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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The Grade Disappointment

Ah. The dreaded Logs and Exponentials test. The one test that each year without fail makes the lowest test average. Not just because the material is difficult, but for the first time students need to study hard and, unfortunately, most don’t.

Grading this test is always hard for me; failing grades back to back … to back. Sure, you can clearly see your top students excelling and see which students put in the time and effort to study. But for what feels like most of students, all you see is your own disappointment.

That afternoon after grading those tests, I came home completely distraught. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to pass back their tests the following day. What was I going to say? What was I going to do to help them bring up their grade? Did students who clearly didn’t study deserve a second chance? It consumed my every thought. It was more than disappointment, it was personal.

So, I sought out the advice of my fellow teachers and asked them how do you not take it personally when your students fail? I was looking for a magical potion to carry my worries away and every teacher I turned to gave me the same answer. I do. I couldn’t believe it.

Teachers spend an insurmountable amount of time and energy on each of their students to help them learn and succeed. I make myself available to my students each morning. On this test, I provided them with not one or two but three test reviews. I even told them exactly what was on the test, down to the very questions. And yet, only a handful of them went back to study. How could they do that to me?

How could one student write “please explain” on several questions when I could have explained at any point throughout the unit if she had just asked.

How could another student write “IDK” on nearly every question when I told him exactly which questions to study.

How could my class not be their number one priority?

And that’s what I failed to realize before. I spend at least 6 hours each day with my students at the center of my mind thinking of activities and resources to help them learn and succeed. But them? They spend very few hours thinking about my class outside of the 90 minutes every other day when they are actually in my classroom. They’re thinking about their other classes, video games, sports, friends, their lives. But, when they are the center of our world, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we are not. And as a result, we end up with mixed emotions and meager explanations.

Maybe I didn’t explain this concept well enough. Let me talk to their old math teacher and find out how they did last year. Maybe there was something more I could have done.

The next day I was ready to give their tests back. I had a pep talk all planned out for them. I was going to give them encouragement that they could bring their grades up and I was ready to help them get there. I was nervous. What if they would all gang up on me and tell me I was an awful teacher? What if they would tell me that the test was unfair and I didn’t teach them something correctly? What if they were right?

Instead, their response was even more shocking.

While you all are working today, I’m going to hand back your tests.

“Oh no.” *dreadful looks*

Before I give them back to you, I want you all to know that this test is notoriously the hardest test of the year. This is the first time this class is difficult and you need to study harder than you did before.

*head nods all around*

However, it was also very obvious if you did not study at all for this test.

*accusatory glances are their friends*
*shrugs of acknowledgement from students who scored poorly*

But I want you to know that I am here for you and you can do test corrections as always.

*Mischievous looks at each other as if my test correction policy was brand new, even though it’s the same one I’ve had all year.*

I know you all can do this and this material is difficult, but I am here for you to help you succeed.

I couldn’t believe it! The students that didn’t do well knew they didn’t do what they needed to do. Even “IDK” and “please explain” who caused me so much grief humbly asked me about the test corrections policy and if there was anything else they could do.

All of the grief that this situation brought me was for nothing. And it made a lot of sense after the fact: these students are my whole world, and I am just a piece of their world. Their failures are my failures, but my disappointment isn’t necessarily theirs. And I have to be ok with that.

So did my spiel of encouragement prove to be effective? All I can say for now is that later in the week, I overheard everyone asking their friends if they studied for their first trigonometry quiz. I was not disappointed to hear many yes’s, and this time, grading their quizzes wasn’t so painful.

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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10 Things Guys will Never Understand about Ladies

The other day my boyfriend looked at me and said, “I don’t understand why girls need so many shoes.” I just stared at him in disbelief that he couldn’t understand something that was so inherently female. But this was right after he bought me the most gorgeous pair of Cole Haan’s, so I let it slide.

I couldn’t blame him really. Being a lady is something so awesome, it’s beyond comprehension. I thought back to how many times over the past couple of months Boyfriend said something along the lines of, “why are girls…” or “how come girls are so obsessed with…” and it’s made me realize how many things there are about ladies that guys will never understand. Here are just a couple of them:

1. Needing a giant closet

This one has a simple answer. To store all of our 40 dresses, 30 shirts, and cute work clothes (yes, not all of our dresses are considered work clothes). Oh, and just because we are smaller than you and own tank tops that are smaller than your dress shirts, we do not need a smaller closet. It doesn’t work like that.

Closet not drawn to scale.

Closet not drawn to scale.

2. Using conditioner

No, we cannot use your 2-in-one-shampoo-and-conditioner because the conditioner aspect is non existent for us. Call it physics, call it chemistry, whatever you want to call it, we can’t use it the way you do. And you know it’s true too because when you use all of our conditioner up we end up looking like this:

ugh.

ugh.

3. Taking a long time to get ready

While you all you have to do is put on a nice shirt and jeans and throw some gel in your hair, we have to pick an outfit (which takes twice as long as it takes you to get ready alone), do our hair, then our make up, and then do it all over again when it’s not perfect. At the end of the day, don’t complain about it because we’re trying to look perfect for you.

4. Why the flowers you give us die

Who pulled them out of the ground to give them to us in the first place? You killed them, not us.

Ok. No problem.

Ok. No problem.

5. Why we love cuddling

We like to be held and loved. It feels amazing and it feels even more amazing when we do it with you.

6. Shopping.

Owning a million pairs of shoes and dresses, donating them and getting more is one of the best parts of being a lady. We know you’re jealous.

Another reason why we need a giant closet.

Another reason why we need a giant closet.

7. Spending endless hours on Pinterest

IT’S LIKE AN IMAGINARY WORLD WHERE YOU CAN PUT ANYTHING IN YOUR HOUSE, WEAR ANY PIECE OF CLOTHING, EXERCISE WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING, EAT ONLY HEALTHY FOOD, AND LAUGH AT EVERY RIDICULOUS THING. And no, you cannot have one. Girls only.

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8. Our obsession with babies, puppies, kittens.

Because they’re adorable. And by the way, we think you’re insane when you don’t agree.

9. Getting fit and skinny

We have to get bikini ready, fit into tight dresses, and look Barbie perfect. There’s a social pressure for us to be as beautiful as possible that guys do not have. This involves Special K diets, no carb diets, working out on the stationary bike (or the excer-cycle as Boyfriend likes to call it), eating clean, and any other crazy food fad diet you can imagine. You guys either have super high metabolisms and can eat 3 Baconators without thinking twice, or get a beer belly and no one would think anything of it. Sometimes we get jealous of you… then realize how much cuter our clothes are then yours and we get over it.

10. Getting married, the wedding dress, the ring, having babies.

We have a biological clock and are on a time crunch here! Get a move on it and if you like it put a ring on it! And as for the ring,the wedding dress, and the wedding, we’ve been thinking about all of those things since we were seven years old and dressing ourselves up in our mom’s white table cloth. It better be perfect!

Dum dum da dum... dum dum da dum...

Dum dum da dum… dum dum da dum…

Bottom line:

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xoxo
Avi

 

30 Things Guys Should Know About Us

I found this list from a blog I used to keep when I was 14 (almost 10 years ago). It was written by a good guy friend of mine. All are still very true!

WRITTEN BY A MAN WITH MUCH EXPERIENCE

1. Whatever u do, don’t just show up at their house… they run around in their underwear just like we do.

2. DON’T CHEAT ON THEM. It may seem foolproof, but girls tell each other everything about everything. Trust me, they will find out and you will be mud.

3. Beware of every single male relative and all guy friends. Any of them would kick your butt at the drop of a hat, and a lot of them wouldn’t even wait for the hat.

4. NEVER miss an opportunity to tell them they’re beautiful.

5. DON’T refuse to kiss in front of your friends. If they laugh at you, it’s because they’re jealous.

6. If they slap you hard, you DESERVED it.

7. DON’T be afraid to touch them if you want to. If they’re going out with you in the first place, it’s because they like being in your arms.

8. If you DON’T sleep with them, do not tell your friends that you did.

8.5 If you DO sleep with them, DON’T tell your friends that you did.

9. You CAN be dirty minded in private, really… most of them are not offended by it.

10. not all of them eat like birds, a lot of them can eat like whales.

11. Most of them DON’T mind paying half of everything, but they do discuss these things with their friends. Realize that if you make your girlfriend pay half all the time, everyone will know about it and your friends will know you’re a prick.

11.5. Do you honestly need all your money that much? Be a man, pay all the time!

12. Every girl should eventually get THREE THINGS from her boyfriend- a stuffed animal, one of his sweatshirts, and a really pretty ring. Even if it’s not a serious relationship.

13. Make sure she gets home safely as often as you can. If you’re dropping her off, walk her to the door. If you aren’t dropping her off, call to be sure she’s home safely.

14. If a guy is bothering her, it is your right to kick the crap out of him.

15. If you’re talking to a female friend of yours, pull your girlfriend closer.

16. NEVER , ever slap her, even if it’s just in a joking way. Even if she swats you first, and says, “Oh, you’re so dumb” or something, never make any gestures back.

17. go to a chick flick once in a while. she DOESN’T care whether you enjoy it or not, it just matters that you went.

18. You’re dead meat if you CAN’T get along with their pets, parents and best friends. Be PRINCE CHARMING to their friends, Mr. Polite to their parents, and make sure to be nice to their animals.

19. DON’T flirt with their moms… that’s just freaky.

20. DON’T be freaked out by PMS. It’s not gross, and it really does make them feel like crap, so be UNDERSTANDING.

21. If you don’t like the way they drive, you do it.

22. If you’re officially dating, and you’re introducing her to your friends, you’d better introduce her as your girlfriend.

23. DON’T stress where you go for every date. They really only want to be with you.

24. If they complain that something hurts, rub it for them without being asked.

25. Girls are fragile. Even if you’re play fighting/wrestling, be very GENTLE .

26. Memorize their freakin birthdays. You forget her birthday and you’re basically screwed for life.

27. DON’T marinade the cologne, but smell good.

28. DON’T give her something stupid for her birthday or Christmas or ANNIVERSARY or Valentine’s day. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to be meaningful. Jewelry is always nice.

29. If you think the relationship isn’t going to last, don’t wait to find out. It will only hurt you more if you draw it out.

30. After you’ve been dating for a while, realize that they really have started to trust you. When you have a girlfriend who truly trusts you, you have a lot more responsibility, privilege and control than you would think. Be careful with it, most guys would kill for that kind of power, and it can be lost in a nanosecond.