Weight Loss and Weight Gain

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I am about to be really vulnerable with you. Really, really, really vulnerable, and I am not going to hold anything back in this post. If you are here to judge me or laugh at me you can move along, this post is not for you. Otherwise I welcome you and I hope that you find yourself inspired by my words. 

As I sit here in my living room writing this a million things are running through my head. I’m not quite sure where to start with this topic. Do I start where my journey started five years ago, or do I start where I am today? A lot can be said, and will be said, but I think I will start where I was sitting a year ago. In January of 2017 I felt both emotionally and physically drained. I had just returned from a mini vacation where I ended a relationship with a man I loved, my mom was finishing up chemo therapy and I was returning to a stressful season at my job. All of these things were mentally draining to me and my physical appearance reflected all of it. Upon returning from this vacation I weighed in at the most I have ever weighed. I don’t have an exact number, but a month prior I had weighed in at two hundred and five pounds. That was a blow to my spirit. How did I get here? How did I allow myself to gain over seventy pounds in three years?
weightloss 6Now that I got that scary, vulnerable moment out of the way I think I can finally breathe again. Thinking back over the last several years I know what happened, and really at the end of the day there is no excuse for allowing myself to get to that point, but I think it’s time to start from the beginning now. On December 3rd, 2012 I was finally fed up with being overweight and decided to try a weight loss program that promised fast results in a short amount of time. I will say it worked, and within two months I had lost fifteen pounds. Feeling unstoppable I decided to get a personal trainer and began working out with him three times a week. In a year I dropped sixty-five pounds and gained a new found love for anything fitness related. I started Spartan racing, running 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, and I even decided to go back to school to get my CPT certification. 

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Left: March 2013 (first 5K); Right: October 2013 (first half marathon)

Now don’t get me wrong I loved how much weight I had lost and how fit I had become, but I knew deep down inside that what I was doing was not the healthiest and that it couldn’t be maintained forever. I was eating eight hundred calories a day, ninety percent of it being soy products, and I was working out twice a day. Along with my workouts I had developed an unhealthy relationship with my trainer. We had crossed over from a professional relationship to a brotherly/sisterly type of relationship, which left a door open for a lot of negative things to be said. I am an overly confident woman, but during this time of being at my lowest weight I was obsessed with every ounce on the scale. Partially because my trainer made me weigh in every time I worked out to make sure I lost weight, and if I hadn’t I would be put through a more rigorous workout, but also because every time I looked in the mirror I would see areas of fat that weren’t there. 

Around August of 2014 I decided that I needed to end the program I was on. All of the soy that I was eating was starting to mess with my digestive system and caused a lot of acne. I also needed to stop spending money on a personal trainer and get away from the unhealthy relationship we had developed. I still had a month of sessions left with him so I slowed down my weekly trainings with him and told him I was going to go and pursue my own fitness degree. At the start of 2014 I had joined my brother and his school friends and professor for a Spartan race. Everyone I met in that group was in the fitness program at school and I made the choice to join them in their education. For the next two semesters I took two classes under Jeff and learned everything I could about fitness and personal training. In the fall of 2015 I received my CPT. 

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I thought that for sure I would be able to stay on track with maintaining my weight because I was surrounded by like minded individuals and I was going to school for exercise science. Where I made my mistake though was I started partying. Around the same time that I started school I also began latin dancing. One night I went out for my birthday, met a guy, and kept going back every Tuesday. Every week that I went back I started to fall more in love with the dance style and I realized that one of the biggest things missing from my life was dancing. As time went on I slowly started to go out five or six times a week. The problem with this was that all of the dance lessons were at bars with the socials following after. I would get off work, go dancing from six thirty to two in the morning, come home and have sex with the guy I was with and sleep for three hours. Then I’d get up the next day and repeat this. I had no time to meal prep or work out. Instead I would eat fast food three times a day and then go out to the bars and drink, not heavily, but I’d still drink. None of this was conducive to a healthy lifestyle. 

Slowly I packed on the pounds. At first I noticed it and told myself that I could change this and that my going out was only going to last a little while longer. I’d say that next week I would start waking up at four thirty in the morning and get my runs in. I wasn’t going to let myself get back to where I used to be, but gaining a little bit wouldn’t kill me. I was having fun after all. Two years went by and the next thing I know I weighed the most I have ever weighed in my life. I was never a partier in high school or college, so I was thoroughly enjoying my time going out and dancing, but in the spring of 2016 I started to feel drained. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I ate like crap, I was in an unhealthy relationship, and my mom was just diagnosed with cancer. Something needed to change. I slowly started to leave the dance scene. I missed my friends, but I could no longer go out and party. I also wanted to spend more time at home with my family. 

Heading into the fall of 2016 I was only going out dancing to celebrate my friends’ birthdays. I had finally left the party scene and I was starting to get back into fitness and meal prepping. Then work happened. Earlier in the year we had gotten a new VP and our department was split down the middle between finance and accounting. A lot of training had been going on over the last couple of months, but nothing was as bad as the season we were about to head into. From August to the end of October we go through our budget season at work. We had a pretty good system going over the past few years, but our new VP wanted things done differently and wanted us to dive more into the detail. This left us working eighty hour work weeks, including weekends, and not really having any type of home life. We were all exhausted, doing everything we could to get from one day to the next. On top of that one of our team members was not coming into work, so we were left picking up her slack. By the time I got home the last thing I thought about were my workouts or making my meals for the next day. Instead I would crawl into bed knowing that I’d only be getting five to six hours of sleep before it all started again. 

As things started to slow down I decided to pick up boxing as a form of working out. That only lasted a couple of weeks because as soon as our budget season was over the coworker who wasn’t showing up to work decided to quit altogether. This meant our team was down one member heading into the rest of the year. My only saving grace was that I got a promotion out of her leaving. Every year our work gives us a gift week off between Christmas and New Years. For that break I decided to go out and visit the man I loved in Colorado. My time there was great, but before I left I knew that I loved him more than he loved me and so I ended things. Thus bringing us back around to where my story started, January 2017. 

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As the year of 2017 started I knew that things needed to change in my life. I needed to focus on getting healthy both emotionally and physically, so I spent the last year doing just that. I slowly distanced myself from unhealthy people, cutting back on eating unhealthy foods, and I started working out again. In February I found a group of girls who were filled with positivity, growth, and love. Pole dancing was a safe place for me to escape when I needed to and it was also the place to help me rediscover just who I was. I can proudly say that even during my rough times I was confident and strong enough to not lose who I was deep down inside, but I did fail to nurture her and treat her with respect. That was no longer going to happen. If anyone deserved my time and energy it was myself and that is where majority of my focus went.

I have failed, stumbled, and beaten myself up, but I’ll be damned if I let anything keep me down. Life isn’t about being perfect, but rather it’s about learning from each moment and taking the time to decided which direction you ultimately want to go. I have been both healthy and unhealthy in my life. I have seen what both lifestyles provide me and I have decided I want to get back to my healthier weight and more active lifestyle. I recognize that I have a lot of changes to make if I want to get there, but I am no longer looking for the fast fix. This time around I am making daily choices to change my lifestyle.

Over the last eight months I have lost around twenty pounds and have found my athletic side again. Some of the changes I have made include canceling my netflix, working out three times a week, packing more lunches to bring to work, and making smoothies on the weekend. I still need to cut things out of my diet, such as pop and eating fast food, but I am proud of how much I have already cut back on those. Everything needs to be taken one day at a time and a good balance needs to be found. I have taken drastic measures before, but right now I need to focus on finding what works for me and something that I can maintain. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be fast, but it will be worth it in the end. Being healthy isn’t just about looking the part, but it’s about feeling the part as well. I plan on spending the rest of my life loving my body in every shape and size it is in and nurturing it to be the healthiest it can be. 

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Love always,

Jess


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