My Fitness Journey

This picture was taken at the beginning of 2011 at a family get-together:

Around 240 lbs
I remember the shame and embarrassment and self-hatred I felt when I saw that photo for the first time. It was the biggest I'd ever been, the ugliest I'd ever looked (well, except for that one haircut back in fifth grade...). I couldn't believe I'd gotten to the point where I didn't just look overweight or chubby, I looked obese. That photograph was the turning point. I'm not sure what my exact weight was there, but I weighed in at 239 lbs soon after. My all-time highest number.

That's when I decided to try to lose weight.

Unfortunately, that decision came right in the middle of nursing school. I did improve my eating habits, but I didn't exercise. All I did was go to class, go to clinicals, and study. Plus, my increased stress level from the nursing program certainly worked against me. I think I lost about 2 lbs from January 2011 to my graduation in August 2011. Then in October, I got a job working in a doctor's office, which brought more stress, and my weight loss attempts pretty much went out the window.

Then it was Christmas again. Time for more family get-togethers. And more eye-opening pictures.

I was so sick of looking like that. And feeling like that. I'd completely lost myself.

So, on January 1, 2012, ready to seriously recommit myself to a healthier lifestyle, I weighed in at 232 lbs and took these photos:

232 lbs

I kept up the better eating habits and joined the YMCA, where I started doing at least thirty-five minutes of cardio 3-5 times a week. I also began doing arm exercises with 3lb dumbbells 2-3 times a week at home (because I was too embarrassed to use the machines at the Y). I lost a few pounds, but nothing too noticeable.

In late May 2012, everything came to a head. I'd gained back the few pounds I'd lost. My job at the doctor's office had me stressed out and unhappy all the time, so much that I even started having pre-Monday panic attacks late Sunday nights after a weekend off. Between my weight problems and a career I hated, I was miserable. I never wanted to be a nurse, I never wanted to work in a stupid doctor's office, yet that's what I was doing 40+ hours a week. I never wanted to be morbidly obese, but here I was. I'd made a mess of my life. I'd thrown away everything, all my hopes and dreams and plans and goals. I needed a radical change in my life.

After some serious introspection, I realized that this is my life. My one life. And I deserve to be happy. I'm the only one who can change things. I'm still young. It's not too late to be the person I always wanted to be. 

I quit my job in June. I didn't have a plan, but I had a good chunk stored up in savings that could get me by for a little while as I tried to figure things out. In July, I took a couple hundred bucks out of my savings account and fled to the beach for a weekend to find God and beauty and freedom again.

July 2012,  220 lbs.
I began losing weight.

My head was finally in the right place. I worked out harder, longer, because I had a reason to. I'd decided I was worth the effort. I could do it. My determination gave me the energy.

In August 2012, I finished my first 5K (Time- 46:23).

August 4, 2012,  216 lbs.
That first race changed me. It ignited a fire and gave me what some folks call "race fever."

I ran 5Ks and 10Ks all throughout 2012-2014. I became a vegetarian. My running times got better and better, and the weight was falling off of me. I was well under 200 pounds, and I felt amazing. And like most women, I chopped off all my hair to symbolize this huge transformation I was undergoing.

I truly felt reborn. I started doing all sorts of things outside my comfort zone and putting myself out there. And in doing so, I met a funny, attractive, thoughtful, kind-hearted, intelligent guy by the name of Matthew whose journey mirrored mine. He, too, was transforming himself through running and plant-based eating, but also P90X. We began dating in May 2014. He got me to try P90X, and I convinced him to run a 5K with me in August 2014.

The next May, we got married.

Our wedding day. 174 pounds. 65 pounds lost.
Then we moved to Missouri, and I started working as an LPN in a nursing home. I became charge nurse of the dementia unit, one of the most stressful jobs I've ever had. I loathed it. I cried myself as I drove to work daily. I cried when I got a bathroom break. I sat in my car and cried on my lunch break. Before too long, the weight came creeping back.

At the end of 2016, when we moved back to Alabama to be closer to family, Matt and I both had gained a substantial amount of weight.

Christmas 2016. 198 pounds.
It only got worse from here.

I couldn't find anything but nursing jobs, and I hated each and every one of them. I bounced around from employer to employer, every healthcare facility just as greedy and corrupt and unethical and crappy to their employees as the other. Plus, our finances were spiraling out of control. I stopped caring about my health and gave in to every craving I had.

I went back to foods I used to think of as poison. Domino's bacon and cheddar jalapeno stuffed cheesy bread. Dairy Queen Blizzards. All the Coke and Dr. Pepper I wanted (I had gone three years without a drop of soda when I succumbed to that craving in 2017!).

It was no surprise when I weighed in at over 200 pounds by the end of that year.

2017. Over 210 pounds.
When January 1, 2018, rolled around, I was fed up with myself and determined to get back on track. I weighed 211 pounds.

Then I found out I was pregnant.

My doctor worked with me to keep me from gaining too much extra weight during the pregnancy (plus I suffered from hyperemesis the entire nine months), and thankfully, after my daughter was born in September, I was back down to 211 a couple of weeks postpartum.

October 2018. 211 pounds. 3 weeks postpartum.
That's still where I am now, in December 2018. My weight hasn't budged below 211, but I haven't been trying too hard. Thanksgiving and Christmas don't make it any easier.

But now that I have a daughter to take care of and be an example for, I'm more motivated than ever to refocus on pursuing my health again. I aim to eliminate all the garbage from my diet and go back to plant-based real food. I'm planning to develop an exercise routine that works around life with an infant. I want to start running races again!

Keep following the blog for updates as they come.