*Originally posted on March 15, 2015*
This couldn’t be more true.
Since January 1st, I have rededicated myself to a healthy lifestyle. If you follow me on Instagram (@mykaleidoscopesoul), then you have most likely seen posts of the food that I’m eating, the workouts that I’m doing, and before & after progress pictures. I’ve lost about a pant size since January, and am currently the smallest I’ve ever been. Well, actually, I was this small once before, but quickly jumped back up. There are no clothes in my closet that are too small, waiting for me to fit into them again, and I’m planning a small shopping spree next week because I don’t have a lot of Spring and Summer clothes. Why? Because I’ve never liked Spring and Summer clothes before. If you have any bit of a stomach, you know the pain of wearing jeans and a t-shirt. You don’t do it, ‘cause there will absolutely be a stomach roll protruding under that shirt, so cardigans become your best Spring friend.
People keep asking what I’m doing to be fit and healthy, because I’ve lost quite a bit of weight in the last 3 years, and made a lot of progress in the last 3 months. And I will get to that in a minute. But before I get to that, I think it’s important to talk about my journey to getting here. Because it has not been as picture perfect as my Instagram account.
I have spoken before about how I felt round growing up. A lot of people tell me I wasn’t that round, but I remember boys telling me that I jiggled in all the wrong places, being called Shamu, being compared to the size of a submarine, and my PE teacher telling me I didn’t have the body type for gymnastics, so I didn’t have to take part in all of the activities of our gymnastics unit. Maybe he was trying to be helpful. But it was a way of excluding me because of my size, and that did not go unnoticed. I was a high-achieving, high-stress person, and I loved sweatshirts and jeans. You can be round inside those big sweatshirts, and nobody can see your rolls.
I was 13 the first time I threw up my food on purpose. I was at a friend’s birthday party, and everyone was having fun, boys were flirting with girls, and I felt huge. Prior to this, I had been thinking about binging and purging, and became very sick one night. Food poisoning or something. I remember both of my parents coming into the bathroom as I was throwing up in the middle of the night, asking if I was okay. And I remember saying I was okay, and being so confused about how relieved I was to be getting rid of those calories, and I didn’t even have to make myself do it.
Between January of Grade 8 and December of Grade 10, I binged and purged off and on. Never enough to actually lose weight and make it noticeable, but enough that I considered myself bulimic. While it was connected to my desire to be thin, it was also a way of gaining control for me. I was a busy kid. I was in every extra-curricular (except for sports, because I jiggled there and wasn’t that great at sports and girls are mean), and I placed a lot of pressure on myself academically. To this day I don’t know where my need to people-please comes from, as my parents were happy with us being happy, and never asked for more from us. But my world often felt out of control, and I often felt like I wasn’t doing enough, like I wasn’t good enough, and like the only thing missing from my life was a boyfriend. And, in my teenage mind, boys didn’t like fat girls. So I threw up my food, and it felt like an instant relief. It’s a weird feeling to describe; not many people understand. And thank God. Hopefully that means not many people feel compelled to hurt themselves to gain control.
In December of Grade 10 a friend of mine told me that if I didn’t tell someone and get help, she would. So I told my favourite teacher. And then I told my mom. And then I had to talk to the school counsellor. And then more of my friends knew. And I felt like I had people to hold me accountable, and who would support me when I needed it. And I stopped.
I started to work more on fitness and healthier eating. And that became an obsession. Missing a workout was not okay to me. It could be 10:00 at night, and I had to be up at 6am, and I’d still be doing homework, and I’d cry because I didn’t know if I could do my workout that night. Spontaneous pizza or McDonald’s runs caused anxiety. I wasn’t throwing up my food anymore, but I wasn’t in a healthier mind-set, either.
Then I’m not sure what happened. After high school I stayed relatively fit through dance and my new found love for running, but binging and purging came into my life again around the age of 20 or 21. I was in a destructive relationship, and I needed that feeling of self-control again.
2011 was a year of self-healing for me. No more boyfriend meant a time for me to rebuild myself. I started to work out and eat healthier foods, and I felt really good about myself. In November of 2011 I met my current boyfriend. He made me feel beautiful, smart, funny, and worth it. And he had a history of dating plus-sized women, which made me feel more comfortable and accepted. In March of 2012, I felt great about everything in my life. But I had gained some weight again, so I decided to start Weight Watchers. On Weight Watchers I lost 30 lbs., finally hitting “goal weight” in June 2013. I was about a size 6. Since then, I’ve been working on maintaining my weight through exercise and healthy foods, and have stayed within a one-size fluctuation. My self-image has changed drastically. And I’m not sure if that’s because I have lost weight, or if that’s because I grew up a bit, or a mixture of both. But even when I do have a bit of extra weight, I don’t obsess, I don’t cry, I just acknowledge it and either keep making unhealthy choices (hello, Christmas time), or acknowledge it and make a plan for a healthier future (hello, New Year’s time).
When I start to feel like fitness and healthy eating are becoming an obsession for me again, I stop, and force myself to eat pizza. That might sound stupid, but that’s what works for me. It’s unhealthy food, and it’s okay. I still need to remind myself of that sometimes.
I’ve met a lot of resistance with my healthy lifestyle. People get frustrated ‘cause I don’t want to eat a piece of their chocolate, or I choose a salad, or whatever. I’ve been scoffed at and asked, “Why do you need to exercise?” or “You look fine. Just eat whatever.” It’s a challenge that’s moved from comments about me being overweight, to comments about me being thinner. Let me tell you, body shaming happens no matter what you look like. So I’ve decided it’s best to just do you, and learn to bite your tongue.
So. There it is. Many people have asked me in the last few weeks about what I do to stay fit and healthy, and I’m going to answer that below, but it is SO important to know that it is not something that is easy. It is not something that I’ve always done. And it is not something that you need to do alone. Body image and health issues are so manipulated and it is so ingrained in us that we need to be beautiful, thin, and strong. I know that I often look that way. But we need to remember that someone’s Instagram or Facebook is only a construction of a very small part of them.
“How do you do it?!” Well…
Currently, I’m following Tone It Up. They post workouts every day that you can do with minimal equipment in your home (a few free weights and a kettlebell). I hate gyms. I feel like they’re judgey, and unnecessary, unless you’re lifting and training that way. Then they’re probably necessary. I wake up and am working out by 5:30 AM Monday to Friday, and do cardio and a bit of weight training (all from Tone It Up ‘cause it’s free and easy to do at home). It usually takes me about 30 to 45 minutes. I like waking up early to get that workout out of the way. Night time workouts do not work for me. But that’s just me.
I just started following the Tone It Up meal plan, but prior to the last 3 weeks, I had just been eating clean with recipes I found off of Pinterest. I meal plan the crap out of everything. I always have the next 2 weeks meal planned in a little notebook. That way, I know what I’m going to eat and there’s never a moment where I’m like, “Hmm…I’m hungry. What do I have at home?” Those moments = Tim Hortons, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc. for me. Grocery shopping is also much easier. I eat 5 or 6 times a day. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, and I track my calories on My Fitness Pal, an app on my phone. I suck at sticking to my suggested calorie intake. But my intentions are good haha
Sundays are spent grocery shopping and meal prepping. Sunday morning, our cupboard is filled with clean tupperware. Sunday night, our fridge is stocked with full tupperware. I make breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, and sometimes we cut up veggies, etc. for whatever I’m making for dinner that week. I have a juicer and make a few days worth of juice (which is usually my morning snack).
I drink so much water it’s ridiculous. Never in my life have I had to pee so often.
I haven’t cut out any sort of food (except for chocolate, and only because I wanted to see how long I could do it, not for any sort of health reason. Just a little challenge I set out for myself. I’ve already planned all the chocolate I will eat when I give this thing up) I eat pizza, Chinese food, go for dinner and don’t order salads, I eat cake and pie, and I love a good glass of wine. If anything, I’ve learned how much it is about balance and consistency, and being live-able. So many healthy eating plans aren’t realistic forever. I think what I’m doing is realistic with my current schedule and where I am in my life. As I get busier, things might change, but it’s not something that I can’t easily come back to, or that I’ll gain weight back from. I don’t beat myself up for indulging once a week (which is basically what it’s worked out to), or twice a week (which, honestly, happens sometimes). I just pick back up the next day and make sure I’m consistent.
I don’t weigh myself anymore. I know I’m roughly 135 lbs., but I’m focusing on what I look like, and how my clothes feel. I was at Winner’s this week, and know I’m about a size 4 in multiple brands. But the clothes that fit me in my closet range from XS to Large, so I try not to take that too seriously. There is still that vain part of me that likes that I’m in a 4, and no longer a 12, but I’m trying to shut her up, and stop caring about that.
It is hard. Very hard. I don’t always like 5:30 am work outs. And I don’t always get up for them. I don’t always want to eat what I’ve planned for myself (and if it’s a new recipe, and it totally sucks, we throw it out and order sushi. Life’s too short to eat bad food). I don’t always meal prep as much as I wanted to on a Sunday.
Start with baby steps. Just plan healthier breakfasts. Aim for 3 workouts in the week. Then once you establish that, try adding more water, or a new healthy dinner. Baby steps are key.
It’s hard. But it’s doable. You need will power, the mindset that a healthy life means being imperfect and allowing life to happen and mess up your plans for workouts and healthy food, a support system, and the ability to forgive yourself and be kind to yourself. I’ve learned, through a long and hard journey, to love myself no matter what I look like, and to be kind to myself. And I think it’s the most important thing in the world for everyone else to learn, too. ❤