My weight loss journey

i went from chubby kid to yo-yo dieting before finding a healthy lifestyle

I love food. Unfortunately, until recently I haven’t had a very healthy relationship with food. For most of my life, food was an indulgence, a comfort, and above all an enemy. For about the first thirty years of my life, I ate a lot of crap. Most of it was stuff that I thought was “healthy” because it said “diet” or “lite” or even “healthy” on the package. The first time I remember trying the popular 1980s “slimfast” shake diet, I was around the age of 9. That didn’t stop me from taking hand-fulls of potato chips, layering them with processed sliced cheese and melting it all in the toaster oven as a snack. I had no idea what healthy eating looked like.

I lost weight but I had an eating disorder

In my late teens, I severely restricted what I ate to the point that I was basically anorexic. I was never athletic as a kid, except during a brief stint with shotokan karate. Over the years my weight yo-yoed back and forth; every time I gained I gained more until finally during a stressful time and deep depression in 2009 I weighed in at approximately 215 pounds. I never weighed myself during that time so that is just a guess. I looked into the mirror and thought of the girl that counted the calories in breath mints and broke crackers into four pieces and only ate a piece per hour – I knew she would think I was a fat, ugly slob with no discipline. The truth was, I didn’t know how to eat and I never had. I grew up eating things out of a can or a box. Food served a lot of purposes for me, but I never saw it as fuel. In the south, we communicate love through food and food was where I sought love for myself.

i taught myself how to eat healthy and learned about nutrition

Clean eating happened really slowly. I read a book that said to read labels in the supermarket and to google words you didn’t know. That first supermarket trip took a long time, but I knew what was in all my food. I stopped eating the stuff from the middle of the grocery store; I stopped eating meat (except for seafood); I started avoiding high fructose corn syrup; I gave up diet soda; all these small things happen gradually over the years. The problem was, it was too easy to not eat clean. Our country, society, is set up for convenience. It seems quicker and easier to just drive-thru some place for lunch or dinner. Preparation seems time-consuming and like a huge imposition. I loved to bake but I didn’t really like or know how to cook actual meals for myself. After a couple lapses back into unhealthy eating, I realized that like everything you read says, this had to become a lifestyle for me, not a diet.

Clean eating is a lifestyle not a diet

So I made a commitment to eat clean for the rest of my life, but not to deprive myself. Some wonderful fit foodies on instagram made me realize that I could remake the foods I love to make them cleaner and healthier. Giving up gluten as an experiment for three weeks made me realize that I didn’t “need” that dinner roll or toast or tortilla with every meal like I thought I did. Eventually I had replaced sugar with local honey, wheat flour with gluten free, I was making protein smoothies with fresh fruit, eating dozens of eggs every week and instead of continuing to lose weight and feel great I started feeling sick all the time. I thought I was always hungry but I realized that I was actually nauseated.

healthy with chronic illness

yes fit challenge virtual raceI knew that I had developed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in 2008 but it seemed to only start bothering me when I was under a lot of stress. Then there were random times when I would just get sick for no apparent reason. I started carrying Imodium with me and sometimes I would take it in a restaurant just because I was afraid I might get sick at an inconvenient time. When is it convenient to get suddenly sick though?!  I finally read a book called IBS: Free at Last! Change Your Carbs, Change Your Life with the FODMAP Elimination Diet and realized that I needed to see what foods were making me sick. It was a long process eliminating FODMAPs but I learned something that really shocked me!

All the healthy food that i was eating was making me sick

I learned that I have an intolerance to lactose, which is found in milk and cheese products, and fructose malabsorption which is essentially an allergy to fruit sugars. I also become nauseated when I eat too many eggs. All those fruit smoothies with whey protein and honey sweetener, plus dozens of eggs a week were making me sick. So I had to re-learn to eat, yet another time. Although it has been a tough journey at times, it has been worth it. Now that I know what FODMAP foods not to eat I’m feeling great and losing weight again.

It doesn’t matter what you do, you will lose weight as long as you stick with it

Over the years I’ve done low carb, then high fat vegetarian keto “lite” with 80-100 carbs per day. I’ve done calorie counting in the SparkPeople app. I’ve done a 6 week Shred meal plan from GaugeGirl Training. I’ve done workouts, Zumba, BeachBody, yoga, HIIT, countless hours on the treadmill running, walking, and doing intervals, and the one thing I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you don’t stop. Every diet change or eating plan I’ve tried has worked. Every exercise program has helped me shed body fat. It does not matter what plan you do as long as you can sustain it as a lifestyle change and you don’t give up.

For more specifics about my weight loss, visit my How I lost 30 pounds page.