All right. So where were we? Spring of 2012. I had lost 30 pounds, learned the basics of lifting weights, and began understanding how important nutrition was to weight loss. It’s weird because even though to prepare for the bikini competition I was sometimes eating less than 1000 calories, I was eating every 3 hours. I was hungry, but I was always eating. This sort of started to teach me there was a connection between eating enough to fuel your body and losing weight.
However, by the time it was said and done I was over chicken breast and egg whites. I remember getting done with the show and being like “Oh awesome, I can sort of go back to a more lenient version of my meal plan and maintain my progress but also not be hungry all the time.” Wrong. So, so, wrong.
I didn’t really get any sort of “post-show” plan from my trainer. I had copies of my meal plan at the beginning of prep, but I knew I couldn’t continue to live on the 5 meals-a-day-out-of-tupperware plan. I began a cycle of binge and restrict. I remember one day I was so angry and hungry and frustrated because I knew I wasn’t going to maintain any of my progress, so I said “eff it” and went to Steak and Shake and got a triple cheeseburger and some fries. Keaton tried to gently remind me I would probably be upset with myself later…and I bit his head off (almost literally 😉 ). All of my clothes were getting tigher, and I hadn’t seen the inside of a gym in about 2 months.
I walked into my CrossFit gym June of 2012 and I think it was the single best thing I could have ever done for my mental and physical health. For the first time in a long time, I had something to work towards that wasn’t purely asthetics. I learned how to really lift weights, and I began to feel confident about things outside of my physical appearance. I wasn’t the strongest or fastest or most agile, but the sense of community and support kept me going back and working towards my goals. I wanted to be in the gym, I wasn’t there because I “had” to be.
Around this time I started following a “paleo” style diet. I cut out most grains, dairy, and processed foods. I began to cook a lot, and experimented with all sorts of new foods. I read several books that opened my eyes to how food and diet can really impact your body–for better or for worse. Two I really loved and recommend are: It Starts With Food and The Paleo Approach. I did a couple rounds of Whole 30, and realized how much better I felt when I fueled my body properly. While I don’t think this lifestyle was the best choice for me long term, I do think this time in my life taught me a lot about my body, and I would absolutely recommend trying out a Whole 3o or paleo challenge if you want to change your perspective on food. This sounds corny, but these experiments helped me realize that food really is fuel, not a form of reward or punishment.
I stayed consistent with CrossFit for the next 2 years. I worked out 3-4 times most weeks, and ate “pretty good” Monday to Friday. Weekends I was typically more lenient, but I still ate mostly gluten and dairy free. I didn’t count calories or track my intake, but I also didn’t see a crazy jump in clothing sizes or weight. I did not have my dream body by any means, but during the super stressful time that is nursing school, I was happy to be maintaing weight, see my strength increase, and overall feel better about myself. I also saw some nice improvements in my legs and glutes, which were typically my hardest muscle group to build (my mama didn’t give me much to work with if ya know what I mean).
After nursing school came a lot of big changes. Planning a wedding, moving 2 hours away, transitioning to full time night shift. The next part of this series will cover all the challenges that came with these changes, my huge workout and nutirition regression, and the moment where I realized I had to do something to make myself feel better again.
With love and progress and appreciating every step of the journey,