Injury and winter

It seems like it gets more and more difficult to find the time to add a new blog, plus I’m not going to lie, I haven’t really had that much to add to my motivational posts. But then I realized that it doesn’t always have to be about motivation, it’s just my life. It’s not always glamorous, and it’s certainly not always successful.
In the last few months I have definitely faced some challenges. In August I decided to heavily amp up my workout. At that point it was just Zumba and an occasional rowing or training session. However, I was talked into adding exercises to my routine. So I started a boot camp type of class three times a week. It included things like planking and jogging and lots of circuit training type exercises. It was enjoyable because of the people and I was successful for eight weeks.
Unfortunately during this time I started having severe heel pain in my left heel. It took me a couple of weeks to finally realize it wasn’t getting any better. So I headed to the doctor. He recommended a sports medicine doctor and that doctor recommended physical therapy. So I began physical therapy the beginning of November 2014. I went three times a week and basically learned that both calf muscles were extremely tight and required a lot of stretching and kneading to release some major knots. By the beginning of January of 2015 my doctor put me in a boot cast because I needed to be completely immobilized. Being the stubborn girl that I am, and even more than that, being absolutely terrified of gaining weight, I still Zumba with the boot but have given up doing every other type of exercise, including kickboxing which I had begun in mid December.
It’s easy to blame the injury, the cold weather, slight depression, and other circumstances of life, and so I have, because during this time I have gained about 20 pounds. It is because I went back to all of my unhealthy habits including, processed sugar: lots and lots of it, fast food, and even the occasional soda. So my depression has only increased as I noticed my pants getting tighter. I have not had to change sizes or anything drastic, and most people can’t even tell, but of course I can. If you have never been overweight you probably won’t understand, but I have nightmares of waking up and looking the way I did 18 months ago. It sounds dramatic but it is true. So now, still injured, I have to do something different. I have made a promise with three different friends who I know will hold me accountable, to get back on my good eating and working out. The heel still hurts pretty much every day, but it no longer gets to be an excuse for me. I am jumping back into my workouts and going back to my healthy eating plan that I used last year with hopes that the last 45 pounds that I have left to lose will be off by summer.
I am grateful for all the people that have supported me and always have my back and I am very blessed to have been told numerous times that my story inspires others. Those people are why I write this blog and why I know I need to finish this journey. I hope anyone reading this that has ever struggled with their weight knows that even with success failure can still appear. It’s an everyday struggle and it always will be, but I know the reason that I am doing it and I know because of that reason I will succeed.

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Follow up

Apparently my life has been very busy because I have not written a new post since March. I’m disappointed about that because I wanted to closely chart my progress but I really have been very busy. And the good news is I’ve been busy enjoying life so it can’t be a bad thing.
Not too much has changed for me as far as routine but I have added some exercise. I began going to a place called the drop zone in West Asheville about 2 1/2 months ago. A friend told me about their free fit camp and Zumba immediately following and I decided to try it.
The first day of fit camp I hated. I realized how weak I was and how out of shape in certain areas I was. It is true I can do Zumba for several hours at a time but it doesn’t work the same muscles as you do in a boot camp type class.
We begin the class by walking or jogging about a half mile. I was out of breath just walking the whole thing. We did arm exercises and leg exercises and the next day I was very sore. Something that doesn’t happen very often in Zumba.
But that was eight weeks ago and we just finished up our second round of Boot Camp and I took a couple of minutes off my mile and now jog my warm-up run every day. I choose to jog over walking whenever possible. It is a great feeling. And I just finished my third 5K and jogged the entire thing. Plus during fit camp I have lost over 10 inches and 10 pounds. I am also doing Herbalife which are meal replacement shakes. I believe Herbalife will be what I need to jumpstart my plateau alongside my boot camp class which I am now a coach at.
Certainly not to toot my own horn but I am constantly surprised and amazed by myself and by my progress that I make on a daily basis. You don’t see the changes every day but once you have gone a period of a few weeks and you look back it’s amazing what your body can do when you push it to the limit.
It will probably be another few weeks or months before I post again because I think the longer I go the more progress I see. (And because im busy with school, work, friends, and football!) Ultimately the one thing you need to remember during any weight loss is don’t give up. Remember why you started because those reasons are still valid. You are worth it. No one can take care of your body but you.

Struggles

I have been on my weight-loss journey since April 2013. I have to say, luckily, finding Zumba so early into my journey really helped prevent any plateaus. It is such an intense workout and I was doing nothing before so my body definitely took at least eight months to get used to how hard I was working. I continued to constantly monitor my calories and with the help of the app, “MyFitnessPal”, it told me when I needed to start decreasing calories. I also decided to start increasing Zumba. So in the beginning I was going two or three times a week, and a couple months in I found I had energy to go four or five times a week.

Zumba was always enough for me I didn’t do any other type of cardio. I did however continue with my trainer once a week to do weights. But, Zumba is what got me through the first 100 pounds. I didn’t even consider any other exercise up until that point. When I hit 100 pounds near my birthday which was November, I decided I would really like to try to jog in a 5K. For anyone who had known me before this I’m sure they thought I was joking because my favorite saying was I would only run if something was chasing me. I know there are a lot of people who like running and say that running does great things for them and for that I am glad, but I am not one of them. Running hurts my body, burns my lungs, and frankly I just don’t find it enjoyable. I wanted to try something new though and so I joined a colorful fun run. I enjoyed it immensely and have since signed up for three more 5ks for 2014.

This particular entry is about struggle and in the last three months I have had a good bit of that. In November I began having bad stomach pains and with a couple of visits to the ER finally discovered that it was my gallbladder. I probably would’ve had gallbladder problems later in life regardless, But my ER doctor told me that with rapid weight-loss it can make your gallbladder flare up faster. So in November and December I didn’t eat really the way I should have because I felt so sick and I was lacking some energy so I didn’t work out quite as much as I usually do. And in January 2014 I had my gallbladder removed so that month took a bit of a hit diet and gym wise. I never thankfully put on any weight during all this time but I just didn’t lose anything either.

Once I was feeling good and back on my diet I hit the gym really hard beginning in February and I added a bunch of classes. My gym has some amazing group fitness classes and teachers. So I added a class called active which is cardio step and weights combined, I began a interval cycle program, and I tried a Class called CenterGy which is very similar to yoga, and it’s all about centering your energy, which is a killer workout. After that intense month I weighed myself at the end of February and I had not lost a single pound, but in fact I gained three. I was very frustrated, but it’s never been about quitting to me, that would never be even in my vocabulary, but it was just what can I do to get this kick started again?!

I had a meeting with my trainer and in a long discussion realized that I have let other outside influences change my diet, such as instead of eating pure protein and fat before I came to work out as I had done early in the beginning of my weight-loss journey, I was now on protein drinks and protein bars which have an incredible amount of sugar in them. And he reminded me that you cannot Burn fat calories if you have any amount of glucose in your body, it actually will burn muscle. After being explained all this stuff that I already knew from him it really made me realize what I was doing wrong. And I also have to admit my part of guilt that since my gallbladder was out and I was feeling so good again I had been eating cookies, and things that I had previously completely given up. I felt that it was okay to indulge myself because I had missed out on thanksgiving and Christmas meals and tasty treats. My trainer also said I was working out too much and not eating enough. He equated it to the old car analogy. If you want your car to go 100 miles but you only fill the tank with low grade gasoline up to 70 miles, you aren’t going to quite make it. Obviously it’s a stretch but you get the idea. I sure did. I was asking my body to do things that I wasn’t giving it proper tools to do. So I cut back on the hours at the gym and kept my calories around 1500. I have lost a couple pounds this month but still nothing of great significance.

I started a new job two weeks ago and that has seriously impacted my story. I eat when I have time, although I do make every attempt to eat a healthy meal. I also can’t workout nearly as much although I do move a lot at this job. I will let you know next month how its all going. Everyday is a struggle. Just like it is for anyone trying to change some significant about their life. An alcoholic trying not to drink, or a smoker trying not to smoke. It’s so freaking hard to walk in to a store or restaurant and not get what you want, but instead get what you need. Anyone who has ever struggled with weight loss should be commended. It’s a daily job. It’s hard work. Don’t give up. You are worth it.
So March 2014

It’s called (Work)ing out for a reason

As I mentioned in the last post, I began my workout in the beginning of April 2013. I was pumped, motivated, and so ready to get those pounds off. I started off meeting with my trainer, Sean. We did weight and measurement, obviously to know how far I would have come with each re-measure. Ok fine. It was disturbing, especially having a BMI that was over 45% and blinking morbidly obese on the screen. Then we used this computer program that told me my physical age. My literal age was 33, my physical age was 39, in essence I was aging my body much faster with all the weight on me. I was really sort of blindsided, and I know that sounds so stupid because anyone could plainly see how ridiculously overweight I was, but I felt pretty good most of the time, and thanks to good genetics, I didn’t appear to look as old as I was. 

Sean made up a plan with me. He wanted to start off with small goals. I told him I had 3 goals. They were to lose weight, get stronger, and to meet a boyfriend. He laughed and said no one had ever said that as an answer. I assured him that just because they never said it, didn’t mean that wasn’t a motivating factor. He has a great sense of humor and I am so lucky we got paired up. So back to the workout plan. He wanted me to come in three times a week and do cardio on my own. He preferred eliptical but said the treadmill was also acceptable. I am pretty sure that was when he got the first of many to come dirty looks. I thought having a trainer was going to be enough. When I found out our one hour of weights and machines a week was only 1/3 of what it was going to take for me to lose weight, I got sad. I had tried treadmills before. There is no appeal to me in getting on a machine, walking for an hour, and getting off in the same place you began. No thanks. But, I signed up for this, so I figured I should give it a try.

My first session with him ended shortly and I have to say, it was pretty fun. I used parts of my body that I certainly hadn’t in years. He told me to get my cardio in 3x before I saw him next. I came back the next day after buying an ipod shuffle and new workout pants. I was ready. I put those headphones on and slinked over to treadmill. I stood as it said, with my feet on the sides so as not to kill myself right away. I started it up, and began slowly walking. I moved the speed up to 2.5 and there it stayed for 30 minutes. I was bored. The music was not helping. The lack of men to look at was not helping. The skinny girls with their bouncing ponytails running along both sides of me, again, not helping. I turned that machine off got in my car and drove home. I cried. I never cry. But I cried. I knew it was another failure. I would be fat for the rest of my life, and I would die at least 6 years sooner than God would intend for me because I was so unhealthy.

I went back the next day. I got on the stationary bike. The recumbent one that allows your legs to be at the same level as your back and buns. That one where your legs have to be down hurts! I didn’t want to go near that thing. So I pedaled to nowhere for 30 minutes. I looked at the calorie counter and hadn’t even burned 200 calories. I was barely sweating but I was not as miserable as I had been on the treadmill.

I gave the bike a few more days before I approached the treadmill again. I always came to the gym at varying times trying to see if the male selection was ever any better. (It wasn’t). But because I came at different times, I got to see different classes taking place. They all seemed pretty fun, but I knew I wasn’t going near that room. Those people all knew what they were doing. They looked like serious athletes. Out here I could go my own speed and take a break when I needed one. In there, they were going hard. But they were smiling. I sure wasn’t doing that on the treadmill. One day, a Tuesday morning, I had a session with Sean. There was this bearded man teaching a class where the participants were holding some kind of shaker sticks and dancing around. I asked Sean what it was. He said it was Zumba and that the instructor was their only male Zumba teacher named Alan. (Alan and I have since become friends, and I don’t think I have ever even told him this story.)

Our session that day was a lot of arms. We used machines that were right in front of the classroom window so I spent the majority of the time watching Alan. He looked like he was so fun. He never stopped smiling that entire class. I looked around at the participants and noticed that there were some older ladies, some younger, some more fit, and some a little heavy, although no one my size. I asked Sean if he thought I could do it. He told me the class was about an hour and asked if I had made that on the treadmill yet. I had not. He said to give it a try, but not to get discouraged if I couldn’t hang the whole hour. That was a Tuesday. For the rest of that week I came during Zumba and used the treadmill, but watched the class. I thought I could do it. I had a dance background from MANY years ago, so maybe, just maybe, I could survive it.

I walked in to that room on Saturday around 11:45. Class began at noon. I stood on the far right side in the middle. I wanted to be able to see the teacher, but not myself, and no one else. Her name was Angela, and I would say it was love at first sight. I knew as soon as I saw her, she was going to change my life. She was a tiny little thing so full of spunk and attitude. She was dressed all in Zumba gear and came to the front of the room and asked if anyone was new to class. I raised my hand shyly and she welcomed me. She said the most important thing was to have fun, no worries, and do what I could. So I did. The music started and the beat just went right through me. It was electric and made me instantly smile. Each class begins with one or two songs as a warm up, a few cardio peaks, a few low songs involving squats and other leg excercises, and then a cool down. I made it through class that day, and I only thought I was going to die once or twice. I never felt embarrassed when I got the step wrong, and no one ever looked at me in a judgmental way. I belonged here. I knew from that day forward, my life would never be the same.

Class finished, we hugged ourselves as we do every Zumba class, and I grabbed my water and walked out the door. I headed over to the scale to weigh myself, a nasty habit I don’t encourage, and I heard Angela yelling to me. She ran all the way over and asked how I liked class. I know I had a huge smile on my face when I told her how much I loved it. She asked if I would be back. I came back the next day. She loves telling this story now and saying she never usually does that but something stuck out about me and she knew she wanted to be my friend. I’m pretty sure the Zumba gods just knew I needed her in my life and she got me. She’s my mentor, my motivation, and my friend. For those of you who have ever done Zumba, it’s so much less the weight loss than it is the friendships. I have met so many people through this life changing class. People who will be in my wedding (if the male clientele at the gym ever picks up) and in my life forever. They are my inspiration and the reason I get up everyday. I have a new purpose to life now and it’s freaking amazing.

The catalyst

So, I left off at the divorce, and all I can really remember from that time is that 
people would call me to hang out and I always turned them down. I didn't want to see anyone,
I didn't want to talk to anyone, I didn't eat, I didn't get out of bed, I didn't work. 
I literally laid in bed for three months and thought about very harmful things to do to myself,
and the only reason that I did not do them was because I knew my mother, my very best friend
in the entire world, would have to find me, and I thought that was the most terrible thing that
I could do to her, so instead I laid there for three months hating my life and my existence and
not knowing if there would ever be a colorful day again.

Some commercials for depression medication say depression hurts and it hurts in a way that
you can't really even describe. It hurts physically, it's actual physical pain to your body.
It hurts you mentally because you know you're not contributing to society, you're not living 
a productive life, and it hurts emotionally and there was nothing in that moment that I could
see to do about it. Clearly I should have probably been medicated or at least speaking with 
a therapist, both things I am a big proponent of, but when you're in that situation it's really 
hard to figure out a way out of it. So for three months of my life I laid there and people could
clearly see I was not myself. I was a shell of a person and I was living a miserable disgusting
existence.

I remember in March 2012 I got an email from my dad and he said his house was empty because
he had moved in with his girlfriend and would I like to come up there and take care of the 
house and maybe get a little direction back in my life. At the time, I was so insulted because
clearly I was a grown-up and could handle my own life (ha) but I know that it was the best thing,
really the only thing, that could have changed my life. I knew that the best decision for me
was to move so after contemplating his email for a couple of weeks I decided to do just that. 

It didn't take me very long to get everything together, obviously I already had a place to go,
so I gave my notice at my apartment and packed up and I was gone within a couple of weeks. 
I don't really remember much about it other than I was sort of numb to the whole thing. 
I knew I would miss my friends and my mom of course, but I don't remember being overly 
sad about it because I knew it was the change I needed. I lived in my North Carolina house 
for six months before finding a part-time job and beginning school and in that time nothing 
really changed, except that I was in a new location.

I finally found a job and began going to school and I started to feel better about myself 
and being able to use my brain again and my social skills and just having a purpose to get 
up everyday. And then in February 2013 I started having terrible stomach pains and went to 
the ER and was diagnosed with diverticulitis after and eight hour say in the ER.

Maybe it was the narcotics that I was on for the pain while I was there or maybe a higher 
power leading me to a decision that should have been made years ago, but lying there in 
the bed hooked up to all kinds of machines (because my blood pressure was hundred and 
168/118, my pulse was over 145, and I was being constantly monitored for fear of a heart 
attack or stroke), I realized that at 31 I was not actually immortal as my mind had decided 
previously. I felt very much like if I didn't immediately change my life I would die and I 
know it sounds dramatic because it was only an intestinal infection that led me to the ER 
but just knowing how scared the doctors and nurses were and that I had a nurse the entire 
time I was there in my room monitoring my heart and that I was on blood pressure and 
cholesterol medication, that in fact I literally could die at any moment and it terrified 
me because I would have nothing to show for the life that I was given. Yes I had friends 
and family but I didn't do anything productive while I was here and that scared me more 
than anything. 

So I left the hospital with my antibiotic's and my sheet for a bland diet which I followed 
to the tee for two weeks and as soon as I started feeling better I began researching gyms. 
I found The Rush and even though I wasn't looking for classes, in the back of my mind I 
think I knew I wanted a gym that at least had the option of classes, but I was looking 
for somewhere that had a pool and had their own trainers. I took a tour and loved it 
from the moment I walked in the door on April 1st, ironically enough, and my training 
appointment began April 4th.

I realize that lots of people can not afford a trainer and do not have a lot of time to 
go to the gym and all I can say is if there is any costs that you can cut to make it more 
affordable you should do it. Sean motivates me in a way that I could never motivate myself 
and he makes my workouts enjoyable and extremely effective. As for not having time to work 
out, if you have time to sit on the couch for an hour before bed and watch TV you have an 
hour to dedicate to yourself and your life to make you better. I work out usually two or 
three times a day and obviously that's not doable for the majority of the population, but 
my goal in 2013 was my health and it's what I had to do to survive. 
So realize that 115 pounds in a little over 10 months isn't extremely doable for most of the 
population, but any amount of weight you can get off your body can only help you. There's a 
current statistic out now from researchers that says losing just 10% of your body weight 
lowers your cholesterol, blood pressure, chance of diabetes, risk of stroke, and helps 
with sleep apnea. Those are some dramatic changes for just 10% of your body weight and
most people don't weigh as much as I did.  So even if you weigh 200 pounds, taking 20 
pounds off is a very doable goal for the dramatic changes it makes to improve your 
overall health.

The beginning

I have been heavy my entire life. At 4 years old my ballet teacher told my mom that i was too fat to be in ballet and that maybe I should try something else. I wasn’t fat at 4, if i can find a picture I will show you to prove it!, but I was tall, and stocky. My mom thought she was doing a good thing by signing me up for something i had an interest in, and that would provide me with a way to stay active. Well after my short lived career as a ballerina, I began soccer. 

My soccer career was even shorter, as my coach didn’t like the fact that I sat out in the middle of the field making daisy chains. I wasn’t a runner then, and I am not now. I can run, I just choose not to. It’s not enjoyable to me, but I know it’s a passion of many people. I do like fun runs. I was in my first 5K this year, and have a goal of at least 3 more in 2014. But I don’t want to run a marathon and I certainly don’t want to be timed to run. I’m really glad Zombies just walk fast.

So after soccer, I tried tap dance. I loved it. I excelled at it and loved performing in front of any audience. (This has not changed.) I stayed in tap until I was 16 years old. I got coordination and rhythm from it, plus stayed fairly active. It did nothing to help with the weight though. I realize things now, as an educated grown up, that I did not know as a child. We ate at Mcdonald’s a lot. We ate in front of the tv a lot. We had dessert a lot. We ate processed foods a lot. You see a pattern forming here. I don’t blame anyone for these choices, I am past that, but I know how addicting the habits became. As soon as I got my driver’s license I ran through the drive thru at Mcdonald’s for those tasty bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits before school, chose the cheeseburger and fries everyday at my school cafeteria, and depending on what was being served for dinner, usually made a McD’s run for dinner. I always ordered super size and added a big old soda to my order, sometimes an apple pie or two. 

There’s really no surprise then that at the age of 26 I was on blood pressure and cholesterol medicine. My doctor told me how unhealthy I was, but what did I care. I was young and free to live as I pleased. I could worry about being healthy when I was older. No one was going to tell me how to eat, it was my life. So nothing changed. As soon as my tennis playing and tap dancing days of high school were over, all physical activity came to a screeching halt. I got a sedentary job and thought about nothing other than where I would buy my lunch each day, and what I would pick up on the way home for dinner. It was many long years of the same disgusting patterns over and over. I had few friends in my early 20’s and no love life to speak of. I hated myself, how could anyone else love me?

At 28 I met a boy. My best friend introduced me to her cousin. We dated several months, got engaged, moved in together, and shortly after, got married. He and I became codependent on each other and had a very unhealthy relationship. I let it go on far longer than I should have, for the simple reason that I didn’t think I could find someone else to love me. I cared for him, don’t get me wrong, but I cared less about myself and my happiness. A friend told me how unpleasant I was to be around and I knew a change had to be made. Our divorce was quick, but not painless. I let our physical relationship continue post-divorce because I craved affection and attention. Finally in 2012, my father made me move 3 states away to gain distance and perspective. Best thing I could have done, although it didn’t feel it at the time.