Thursday, June 20, 2013

Healthy Living: Volume #1

Hi all!  This is a new weekly feature that I'm hoping to do on Wednesdays since that's my self-appointed weigh-in day, but I'm going to use this post as a jumping off point.  Allow me to share a couple disclaimers:
  • I am NOT a doctor or nutritionist.  I'm simply a girl who has struggled with my weight all my life and have done a slew of things to try to get it under control.
  • This is probably going to be a novel so if you don't feel like reading a lot, this post probably isn't for you.
That being said, here is a before/after picture that I took about a year ago, but the after hasn't changed too much save the hair color and cut.

On the left is me at close to my heaviest point (about a year before).  My heaviest was 225 pounds when I was in the tail-end of my freshman year of high school.  On the right is last summer when I was down to about my current weight of 155 pounds.  So let's get started on the journey to get here, shall we?

To understand where I am now, we have to understand where I was.  I grew up outside of Buffalo, NY, home of the aptly named Buffalo Wings!  Needless to say, growing up we ate a lot of those.  My family would have pizza and wings every Friday night, not to mention Mighty Taco when the mood struck, Perry's Ice Cream constantly in the freezer (because it was soooo good!!!), Arby's sandwiches, Ted's hot dogs... I could go on and on.  Moral of the story is, Buffalo has a ton of amazing food chains but none of them are too good for you.  Top that off with having a very starch-heavy diet that was home cooked and you have a recipe for weight gain.  Except for my brother who managed to stay skinny as a twig through all of this and still is to this day. 

Regardless, this all led to living a pretty heavy life when I was a kid.  I remember not being comfortable with my body but I guess when you're a kid you don't always think about that stuff.  Did I get teased?  Sure, but I don't think that society was nearly as tough on kids as it is now.  That or I was surrounded by a lot of nice people.  Also I think I had a decent personality so that didn't hurt.  I like to think I was fairly active as well, being that I came from a generation that spent more time outside playing than sitting in front of the TV.  My friends and I would ride our bikes, play Power Rangers, play all sorts of outdoor games and the like.  I would go for bike rides with my parents every once in a while on the bike path by our house as well.  I played softball for a few years but the only reason I played was for the Carvel ice cream afterwards.

When I got into middle school my Mom would try to reward me with money to work out.  That would be my allowance.  I think I got $5 every time I would work out collectible at the end of the week.  That lasted for a little while, but then I got hit with the news that my mom, dad and I were going to be moving to New Jersey in June of 2000.  That didn't sit too well with me and I got depressed.  I was going to be going into high school not knowing anyone.  I'm an emotional eater so needless to say for those months I stocked up on eating all my favorite things (I left out Buffalo Chicken Subs on that list.  Chicken fingers with Buffalo sauce, provolone cheese, blue cheese, lettuce and tomato.  DELISH!).

I suppose I should introduce one of the driving forces of my actually losing weight now, since chronologically I did discover this before I moved to New Jersey.  A friend of mine had been a wrestling fan ever since she was a kid.  Obviously I'm talking about professional wrestling.  I watched it with my brother when I was little and loved Hulk Hogan but once he grew out of it I didn't continue to watch.  She started crushing on this one wrestler, Jeff Hardy, who was a member of the tag team the Hardy Boyz.  She would bring over VHS tapes of their matches on Raw, Smackdown!, Sunday Night Heat and whatever else and I started getting into this.  If you follow wrestling, this was around the time of the Hardy Boyz/Edge and Christian/Dudley Boyz fueds so it was a good time to start watching.  And needless to say I developed a crush on Edge so that kept me intrigued.

We moved down to New Jersey at the end of June and nothing really changed as far as eating habits or workouts went.  My weight didn't really bother me until late in my Freshman year.  My Mom and I were out shopping for clothes and we went into Sears, JC Penny's, Macy's, etc. and I couldn't find anything that actually fit me.  We went into Lane Bryant and I was so excited that I could find stuff that fit me!  Then I realized that it was a store for plus-size women and didn't feel so great.  Don't get me wrong, if you feel comfortable with rocking your size, rock it the hell out.  If you are confident in your skin then that's what's going to matter, but it didn't make me feel confident.  As a 15-year-old, I wanted to be wearing what all the other 15-year-olds were wearing, not just whatever I could find that would fit me.  Then I had a doctors appointment and had to get weighed.  I weighed 225 pounds.  That was not acceptable. 

My Mom was unhappy with her weight as well so she decided that we were going to do something about it.  There was an L.A. Weightloss not too far from our house so she went in for a consultation.  She told her counselor that I was trying to lose weight also so she got double the supplies and we started our journey.  There was a kick-start thing that lasted for three days where we weren't able to eat any carbs.  That was HELL.  That's all we ate!  But it made us get a good start with our weightloss.  The program essentially taught us to eat the food groups.  There was no calorie counting, just portion control and being sure to fill all the categories.  We also weren't allowed to "double starch" (have two servings of starch in one sitting, i.e. two pieces of bread), which is actually something I try to maintain to this day.  We also brought protein bars through them that you would eat and then down a glass of water.  They would expand in your stomach and give you a full feeling longer.  I think we got little snacks from them as well but I can't be too sure. 

I also started exercising more.  I got the Chyna Workout VHS as well as The Firm workout package from the infomercial.  I worked out every day over my summer break.  I would also go in our pool and run and swim laps in there as a supplemental workout.  The jolt of healthy eating and exercise caused me to lose about 45 pounds over the summer.  It was such a wonderful feeling! 

One of the biggest motivators for me was that I wanted to be in the WWF badly.  Obviously if you look at these ladies they are all super fit and super beautiful.  I knew that the first step to this would be to get to that point.  This is what kept me going through the times when I felt like I couldn't do it and when I wanted to give up.  Having something like that dangling in front of you is a great motivator!

Throughout high school I pretty much maintained the same weight.  Being at home and having my mom cooking healthy food all the time was a huge help since we were in it together.  When I went to college, it was a whole different story.  I lived on campus for three of my fours years and I ended up ballooning up about 25 pounds.  I had a meal plan but not too many of the options on campus were very healthy.  Even when I thought I was being healthy I really wasn't.  We had a diner on campus that my friend and I would frequent and I would get this delicious salad.  It wasn't very good for me looking back, as it came with two sides of dressing, a pita and tuna salad on top.  Starch, dressing and likely a heaping helping of mayonaise.  Not so good!  Not to mention that most of the food in the cafeteria was just loaded with grease.  I remember trying to go on a juice fast a couple times but that isn't healthy and it is AWFUL and you should never, ever do that.  Ever.

I also had a job over the summer at a restaurant.  When we worked at the restaurant, we ate at the restaurant.  And while I could order healthy things, when I was eating my dinner at 11:00 at night, nachos sounded way more delicious than a salad.  Not to mention that the bartenders would order all sorts of delicious fried goodies for us to eat!  How could I say no?

I want to say that my senior year I lost a little bit of weight but I could be wrong.  My spring semester I interned with the Philadelphia Flyers and had to work every home game that I didn't have class.  We were given a pass for food and a drink but if you've ever been to any arena ever, you know that most of them don't have the healthiest of options to choose from (they're trying now, but in 2008 it wasn't happening).  Cue the cheesesteaks, chicken fingers, french fries, pizza, etc.  Not to mention the fact that I was working at the arena during the day as well and they would open some of the concession stands for us to get lunch at.  They had a salad bar, but when you can build your own pasta dish or eat Crab Fries every day, a salad doesn't fare too well. 

After I graduated, I was lucky enough to get a job a couple weeks afterwards working back at the arena in sales for an ice skating rink that was owned by the company that owns the Flyers.  Cue going back to eating the concession fare more often than not.  After a couple months, however, our department decided to have a Biggest Loser competition.  I teamed with my friend Ashley and it was on.  I ended up losing 15-20 pounds and won the competition!  This pretty much put me back to my high school weight so I was feeling good about that.

A lot went on in that job and I moved around to work in a different place that allowed me to have a little better of an eating regime, but eventually I left that job and came to my current job, which is at an accounting firm.  I think it was around that time that I was just full-on ready for a change.  I would try to eat better and work out, but I would always have excuses.  Eventually I buckled down and just did it.  The biggest helper for me was an app I downloaded called My Fitness Pal.  It's essentially a food diary/calorie counter and as long as you're honest with it, it will help you lose weight.  You fill out a profile about you so that it determines your ideal caloric intake for the day (mine was 1,200), but you could "gain" calories to eat by working out.  I lost the rest of my weight using that app, so roundabouts 25 pounds. 

And now here I am today.  I'm happy with the progress that I've made but I know I want to keep going just a little bit more.  I want to be more toned for sure, so I need to start getting my butt off the couch and doing something about it.  And that's why I wanted to start this weekly feature.  I guess I'll feel more accountable if I have to actually talk about it on a weekly basis to people who actually read this.  So let's get going on this journey.  If you're looking to make a change of any kind, feel free to share your goal and we can keep each other motivated.  My biggest piece of advice for a change of any kind is to get yourself into the proper mindset.  You can do anything, you just have to be ready for it. 

I'll be back next week with some more tips that I've found to work along my journey, as well as an update on how my week has gone.  Hope you're all having a wonderful day and remember, as cliche as it may be, you can do anything you put your mind to!