Well, here we are, almost 4 months later. I owe you guys the final chapter in my #transformationtuesday series.
Fun fact: I’ve had the pictures for this post on my desktop for said 4 months. Oops.
To be honest, there were a few reasons this took so long to write. First, I wasn’t confident in myself that I would be able to keep up my habits and keep the weight off. Second, things got crazy busy. Third, with all the vet school stuff going on, it honestly wasn’t a priority. But this is a post that does need to be written, so here we are.
Also, strangely, this photo is with the cluster on my desktop?
So, how did we end up here? (I feel like that’s a question I ask myself a whole lot in life.)
The summer before my senior year, my stomach illness was bad. But also, eating at home, I think portion control can be hard for me (it still is). I found myself the summer before my senior year at my heaviest weight ever, over 20 pounds above where I am right now.
(Left is Hawaii before senior year, right is spring break.)
To be honest, my answer to what happened is not the most satisfactory. At least to how things started. In Hawaii, I started one of my worst stomach flares, which continued a few weeks into the start of my senior year.
This picture is from that trip.
The two weeks after Hawaii were incredibly rough. I was SO sick. (Fun fact: that flare is when I stopped eating gluten altogether, 1 year ago.) I ended up scheduling a last minute endoscopy because I needed answers ASAP. The night before the endoscopy I had some gluten because I was supposed to have a celiac test and needed it in my system, and I spent half the night lying on the floor feeling like death. It was terrible. Things continued to be bad for the next few weeks. I could barely eat, and what I could eat I felt like my body wasn’t processing because I lost a lot of weight very quickly (I can’t remember exactly how much but it might have been like 7 pounds in a week or 2?) On top of that, I was teaching multiple spin classes a week and training for a half marathon (how, I don’t know).
Throughout the fall, I was still pretty sick. Honestly, looking back on it, it’s hard to imagine what it was like. As one side effect, I was forced to eat healthier. However, things were still really frustrating and I felt like what I ate and how it made me feel was totally out of my control. I felt helpless.
By the fall, I was down maybe 10# from my heaviest weight, and feeling way better in my own skin. The biggest change, and biggest relief, came over winter break when I finally got answers to what the illness was that had plagued me for the prior year. Gastroparesis. With that diagnosis came a drastic overhaul of how I ate, which my body responded amazingly to in terms of my physique. I had to eat lower fat (I still do, or I’ll feel sick) and I had to eat more frequent half meals. As it turns out, my body seems to have always done well on half meals.
In terms of illness, the changes definitely helped but I was eating a lot of soup still. We even made a Christmas dinner in soup form that year!
I think I was also doing activities that my body responded well to: more track workouts and teaching my spin classes.
As I implemented my half meals, my body continued to change. But more importantly, my mindset changed. To be perfectly honest, when I learned I had to eat half meals, I was really nervous. I didn’t think I would be able to do it. I thought I would have too much trouble with overeating. But what actually happened was totally different. Because I was eating half meals, I didn’t overstuff myself which for some reason makes me crave things. But most importantly, I was eating entirely for my health and wellbeing. There was never an aesthetic motivation. It was simply to not feel sick and to heal my body. Although to be fair, if I did overeat, I would often feel sick.
But I learned so much about myself and what foods and amounts make me feel good.
When I broke my foot, I was worried my progress would be hindered because I wouldn’t be able to do much. But guess what? I didn’t blow up like a balloon. I didn’t gain a single pound. I made the most out of what I could do and pushed myself in those areas, and I kept up my same way of eating.
I felt so much more confident in myself though. I felt like I hadn’t been myself for the previous few years, and now I finally was again. One of my goals was to feel confident enough to wear spandex to workout again. Which is why I snapped this picture.
I’ve honestly felt confident wearing pretty much anything now. I worked out in spandex all summer in TN because it was so dang hot and humid all the time, and my shorts stuck to me. I ran in sports bras because 1. hot and 2. I didn’t want to waste a shirt on a 2 mile run (#laundry)
Also I’m totally wearing spandex right now, which I wore for Crossfit, because they were my only clean shorts. Just being honest.
So basically, over the course of my senior year, what changed? First, I was so sick that I couldn’t eat too much. Then I started eating half meals and learning what my body needed, but more importantly viewing eating purely in terms of healing my stomach, and in terms of overall health. As a result, I stopped trying to cut any food groups out, because I knew it made me crazy. No more “no sugar” challenges. They were too unbalancing for me and rough on me mentally. For a long time, I absolutely could not listen to other people talk about avoiding sweets. I would have to flat out walk out of the room, because I felt like I was on the edge of falling back into these old habits, and making myself crazy. But honestly, now I’m in an even different place.
I think part of it is that my life has changed so much over the course of the past few months; I’m busy with other real life priorities that honestly, are more important. But also, I think living on my own has helped me immensely. Having total control of my food, without influence of others. I honestly don’t need to hear the details of other people’s eating habits, because it’s easy to compare.
Where am I now? I gained a couple of pounds back from the spring, but I’m still healthy. I’d like to get a few more off, but honestly I don’t care. It doesn’t consume my life. I might make a few changes, but it’s not that serious. I still feel good about myself, and I still wear what I want. I don’t obsess over food, for the most part. Eating feels a lot easier than it used to be. I feel like there is so much less attached to it now.
My stomach is SO much better now. As a result, I can loosen up on how I eat a little because eating a big meal won’t necessarily make me feel sick (within reason). I do still have to think a lot about how my stomach will react, but it’s not all consuming in the same way. It’s a little harder for me to eat half meals, even though I know they would make me feel better, just due to my schedule. That, and the fact that my body runs best on soup and soup takes a whole lot of effort to make (minus the boring canned stuff).
I do want to try to get back to eating more of the half meals, but it has nothing to do with weight loss or how I look, it’s solely based on how I feel. And to be honest, at this point all I can bring myself to care about is how I feel.
It’s amazing how things change.
I think back to how much I struggled the past 4 years, and honestly it seems so strange in retrospect, because I’ve found myself in so much of a better place.
I feel like now in my real-life life and my real life career, I don’t have the time or energy to worry about those things anymore. Sure, I still sometimes struggle, but it’s not the same. Like I said, it’s not that serious. I will strive to improve my fitness in all aspects; we can always be better, and I always want to make changes and move forward. I will keep you updated on that, because it’s a journey. A lifelong journey. If you’re not where you want to be right now, know that it’s ok, and that things won’t always be that way. Learn what works for you, and stop paying attention to what everyone is doing. Everyone is different. Everyone has their own journey.
(*Note: I do wish I had written this 4 months ago because I think I would have had better insights on what changed over the year, because in the past few months my attitude has changed so much in terms of how my priorities have shifted.)