Time to practice what I preach

I gained 40 pounds this summer. 40 pounds. In 4 months. Just to put things in perspective, the recommendation for a pregnant woman is to gain around 25 pounds in 9 months (I’m not pregnant). It takes 25 extra pounds to grow a human. APPARENTLY I was training for twins. I am currently the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life but I’m not going to talk about my exact weight because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh. Read that again, it doesn’t matter how much you weigh. Someone who is 120 lbs can feel as uncomfortable in their own skin as someone who is 350 lbs. The number on the scale means nothing. Also, it can be more hurtful than you realize to vocalize what number you think is acceptable. I learned this the hard way a few years ago at Thanksgiving with my family. I was having a not-so-private conversation with my aunt about my weight loss goals when I referenced my current weight with disgust and dismay only to have her uncomfortably admit that my current weight was her goal weight. Actually, her exact words were “f—k you, that’s my goal weight.”

We are not here to shame other people into weight loss, if they have eyes and access to any reflective surface, they are WELL AWARE of their appearance. Don’t get me wrong, your appearance does matter but I’m not talking exclusively about weight I’m talking about how you put yourself together. For example, if ‘person A’ gains 50 lbs, comes to terms with it, buys a new wardrobe, and puts 100% into their appearance on a daily basis then that weight gain means nothing. However, if ‘person B’ gains 10 lbs and decides to live in a pair of Costco sweat pants and stop showering then they’ve just let 10 lbs change their entire outlook on life as well as everyone else’s perception of them. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. That’s a quote from someone in the “person A” category (in full disclosure I am definitely ‘person B’ but my sweatpants would be from Target).

Everyone always says you should write what you know. Well, in theory I should know everything about a healthy, fit lifestyle. I mean, I’m an “expert,” right? I have a master’s degree in exercise science and several years’ experience as a health or wellness coach. I’ve built my education and career around wellness. But what I know, I mean what I REALLY know, is that I’ve hated my body ever since I knew what it meant to hate your body. I can remember the exact moment I started to think I was chubby. I was 12 yrs old helping my dad paint our front porch while wearing a pair of jean shorts and a bathing suit top. One of my neighbors walked by and said something along the lines of “I see you sucking your stomach in, those shorts are a little tight.” That was it, that was my first clear memory of thinking my body was the wrong size.

My freshman year of college also sticks out in my mind because that was the first time in my life I was making totally independent choices about what I ate and how much I exercised. I had an 8 and 9 am class in the same building 5 days a week. I hated getting up early and there was a coffee shop next to my second class so instead of having breakfast before I left I ate in-between classes.  I would order a huge blueberry bagel with butter, cream cheese, AND strawberry jelly then wash this down with a large hot chocolate and add creamer. CREAMER. At this time, I had no clue how many calories I was consuming nor did I care. Now, 10 years and two degrees later, I realize I was eating 1,000 calories for “breakfast” everyday. That is roughly half of what most Americans (on average) should consume per day. As you can see I was really making the most of my new found freedom.

Talking about your weight is not easy. It’s embarrassing and it makes you feel vulnerable in a way you’re not always prepared to handle. Last week I cried before leaving to go out because I couldn’t bend down to tie my shoes without my jeans cutting into my stomach so hard that I couldn’t breathe. SAYING SHIT LIKE THAT IS EMBARRASSING. But, it’s true and I’m hoping it will help other people who are going through the same thing. It’s so easy to feed into the myth that YOU can’t reach your fitness goals but everyone else on the planet is drinking raw eggs at 5 am and hurdling the Art Museum steps like Rocky. It’s not one or the other, there are enough protein shakes for everyone.

I believe the best way to lose weight is to stick to whatever diet/exercise/lifestyle plan works best for you. But you have to stick to it, it’s not the plan it’s the dedication. Everyone is different and in my experience as a health and wellness coach there is no “one right way” to succeed. There are some universal guidelines of course so that’s where I’m going to start, by taking my own advice.

When I begin working with a new client, the first thing I do is have them step on a hydration scale and if their hydration level is below 50% (for women) or 60% (for men) I tell them to start drinking half their body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs you should drink 100 oz of water a day. The fact that this is so hard for most people (myself included) really tells me a lot about humans in general considering the fact that we need water to like, live? Regardless, this will be my first goal. Wish me luck, or don’t, either way I’m doing it!