My quest to a healthier me started for vanity reasons, as is often the case for many people. At just shy of 5 feet 2 inches I refused to walk down the aisle at nearly 190 pounds. The turning point came when I saw a picture of myself on my 22nd birthday. I couldn’t believe that was me. That’s definitely not how I saw myself or how I felt.
And then I came across SparkPeople.com. After setting up my account, I made sure I logged everything that passed through my lips and went to the gym four days a week and walked or hiked with my then fiance one of the weekend days diligently for 6 months.
And you know what? I lost about 50 pounds. I did it, and it felt awesome! I was light years ahead of where I was when I started, and I had learned a ton about healthful eating and exercise habits. I shared them with as many people as I could because I felt liberated by my newly acquired knowledge, and I wanted to share that high.
“I need you to stop losing weight or I won’t be able to fit the dress to you properly.” Hmm… well, that threw me for a loop. My dressmaker was begging me to stop losing weight so she could get the fit I wanted on my wedding dress, but how the heck did I do that? I didn’t know how to eat the way I had been eating and exercising the way I had been and not lose weight. I had just learned how to lose the weight, dammit. Now I have to learn to stop losing it?! The only solution I could think of was to not go to the gym as often and not eat nearly as healthfully. Turns out, that’s not the best solution!
After getting off the wagon so my dress would fit amazingly, I had a hard time getting back on the wagon, and on my honeymoon I lost my mind. I was eating pastries, fried food, and cheesy goodness like it was going out of style.
Have you been to Ireland? If not, go! Preferably before starting your journey because they have some insane cakes and sweets! I’m pretty sure I tried every variety. And the Irish breakfasts? Forget it! It was no surprise to come home to a 10 lb weight gain, but I was still pissed. After all my hard work, how did I let this happen?
And then I got discouraged, thinking “I’ll never be able to eat anything good again!” Turns out my sweet tooth has a loud mouth and is pretty damn whiny, when she feels deprived, which she did. Often.
I was able to get it together and lose 7 of the 10 pounds over the next few months, and I maintained that for a few months until yay! There was a bun in the oven! And then all hell broke loose… again.
There are two feelings I hate more than nearly anything on this planet. Hunger and nausea. Yeah. Pregnant, remember? When I feel either of those things, my solution is to eat. So eat I did. And eat, and eat, and eat. Thankfully, my guilt kept me in check to a certain degree, so I was eating a good amount of healthy foods still, but I was also eating a really good amount of pancakes (chocolate chip to be exact) and spaghetti and pancakes. I love pancakes. All breakfast foods really, but I have a love affair with pancakes.
How I managed to only gain 36 pounds during my first pregnancy was a miracle. One that I’m very thankful for! That still put me very close to my original starting weight before I started on this whole journey 27 months prior. Too close for comfort.
To say I was elated to have 21 of those pounds drop off quickly after birth is an understatement, but it didn’t last. Nope, it didn’t last, when hunger reared its ugly head, which it did often as I was nursing on demand. Nuts and peanut butter crackers were consumed on the regular. Those are healthy, though, right? Yeah, when you’re not eating five or six handfuls of nuts in a sitting or three packages of crackers a day along with all the other things I was eating. Needless to say, the weight loss train gave me the boot. The joy ride was over!
I hovered at 161 for two years until I decided to get serious about weight loss again. I was determined to go into my second pregnancy with a healthy frame of mind, with healthful eating habits firmly established, and exercise happening regularly. And I did. I lost 7 pounds and then got pregnant 🙂
Now, don’t get me wrong. Vanity was still a big part of wanting to lose the weight and change my habits but along the way I also truly wanted to be the healthiest version of myself that I could be. I continued to eat really well, still going to the gym for a while. Hell, I was even running (jogging…slowly, if I’m being honest) on the treadmill at 13 weeks pregnant. I certainly couldn’t do that my first pregnancy, so that was a big deal for me.
I gained just 26 pounds with my second daughter. I was really scared that I would become that ravenous nursing mother again and ruin all my hard work, but I didn’t. I credit this to how well I ate throughout the pregnancy and the mindset I had. I was able to continue my healthful habits, and when coupled with nursing a ton, I lost all the weight I had gained by four months postpartum.
Wow! Really? Is this for real? Even I couldn’t believe it. I continued to lose weight until I got down to 143 pounds. Right where I was when I got pregnant with my first daughter and just 5 measly pounds shy of my wedding weight (also my lowest weight). But it didn’t feel quite right. I felt like something was missing. Why did I have this layer of fluff still? Why was I still having my IBS symptoms? Why didn’t I feel like I was in control? I felt like food, my cravings and hypoglycemia, ruled my every day. Every second of every day. I didn’t want to live like that anymore.
And then discouragement struck again, and I stopped going to the gym regularly. I’d have a few days here and there where I’d eat horribly and berate myself after. So it isn’t any wonder that I yo-yo’d between 144 and 149. No surprise, perhaps, but lots of feelings of failure and shame.
There had to be an easier way, right? There just had to be. Or at least a way that worked better for me because really this lifestyle change in today’s society can be labeled many things, but easy is not one of them. At least not for this girl!
Fast forward to March 2014. I had been praying and praying to find an herbalist school that would work for my stay-at-home-mom schedule. This was another extension of my quest to become a Jill-of-all-trades healer. I had already taken on Reiki and Angel card reading, was working with my mediumship abilities, as well as my medical intuitive skills, so now I wanted to find a way to add herbs into that mix. Basically, I wanted and still want to be the healer lady who everyone in the village comes to for their various physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. The all-in-one healer extraordinaire 😉 It may be a bit lofty of a goal, but I’m determined to work toward it to the best of my ability because helping and teaching others is my passion, my purpose, my drive.
So what does all this have to do with a healthy lifestyle, you ask? Other than everything, um… everything! Ha! But back to herbalist school. Thankfully Spirit pointed me in the right direction, and I started classes at an amazing school called CommonWealth Center for Herbal Medicine in Brookline, MA, and it is here that I found the thing (or combination of things) that has worked better for me. And no, it hasn’t always been easy, but it has been necessary and great for my person body, mind, and soul. What is this amazingness? The simple answer: a grain free, dairy free lifestyle supported by herbs.
I felt like it should be a fairly easy transition considering I had already cut so much from my diet already. Caffeine (other than chocolate. I still struggle with that damn chocolate), most dairy, alcohol, many processed foods, went low sodium, was eating vegetarian or vegan two meals a day, and more recently dabbling with gluten free. But it hasn’t been as easy of a transition as I had assumed, unfortunately.
Once I heard the reasoning behind going grain free dairy free, coupled with my intuition and knowledge of my body and those of my children, I knew it was vital to do it. It was time to take the plunge, stop being wishy washy, and pull off the band aid, so to speak. No more dabbling. No more “Oh, this one time it’ll be ok. I’ll just deal with the gas, bloating, and subsequent diarrhea because how can I say no to pizza?!”
I was tired of feeling guilty when I did eat things that made me sick. I was tired of discovering yet another form of rash on my oldest daughter. I was tired of the IBS. I was tired of being tired, grouchy, in pain, and totally ruled by my food and my hypoglycemia. I wanted my power back, and now I have it. Or rather I’m in the process of snatching it back, and I also have lots of new knowledge (with more to come) that I’m so eager to share with the world because if I can help even one person to feel happy and whole and healthy, I have accomplished my purpose in life.
I will reiterate I am still a work in progress, which is where this blog comes into play. I may have some of the knowledge, but that doesn’t mean it makes implementing it any less difficult. I mean, I’m having to undo decades worth of food programming here. That doesn’t happen overnight no matter how much I’d love it to! BUT it can be done! And it can be fun and tasty and so beneficial on so many levels.
I’ll be sharing recipe successes, as well as flops. I’ll be sharing my discouraging moments, so you don’t feel alone. I’ll be sharing my successes, so you know it’s possible for you too. And I’ll be sharing some herbal remedies I find helpful along the way.
“You cannot bring the same stale self to the world and expect the world to be new for you” just as you cannot do the same things you’ve always done and expect a different result. It’s time for a new you, so you can have that fresh, new, and exciting world. It’s time to take back your power one step at a time! So please, join me and make your transition to a healthier you not only possible, but fun.