Thursday, November 5, 2015

our weight loss toolbox: an introduction

our weight loss toolbox
Be prepared- this is a lengthy post. As I mentioned last week, I have invited my sisters Jennifer (in the middle) and Jasmine (on the right) to join me in sharing their perspectives on various topics pertaining to weight loss and healthy living. They are in different seasons of their lives and their weight loss journeys have been different as you will soon learn.  I think it will be helpful to hear about the same topic from a different vantage point. But first...

I've asked my sisters to share a bit about themselves and about where they find themselves on this journey.

This is my sister Jennifer:
our weight loss toolbox
"Hello everyone!

When my sister asked me to write a bit about my weight loss story, I didn't know where to begin. There's so much to say! This journey has been one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences for me. Losing weight has been connected with different aspects of my life- my social, emotional, and mental well-being. When I look back to my chubbiest days (there have been many), the cause was usually a life- changing event. At those times, I didn't have the mental or emotional knowledge to deal with the event in a healthy way. I ran to what felt most comfortable and within my control, which was food. This went on for years and what’s sad is that I didn’t even realize what I was doing. I knew I was overweight, but I disconnected myself with this part of my life because I didn't want to deal with the real issue of my weight, which was a painful life-changing event. I was carrying a heavy burden.

I went on a mission trip overseas to the small island Pohnpei. Going to this island was like a reset button in my life. I was in a foreign land with little access to my family... and food. Food was hard to come by and I had to ration it. lol. It was rough! Food was also very expensive. Buying fruits and vegetables were a luxury. My perceptions about food and health began shifting slowly. I also had a friend, who seemed like an exercise junkie. She loved to exercise and wanted me to do it with her. I began my exercise journey with a Billy BlanksTaebo video working out in a humid library without air conditioning. 

That is where it all began and I haven't been the same since. Nine years later, I’m proud to say that I’ve hiked one of the highest mountains in Southern California (just for fun). This hike reminded me of how far I’ve actually come in my weight loss journey. There are so many other goals that I would like to accomplish and there is still much progress to be made; however, I can honestly say that one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from this journey is to love myself in whatever physical, emotional, or social state I am in. This love is what pushed me to make one of the best decisions of my life and this love is what fuels me to continue to heal and do better. I look forward to sharing more with you. This is only the beginning to another story to be shared!"

Thanks, Jen!

This is my sister Jasmine:
our weight loss toolbox
"Hi everybody! Surprise! I’m not sharing my September layouts with you just yet ;). Jessica has invited my sister Jennifer and I to share a little bit about our weight loss journey this week. I’m excited about this feature because I think it will help me reflect on my current journey and to be more proactive when it comes to my weight loss goals. 

I never really thought about my weight all that much growing up. I didn’t grow up in a house that was concerned about making 'healthy choices.' The first time I really started thinking about my weight was in college. I had heard of the 'Freshman 15,' but I never thought I would be gaining 15 pounds a year! With the stress of college coupled with the stress of a new environment, friends that wanted to go out every night, a buffet cafeteria set up, and no plan for how to combat the temptations of a completely new environment, I was fully engrossed in an unhealthy lifestyle. I finally reached a point where I said, 'enough is enough.'  

I started out small, by working out 30 minutes a day with my sisters and by changing my diet. Slowly, I started living a more active lifestyle and began making small changes that really started to add up. The more weight I lost, the more motivated I became. I started stretching the limits of what I thought my body was capable of. At first I made small goals, ie. run a mile a day for the entire month of November, until it became running six miles on Thanksgiving day because I needed to complete the challenge. Or doing a one-hour workout supplemented with small, high-impact workouts throughout the day. I started to find new ways to keep active while doing things that are typically done without movement, for example, I would run in place while watching a movies just to be sure I was getting that extra activity in. I found it invigorating to push myself while in a group setting, so I joined things like 'Tough Mudder,' which is an endurance event series where I ran 11 miles while scaling walls, trekking through mud, swimming through icy water, and completing other outrageous obstacles. 

Like most things in life, my weight loss journey has its ups and downs- literally. I can’t pinpoint the exact time I unboarded the weight loss train, but I think it happened sometime in between the stress of planning a wedding and starting a new job. Milestones always seem to make me hungry. ;) Life got very busy and I got lost somewhere. Planning meals and thinking of new ways to test my strength weren't at the forefront of my mind. I still watch what I eat and try to make it a point to 'move more if I want to eat more,' but I have noticed my weight slowly rise to a point where I’m not completely satisfied. I think more so than the fluctuations in my weight, I really crave having the physical agility that I was once surprised I had. 

But the beautiful thing about journeys is that you can pick up and start again. I have to be realistic with myself and realize that I am in a different place now than I was when I first started and that becoming who I want to be will take work. 'The grass isn't greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.' I look forward to 'watering' my weight loss journey and making it a priority once more. I don’t expect to be perfect, but I do expect more of an effort and I am truly excited to start this new chapter in my journey. I lost count of the number of clichés that I included in my introduction, but they're true! Clichés are clichés for a reason, after all. Now go and be 'the best you, you can be' because 'there’s no time like the present.' ;)"

Thanks, Jas!

I decided to go ahead and share a bit about myself, as well, so you know where I'm at on this journey.
our weight loss toolbox
(That's Jasmine on the left, me in the middle, and Jennifer on the right).

I consider myself to be on the "curvy" side (and I give myself that description when I'm being nice to myself). I think I have always been "curvy" and always will be. At times I've been leaner and at other times chubbier. I haven't had the best relationship with my body. Kids (and unfortunately, some adults) have contributed to this negative relationship. What I didn't realize was an issue, was pointed out as an issue by others via careless comments or flat out rude comments. When you're young, you don't have the maturity to understand that people can say cruel things intentionally or unintentionally AND what they say isn't necessarily right or accurate. I think we all have our hang-ups and for me, weight is a hang-up. I struggle with being kind to myself and appreciating my body, an amazing machine, with a few "imperfections" or glitches, if you will. I struggle with embracing the fact that everybody's body is different and should never be compared to another's. Society may have its definition of ideal beauty, but society shouldn't be the last word on beauty.

That said, I believe being overweight and unhealthy is a true, worthwhile concern outside of physical appearance. I'll admit that the physical part concerns me more, but it's a close race with my health. I had been overweight for years prior to my seriously attempting to lose weight. Weight started creeping up for me in high school. I didn't have to go to P.E. anymore, I started dating, and eating out often. I realized later in my life that I didn't even know how to eat right and exercise as a way of life. I was simply uneducated about it. All that I had learned in school, I didn't know how to apply practically in my personal life. For example, I didn't know what the food pyramid meant in my everyday life. "So... where does this bag of chips fit on that food pyramid thing?" wasn't even a question I asked. I also had negative associations with exercise. I hated running and thought exercise and running were synonymous. I didn't realize that there were so many other options.

In 2010, I got very serious about weight loss. I started exercising using Jillian Michael's DVDs and Chalene Johnson's DVDs. I started seeing results right away. I lost about 20 lbs exercising alone (after being consistent with it, of course). I hit a plateau after having lost that initial weight and realized that I needed to change my eating habits more than I already had. I joined Weight Watchers and lost another 20 lbs (again- after being consistent with it). I was 1 lb away from my goal weight (the highest recommended for my height- I said I was curvy!) when I got pregnant in 2012. I struggled with gaining weight during my pregnancy. I was so used to seeing the number go down on the scale that the number going up was unnerving. I ate fairly well throughout my pregnancy and I exercised regularly, but the number went up, up, up as it's supposed to do. I gained more than the recommended amount, but my doctor said because my blood pressure was excellent and I did not have gestational diabetes, I had good body chemistry and not to worry about it. That made me feel better, but I still didn't like that number on the scale. My daughter is now 2 years old and I still have 20 lbs to lose to be where I was when I got pregnant with her.

I'm struggling with weight loss right now. I don't have the "best" eating habits and I injured my foot a few months ago. There are other low-impact exercise options with my injury. I have had a hard time making them a part of my everyday life, however.

I will say that I started writing my blurb for this post earlier this week, and since I did, I've exercised a couple of times this week and I started making better eating choices. I feel more motivated than I have in a while. Talking about these things can be revealing, motivating, and inspiring. Being honest has a way of opening closed doors.

I am looking forward to this feature on my blog, and I hope you are, as well.

If you have any suggestions for topics, feel free to leave them in the comments or email me at jessicarrodarte (at) gmail (dot) com. :)

Read more about My Weight Loss Toolbox here.