“Wow, you look great! Are you losing weight? How are you doing it?”
I get this a lot lately. Since June, I’ve lost ten pounds. I’m in the best shape of my life, and obviously it shows enough that people take notice. They want to know my secret. So I thought hey, I have a blog about transformation. I am in the process of transforming my body. It fits. Might as well spill my secret here.
Spoiler alert: There is no secret.
I’m not on a diet, or a magic pill, or an MLM product or service. I am on a journey, which I’ve alluded to in previous posts, but I’ll sum it up for you here.
Four years ago, I was in a funk. I’d had a rough year, gained some weight, dealt with postpartum depression without professional help, and I wasn’t very healthy. I have a chronic disease and an auto-immune disorder, and I just felt bad. I had chronic back pain. Sometimes I would have bouts of digestive problems where it would hurt every time I ate for weeks. I was 34 years old. I didn’t want to keep feeling worse as I got older. I looked at people who were twenty or thirty years older than me who were having trouble with mobility and chronic pain. I didn’t want to be in that position in thirty years. I wanted to be able to move without pain. So I decided to make one change. I decided to exercise.
I had never been into exercise. I’d done a few videos over the years with varying results. I was never disciplined about it and I was pretty outspoken about hating it. I didn’t like being sore. I gave up when it got hard. I was a wimp. But I realized that in order to improve my mobility, I’d have to suck it up and move. I decided to do a one-month daily exercise challenge. It was simple but difficult, and I complained about aching muscles every day. By the end of the month I was starting to see changes in my body, so I decided to stick with it. I got bored and added a few exercises. I found some apps that stretched me further. One of my doctors suggested trying yoga for my back, so I did. At home, with an app. Months passed, and I stuck with it. I gained strength and flexibility. Eventually a friend talked me into taking yoga classes. My back stopped hurting. I had an easier time getting up stairs. I could get through longer and longer workouts, although rarely more than 10-20 minutes. I didn’t lose weight but I looked different. Clothes fit better. I didn’t hate my body. I started being thankful for the way it could support me through my life, and the way I looked in the mirror.
Over the years, I also made small changes in my diet. I saw a round of doctors for the stomach pain, hair loss, and other issues I was experiencing, and they all shrugged and said something was obviously going on, but they couldn’t pinpoint what. Looking back now, I think I just wasn’t healthy. My immune system, which has always been a bit wonky, was trying to respond to fake attacks of stress, sugar, bad diet, bad habits, and who knows what else. One doctor made an offhand suggestion that I try kefir for my stomach pain. I was desperate, and even though I’d tried kefir before and hated it, I tried the brand she suggested in the amount she told me, and a month later, I could eat without pain. A few months more, and my lifelong digestive issues were practically cured. I have never had to deal with that much pain again, and if it starts to pop up, I just drink a shot of kefir every day for a week or so and it goes away again. It’s been amazing.
I like to do research and experiment with different options. Once, just to see how it would go, I went without sugar for a month. I didn’t die, and it really cut my sugar habit by a lot. I added protein supplements and BCAAs to help me power through longer workouts, increase muscle recovery, and reduce soreness. I wanted healthier hair, so I finally agreed to try the Nordic Naturals fish oil my mom kept telling me to take. Small, incremental changes over time led to small, incremental results. I never lost weight, just hovered around the same 150 pounds or so. I’m short, so 150 is technically overweight, but it never bothered me. I just figured that was my adult weight, I’d stay there with my muffin top and my flabby arms forever, and it would be okay.
Then I saw Wonder Woman.
Oh my gosh you guys, that movie is so inspiring. I just love it. It might actually be my favorite movie. She is absolutely my hero. I thought, man, I really want arms like Wonder Woman. I realize I’m about half her height and her arms are probably a foot longer than mine, but I don’t know why, I just thought that level of muscle definition was what I really wanted in my life. I also figured it was impossible. But then a friend of mine, Michelle Mincic, got into a workout routine and started posting pics of her arms and I thought well, if she can do it, maybe I can. So finally, after three years of exercising just because it was a good thing to do and it made me feel good, I had a goal. I wanted those arms. I knew I’d have to work for them, and I decided to do it.
Once I increased my effort, I realized I would have to improve my nutrition. I increased my workout time and started a part time job, and I was struggling with having enough energy to get through the day. At about that time, Robin Coccomo, a Beach Body coach I randomly started following on Facebook, posted about the launch of the 2B Mindset. I decided to check it out. I got my kit and realized, with some embarrassment, that it’s basically a diet. I’ve always refused to go on a diet, except for when I had gestational diabetes and my doctor made me. I don’t believe in fad diets. I do believe in improving my food intake and nutrition, and that does require making changes in my diet, but I still don’t think of myself as being “on a diet.” I didn’t even care if I lost weight. I just wanted to learn how to eat and fuel my body better. I am not the poster child for the 2B Mindset. I read the guide and I follow about half the rules. I don’t track my food. I still haven’t watched all the videos. I still don’t drink enough water or eat enough vegetables. But I drink significantly more water and I eat significantly more vegetables, and I eat less simple carbs and more fiber filled carbs. I eat real food instead of cereal in the morning, to get me through to lunch. I avoid unhealthy snacking. Most of the time, I limit carbs at dinner. The results? Ridiculous. Unexpected. As soon as I changed my diet and started drinking water and weighing myself every day, I started dropping weight. Slowly, but consistently. I also noticed that the more I eat high quality, nutritious food, the more I want to eat it. I’m just as likely to crave vegetables as chips or chocolate.
One more thing: I added cardio. This was painful. I hate cardio so much. I have to get out of the house to do it, and I really don’t like exercising out of my house. I either have to run outside, which I hate, or do cardio machines at the gym, which I also hate. And it hurts. It’s mentally challenging. But I knew I needed to, to increase fat burn and have more visible muscle definition. Because Wonder Woman. So I joined Planet Fitness. When my husband said he was going to start running to train for a 5K, I decided that I would too. That was the final piece. After building a foundation of health for years, changing my diet and adding steady state cardio meant dramatic results. I lost ten pounds in four months. I went from a size 8 at the beginning of the year to a size 4. I had to buy new clothes. And people notice. Frequently. “Dang, girl! You look great!” is something I hear really often now. It’s a little weird, and a little uncomfortable, but I kind of love it. Not because I want to flaunt this fit mama bod I’m rocking these days, but because it proves to me that hard work, commitment, and the ability to make uncomfortable changes really does yield results. In this difficult year of challenges and changes in my life and business goals, it’s good to look in the mirror and see success.
Enough backstory. This is what I’ve been doing to lose weight:
- I exercise regularly. I try to get in at least 2-3 hours a week. Sometimes I only have time for a 10 minute home workout, sometimes I spend an hour and a half at the gym. I just do whatever works.
- I drink two glasses of water in the morning when I get up and I try to remember to drink a glass before meals, and sip water throughout the day. My goal is to drink 64-70 ounces a day. I probably hit 40-50 most days. I drink a couple cups of coffee a day and I rarely have soda.
- I eat some protein and carbs for breakfast; an apple or other high-nutrient snack before lunch; veggies, protein, and carbs at lunch; veggies and protein for dinner. I don’t starve myself or deprive myself of things I like. I eat pizza (sometimes for dinner!), chips, fries, donuts, cookies, candy, and cupcakes. I just eat less of them, less often than I used to. I try to be intentional about loading my diet with fuel food rather than useless calories. I also try to avoid fast food, because I’ve noticed that my body doesn’t seem to recognize it as food for some reason. So unless I really want those empty calories, I just skip them.
- I supplement with a multivitamin, fish oil, and occasionally protein shakes and BCAAS (I like IdealFit. Here’s a referral link: https://www.idealfit.com/referrals.list?applyCode=ALLISON-RFK)
That’s it. No secret. I just found what works for me, and adjust if it stops working. I really believe that’s the key to weight loss, but more importantly, to good health. Learn your body. Pay attention to what makes it work well and what slows it down. Be willing to make uncomfortable choices and stick with them until you know whether they work or not. I know running works for me, but I don’t like it, so I’m not going to maintain a schedule where I run three times a week. That’s okay. Do what you like, and only do what you don’t if you know there’s a good reason for it. Sometimes that thing you don’t like may become the thing that changes your life, and you might just learn to love it someday.
Transform your mind, transform your body, transform your life.
What about you? What are your fitness favorites? What are your challenges? Let’s have a conversation.