Three Learnings from the Weekend

Alternate blog title: Two useless things and one really long rant about being discouraged.

So I learned a few things over the weekend.

#1. Mid-January is evidently the best time to buy a new calendar.

Sure, you miss out on, uhh, knowing what day it is for a couple of weeks, but you save big money! Some random store at the mall was advertising 75% off calendars, so I snagged this smexy Marilyn Monroe calendar for a whopping $3.97. #girlcrush

#2. I don’t know why I’ve ever bothered drinking from any water bottle other than my Hydro Flask before.

I bought one over the summer after witnessing its magical cold-maintaining powers at the pool one day thanks to my friend Lara. Despite sitting out in the summer sun for an hour and the outside being hot to the touch, the inside water was still ice-cold! Literally, there was still ice inside! Epic.

I kind of forgot about it after the summer heat faded, but dug it out again recently as I’m trying to increase my water intake (given this whole thing where working out makes me sweat about 50x more than I used to… and I’m already a really sweaty person…) and I’m still so impressed by it’s Elsa-like powers to keep my water iceeeey cold. I know that it’s winter, but drinking copious amounts of water is SO much easier for me when it’s cold. I think cold water just tastes better.

 
#3. My body doesn’t want me to be sane anymore.

Here’s the skinny (HA, apt choice of words) on losing weight this time around: It. Is. Not. The. Same. As. Last. Time.

I’m just a little over two weeks into my — shudder — journey (I really hate using that term, but hey, you gotta call a spade a spade sometimes, eh?), so I realize that this may sound super whiny and annoying and entitled and generally make me sound like a brat, but I am feeling super discouraged right now. Why, you ask? Well, because despite carefully tracking my food (I use My Fitness Pal) and working out six days a week, I have yet to lose a single pound.

Yuppppp. Not one.

So, here’s the thing. Logically, I can kinda understand. My body is “adjusting.” Maybe it’s holding onto some extra water. I’m on my period (sorry dudes.) I get that there does technically exist some kind of reason why this may be happening.

But.

I don’t really know what that reason is.

And emotionally, I am not able to make peace with it. Because the last time I made some serious changes to my eating habits, you know what happened? I lost TEN POUNDS in one week. Yes, back in August of 2010, the very first time I started counting my calories, tracking my food, and cleaning up my diet, I had lost ten fracking pounds by the second time I weighed myself. I kid you not.

Now, again, LOGICALLY I realize that it was almost all water weight, that I was probably super bloated from my terrible eating habits and blahblahblah. It’s not like I was really expecting the exact same thing to happen this time, but I did expect SOMETHING to happen. I mean, even with all my admittedly half-hearted attempts to reinvigorate/kickstart my weight loss over the past couple years, I’ve at least been able to drop a pound or two in the beginning. You know, before giving up again. Heh.

Look, I know that weight loss isn’t supposed to be my main focus this time, my overall health and fitness is. And that’s still true. I am genuinely excited about the non-scale related changes that I am starting to see — completing P90 moves faster or more easily, my waistband leaving a shallower impression in the skin on my stomach, being able to hold a plank for more than 5 seconds (seriously, that’s how about how long I could manage the first time), feeling something that resembles muscles underneath my squishyness.

But, all that being said, as someone who, in the past, has really only measured her progress by the numbers on the scale, it is still SUPER frustrating that I am not losing anything. Frustrating and so, so discouraging. I just don’t understand how the scale can be staying the same when I AM seeing the above-mentioned changes!

If I was doing something blatantly counterproductive to my weight loss, that’d be one thing. If I was accidentally overcompensating for my new workout regimen by eating way more than I’m burning, if I was not actively tracking my calories and thus there was a big disparity between what I thought I was eating and what I was actually eating, well, that would explain things.

But I’ve been tracking my food and counting my calories quite diligently over the past 10 days. I’m averaging between 1500 – 1600 calories/day (some days lower, some days higher, of course), so wouldn’t you think that I should have shifted down a pound or so by now? Am I eating 100% clean? Of course not. But even if I ate, say, pizza, I kept my portions in check, logged it, and compensated with my food for the rest of the day.

Even if I was underestimating my calories and logging less than I’m actually eating (which is technically possible, since I do have to making estimations when I eat out and whatnot), I can’t imagine that the difference is so great that I’m actually eating at maintenance level for my current weight. I mean, I weigh a lot. So, even without working out, or hell, even without walking around my daily life, my BMR is around 1,900 calories just sitting there, doing nothing but breathing.

I really wish I could blame this on something. I know I talked above about how there might be a few reasons why things are progressing so slowly this time, but there’s no real way for me to know for sure what the reason is. And I honestly think it would make me feel better if I could just figure out what specific something is making the numbers stay stagnant. If I could identify the problem and attempt to “fix” it.

But, sadly, for the most part, there doesn’t seem to be anything I can pin this on. Nothing apparent to me, at any rate. And while I’d love to be able to lay claim to the old adage that “muscle weighs more than fat” (technically a fallacy — muscle is more compact than fat, so it takes up less room, but a pound is a pound), that really shouldn’t be a factor at this stage in my fitness, or at my current weight.

So, I gots nothin’. Le sigh.

I know that I need to keep a level head about this. After all, these things take time, and two weeks is barely any time at all when you’re talking about a lifelong journey (there’s that word again). And I know I really shouldn’t compare this time to the first time, because there are so many factors that have changed. I’m older, for one thing. I’ve already lost and gained a significant amount of weight, so my metabolism may not be functioning quiet the same way. And the fitness thing is, as I’ve already explained, a really big change for me, so maybe it is just taking my body some time to figure out how to deal with that, haha.

It’s just… hard. I don’t want to feel like this — emotionally tied to a stupid number on a stupid scale. I want to be able to be confident that what I’m doing is making a difference, whether the scale wants to admit it or not. I want to feel proud of hitting milestones like two weeks of daily workouts — a real achievement for my lazy ass! — instead of despondent because it’s not working fast enough.

But… I also want the reassurance that what I’m working for (because it really does feel like work right now) isn’t in vain. I want to be able to see myself doing this — eating well, working out, leading a fitter life — well, I dunno, like, forever? And it’s just hard to really imagine that without receiving any kind of incentive or motivation along the way. I mean, you wouldn’t work at a job you didn’t like if you never got paid, right?

But hey, I just gotta stick with it, right? Discouraged or not, unmotivated or not, I keep going. I whine a lot, but I keep going. Who knows, maybe this week will be the week that things regulate and the number starts dropping. Or maybe once my monthly ladybusiness is all tied up and I’m feeling a little bit more balanced, I’ll just feel differently. Maybe I’ll be able to focus more on the positive notes that I totally glossed right over in this post, haha.

So here’s to the next two weeks, and the next two after that, and the two after that. With hopefully at least a little bit of good news, a smidge of motivation, and a few encouraging results along the way. Okay, rant over. 🙂

A Shift in Perspective

Happy Monday, folks!

Hopefully you all had rockin’ weekends — mine was pretty busy with not one, but two different events that I worked on Saturday. First up was the Taste of Falls Church, where Intern Sean (heh) and I manned the Yelp booth and challenged many a folk to some rousing rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors in exchange for rockin’ swag.

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I know it doesn’t seem like rock, paper, scissors would be that fun at first glance, but people got really into it! Full credit goes to my beautiful coworker (and fellow blogger!) Kimberly for thinking it up. Plus it’s always a huge hit at family friendly events like this one, because it’s A) free and B) kids know how to play it. Really well, actually. Most of them kicked my butt.

The second event of the day was an Elite Event at Glynn Jones hair salon in Old Town Alexandria. It was my very first salon event so I was admittedly a wee bit nervous, but it turned out so fabulously! Elites got to nosh, sip, and watch (and if they were lucky, get selected for!) demonstrations on blow dry technique, updos, airbrush makeup, and more.

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So Saturday was a tiring day for sure, but a lot of fun at the same time. And I got to make up for it yesterday with just about the laziest Sunday I’ve had in a loooooong time. All I did yesterday was sleep, cuddle with schnauzers, cook, sleep some more, and then give all my money to Target. In my defense, I think I’m a little bit under the weather — Mia was sick pretty much the whole time I was visiting her in Macon, and given her penchant for sharing food (aww!) and my penchant for being a sucker and letting her shove said food into my mouth, I think it’d be more surprising if I didn’t catch whatever she had.

Sickness be damned, though! I’m not feeling too terrible (thanks to the probably 15 hours of collective sleep I got yesterday), so this week I’m determined to continue the good gym habits that my sister helped me start to establish on what shall henceforth be known as the Healthiest Vacation Ever. I’ve marked some classes at my gym that looks interesting and have booked time in my actual calendar to make sure I don’t book any calls or meetings during those times. So now it’s just a matter of actually, well, going!

Now, if any of you are skeptical as to my ability to keep my enthusiasm for working out up, well… I don’t blame you. After all, I don’t exactly have the best track record. I’ve never been shy to admit my utter hatred of working out, getting sweaty (ironic, because I’m probably the sweatiest person on the planet even just standing still and breathing), and just generally exerting myself. I wasn’t a particularly active kid — I played basketball in middle school because I was tall. And I wasn’t very good at it. Growing up, my family never put a real focus on fitness or being active, so I never thought of it as an important thing to incorporate into my daily routine. (This, I have to say, is somewhat funny to me now given that my sister is a marathoner who teaches fitness classes and my dad bikes like 20 miles every single day.)

So I never learned to find the joy in being active, and, obviously, that translated into my adult life. It wasn’t for lack of trying, though. When I first started out on my weight loss journey and found myself immersed in the world of healthy living blogging, I definitely tried. Everyone tells you that you just have to find an activity you like doing, and then you’ll want to that thing and, by default, you’ll want to be active. So I really did try to find something I liked.

I went to the gym. I walked. I ran. I swam. I did yoga. I did hot yoga. I did Zumba. I did CrossFit. Nothing stuck. I never got myself into a regular routine, and when I did go, I still found I was forcing myself to, and only because I knew that it would help me burn XX amount of calories.

Of course, as I discussed in my last post, I’ve also only ever thought of fitness being a means to an end for weight loss.

But hey, it did work for a while! I mean, even if it was unwilling and forced, I still did get myself into gear long enough to help me shed some weight, tone up, and be fit enough to accomplish quite a few fitness milestones. I was running 5Ks and 5 milers and 200-mile team relays, after all. It’s just that even when I was doing those things, even when I was legitimately in shape (well, in shape for me, at least), weight loss was still my primary focus.

But, obviously, using weight loss as a motivator for fitness can only last as long as you are losing weight. So when I stopped actively losing weight, I stopped feeling a need to dedicate time to fitness, and that, amongst other things, meant I ended up gaining back a lot of the weight I had lost.

Which is why I can say, even with my track record of failing at maintaining a regular fitness routine, I’m actually feeling fairly confident about seeing this through this time around. Because I really do feel like my motivation, and my perspective, has shifted. Do I still find myself thinking about my weight, thinking about how I look, comparing myself against the standards that the media has set forth? Of course I do. I’m only human, and I’ve got over twenty years of negative body image and weight obsession to fight against.

That being said, it takes up only a minimal, miniscule amount of my thoughtspace now. And without all those negative thoughts weighing me down, without the constant, continual focus on how any activity, any food, any choice will ultimately affect my weight loss…well, who knows if all the things I thought I felt about working out and being active and being fit weren’t wrong all along?

I sometimes feel that within the body positive/fat acceptance culture, there’s almost an expectation that you shouldn’t want to work out or eat healthily or whatever, because doing so means you must still want to change yourself. And, more specifically, you must still want to be thin. You must still secretly be working towards conforming to society’s standards or whatever. And I know that most people don’t think that way, and it’s not indicative of the entire movement in any way, but I do believe it is a sentiment that exists.

And so I have struggled with the idea of whether or not I’m really, truly, honestly rededicating myself to fitness because I want to, or because I still feel like I need to. Am I honestly doing this because it helps me sleep better and it boosts my energy and it is healthy? Or is it just because it will help me look better?

I guess only time will truly tell since, based on past precedence, we already know that if it’s the latter, this current burst of motivation won’t stick for long. But I do know that it does feel different. I’m not weighing myself. I’m not counting calories. I’m not using food as a reward system. I’m not limiting myself to not buying clothing because I want to wait until I’m smaller, or purposely buying clothes in a smaller size to “motivate” myself.

I’m just loving myself. And as much as I used to only think of it in relation to my weight and size, I know that being active in some form or another is just one more way to love myself. So that my body — curves and flesh and fat and muscles and stomach rolls and ligaments and stretch marks and all — will be around for me to love as long as possible.

The Music: I Am Facing It

All right.

So it’s been a little over a month since I wrote about my struggles with weight loss. Not the normal, why-is-losing-weight-so-hard struggles that I’ve been talking about for the past two years on whole, but whether or not I want to continue the whole “weight loss” aspect of this here weight loss blog at all. It’s been a month of me trying to make peace with my body, a month of seeing how I feel without also feeling like I need to make excuses to you guys for why I haven’t been posting my weigh-ins. A month of trying to live in my body, as-is, to see how it fits.

Well, that’s the official timeline.

Unofficially, I’ve really been off the weight loss wagon much longer. My last official weigh-in was May 2nd. That’s pre-Reach the Beach, pre-St. Maarten, and pre-Summer in general. And let’s be honest, even my efforts up to that point had been pretty lackluster: gain a pound, lose a pound, gain two pounds, lose two pounds, etc.

I think that now I can officially say that enough time has passed, enough energy has been expended, and enough thoughts have been, uh, thought, that I can say the following:

I am ready to start losing weight again.

Go ahead, roll your eyes. Scoff. Choke back your witty but sardonic remarks (or let ’em rip! Your call).

I understand. Really, I do. I know I’ve been here before. I’ve said these exact words so many times, they’re old hat by now. But that doesn’t automatically negate the authenticity of my intentions, does it? Just like with my original attempt at weight loss, all those months (now years!) ago, I’ve realized that these things just need to happen when I’m really ready for them to happen.

I’m a rebel. Okay, okay, fine, let’s call me what I really am: a brat. Evidently it would seem that I have to do things my way, in my own time, or they’re simply not going to get done. I climbed almost to 250 pounds before I was ready to change my life the first time around. Didn’t I realize that I needed to lose weight at 220 pounds? 200 pounds? Of course! Did I make halfhearted attempts to do so in response to bribes from my parents, subversive messages from the media, derisive looks from my skinnier coworkers? Sure! Did any of them work? Hells no!

I started this blog as a means to keep myself accountable for my weight loss, and it worked wonders for me. At first. I skimmed off 60 pounds and felt like I was on top of the world. But then, as time passed and my progress slowed, and as other things (good things!) started to cement themselves in my life, posting my daily eats and weekly weigh-ins just stopped working quite as well. Things felt perfunctory, and I felt like the only reason I was even still going was because I felt like I had backed myself into this corner with a big sign over it that read “NOT 165 POUNDS YET”. I felt like I needed to keep going just because this one time, over a year ago, I said that I had a specific goal in mind. It wasn’t about me being happy with my weight or my body or my lifestyle.

At the time I started this blog, I was supremely unhappy with a lot more than just my weight. I was in a job that I disliked, I was single, and I was generally just in a pretty low place. Now? I am fulfilling my dream of writing a book, I have a wonderful boyfriend, a thriving social life, and am just so happy most days that I probably annoy the crap out of you. < /brag>

But that doesn’t mean that I still shouldn’t want more for myself. And I think I am finally at a place where I’m ready to take back the original intentions of this blog: not just to lose weight in a vague, ethereal sense, but to put in place one more element of my life that I haven’t been truly satisfied with. I’ve actually been thinking all of this for a while now, but I wanted to make sure that my motivations for this particular recommittment (since there have been so many already) were finally coming from the right place.

So. Now that I’ve steadfastly declared that I’m back on board, let’s address the other part of this thing: my actual weight. Intentions are all well and good, but they don’t mean a whole lot if they’re not followed up with action (I feel like I’ve said this before, haha). This train is leaving the denial station starting now. (Get it? Back on board… train… anyone? Bueller?)

While I haven’t been going balls-to-the-walls with my eating this summer, I’ve definitely been partaking in more than my fair share of eating out and “celebrating”. A little too much Starbucks, and a little too little cooking at home. And though I have been (miraculously) maintaining some semblance of physical activity, that’s definitely not what it should be either (ughhhhh, exercise, bleh). I know that I’ve gained weight. I can see it in my face (and, oddly enough, in my upper arms), and I can feel it in my soul. (What, dramatic? Me?)

So here we are, just in time for Weigh-in Wednesday. Ready? (No.)

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 189.4 lbs
This Weigh-in: 206.1 lbs
Difference: +16.7 lbs

Wow.

Okay, just let me absorb that for a minute.

Well, I can’t honestly say that I’m surprised. Actually, that’s a lie. I am a little surprised — that I’m not more upset by this. Don’t get me wrong, I did have a bit of an… emotional… response at first (shock!). But I guess I kind of already knew that if I’d gained enough weight for me to actively notice sans-scale, we probably weren’t talking single digit pounds here anyway. I mean, when you’re 5’9″ and have a large frame, 5 libbies here or there doesn’t really have too much of a physical impact, you know? So gaining 16 pounds in 4 months may seem like a lot — and it is — but we all know just how easy it is to gain weight when your healthy habits take a backseat.

I’m actually feeling, dare I say, optimistic. I thought I would crumple into a ball of hysterics at seeing a number that’s over 200 again on the scale, but it actually makes me feel like I really have something to work toward now. It feels like this means it won’t just be more weeks of back and forth, losing the same 2 pounds over and over again. I know it probably sounds crazy, but it makes me feel kind of like I’m starting fresh. Like, that was Act I, and then there was intermission, and now we’re starting Act II (and we all know Act II is the most exciting one).

Weight Progression

And hey, at least all my size 12 clothes still fit, so that’s something. Does weight redistribute itself differently when you regain it? Huh.

All right, this has been mighty wordy already, so I’ll cut myself off here. Hopefully attending (and speaking at!) HLS this weekend will only further my drive to see this through (though hopefully not in a burns-out-quickly, sensationalist way). The bottom line is, I’m ready. Here we go again… again.

Confession

Okay, so here’s the deal. For those of you who have been following this blog for any length of recent time, it should come as no surprise when I say this: I have not really lost any weight since October of last year. In October 2011, I hit my lowest adult weight of 186 pounds, then I gained a bunch back over the holidays, and have been regaining and relosing the same 5, 10 pounds ever since.

I’ve been skirting around this for the last six months, and it’s time to face up. Lay it all out on the table. Be real with you and be honest with myself. Because if other people can be real about what they’re struggling with — the real, nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes stuff — then I should be able to too, right?

I talk about struggling here a lot. Weight loss is a battle, it’s a struggle, it’s an upheaval of a lifestyle. I talk about the mental struggle of choosing a grilled chicken salad instead of a bacon cheeseburger, the physical struggle of having to run one, five, or twelve miles, the emotional struggle of reconciling the old me with the new. But there’s something else I’ve been struggling with, something that I haven’t really talked about on here before: whether I want to continue actively losing weight at all.

Okay, now don’t freak out (I say that more to myself than to you all). Of course I still want to lose weight, just like every girl and woman (which am I today?) who has ever been unsatisfied with her weight does. I still dream about being able to buy clothing in single-digit sizes. I still fantasize about having a flat stomach and visible collarbones and having a body that someone just might envy (am I allowed to say that last one? Oh well, I’m saying it anyway.). I’ve said over and over and over again here, eventually (probably, hopefully?), I will get to a place where I’m happy with how I look. I’ll reach my “goal weight”. At some indistinct point in my future, I will reach the point where I’m content with my body, and effectively, my journey will be over. Except that this kind of journey is never really over. Even if I do hit my goal, it’s inevitable that I’ll gain a few pounds back. Our weight is in constant flux, so if I continue attaching a weight or a dress size or some other physical endpoint to my self-esteem, I’m only setting myself up for continued disappointment. If I’m relatively happy with how I look now (as much as we can be, really), even though I’m still a good twenty-ish pounds OVER my “goal weight”, whose to say that’s not worth recognition in and of itself?

Lately, every weigh-in feels perfunctory. I no longer feel invested in what the scale tells me. And I know that is mostly because I haven’t been putting a ton of effort into actively losing weight, but maybe it’s also because I just don’t care as much. Sure, I’m watching what I eat, I’m staying active, but I’m not calorie counting, I’m not measuring out the amount of cereal I eat before I eat it, I’m not tallying up the exact number of blueberries I consume. Because of this, however, because of this blog and the pledge that I made, to aim for 165, to keep going, I’ve felt like I can’t really admit that I’ve stopped trying.

“It’s just a phase,” I say instead. “I’m getting back on the wagon!” “I’m recommitting, I’m regaining my motivation, and I’m moving onward… and downward!” Only, I don’t. I don’t really change what I’m doing, I just keep weighing in, week after week, and the scale stays pretty much the same, and then I make up another excuse: Vacations! Birthdays! Holidays! Out of town guests! Because for whatever reason, I feel like I can’t just say, “I’m happy, I’m healthy, and I’m seriously enjoying my life as-is!” Even though that’s the truth.

So here’s the real issue: because I feel like I have this responsibility not to give up, not to surrender, not to let you down, not to let myself down, I feel myself starting to slip. I still want to lose weight, but I wonder if I’m doing it for the right reasons anymore. I’ve been battling some dangerous thoughts lately, the type of thinking that I remember well from my days as Old Gretchen. Looking for a quick fix solution. Giving far too much thought to restriction and fad diets and procedures and all of the stuff I swore off long ago. And as great as it is that I can catch myself in these thoughts, that I can recognize how unhealthy they are, it’s still pretty bad that I’m having them in the first place.

Maybe I should rephrase what I said earlier. It’s not that I don’t want (or need?) to lose more weight EVER, not exactly. I’m trying to say that I want to prioritize my HEALTH, not just my weight loss. This is not me looking for an excuse to start binge eating baconators again. This is not me asking for permission to stop exercising (my friend Kate and I actually are signing back up with a personal trainer at our gym starting next week!) or to validate the weight I’m at right now by telling me I look great as is. This is just me trying to figure out how to find some balance. Next month will mark this blog’s 2nd anniversary, and it just occurs to me that two years is a long time to have been struggling. I am young, I am enjoying my life, I’m working on some big things, and I’ve already lost 60 pounds. I mean, that’s got to count for something, right?

As you can tell from the general wishy-washy-ness (is that a word?) of this post, I haven’t come to a decision or anything like that. You already know that I hate making blanket statements, so you won’t see me saying “I’m throwing the scale away!” or anything like that. These are just my thoughts: the ones I’ve been hoarding, letting fester, and failing to admit to you all, let alone myself.

Honey, I Shrunk the Series: Katie for Life

Happy Tuesday, all! If you live in the area, I hope you weren’t accosted by the terrible, first-snow-of-the-season traffic that befell me last night, haha. I love snow, but I do NOT love snow commuting, that’s for sure.

So you guys have all heard the origins of my weight loss story time and time again, and I am so grateful for how kind and supportive everyone has been in receiving it. Of course, I only provide one perspective of how this kind of health journey can take shape! Many of you have accomplished far more than I have in terms of your weight loss, and I can only imagine how inspirational your journeys are. Thus, Honey, I Shrunk the Series has been born! Cut me some slack on the title — you know how much I love the corny.

So today, instead of more continuous drivel from yours truly, I thought it’d be great to showcase others who have had similar struggles. First up, we have Katie from Katie for Life!

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He's not mine, but isn't he the cutest?

For as long as I can remember, I have always struggled with my weight. I went to a private grade school and in 5th grade, the other girls made fun of me, because I had to start wearing a skirt – a privilege reserved for girls in sixth grade and up – because the jumpers didn’t fit me anymore. Girls can be so harsh. Between the seventh and twelfth grades, I dieted on and off, trying my best to get small enough to fit into the all-the-rage clothes at the hottest stores, but I always ended up gaining back what I lost … and more.

Senior Prom, May 2007

Then, I hit the road for my first year of college. While most kids gain the dreaded Freshman 15, the pressure of fitting in and looking as good as all the other scantily clad girls prancing from house party to house party encouraged me to lose weight. I crash dieted, over-exercised, and successfully dropped about 30 pounds.

College 2008 (Another baby!)

For me, the end of high school and beginning of college was a very unhealthy period in my life, both physically and emotionally. I invested myself in an almost-five year relationship with an individual who showed a complete and utter disregard for my feelings. To put it simply, he cheated on me, pointed out each and every one of my imperfections, and made me feel worthless. To make matters worse, I was unhappy being away from home and realized that the “giant university” college experience didn’t suit me at all. However, I put my feelings on the back burner, because I didn’t want to leave the “love of my life.”

College 2008

At the end of 2008, I made a decision – a decision that I believe led the way for many more positive changes in my life. I decided to transfer to a schools and move back home. Although I remained in that toxic relationship for years to come – and my unhealthy relationship with food still lingers – I truly believed that I finally started to see the bigger picture and realized that the importance of putting myself first in order to be there for everyone else.

College 2009

Still, living at home meant that I constantly surrounded by food. The house was stocked with every snack food imaginable, and I showed no restraint. I ate when I was hungry; I ate when I was bored; I ate when I was sad over the latest disagreement in my now-long-distance relationship. Basically, I ate too often, and I ate too much. I wasn’t as educated about eating disorders and healthy eating habits back then; I now know that there’s a name for the eating that I did, and sometimes still do: binge eating disorder. During the 2009 holiday season, I took a trip to Australia with my mom to visit her fiance. It was an amazing trip that I was insanely lucky to take, but I couldn’t help but feel self-conscious for three weeks straight.

Australia, 2009-2010

The once-in-a-lifetime experience of holding a precious little koala … and a picture that I was embarrassed to show anyone. In reality, I couldn’t stand to look at almost every picture from this trip. It was the beginning of a much needed wake up call. Still, the changes didn’t begin immediately. I continued working out semi-regularly. I was a Jazzercise instructor, after all. I had taken Jazzercise classes on-and-off since age 15 and became certified in 2008. Still, these well-rounded workouts were negated by my out-of-control eating. In April 2010, I attended a Jazzercise Convention in New Orleans. Surrounded by healthy women, I felt a blimp and decided that I needed to make a change.

April 2010

The next month, my mom and I joined Weight Watchers. I vowed to carefully count points and work out daily. I was dedicated – more committed that I had ever been to anything in my whole life. In fact, looking back, I was probably a little bit manic about it. But I lost over 60 pounds by my 21st birthday on September 21st, 2010.

I felt beautiful, confident, and healthy! Even better, pounds and inches weren’t the only thing that I got rid of. I also found the strength to close the book on my relationship from hell, and in August 2010, I can confidently say that I met the real love of my life.

Jazzercise Convention, Las Vegas, June 2011

In October, I walked 5 miles for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, feeling fit and fabulous. I was a mere six pounds from the WW goal weight. I even had the opportunity to share my weight loss story on a local morning TV show.

Unfortunately, in September of that year, I gave myself the “week off” to celebrate my birthday, and since then, I don’t feel like I been able to completely reel-in my eating habits. I am fully aware that this could have a lot to do with the fact that my weight loss journey was 100% healthy eating with ZERO indulgences. Even weight maintenance has not been easy. I still fight and give-in to the urge to binge eat. Since reaching my lowest weight, I have gained a little over ten pounds back. But I’m not giving up the fight.

After attending a second Jazzercise Convention in June 2011, I decided to resign as a Jazzercise instructor for various reasons. I still belong to a gym, but working out is by no means second nature to me. I know how important it is, but I still struggle with the motivation to do it on a regular basis.

I started my blog, Katie for Life, in October of last year, but only recently began blogging regularly – several times per week for me. I’ve tried writing about my eating and workouts in a past blog, but found that these aren’t the types of topics that I want to engage in with my readers. Instead, you will find open and honest posts about the struggles and triumphs of an average girl navigating the world of healthy living.

Most recently, on a trip to NYC in December 2011

Although my blog is relatively new, I have plans for innumerable posts about topics that I am hopeful that many of you can relate to. I truly want Katie for Life to be a safe and supportive community for all. At 22 years old, I am still learning and growing every single day, so I know that I can gain from your interaction as much as, if not more than, you might benefit from reading my posts. I recently shared my goals for 2012, and I’d love to know what yours are as well. Please stop on over, and say hello! Talk to you soon!

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See what I mean? Inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing, Katie! 🙂

If you would like to your weight loss story to be included as part of Honey, I Shrunk the Series!, please email me at [email protected]

PS: Just a final reminder that the winner of the Hello Hydration giveaway will be drawn tomorrow, so get your entries in!