We all hear about “fitness and weight loss journeys’, get inspired by them and then hit the gym hard. Sadly, the results are usually disappointing. Read this to find out why and how to truly get motivated and see results. Promise – this will be worth the read!
During my 20s, I gained about 15lbs. I was always pretty slender, but the combination of moving out of my parents’ home, eating crap and never exercising caught up to me. It didn’t help that while in university, I tried the “Devil’s lettuce” for the first time, and proceeded to do it regularly with my friends. This led to constant munchies and packing on the pounds.
How I Got Motivated
When my beloved husband Ryan proposed to me when I was 25, I wanted to make some changes and look svelte while walking down the aisle. I got MOTIVATED to make some real changes.
Working in an office that had a gorgeous gym in the basement helped a lot. My co-workers encouraged me to try out step aerobics with them (DON’T LAUGH, I’M OLD) and I loved it. I then added an ab class and started doing all of these classes three times a week. After about 1.5 months, the pounds started peeling off.
I started at 142lbs – the heaviest I had ever been. I didn’t look bad. I still looked skinny, but pretty curvy. That being said, my cardio vascular strength was nil, which was sad as I ran track in highschool. During university, I stopped working out all together.
After a few months of working out regularly and being thrilled with the weight loss and muscle I was gaining, I eventually plateaued. I could not for the life of me get under 138lbs.
What I was eating was the problem. Looking at my diet, I saw that I would never get down to my goal wedding weight if I was still eating poutines regularly, downing gallons of wine, handfuls of candy and continuing with the late night munchies. I really needed to make some nutritional changes.
Cleaning Up My Diet
Doing nutritional research blew my mind. I soon learned that weight loss was comprised of 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. I kicked the Devil’s Lettuce to the curb and got serious about healthy food.
The South Beach Diet was super popular back then, so I armed myself with the book and started cooking healthier meals. I soon found that I was STARVING all of the time though. Realizing quickly that it was not working for me, I stopped but continued eating more healthfully. With more research, I learned that:
- cutting out sugar was key,
- not eating after 6pm would help greatly,
- bad carbs like white bread, refined sugar, pasta, etc. was totally derailing me; and
- boosting my diet with lean meats and complex carbs was a must.
The Correct Path
Once I tossed the South Beach Diet and started a meal plan that was more filling and less restrictive, I busted through that plateau. My energy levels soared too and I added running to my workout regimen. CORRECTION: my marathoner husband encouraged me (read: nagged me to death) to start running. I hated it at first, but he was so supportive and created a training plan for me that eased me into it. The next thing I knew, I was running 5K and 10K races!
Then I Got Sick…
The year that I got married, I worked a really stressful job at a law firm. I won’t lie. It was the worst job I have ever had as I was pretty much working for the Anti-Christ. Between the lawyer screaming at me at the drop of a hat because that dude NEEDED A VACATION and the long, miserable hours, my mental and physical health tanked. On top of that, I literally wasted away to my lowest weight of 123lbs. I looked like a skeleton.
I was soon diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I was devastated. The pain was terrible, I was losing weight at an alarming rate…and I suffered alone because I was too embarrassed to tell anyone what was happening to me.
One fateful night, my husband found me crying in the bathroom – SIGH – Within days, I was at the gastroenterologist.
The Turning Point
Ryan finding me that night was the best thing to happen to my health. After being examined by my gastroenterologist, he put me on a treatment plan that helped me so much, I couldn’t believe I suffered alone like this for so long.
With that treatment plan came a list of foods that my specialist wanted me to avoid, like greasy foods and alcohol. I cut out both which helped immensely. Eventually, I reincorporated alcohol because I would marry a bottle of wine if I could.
It has been over 15 years now that my colitis has been in remission and I feel great. Sometimes when I am very stressed, early symptoms come back, but now I know what to do to get them back in check.
The Best Decision EVER: Personal Training
About two years after I started blogging, Premium Performance Fitness reached out to me to collaborate. I hopped at the chance. Dave, co-owner and my personal trainer developed a completely personalized training plan that transformed my body. I went from sort of string bean-y to lean, mean and muscular.
I was honest with him and like most women, I told him that I didn’t want to end up “bulking up” and looking like Mike Tyson. He assured me that first of all, there is nothing wrong with building muscle. Too many women are afraid of that. He then developed my training plan around burning fat and building long and lean muscle.
Why I Stuck With Exercise
I won’t lie – I was intimidated. Both of my trainers look like intense “workout types”, especially my other personal trainer, Marc-Antoine, a former CFL player. He looks like he could crush me. The thing is they are encouraging and didn’t yell at me like a drill sergeants. They pushed me to my limits though, which was key for seeing real results.
The gym was simply a fun place to be too. I made friends and the sense of community was great! For the first time in my life, I truly liked going to the gym and working out.
Running is still a big part of my life along with cycling and walking. During each activity, I feel completely alive. While biking, I’m known to smile like weirdo the whole time. Riding my bike makes me feel free as a bird and trust me…that running high is a REAL THING. Incredible.
Last year, I did the Whole30 Diet for the month of June. My allergies were terrible and someone suggested that I give the diet a try. It is based on cutting out ALL SUGAR, dairy and bad carbs. For the first three weeks, I noticed no changes other than a great reduction in bloating. I started cooking all of the tomatoes I was eating as well which got rid of my oral mouth allergy.
The fourth week, I remember getting out of bed and getting tangled in my pyjamas. As I stumbled to the bathroom, I decided to weigh myself and saw that I had lost 8lbs. The weight loss was so sort of “overnight”, I was stunned!
By the end of the month, I noticed that my skin was clearer, my eyes were clearer, I had more energy, my mood was better and I lost about 8-9lbs in total. I did not notice a change in my allergies though, which were mostly seasonal. From then on, I stayed away from all bread and diet soda which were key in me feeling like I was five months pregnant at the end of each day.
The Biggest Takeaways From My Fitness & Weight Loss Journey
Looking back, I am proud of myself for getting started! I went from being a total couch potato, shovelling Doritos in my face any chance I could get to speeding across the finish line at 10K races. The fact that I can bench press something heavier than a twig also blows my mind.
So, here are the biggest takeaways from my fitness journey:
- Weight loss truly lies in cleaning up your diet. No shortcuts.
- Stay active. It is the best way to keep the weight off!
- Many calories are consumed through what you drink. Cut out the sugary drinks, pop and booze (SO MANY CALORIES).
- Speaking of booze, just cut it out if you can. If you find that too hard, drink in moderation. Try to have your last drink before 6pm too, so it does not affect your sleep.
- GET LOTS OF SLEEP.
- Meal planning SAVED ME. This way, I always had healthy food ready to eat so I didn’t succumb to ordering take/snacking on bad stuff.
- Try to eat every two hours so that your body doesn’t go into starvation mode (your body will hold onto fat if it’s hungry!)
- Learn to read food labels and understand what “daily intakes” of sugar, salt and carbohydrates are.
- Eat foods with lots of fibre. You will feel fuller longer.
- Keep junk food out of the house!
- Do NOT go grocery shopping while hungry and always make a list before setting foot in the store.
- Drink plenty of water. It really helps with digestion and makes your skin glow.
- Load your plate with fruits and veggies and try to cut out red meat.
My health has never been better and I love the way I look. What helped you lose weight and keep it off? Let me know in the comments!