Every Body Changes

2018 has been a year of change for me. I’ve become more in tune with body, stopped giving it what it didn’t want and started giving it more of what it needed. Today I am 14 pounds down and feel amazing! I still have a way to go until I reach my goal, but I am excited about where I am going.

In January I became Pescetarian. This combined with the fact that I cannot have dairy made me sort of make-shift vegan. I will have meat once in a while, but I noticed that my body does not respond the same way to meat as it does when I eat seafood. I feel heavier and just plain gross after eating meat. This versus eating fish and veggies, where I feel much lighter and have a lot more energy, made the decision to stop eating meat a no-brainer.

In July, I stopped drinking alcohol. My husband and I would drink almost every night and whenever we go out with friends it typically involved drinking. I had many reasons to stop, the biggest was that I did not like who I became when I was intoxicated. A sniff of alcohol is usually enough to do me in and it became harder for me to learn my limits. I would become someone I was not proud of and lacked the self control to be myself. Now that I’ve stopped, I feel in control of my life and decisions at all times. I also knew it was integral to weight loss but it was something I was never ready to give up. I wanted to just try it out to see what it would be like. If I had known it was going to be this easy and the sleep would be so much better I would have stopped a long time ago (maybe).

Finally, around the same time, I decided to make healthier choices and by April 2019 to lose 22 pounds and by my 30th birthday, November 2019, to be able to look in the mirror and like the way I look, because honestly I had been avoiding looking in the mirror at all for some time. I am happy to say that after 3 months of staying and slaying on my goals, I am 14 pounds down and so proud of myself!

The journey to get here was long and tough, but I am happy where I am at and excited to see where I go. Along the way, I have learned a lot of lessons. Not just about weight loss, but life in general. This is the story of my journey, what I’ve done, and what I’ve learned along the way. I hope those of you with similar goals are helped in some part by this.

Everyone is on their own journey
So many of us look in the mirror and think, wow I need to lose weight, and then look at others and think I wish I could look like that or If I looked like her, I wouldn’t have to watch everything that I eat all the time or I wish I had a metabolism like that and could eat like that. But, after talking to so many of my girlfriends and guy friends and listening to so many weight loss journeys and body stories, I have learned that no matter your gender, shape, size, weight, men and women of all sizes all around us are going through the same struggle. We are all a work in progress. Knowing these men and women were out there and struggling to be happy in their own skin like me somehow made this process easier. I knew I wasn’t alone when I’ve always felt like I was.

Realize it’s going to take time
Three months ago, on the day I decided to start this journey, I came home from Zumba class and I started bawling. I was so sick of being unhappy in my own skin. 3 months before my husband and I got married, we both got personal trainers. We worked hard, ate on strict meal plans, but by the end of it, I wasn’t happy with the way I looked. Last fall, my husband and I did the entire program of P90X. By the end, I still didn’t like the way I looked. It felt like no matter how hard I worked, I never looked the way I wanted to. I couldn’t even remember the last time I liked the way I looked.

And then I did. It was 5 years ago right after I graduating college. And that’s when I realized that I was sitting here trying get results after 3 months when last time it took me nine months to get there! It took me a while to gain this much weight. Of course it should take just as long, maybe even longer. That’s when I gave myself a realistic goal of 9 months. I am now 3 months in, at that same point at the end of P90X and after a personal trainer, and I don’t feel a sense of finale, but rather that that this is my taking off point and I still have 6 months to go. That is so encouraging for me.

Find a way to measure your success.
When we did P90X, part of what made it so discouraging was that I didn’t take measurements and I didn’t weigh myself. I could have been making tons of progress but I didn’t know if I was or not. This time, I am weighing myself every day. This allows me to be accountable for everything I eat. Plus if I make a poor food choice the night before, I can see how my body handled it. It’s the reassurance I need that a small square of chocolate isn’t going to do anything, and at the same time teaches me that a treat meal once a week doesn’t put me back on the scale. It also shows me that after going out of town and slipping up on my diet a bit may make the scale go up some, but I’m not tempted to get off my diet like I was before. I continue to weigh myself and hold myself accountable and when those pounds drop off again I know I’m back to where I stopped and get started again. Finally, on those days where I look in the mirror and feel like I haven’t changed a bit, even though I’ve been working so hard, I know that I have because the scale says so. I used to judge my weight loss based on how my pants fit, but weighing myself this go around has made all the difference for me. It’s so motivating knowing that the healthy decisions I make are actually paying off and translating to the scale. It’s what makes waking up and making the same decisions that much easier!

Find what works for YOU
Another reason why P90X and having a personal trainer didn’t work for me is because I didn’t actually enjoy it. They felt more like chores to me than anything else. Then I thought back to what I did those 9 months of success and it was workout classes! I absolutely love workout classes! I love Zumba, Body Pump, Yoga, and Spinning! It’s easy to work these into my schedule, even at 6am, and it’s a motivation to get to the gym.

However, I have several friends who don’t like classes for one reason or another. They choose to workout at home, with a trainer, at work, or not at all. Some people choose the Keto Diet or Weight Watchers or just making healthy choices. Not one way is right for all people and just because one person is doing one thing doesn’t mean that’s the right thing for you. Because I have found what works for me, I know that I can adapt these lifestyle changes permanently, and not just for 3 months this time.

Listen to your Body
Getting in tune with my body is what helped me figure out what I should cut out and what I should keep. Assess how you feel after you eat something. Does your tummy hurt? Do you just feel like crap afterwards? These are signs that your body does not like it so stop giving it to it. Also don’t just follow any diet on Pinterest because there’s a picture of a skinny girl next to it. Don’t just started the Keto diet because your friend is doing it. And by the way, try to cut out alcohol, I lost 5 pounds almost immediately from just that. No body needs alcohol.

Carbs are not your enemy
Unless you’re on the Keto diet of course. Otherwise I find that if I don’t consume carbs for breakfast and lunch, it’s easier to make poor food choices for dinner because I am just so hungry! Personally, I eat some form of whole grain carbs (like oatmeal with bananas or eggs and toast) and then have a large lunch with more carbs (tuna salad wraps, chickpea sandwiches, chili) and then a snack when I get home from work (like a protein bar, almonds, or shake). Then by the time it’s time for dinner, I’m not even that hungry so having a small piece of salmon and broccoli is an easy decision for me to make. I do not, however, have carbs for dinner. When your body doesn’t have carbs for energy, it burns through fat. I remember reading this piece of advice a while ago, and my personal trainer reiterated it to me, that if you don’t have carbs for dinner your body will burn through fat while you sleep. I am no dietitian but all I know is that I feel light and skinny when I wake up in the morning!

You don’t owe anyone an explanation
I may not eat meat, but I love bacon and charcuterie. I may not drink, but I will have a light beer or gin and soda once in a while. I may not eat dairy, but I might If I have Lactaid on hand. I may have a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes I make crappy food choices. I refuse to deprive myself of anything because I never want to regret choices I have made to better my overall health. Everything I have omitted from my diet, I still consume maybe 3% of the time. Sometimes at restaurants I say I’m vegan because then I know that I can consume whatever I am given without a doubt. All of these contradictions open my life and choices up to skepticism and criticism from a lot of people around me. People constantly wanting to remind me of what I don’t eat, as if I don’t know or something. It can get old, annoying, and exhausting.

Here’s what I’ve learned though: I can do absolutely anything I want. Not just with my diet but with my life. I don’t owe anyone and explanation and anyone I may want to give one to would never ask me to. The first time my best friend saw me eat salami after becoming pescetarian she told me she was proud of me because I wasn’t depriving myself if I wanted something. When we go out to eat, whether I say I’m vegan or I order something with cream in it, my husband backs me up (and maybe reminds me to take a Lactaid). My work-wife-co-teacher constantly gives me non-dairy-free treats because she knows “how much I love them even though I don’t eat them.”

I have to be honest though, when people closest to me question my decisions or tell me to “not be” dairy/meat/alcohol free, it hurts. And while I wish I could tell them to MYOB, I’m still trying to come up with a nicer response.

Find Your Cheerleaders
Once I started making my health a priority, something amazing happened to my energy. Not only did I have more of it, but I became a lot more positive and had no tolerance for negative people. This is why I took it especially hard when people close to me (or at least, whom I thought were) said nothing to me when they saw changes even though they knew about my goals. Instead of cheering me on, they would notice it and say nothing. Unfortunately, there are people like this that are negative and make you not feel as good about yourself and your accomplishments (not just weight loss, but really about all things). I have learned that it was never about me. It was a reflection of themselves and what they were going through. Someone may not congratulate me on my accomplishments because they are struggling with the same goal. Understanding this made it much easier to deal with situations like this, and realize who my real friends were and who to stay away from. And by the way, don’t let these kinds of people make you afraid to brag on yourself! You are a powerful being and no one’s negative energy can get in the way of that! You lost 3 pounds? You worked your butt off at the gym last night? You’ve decided to start making healthy choices tomorrow? Shout it from the rooftops! You are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

I did, however, find my cheerleaders. Those that would notice every single pound and cheered me on for it. These individuals make it easier to continue on my journey and feel good about myself and all I’ve accomplished. Surround yourself with people like this, people who feel like sunshine, and ignore all the haters. You can always count on me to be one of your cheerleaders!

 

There is a stigma associated with weight loss. We must be shallow and all we care about is how we look. This is why we don’t talk about being comfortable in our own skin since we are taught from a young age “it’s the inside that counts.” While this is true it’s a lot easier said than done. Yes, you should try to lose weight to be healthy, but the truth is you can be healthy and not happy in your own skin. Last year when I went in for my yearly physical, my doctor told me I was completely healthy and I asked her if I needed to lose weight. She told me “you should be at a weight where you are happy.” And that is what I, and so many of us, are striving to do. There is nothing shallow about this, friends. Don’t let anyone make you feel like it is. We are making our happiness a priority and that is more than ok. I can’t tell you how many times I told people about my weight loss struggles and their response every time was “me too.” We are all on the same path, let’s support one another and lift each other up. You never know what anyone else is going through, so be kind always.

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I Don’t Want to be Skinny Anymore.

In January 2013 I was overweight. I had gone to the doctor’s for my regular physical exam and she told me I was almost 140 pounds, had high cholesterol, and was on the path for a slew of medical problems.

The worst part was, I wasn’t even a bit surprised.

I had just finished my college career where my nights were filled with late night Taco Bell/Wendy’s/McDonalds/Thai Food runs to fuel me for those all-nighters. As a senior, pre-med, math major, I had no time to hit the gym and stay active. Throughout college I had come to several crossroads where I realized how desperately I needed to change my lifestyle, not just because of the reflection that I saw in the mirror, but because of my relationship.

I felt unwanted, unattractive, and worst of all, unloved, not just by my significant other, but by myself. I wasn’t happy. As a result, I became a yo-yo dieter. I tried to motivate myself by trying to look beautiful for my boyfriend so he would love me more and not leave me. I convinced myself I was doing it for me, but deep down I knew that wasn’t true. Eventually, he did leave me, and, after graduating, I moved back home for a couple of months while I applied to medical school.

I left the doctor’s office knowing something needed to change. So I made it happen.

Moving home for 6 months after college was the best thing I have ever done for my health. I joined my parents’ gym and went there nearly every day. I became a Zumba addict. My mother became my “personal chef,” turning every nasty healthy recipie into another work of art. I subscribed to the mantra “no carbs after lunch.” I drank so much water, quit my Diet Coke addiction cold turkey, stopped eating fast food, and my only indulgences were healthy sweet treats I found on Pinterest. I never weighed myself, only gauged my weight loss based on how my work out clothes fit me.

By spring, I saw my doctor again for a sinus infection. She was amazed that in a matter of a couple of months I had lost 10 pounds. By August 2012, my sister’s wedding, I was 20 pounds down, weighed 118 pounds, and felt better than ever, but most of all, I was happier than I had been in a very long time.

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What was so different this time? What motivated me to lose so much weight that was different than the 10 times I had tried while I was in college? This time, losing weight and getting in shape wasn’t motivated by an loveless relationship, looking hot, looking great in a bikini; it was motivated by being healthy and becoming happy.

The next couple of months were amazing for me. Not only did I love my body and love my life, I met the most incredible man who showed me love I never knew was possible. I started living and loving life more than before. I went from being the happiest I had been in a long time to being the happiest I have been ever before.

Well, recently I have noticed that the 118 pound bombshell is no more. I started gaining weight again and don’t look nearly as good in a bikini as I had before, and in a nutshell, I freaked out.

What changed? Well, with my wonderful new relationship came new adventures, experiences, and indulgences. I wasn’t exercising as much anymore and my no carbs after lunch policy went out the window. We love dessert and we love bacon. I still eat healthy and the thought of greasy fast food makes me feel sick. My lifestyle changes have stuck with me for the most part, but once in a while I indulge and with it comes more weight. Back then, my only focuses were losing weight and studying for my MCATs. Now, my focus is my happiness and living and loving life and him.

And even though I’m not the skinny lady he first met, he still loves me. But most of all, I love myself and think I’m beautiful. It has been a long, rough path to accept that fact.

Today I got the results of my physical exam from last Friday and my cholesterol is down from 184 to 77.

So, no longer do I want to be skinny. I want to be happy, healthy, and love myself for it.

And the best part is, I am and I do.

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15 Ways to Start Eating Right Right Now

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Over the past couple months, I have been on a health craze. As I mentioned in my previous post (10 Ways to Get out of your Workout Slump) I gained a lot of weight throughout college and one of my first goals once I graduated was to lose that extra weight. I had the workout part down, I just needed to find the discipline to eat right! Well, 13 weeks later and I have lost tons of weight! And let me tell you, it is the best feeling in the world when people go from asking you why you’re doing it to asking you how you did it!

I have heard so many statistics about “dieting is 80%/90%/160% of it!” Well, regardless of the statistic, the point is it doesn’t matter how many crunches you do or how many times you go to Zumba a week, you’ll never see your hipbones until you change your diet! The best part: once you start eating right, you’ll gain so much energy and motivation, the rest comes so easy! Then comes the best part: feeling so good in your skin and getting to go SHOPPING to dress it up! YAY!

I tried not to include the typical suggestions that we see everywhere, but these are honestly the tips that worked for me. I hope they help you!

1. It’s not a diet; it’s a LIFESTYLE change
For whatever reason, the word “diet” has developed a discouraging connotation and the minute we say we’re on a diet, all of those thoughts like *no carbs* and *i can’t eat that* and not to mention all those past diet failures come back. So by telling yourself you’re on a diet, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. BUT if you think of it as a lifestyle change and you’re working towards being healthier, instantly it’s a new ball game. Tap into your subconscious and pass on this subtle message and watch how much easier it is to eat right! Next time someone asks “want a deep dish chocolate chip cookie?” don’t respond with “I can’t, I’m on a diet.” Instead simply say “no,” because deep down it’s not the diet that stopped you, but your new lifestyle of eating right!

2. Treat everyday like a new day
So maybe you showed a moment of weakness and ate poorly yesterday. Today is a brand new day and you get to start from scratch! If you dwell on the fact that you “cheated” it’s easy to give up and stop eating right and wash away all of the progress you’ve made. So get up, eat an awesome breakfast, and forget about it!

3. Work out in the morning
After you’ve slaved away for hours at the gym or really gave your 100% at your aerobics class you’re not going to want to throw all of that away with that cookie. So not worth it! I’m not sure who came up with the phrase “I work out hard so I can eat like a pig.” It never made sense to me!

4. Drink water
Seems simple enough but there’s a logic behind it. Constantly having a bottle of water by your side will prevent you from reaching for that salty/sweet/crappy snack and will, more importantly, keep you full. Our body often times confuses hunger with thirst and dehydration. So keep drinking water so you don’t eat useless meals and snacks. Also try drinking a glass of water before each meal and you’ll eat less! 0 calories and so good for you: you can’t go wrong! You should drink 8 glasses which is about 2 liters every day. I find it easiest to keep a 1 liter bottle with me so I know I just need to drink two of them each day.

Oh yeah, and ditch the soda!!! Seriously, this stuff is total crap! One time my car wouldn’t start and the guy that came to fix it bought a bottle of coke and poured it all over my car battery to erode all the crap from it. That is the kind of crap people put into their bodies! GROSS! Diet soda is not any better: aspartame is even worse because it is a sugar like substance that makes your brain think you are eating sugar so it still releases the hormone to process it and when your body doesn’t use it, it turns to fat! There is nothing good about this stuff so make the switch to water!

5. Eat breakfast
Yes, it’s the most important meal, you already know that. But check this out for yourself. I’ve found from experience that if I skip breakfast I get this insatiable hunger the rest of the day. So basically, no matter what I eat for lunch I still feel hungry! This makes me eat more and I feel awful all day. Eat an awesome meal for breakfast and you’re set for the day!

6. Eat at home as much as possible
I recently moved home from college (land of the late night Taco Bell runs and Pad Thai every night!) and just eating at home and not eating out all the time has shed so many pounds. Restaurants are notorious for giving you way too much food, using tons of butter, and other unhealthy ingredients. How many times have you thought, “I’ll just eat Mexican and have a healthy salad,” but then they put that basket of chips and some salsa in front of you and before you know it, you’ve finished the basket and you don’t even know how many you ate! Not to mention all of that bread at Italian restaurants. For as much as you’ve paid there, you could have made a healthy meal for your entire family.

7. Make it easier to make good decisions
This means get rid of all of those crappy food and sugary drinks lurking in your fridge and pantry. If you only give yourself great options, you won’t have a choice but to eat right! Also, make it just as easy to reach for broccoli as it is to reach for a bag of chips! Cut it up and put it in the fridge so all you have to do is open up the box and enjoy!

8. Explore your spice rack
It’s amazing what a world of a difference some salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, etc., make on veggies. They instantly take bland food to a whole new level to where you won’t even miss those cookies! (Watch out for some spices like Mrs. Dash’s grilling spices which are full of sodium. I’m talking basic spices like chili powder, cumin, etc.)

9. Make your own!
I was surprised at how easy it is to make peanut butter, almond butter, applesauce, jam, juices and other things. When you make these things at home, you know exactly what is going in it and, as a result, into your body. It also avoids all those extra sugars and preservatives and you know there are real ingredients in it! I recently got a juicer and I’m so in love with it! The juice tastes 10 times better, it’s fresh and without all that extra sugar! It’s an instant boost of healthy and keeps you eating well the rest of the day.

10. Keep it interesting
There is nothing worse than eating an egg white omelette every morning for a week and then getting sick of it (trust me on that one!). Keep it interesting and change it up! Keep your pantry stocked with oatmeal, cereal (like Special K, not Cocoa puffs!), and deli meats to change up your meals. Also, look up some awesome recipes through Pinterest! It is the hub of yummy healthy recipes!

11. Keep yourself satiated
Don’t let yourself go hungry! This is when we make the WORST decisions! Think about the last greasy cheeseburger you ate. What led you to it? I can tell you the last time I wandered into Five Guys for my little bacon cheeseburger and Cajun fries it was 2pm and I hadn’t eaten anything yet that day. I was starving and wasn’t thinking straight.

12. Just have a bite
Who doesn’t love decadent, chocolatey brownies? But you’ve been so good today! What’s one brownie going to do? Listen carefully: take one tiny bite and then walk away to resist all temptation to eat the rest! You’ll be happy you did. Plus, I’ve found that taking a smaller bite of something tastes better than the entire brownie anyways!

13. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself
So often we stress ourselves out over our lifestyle changes. Recording everything in journals and calorie counting apps, not eating carbs, stopping ourselves from that one M&M, and not having that glass of wine while our friends are having fun. We are all human! If you stop yourself from being happy, it’s easy to resent yourself, your new lifestyle, and stop altogether. It’s ok to indulge once in a while. Just get back on track tomorrow!

14. No Carbs After Dinner!
I honestly think this has been the key to my success! Here’s how the science works: our body naturally uses carbs for energy and when it can’t find any, it moves on to fat! (This is how the Atkin’s diet works.) Depriving our body of carbs entirely is just not healthy, but when we only do it for dinner and instead eat a ton of protein, all night long our body is naturally burning fat! For me personally: I eat a spicy omlette filled with veggies for dinner! YUMMMM!

15. Ask yourself, “will this nourish my body?”
Here is a foreign concept to me: eating for nourishment? I was always eating for pleasure because I thought something would taste good, etc. (skinny chocolate brownies anyone?). This was a concept my best friend introduced me to. He would say this to me every time I proposed some skinny recipie, but I never understood it until recently. Sure those skinny brownies are a great alternative to the crappy 500 calorie brownies you could have eaten, but that doesn’t make them good for you. Instead of filling yourself up on dishes to replace what you would have eaten for dessert, load up on things that will actually nourish your body, like broccoli!

Here’s some good news: The more you eat right, the easier it gets. Take it from me! I had the BIGGEST sweet tooth (and still do) but it has toned down a LOT since I have started this lifestyle change. You would never hear me turning down an offer to get frozen yogurt, but it’s gotten a lot easier to do so! You get to a point where at first it’s because you don’t want to ruin your progress. Then it turns into just because its not appealing anymore. It’s great!

I hope this advice helps you as much as these tips have changed my life! Good Luck & Much Love,
-Avi