyond the norm and as a result, I’ve always struggled with strength in my legs. Specifically, the right leg. With a fused ankle and muscle loss in my gluts and hip on the right side, along with certain muscles that are underdeveloped as well as literally not even there… I walk with a pretty harsh dip to one side and it messes with my back. I couldn’t do most of what they did today which were about a hundred variations on a basic squat (of which I can’t even do a single one even without resistance all the way down), but what I could do, I did it to the absolute max my body could handle. I left that place barely being able to walk, my knees kept buckling under me as I walked to the car.
Now, I should mention that I’m no stranger to diet or fitness programs.
I spent much of my early 20’s really taking care of myself and was active in three different martial arts programs. I was a vegetarian and had a really healthy lifestyle, walking instead of driving anytime I was in town and woke up early to do a standard regimen of Tai Chi, push-up’s, sit-up’s, stretches, meditation and jumping jacks. I sparred with my boyfriend at the time on a daily basis for at least an hour at a local school soccer field and I even rode my bicycle to work and took the bus for a summer instead of driving. Every day, no matter what, for about 4 years I did everything I could to take care of myself. Over time, circumstances changed, my martial arts school closed, my sparring partner (and boyfriend at the time) left town and we split, and one circumstance after another led to me just stopping all of it. I lost my motivation, one activity at a time. I got tired. I got sad. I got anxious and I got lazy. I started smoking and I indulged too much in vices that were unhealthy. I didn’t keep up with my health and I overworked my body and mind on a daily basis with three jobs and a long commute and a miserable love life that sucked up every moment of free time.
Things were looking up as I landed an amazing customer service job for a killer company in LA. I poured my heart and soul into it and did all I could to excel within it. I did that, at the expense of my health and completely ignored the signs; my body clearly tried to tell me it was time to get in better shape or I’d be in trouble. Well, I ignored those signs and kept getting deeper into it, to the point where I totally forgot every form I knew and I couldn’t even manage a single push-up without feeling like I was dying. I’d never gained a lot of extra weight, I was skinny… but all my strength was gone. I used to go “clubbing” and figured going dancing 3-4 times a week was a great aerobic workout and that was enough.
Over the years, I let go, got more involved in my job, got promoted and stopped going out at night and my weight began to creep up into the 120’s, the 130’s and then I got pregnant and due to some medical issues and insane amounts of stress, (getting my degree, buying a house and making a baby while working 10+ hours a day) it shot up to 173 at the time I gave birth to my son. I worked hard to kick it back down, with nightmares of dying from some heart condition due to my weight, I agonized over it every single day. I realized part of it was postpartum anxiety & depression, but that wasn’t all of it. It was the fear of dying. No, that’s not right. It was the fear of hurting my children by dying from some stupid illness caused by my idiotic, lazy ways. So, I pushed myself to eat better, take walks, get out and do more. I got down to 130 the SAME WEEK I discovered I was pregnant again. Working hard through this second pregnancy, I only gained 25 pounds and was under 160 at the time I gave birth to my daughter.
I then joined Medifast and the team at Take Shape for Life and through their plan, lost 35 pounds between October and January and started my new year at 128 pounds- a number I hadn’t seen in nearly 4 years at that point. I was amazed at the results, how easy the program was, how good I felt and how fast the time went by. I was so happy with it, that I then became a coach and championed 5 clients through the program. Once they were done and either lost the weight they wanted, or gave up and quit, my funding for the Medifast food quit, too. It was an expensive program and I couldn’t afford it on my own without a client base, so little by little, my diet reverted back to one that was less healthy than it had been and my overall fitness was terrible. Medifast works great for weight loss, but it absolutely sucks for fitness… at least it did for me. But it was awesome, rapid weight loss done the right way, my cholesterol was in the “beyond perfect” levels, my weight was down, I felt great and I was walking around in size 6 jeans for the first time in nearly 9 years, so I didn’t complain and I completely ignored all the ingredients on the boxes of pre-packaged food that you were to eat 5 times a day.
That was a year ago. I was 123 pounds and I still had 12 to lose, but was starting to doubt the program because I was learning so much about overall health, the benefits of a plant-based diet, really wanting to cut out animal protein and learning the value of cutting out GMO’s, chemical additives and I stopped wanting to feed myself, or my family a bunch of synthetic, pre-processed crap. So, being a concerned coach, I emailed the company with my issues and waited, hopeful, for a response. When they did reply, they let me know that my concerns were unfounded, that I shouldn’t worry about how much sucralose was used, I shouldn’t worry about the processed and powdered food products, I shouldn’t care about the added vitamins rather than eating them direct from the source and that GMO soy products were absolutely healthy and fine and I shouldn’t bother myself with those ideas.
I quit the next day.
Utterly disappointed with their claims to be all about the overall health and wellness of their clients and really sad to have invested my own money for my coach license and renewal, investing my time and convincing others to buy into it only to find that they were filling their customers with chemicals that have been known to cause problems when eaten in excess… I stopped all of it. I guess I got jaded and bitter so I lashed out by eating whateverthehell I wanted to. Great way to hurt someone is to hurt yourself, right? NOOOOOT!
Now, I should say… the Medifast program… is EXCELLENT for some people. Truly. It was not what I was looking for once I decided to cut out artifical sweeteners, flavors, colors and processed foods. But it works. It’s amazing. It gets results and it’s healthy and most of all, it’s easy. There are people on this program who have had such amazing results, they lost literally hundreds of pounds and were able to stop taking heart/diabetes meds and were able to regain their life. It works. Just not for me.
After a while, I stopped worrying about my diet. My cholesterol was great every time they checked it, I was walking a lot, managing two children under 3 and I was happy. Drinking 4-8 cups of near-decaf coffee a day with at least 2 tbsp of bad for you creamer in each one, sneaking bits of chocolate when I felt like it and baking cookies about once a week, taking my kids to a bakery every Saturday for treats, I was happy. I had nearly purged meat from our diets at home, I had replaced most of the “crap food” with non-gmo and/or organic items, I didn’t have a single carb in our house that was made with white flour, everything was whole grain, whole wheat or brown rice. I’d switched to herbal, organic coffees and non-gmo soy creamer and I felt better than I had in a long while. I started encorporating healthy fats into my daily diet and then those healthy fats just turned into fat in general. It was okay, tho… I was still about 80% healthy overall… right?
Until it happened… the inevitable… my size 6’s went back up on the top shelf and I pulled down the 8’s. Then the 9’s. Then the 10’s… then the 11’s… and now we’re caught up to three weeks ago.
I was sitting in my bedroom, just out of the shower, naked and near tears because absolutely nothing I owned fit me anymore. I was trying to get ready to leave and I had nothing to wear that wasn’t going to feel like my torso was being cut in half by a too-tight waistline. Even my newest clothes were already too tight and I was furious, angry with myself and embarrassed. Not for anyone else’s sake… I was embarrassing myself. I was lying to myself. I wasn’t as healthy as I thought. I was miserably weak and tired all the time, I could diet as much as I wanted, and it would never, never, EVER fix the problem.
I needed strength. I needed to remember how to believe in myself. It wasn’t THAT long ago that I could run circles around just about anyone and I decided I had to get back there again. I had to, for myself, for my kids, for my future and I just needed to do it.
So I signed up. I’ve not even finished my second, full day of this program and I’m having trouble with achieving 100% buy-in, but I am already feeling better. I know it’s all in my mind at this point, but better is better and it’ll be real enough, soon.
I’ll let you know how it’s going, I’ll probably have a lot to say as the days go on. I thought maybe telling you how I came to this point and what I’m doing each day to fulfill the goal might help you to get you through your own struggles.
Some have said “oh but you look fine! You already look great you don’t need to go kill yourself on some extreme program!” Okay sure, I mean.. I know I’m not that far away from my goal weight. I’m only 131 pounds, but that’s not the point. I’m weak. I have zero cardio endurance. I can’t run for more than 15 seconds without it hurting and I can’t do more than 3 jumping jacks without feeling like I’m going to pass out. I can’t chase after my kids. I can’t carry them for more than a few minutes before my back feels like it’s going to give out. I can’t live like this and I can’t allow it to get worse.
It’s not about how I look or the numbers on the scale. It’s about how I feel. I don’t feel good when my clothes don’t fit, when my bra is too tight, when my pants cut into my gut and I don’t want to buy new clothes again just because I’m too weak of mind and body to buckle down and get back to where I want to be.
It’s not healthy. It’s not safe… it’s not fair to my kids and I’m going to fix it. I need to fix it.
So there it is. I know a lot of people who talk about this but never take steps to make it happen. I’m doing it. I might feel like crap, I might want to throw up, I might even be in a super bad, horrible detox mood from getting all the crap out of my system, I might be bummed out about not having cake for my birthday in 4 days or my morning comfort of coffee… but I’m doing it. I’ve been living at the bottom all this time and doing my best to convince myself it wasn’t true. Well, I’ve admitted it. Now the only place left to go is up.