The first part is the hardest. Part 1

Well, everyone… Summer is here. (Well, in Florida it has been for over a month.) It’s warm out (or getting there) and I’m sure that everyone is getting assaulted by all of the “GET YOUR BODY BIKINI READY” and “LAST MINUTE BEACH BODY WORKOUTS” emails, print, television, radio, and social media advertisements and articles. I’m sure some of them motivate a few of you, but I am also pretty sure that there are at least a few people out there that are as sick of the hype as I am.

Here’s my suggestion for those that have any desire to lose weight, get more in shape, or just do something a little healthier for their body and soul: IGNORE THE NOISE AND DON’T FALL INTO THE TRAP! Don’t do it because of an advertisement or because someone else wants you to. Do it for YOU!

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I am not a fitness expert, a personal trainer, a nutritionist, or a health nut. I am sure as HELL NOT a motivational speaker. I’m not one of those people that is all *in my best valley girl high pitched voice* perky and super dee duper excited to get on that cardio! (ok, end obnoxious voices) What I am is a woman with experience in losing weight and changing my eating habits on my own, without investing an obnoxious amount of money and without following any trend or fad diet. Well, honestly, I didn’t truly “diet” at all.

“What kind of experience could you possibly have?” you might be asking. It’s ok to judge me based solely on the photos you’ve seen on this site (from behind your computer only, please) or from what little you may have read, so far. I’m not being a self-centered conceited douche when I tell you that I busted my ass for a little under a year to get out of my size 22, almost 24 jeans and into my current size 9/10. It’s possible. It’s SO F^(<!NG HARD AS H{!!, but it is SO POSSIBLE!

Image     Before: around 270-275 lbs Late 2010                                        Image  After losing about 120 pounds, April 2012

 

At my heaviest (my starting point) I weighed 272 pounds and I’m only 5 foot 5-6 inches tall (depending on which 7-11 I’m walking out of). I found out at my Dr’s office after looking at the number on the scale for the first time since I was 15. I started standing on the scale backwards in high school when we were weighing in for swimming, because the number that I saw wasn’t the number that society had told me was acceptable. Let’s just ignore the fact that, at 5’3″ and 145 lbs, I was pretty much solid muscle and that without forcibly flexing, you could see every muscle in my back, shoulders, and legs. I didn’t fit the ideal. I didn’t have that coveted thigh gap. I stopped looking at the number because I started to focus on it more than on health and the fact that I had an extremely athletic build and came from 2 parents with athletic builds and larger than average muscles. But that 272 that popped up, combined with the emotional stress and panic I was dealing with after my father’s cancer diagnosis, full time school, full time work, moving, kids, etc., all culminated in a fight or flight feeling.

I had lost control. Of everything. Of my entire life. Granted my control over any of this was pretty much all in my head and the only thing any of us truly have control over is our own behavior, but I felt that chaotic spiral beginning and I felt like the ground was disappearing out form under me. I honestly felt like I was losing my mind. Having struggled with depression and bipolar disorder for a number of years, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to hang on much longer if I didn’t find something that I could control. I was scared, angry, heart broken, anxious, but determined not to break. Or at least not to show anyone else that I was so close to it. I had kids and family that relied on me. Losing my shit (excuse my language) was NOT AN OPTION! I needed to get some of the anxiety and anger out, at least. The only way that I have been able to do that most of my life was to exert myself physically and/or break things. (Dear GODS, I lLOVE to break things. It’s cathartic.) So, I started with busting my butt to clean up the yard at home. Hours of hardcore raking, digging, bagging, cutting, chopping, planting, and SWEATING. Days and DAYS of being so sore that I could barely move, but hoping that it wasn’t “injury sore” and ending every night smelling pretty close to what I would think a 3 day old corpse would smell like. (You’re welcome)

I struggled every day, at first, just to get out to get started. I have always been VERY self conscious and never liked, let alone loved, my body, my weight, or my shape. I still struggle with most of these things, but I know that the hardest part was and still is just getting off my ass and doing it. It’s that first step. It was back then and it still is, many days. Especially when it’s “Satan’s testicles” hot outside. But I knew that all of this would not only save my sanity, and essentially that of my friends and family that had to deal with me, but it would also help me get out of that morbid obesity category.

Once the yard was done, I decided that I was going to just start going for a walk to get away from the house and give me a chance to just exist without having to do something. Walking was NOT something that I looked forward to doing. I’ve never been a fan of the idea of walking or running, or pretty much any outdoor exercise that wasn’t in a pool. If I was working out, I wanted to do so in the a/c when it’s hot. If it’s cool outside, then I’ll bite the bullet and do it, but I most certainly am NOT a fan of being in the heat. (Yes, I’m a Florida native and YES I have hated it most of my life.) I was going to do something, though. I was nervous, but I was going to do it.

3 rules

Here’s the key: you make a decision to JUST START. Don’t set a goal just yet, realistic or not. Just get up and do SOMETHING. It’s gonna be hard for the first few days, maybe couple of weeks, but JUST KEEP DOING IT. IT WILL PAY OFF and you will feel it before you see it. I know we all want that instant gratification and want to see proof and results of how hard these first steps are, but you won’t. Not right away. But it sure won’t take long.

After about 2 weeks of just walking, speeding up a little at a time and increasing my distance by a little each day, I started feeling different. I wasn’t feeling like a super model, wasn’t planning to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro, wasn’t thinking of putting on tiny clothes and marching down the beach, but I noticed that I was breathing a little easier. I wasn’t feeling as depressed or crazy. I moved a little more comfortably in my clothing. And HEY! There’s a little bit of room in my jeans, all of a sudden. Hmm, how about that! Seriously. The only thing I did was yard work and walk. For about 3 weeks. Then I consciously started to change up my foods. I would trade out eating a quick handful of crackers on my way out the door to get the kids from school, for a handful of grapes or a tomato. (Yes a full tomato. I eat them like apples) Instead of heating up a corn dog for lunch (like I did for the kids once in a while) I would grab and make a can of tuna. Just a little bit of change here and there. Do that for a week or 2, then change a little something else. I started to unconsciously start eliminating a good majority of my soda consumption during the day. I would have my morning caffeine (as to keep me out of jail and keep others alive) and then I would just drink water. Only because it was hot, I was thirsty and I was feeling fairly clean and soda had a tendency to taste a bit thicker and more syrup-y when it was hot out. Then I would have a soda in the afternoon/evening and continue drinking water before and after my evening walk, which was slowly turning into jogging… OMG I WAS FRIGGIN JOGGING!

This is where I suggest the goal setting starts. Not before. You have to start enjoying the little changes and start feeling the changesGoals your body and mind are going through before you should think of setting a goal. If you succeed at something that you didn’t consciously plan to look at as a goal, then you are going to EASILY accomplish smaller goals. Now you have proof that it’s worth it. The struggle is worth the progress. It’s proof of it. You just have to remind yourself that it’s going to be there, at some point.

 

Most people start their journey into losing weight or getting in shape and healthier, with food. Meaning that people start to plan to diet. This is all well and good, but your body needs to move first. Your muscles need to work. Yes, they need fuel, but they need to be stimulated first. Start with the physical only. You will be less likely to experience a set back if you do things in smaller bits. Break it up. What worked for me was doing everything in 2-3 week blocks. Start moving. 2-3 weeks into it, move faster, more, or do something different. Then, once you’ve been doing something physical for 4-6 weeks, then make LITTLE changes to your food.

I don’t recommend that you disallow yourself certain foods completely, but work on some serious moderation. ESPECIALLY if you love your junk food, like me. I LOVE salty foods. Fries are my downfall. Well, carbs of almost any kind, really. I refer to myself as a carbivore because I couldn’t survive without potatoes and pasta and bread, I don’t think.

I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND tracking your food and drink intake as well as your activities. I’m not necessarily saying start counting your calories in vs out, but some of us just need something that helps put into perspective what types and how much food you consume and helping you SEE how much more you’re moving.

If you use your smartphone as often as most people do these days, there are a ton of free applications out there that you can download. You can use a separate app for food tracking vs activity tracking (some of which are equipped with GPS tracking so you don’t even have to look anything up to log it), or there are EXCELLENT applications out there that will help you track both and calculate your in & out put of calories, aka ENERGY AND FUEL. Most of these apps are available on both Apple and Android platforms.

I’ve used a few different apps, over the last few years. Some of the best that I’ve used are MyFitnessPal, Endomondo (I went ahead and got the Pro paid version and LOVE IT), and SparkPeople.

There are a ton out there to choose from, you just play around with them and see what works for you. A lot of them have goal setting for food and/or activity, weight, and size and there are a few out there that have social communities with discussion forums, where you can find others with similar goals, interests, challenges, etc.

There are also a number of newer applications out there that are built to motivate those people like me, who are a teensy bit competitive. You can challenge yourself or others to various activities or a goal within an activity. These types of applications help people like me that have a tendency to lose interest in activities after a while, or that get disappointed and discouraged when they hit that plateau, which is guaranteed to happen. Take a look at the features of each type of application, ask your friends, family and coworkers for suggestions, try a few different ones. When you find one that works for you, or that you just absolutely love or couldn’t live without, come back and let me know which ones and why you love them.

One last photo, snagged from somewhere on Facebook, that we all need to keep in mind when starting this kind of journey:

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Well, there you have your novel on how to get started. Keep an eye out for part 2 in the next week.

Until then!

I wish you all health, happiness, and a beautiful day!

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