When I graduated high school I started gaining A LOT of weight. Ya know that dreaded freshman 15? ... only mine wasn't a freshman 15, it was worse.
In a matter of 6 months I had gained 35-40lbs. Where did all of this weight come from?! I was so confused. I had always been petite growing up ( I am only 5'1") and with in a matter of months I didn't recognize the person in the mirror. I can remember looking down at my thighs, and for the first time seeing bright red stretch marks everywhere. I was totally devastated.
Reflecting back on the past I have realized there wasn't an easy explanation for my weight gain like I had wanted there to be. I wanted a magic button that would revert me back to my old body. Hey I got news for you, there is no magic button, pill, or diet. It comes down to getting REAL with yourself and taking a good hard look at all your habits and committing to a change, not a diet, but a life long change.
Here is my story....
After gaining a lot of weight I knew something needed to give so I enrolled in a fitness class on campus that required me to work out 4 days a week for 1 hour to get an A. This sounded like the perfect solution because it would force me to adopt a regular work out routine.
Over the course of my college fitness class I was working out 4-5 days a week, only problem was the scale was going UP. What?! UP? No, this can't be right I told myself.
Concerned that something might be wrong I went to the doctor to discuss my drastic weight gain. After some blood tests, I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and had been told that this is why I was having trouble losing weight.
I had many other symptoms besides just weight gain. My hair was falling out, horrible acne, and I had not had a period in 9 months. I mean any woman out there know 9 months without a period is a scary thing! I left the doctor feeling a sense of relief. Essentially what I took from my doctor’s appointment that day is that none of the weight gain had really been my fault. I had an excuse, it was beyond my control, I had a disease. WRONG. But that is what I told myself for a long time. The doctor basically explained that the hormone imbalance associated with PCOS made it 10x harder for me to lose weight over a "normal" person. Which meant I was going to have to work much harder to get back to old me.
I was put on a diabetes medication (Metformin- I was on the verge of being pre-diabetic at the time) to help me loose weight and control my insulin levels. Although I didn’t have diabetes, PCOS causes similar insulin spikes that can lead to other hormone imbalances and weight gain. This medication had some of the worst side effects I have ever experienced. The side effects became too much to handle and were interrupting my daily life. A few months later I went off the medication.
I realized I needed to make big changes in order to feel good about myself again. I wanted to get my eating in check so my first big change... oh just thinking about this makes me laugh...go on Jenny Craig. After researching Jenny Craig, their food options didn't sound "yummy" enough for me.
After reading lots of reviews on food home delivery I settled on E-diets because their menu items sounded irresistible. Please, please, please never subscribe to ediets.com. I was convinced that if I had pre-portioned meals all laid out for me I would have no excuse to not be eating healthy. The only roadblock in this epic plan of mine was that the food from E-Diets was inedible and far from healthy.
The women they picture on their site claim to have lost 40lbs sometimes even more from E-Diets. I honestly do believe if these women were able to choke down the rubbery, soggy, tiny, tiny portions E-Diets sent and stuck to the plan they probably did lose 40lbs… from starvation!!! I could not force myself to eat these "gourmet meals" that were really the most disgusting TV dinners I have ever tried to stomach.
It was May 2011- I was left feeling discouraged, as if there was no hope for me. My younger sister was having her Bat Mitzvah that summer and my whole family was coming to town. I hadn't seen most of my family since gaining all of this weight. I didn't want them to see me this way, which gave me motivation to keep going with my weight loss journey. I started trying to eat "healthier", eliminated soda, kept simple carbs to a minimum and watched my sugar intake. I had lost 15lbs by the end of August 2011 when my family came to visit. I felt much better about myself but still was nowhere near reaching my goal. Although I was trying to eat healthier, I wasn't totally committed.
I also taught myself how to cook! I went from not being able to make boxed mac and cheese to cooking gourmet healthy meals for myself. I have eliminated most processed food, added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and chemicals from my diet. These are the types of things in food that trigger cravings. I have learned that healthy food tastes good, it just takes more work! Anything in life worth having takes work. The key to my weight loss was getting my eating in check. No amount of work that I did in the gym would out weigh my unhealthy food choices. Once my eating was on point and I was working out, the pounds started coming off.
I now eat an 80% clean diet consisting of whole unprocessed foods, 20% my foodie desires. Balance in life is key! I do believe in an occasional cheat or treat meal, whatever you want to call it, but I still don't "pig out" like I would have years ago. Everything in moderation and a good balance prevents me from over indulging. Through healthy eating and getting active I have been able to reverse almost all of my PCOS symptoms. No medication, no real help from doctors, just hard work and dedication. I have lost over 40lbs to date, have a regular cycle, and no more acne.
I don't weigh myself very often anymore. Scales are cruel and never end up making me feel good about myself. I stick to my clean eating and workout routine and I don't worry about the scale. You have to remember muscle weighs more than fat and there is a lot more going on in your body that scale just can't see. I don't count calories. I count nutrition, meaning if it is healthy and provides my body with clean nutritional value I find no guilt in eating it. I listen to my body, eat when I am hungry, and choose healthy options. For some people tracking numbers helps, for me it complicates and confines my journey. Do what works best for YOU!
Since the beginning of the year I’ve been working out 5-6 days a week to take my body to the next level. I like to keep my body guessing and mix up my workouts. I am working on replacing fat with muscle and gaining strength. I am doing a Chalean Extreme hybrid with 2-3 days a week of the program and 2 days of lifting in the gym with some cardio mixed in. Later this month I will be starting Insanity Asylum- a 30 day sports conditioning program to get my beach body is shape for summer!
My advice is... stick with this journey!! It is going to be hard at times, you might want to give up and revert back to your old habits but don't. There are no quick fixes to long-term weight loss (I'm NOT talking about yo-yo dieting). It takes hard work and dedication but it will be worth it! I am a work in progress- each day striving to be better than the day before. My love for health and fitness has grown into a passion. I want to help others achieve their goals and be happy within their own skin. Loving yourself first is the key to loving anyone else fully.
If you ever have any questions about my journey or need advice please comment or reach out to me on Facebook. You’re not alone in this!