Fellow healthy lifestyle blogger Heather of Then Heather Said recently started featuring guest posts for her “More Than” series. When she reached out asking for guest bloggers, I knew I had to share my story of learning how to maintain a significant amount of weight loss.
Heather posted my guest post yesterday afternoon and I wanted to share it all with you. You can find it here:
…or you can read it below. Regardless, make sure to check out her fantastically witty and awesome blog. There are some fantastic posts in the rest of the series, but more importantly, Heather’s just one great lady! Another big thank you to her for letting me share my story!
Greetings from Cleveland! My name is Alicia and I am the proud blogger at Poise in Parma. My blog is about maintaining a healthy balance in life while enjoying my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. I try to capture this by sharing my recipes, cooking techniques and meal choices when dining at local restaurants. I’m definitely a foodie, so it takes a balance, but know that it can be done! When Heather reached out to the blog community asking for guest bloggers in the “More Than” series, I jumped at the chance to participate in such a great concept.
Over the past eight years, I have maintained a weight loss of nearly 120 pounds. How did I lose it? I did it the hard way: less burgers with french fries, more minutes on the treadmill. No magic pill. No surgery. No other medical breakthrough.After losing it all, now I find maintaining the weight loss is so much more of a struggle. My story goes like this:
As a freshman in college in 2002, my gain of the “Freshman 15” put me at 250 pounds. At 5’8”, that put my Body Mass Index at 38, which put me in the “obese” category. Hello, wake up call. I was an adult now and decided to take the steps towards a healthier lifestyle. I started cutting down my portions and going to the school’s recreation center. My boyfriend (now husband) taught me how to use the cardio and weight machines and created a workout plan for me. It was nothing overly strenuous, but it was enough to keep me moving. I knew a traditional “diet” would be too hard for me to commit to, so I decided to take my weight loss slowly and focused on an overall lifestyle change. As a college student, it wasn’t easy to say “maybe I don’t need to bong that second beer”. I continued to lose weight slowly, with an average weight loss of 10 to 15 pounds a year. Time progressed: I graduated in 2005, got married in 2006, and in December 2008, I reached my “100 pound goal” of 150 pounds.
I was happy with my weight in that 145 – 150 range. Proud for achieving my goal, I searched for a new fitness goal. Instead of signing up for a 5K or becoming a group fitness instructor, I pushed myself in my usual workout route. An hour long gym trip became a two hour long session: I would do a 30 minute session on the elliptical before a 60 minute kickboxing class, and then get back on the elliptical for another 15 minutes after class. Around that time, I took a promotion at my job which came with more responsibility for not much more salary. In June 2009, my company cut back on staff and those who were left were already overwhelmed. My department went from a staff of five people to a staff of two: just my supervisor and myself.
Through the combination of insane workouts and high levels of work & personal stress, I continued to lose weight. In October 2009, I hit my lowest weight of 127lbs. I always said that my goal wasn’t to be a size 4, yet there it was on the tag of the new pants. My body had reached what many people consider to be perfection, but it was telling me otherwise. The stress from work caused high anxiety levels which developed into insomnia. The poor sleeping patterns meant I had no energy and was forced to take a hiatus from working out. I couldn’t even make it through a yoga class without looking like I barely survived a war. The last straw was when my hair stylist told me my hair was significantly thinner since my last appointment. For an Italian/Slovak girl, it was another wake up call – just as important as the first. I was finally discovered it was time to focus on my health and happiness. I came to realize the exact message that Heather is trying to spread with this series:
“Healthy living is more about healing, and having a healthy soul. Facing fears and becoming a stronger person. Listening to your heart and knowing how to take advice and ask for help when needed.”
In 2010, I am living by the motto “Be Happy – Be Healthy – Just Be”. Today, I am maintaining around 135 pounds. I look back to last fall and how excited I was to fit into a size 4, but then I remember how miserable I was. Now, my health is my priority, not thinness.
I’ve reassessed my fitness goals this year, committing myself to running and yoga by embracing what my hometown has to offer. Every single year, my New Year’s resolution to “become a runner” would dissipate in mid-February. This year, I’m taking advantage of the fantastic regional parks system and am training for a 5K in April on their all purpose trails. I’m even considering running a half marathon in the fall. In a nearby suburb, I found a yoga studio with talented instructors trained by the best in the business, but the studio is small enough to offer personalized attention during class. (Side note: I was doing downward dog incorrectly for years! Did you know your feet are only supposed to be about two fists distance apart from one another?!)
As for my dietary choices, I am sticking with what I know and enjoy. I never see myself becoming a vegetarian or being able to “eat clean” 100% of the time, but I tend to crave fresh ingredients instead of overly processed foods. My husband – God love him – has learned to love broccoli and other veggies he would have never dreamed eating before we married. Embracing Cleveland’s remarkable food scene, we are constantly trying new restaurants featuring different types of cuisines and ingredients. We’re opening our minds to the world’s food offerings while remaining in our backyard.
LONG STORY SHORT: I stick with the “everything in moderation” message in all aspects of my life: that includes ice cream, minutes on the elliptical and blog posts:
It’s okay to enjoy a cup of coconut ice cream at my favorite local ice cream shop, just not every day.
It’s okay to rock out on the elliptical for 75 minutes, as long as the next day is a rest day.
It’s okay to not write a post after every meal, as my blog doesn’t need to be comprehensive of my entire foodie life.
After all, remember the overall message of the “More Than” series: healthy living is facing life with an understanding that we are constantly available to grow, change, & learn more about ourselves. Once you let go control and “just be”, you’ll find “just enough” of every single thing in life will satisfy every need or want you’ll ever have.