I grew up fat. There is not a time in my life I was not 10 to 20 pounds overweight, and often more. I spent hours blaming others, and circumstances. I spent hours fantasizing about how my life would be perfect, “If only I were thin.” I spent hours planning all the things I would do, all the experiences I would have when “I was thin”. Someday, one day…I’ll start Monday…I lived everywhere but in the present with my self. I loved everyone but myself. I was my own worst enemy, and this was the cycle that went on for years.
So what changed? Honestly I think it was the perfect storm. I had a 4 year old and a 6 year old. I was exhausted. Everyday was Ground Hogs Day. A haze of Starbucks drive-thru runs, playdates, McDonald Happy meals, figuring out a “kid dinner” and our dinner (I ate both). At night I wound down with wine to off-set all the caffeine I had pumped in all day long so I could function. I am not sure my Husband and I even had full conversations, and honestly I didn’t want to talk to anyone by the time we were alone and could converse. I was tired, moody, angry and depressed.
Then a friend came to town and she looked AMAZING! She told me she had quit processed food. So I started to research this mystical place she told me about where food was real, living, and provided energy!
The 7 words that changed my life, “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” This is the 1st sentence of the 1st page of Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food. I am not sure why this was my “light-bulb moment” if you will, but it was. I remember thinking…wait for it…it is pretty proufoud…“duh.” So it began.
Instagram has became instrumental in my weight loss. I have a support group, a community of people rooting for me and joining me in the fitness/weight loss/healthy-eating journey. I really don’t think I could be as focused and as excited about healthy eating if I was going it alone. The people I have met on IG have truly become friends and have helped me in countless ways. Plus, we all share amazing ideas, which of course, lead to more amazing ideas.
6 years ago I weighed close to 220 pounds, but that was’t my heaviest. 244 pounds was the highest (non-pregnant) weight I remember seeing, it may have been more. I had lost 66 by changing the foods I ate. But I settled in the 170’s with a high BMI, no muscle mass, and still no self-love. Even no longer being obese had not brought me happiness.
2015 brought a new development- I discovered exercise! A friend invited me to try SoulCycle. I was binging again and on an upward swing, gaining weight at a rapid pace. My Daughter was hit by a car in January of 2015 and though she was fine, all my fears surrounding loss (my Father died in a plane accident when I was 7) were triggered and food is my mode of medicating. Before I knew it I was up 12 pounds and I knew there was no sign of it slowing. But I felt like I was strong enough to take control back, so I made a call.
I walked into SoulCycle and my life was changed. You can read a bit about the start of my journey here: https://www.soul-cycle.com/community/soul-story-jennifer/1049/. As much as I love SoulCycle, and I do, I did not lose weight because I rode a stationary bike. I lost weight, and got back on track, because on that bike I learned I was strong, capable, and worth fighting for. I surrounded myself with positive, like-minded people who cheered for me, lifted me up on bad days, and allowed me into their lives…so I could cheer for them. In this day of technology isolation is often possible. It does take community to reach your goals. It takes finding a place where others accept you while you learn to accept yourself.
Then just when I was cruising along a friend’s tragic loss left me reliving my own Fathers tragic death. The despair was pulling me back under. I could not process the magnitude of the unbearable pain I had felt as a child, the pain for this family, and the realization that it was by the Grace of God I did not lose my Daughter. I just wanted to medicate with food and crawl in a hole when something shifted. (I think the fact I had SoulCycle probably helped me tremendously.)
I realized I was missing life, the whole point of life, the whole journey was passing by me. I was living with the pain of the past (I got screwed), and the worry of the future (what if, what if)…but I wasn’t living in the present.
It takes time to wake up, there will be set backs, but each time you fight back you get stronger and when you get stronger it takes a lot more to knock you down. Self-love is simply self-care. Empathy & compassion for your own journey.
So what I can tell you about eating less, and eating real, whole foods is that you will lose weight and you will feel better. My hair is thicker, my skin glows, and my energy levels are pretty even and consistent. I can also tell you that I have not gained any of the weight back (excluding the post-accident relapse). Just changing the foods I ate I lost 66 pounds. Adding in exercise and really diving into getting even cleaner about my nutrition, I have lost an additional 44.
From a physical standpoint I can say in my experience the food you eat is 70% of equation, maybe even more. When you eat real food, and not too much of it you will lose weight and you will feel better. It is THAT simple. But it is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. Small steps and new habits over time.
Physical movement is also part of the equation. I do think this is a much smaller piece of the puzzle than we have been led to believe. You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. A lot of people have been able to use exercise to “break-even”, meaning eat what they want and not gain weight. However after time, and as we age, this formula no longer works. In the end we all need to eat real food, plain and simple. Even if your bad habits do not show up on the scale, they will show up in other ways: blood work, heart disease, cancer, accelerated aging…the list goes on. That said exercise is good for our hearts, our minds, our souls…and it can never hurt to walk off a bad day. For food addicts and compulsive over-eaters it also supplies the rush of endorphins “Happy Chemicals”, that we attempted to feed with food.
For me, and many people who struggle with weight and health, there is a 3rd piece of the puzzle that has no measurable quantity….no modern day science, invention, tool or equation can help any of us with the one piece of the fitness puzzle that often prevents us from finding and maintaining success: The “emotional” piece. The self-love.
I promise you no diet, no exercise regime, no surgery, no pill-NOTHING out there will get you to a place of happiness, and self acceptance if you do not first love yourself. You must learn to love YOU, like YOU, believe in YOU, and then you will be happy. Happiness is not a destination, it is a state of being. Being happy has to start where you are, you can not wait to arrive there, “someday” needs to be today. You are worth that, we all are worth that.
I graduated November 8th, 2016 from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and have finally found my passion! The more I learn about primary foods (relationships, career, spirituality, physical activity), and secondary foods (the food we actually eat), the more I believe my journey delivered me right where I am supposed to be: here sharing what I have learned with all of you. It took me 30 years to figure out the secret to being healthy, happy, and whole and what I know is it is attainable for each and every person out there. If I can do this, anyone can do this!
My objective with this website, and my career, is to be open and honest about what I eat, why I ate too much for so long, and how I navigate eating healthy and feeding my family real food! I want all of you to know you are NOT crazy! The reason you don’t see results, or maintain results, is we have been mislead about what healthy is and how we get there. It is not calories in: calories out. A calorie is NOT just a calorie. You do NOT lack willpower. Healthy also does not always look like skinny, and often skinny, is not healthy. So many pieces play into the formula, and they all start inside of you with love, trust, and acceptance.
I would love to hear from you, please feel free to contact me with your story, questions, ideas or if you would like to work with me.
good food. good life.