Journey to Fit: Laura’s Story

Time for another Journey to Fit story!

Journey to Fit features an F&F reader with an inspirational weight loss story to share. The men and women featured in Journey to Fit each paved their own path to a healthy lifestyle, and I am thrilled they are willing to share their journeys on my blog. Everyone has a unique story and approach to healthy living, and each person had to start somewhere. I hope you find this series inspiring. Enjoy!

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Up for this month is reader Laura!

Journey To Fit: Laura

Laura, tell my F&F readers a little about yourself.

Hi! I’m Laura, and I’m 23 years old. I live in Cambridge, UK. I recently got engaged to Philip, and I have a little fur baby (cat) called Kia. I work full-time as a test engineer.

I’ve been overweight most of my life. It goes as far back as primary school where I was always bigger than my friends. I gained weight throughout high school, college, and university. I never weighed myself or got weighed until I was in university and weighed in at 258 pounds. I had made feeble attempts to lose weight before then but to no success. Getting around campus was a nightmare, and I was always so out of breath walking to my classes.

Journey To Fit: Laura

After three years, I’m down 123 pounds. I now weigh 135 pounds and am currently maintaining my weight.

What lifestyle changes have you made since the beginning of your journey?

Since the beginning of my journey, I’ve made several lifestyle changes. I’ve considerably changed my eating habits. Before, I ate whatever I wanted when I felt like it. Now, I still eat what I would like to eat, but it’s in moderation.

From the beginning of my journey, I have always said that I wouldn’t restrict myself from any foods. It works for some people, but it doesn’t for me. Whenever I tried to restrict, I wanted it more and it led to binging. So, I’ll allow myself cake or a sweet treat, but I’ll portion it correctly with no second or third helpings! 😉

In terms of exercise, I was doing nothing before other than maybe a bit of walking between classes. Now, I run four times a week and fit in yoga and kettlebells at home too.

yoga

I track everything daily, both exercise and food. It’s been a staple in my weight loss, as I can control and monitor exactly what is going in and what is going out.

Did you encounter any challenges along the way, and how did you overcome them?

About halfway through my journey, I was really struggling with my motivation. My weight loss was slowing, and I wasn’t seeing much progress both on the scales and in measurements. It made me feel like giving up, like that was it, and I couldn’t do anything more.

Fortunately, I’ve had a great support system who has helped and encouraged me along the way. When things got tough and I didn’t want to exercise, my family and friends were there to spur me on. It’s been what has gotten me through lack of motivation.

I started my blog as a sort of diary for myself so that I could be accountable. I started following other fitness blogs too, and it’s been a great source of motivation and inspiration for me.

Aside from the weight loss, what has rewarded you? What differences do you notice in how you felt then versus how you feel now?

I think the changes I’ve noticed since losing weight would definitely be my energy levels and my confidence. I hardly had any energy before starting my weight loss journey. I was always tired and lethargic, and it was SUCH an effort to get around anywhere. Now I’m able to run for at least two hours at a time before I feel tired, and everyday tasks are just so much easier.

Journey to Fit: Laura

My confidence has improved too, though not as much as I’d like. I used to shy away and wouldn’t really like talking to people. I’m slowly coming out of my shell, but I’m not 100% yet. I still feel very awkward in social situations and worry about judgment a lot.

What are the next steps in your journey?

At the moment, my next step is to continue with maintaining my weight like I’ve done since November last year. In the not so distant future, I will be going in for skin removal surgery, as I’ve unfortunately been left with some loose skin in certain areas after my weight loss that cannot be removed via toning or exercise. After that, it will be a case of letting my body recover and building my fitness back up.

What tips would you offer others you are trying to lose weight or exercise more?

DON’T GIVE UP!

No one ever said that it would be easy. It definitely isn’t. You just have to keep pushing it and keep going until you get where you want to be. Set yourself small goals to meet over a reasonable time frame.

Get yourself a workout buddy. They do the world of good, and having just one other person giving you support can make a massive difference.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I think I’ve probably covered most things in the above, but if I was to leave behind my favorite motto that I’ve had since the beginning it would be that “the voice inside your head that says that you can’t do this IS A LIAR!”

It’s a quote I’ve stood by throughout my whole weight loss journey, through tough times, when my mind tells me enough is enough and that I’ve done everything I can. I just learned to ignore the bad thoughts and tried to think of more positive aspects of my journey.

You can do ANYTHING you want if you set your mind to it, and I’ve proven this to myself by losing 123 pounds when my mind told me I couldn’t.

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Thank you for sharing your awesome story, Laura. Keep it up!

Readers, leave Laura some love! You can find out more about Laura and read more about her journey at her blog, Laura’s Fat to Fit Journey. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you or someone you know has a weight loss story to share, please email me at fitnessandfeta@gmail.com. I would love to feature you. This series will run as long as I receive enough content to keep it going.

For past Journey to Fit posts:

Guest Post: A Mother’s Motivation

Hi friends! Today’s guest post is brought to you by Lil. Lil blogs over at Surprise Mommy about her adventures as a new mom. I thought it would be fun to have a baby related post on the blog, since clearly this is a topic I know nothing about. Enjoy!

A Mother’s Motivation

I gave birth to my daughter, Avery, at 2:27pm on April 15, 2013.

Lil's Guest Post: Newborn
She was far from planned, but upon learning the news I was pregnant, I made a plan. I chose to not let my pregnancy be an excuse to gain weight and eat whatever I wanted. I chose to be relatively healthy while growing a little human inside of me. I knew that when she was born, I would breastfeed. I would never judge anyone for deciding what is best for themselves and their baby. I was not sure what was best, I just knew that I had to try. With so many awful things in this world that I can not control, I wanted to be able to control one thing, what my daughter ate. Along with every other plan I have (or haven’t) made in my life, breastfeeding was a lot harder than I thought. A lot. Without all the gory details, after just 6 weeks, I had to switch to formula. Formula became what was best for my daughter. From there, I made a new plan.

I knew I wanted to make my daughter her own food for the same reasons I wanted so badly to breastfeed. I wanted the control over what I fed her. Not being successful with breastfeeding reinforced how badly I wanted to succeed at making her food. Her first meal was sweet potatoes. I peeled and steamed the potatoes before pureeing them. She LOVED them.

Lil's Guest Post: Sweet Potatoes

In those first few weeks, we did the same with bananas, carrots, squash, peaches, and pears. There were some other vegetables and fruits that I wanted her to be able to try, but would have been difficult to make. Take peas, for example. I would have needed to remove the peas from pea pods, steam them, and purée them. I guess if I was winning mom of the year, I would have done this. However, I instead turned to Earth’s Best organic baby food for those that are not the easiest to whip up. They offer awesome products, and I trust them for those times where I am in a rush and Baby A is too hungry to wait! I found that Sundays were the best days to prep the baby food for the coming week. Depending on the food, I would make them and store them in the freezer in plastic storage jars. I would take out the meals I needed for the next day, the night before. One of my favorite recipes once she was around 6 months old was bananas and broccoli. Sweet and simple. One part bananas to two parts broccoli, steamed and pureed.

It is crazy how fast phases pass. I remember when I started making her food at 4 months, how I assumed I would be doing it forever. At 8.5 months, Avery now eats small bites of what we are eating. We still make her food, or offer her the jarred purees, but she would rather interact and eat with us than for us to feed her. Yet again, my life has changed in the sense that now my own food choices impact her. If we are going to maintain a healthy lifestyle for our daughter, it is equally important that my husband and I set positive examples.

Lil's Guest Post: Avery

Time for a new plan to get our entire family on the same healthy track!

Parents, chat with Lil! Did or does anyone make homemade baby food for their little ones? How do you keep your kids healthy and your entire family on a healthy track?

Guest Post: My Unhealthy, Unrequited Love

Today’s post is brought to you by one of friends, Jon, although I can’t remember the last time I called him Jon. Baka is how I’ve known this sarcastic and cynical long time buddy of mine. Baka blogs over at Day Old Doughnuts, which is probably the furthest thing from a fitness blog out there, but I love reading his blog for a) support, b) a good laugh (or sometimes a head shake in disbelief), and c) because Baka really is a good writer. As long as you have a sense of humor and don’t take offense to some of the things he writes, that is!

**Disclaimer: If you are sensitive about binge eating and/or addiction, this may be a post to skip over for today. I do not find either of these topics funny.**

My Unhealthy, Unrequited Love

I love fried chicken. You know what goes great with that? Ranch dressing. You know what goes great with both of those? Indigestion, an ever-growing gut, and a shame cycle that’s entirely too depressing. I’m not trying to judge, I’m just being entirely honest. I’m not a health expert, or even someone who regularly eats well. But as I get older, my awful eating habits are catching up to me. I knew people who started eating healthier in high school and college. I honestly laughed at them. It’s Friday night at 1am, if you think we’re getting salads instead of Dominoes, then you are bat shit crazy. Now finish your shot of 151, and knock off this health food crap. Cinnastix will be here in 20 minutes.

Me & BakesMe with college Athena, pre F&F days

I used to think that fast food addiction was a joke. I am now entirely convinced that sadly, I am the joke. Somewhere along the line when people started ditching their daily pizza, chicken fingers, and fries for yogurt, spinach, and grilled veggies, my thought process did change. While I knew I was slow to react, I at least appreciated the effort of others to start improving their diet. The effort of others. My own effort consisted of telling myself that I should start eating healthier. That, and working on complex mental gymnastics to avoid taking better care of myself and allowing for gorging myself on anything coming from drive-thrus, take out counters, and microwaves. I would eat healthier, but I don’t have the time, or the money, or I don’t how to cook it. If only there was a magical contraption that allowed us to search for healthy recipes, to research the best foods to eat or avoid, or even a way to do this on a budget. If only this was a possibility… wait a minute, how is everyone reading this post again?

I’ve always found myself to be pretty self-aware. I understand how the tide has changed in society. People are more educated about what they are putting into their body, and that’s a great thing. I’m personally more educated on these topics than ever before. But it sure is strange that I could be so self-aware and informed, yet still find empty bags of Wendy’s/BK/McDonald’s/etc. on the floor of my car. (Ladies, ladies, you can stop lining up for dates now, I’m taken). You’ll even find an occasional bag of Chick-Fil-A there. I personally find their political views to be deplorable and against everything I stand for. Yet, there it is on the floor with the rest of them. If you’re willing to sell out your beliefs for something as awful as over-fried, over-processed food, can you still deny that it’s an addiction? If you are so embarrassed about what you are eating on your lunch break that you’re dining in your car, something has to be wrong here right?

You have to fight against it. For you, it may be not giving into peer pressure like you’re at an 8th grade slumber party. For me, it’s fighting my own desire to consume vast quantities of unhealthy food like I’m…well, at an 8th grade slumber party. (Doritos and Nintendo 64 anyone? No?). But you have to do what’s right. For your brain and your body. It seems obvious, but when you use unhealthy food as crutch to deal with stress and unhappiness, the challenge gets worse. I’m not lecturing, I’m confessing. Recently, I have been quite depressed. Unsatisfied with work, among others things in my personal life, I spend many days just counting the minutes and trying to get through each day, latching onto whatever small tokens of happiness I can find. It’s incredible easy to get trapped this way. You go for the quick fix, that greasy, fatty friend (demon) that’s been there your whole life. Sometimes, you even get a little boost just looking through the menu. And yeah, upon the first bites into that buffalo finger and potato skin sampler you may have a brief moment of food bliss. But you then you keep eating. And eating. And then you feel goddamn terrible for the rest of the work day.

Later, you can’t get through a good workout because your bloated stomach full of indigestible food makes it difficult to move, let alone break a real sweat. You leave the gym having burned 200 calories if you’re lucky. Your lunch, still sitting in your belly like an unfortunate rat inside a once hungry snake, was 8 times more calories than you just used up. It’s disheartening. It’s a recurring uphill battle against food that is terrible for you, food that won’t make your life any better, and you know it. You’re sick of sneaking into the conference room to place your order because you are embarrassed of what you’re eating. You’re sick of not fitting into your dress pants comfortably and seriously debating how bad it might look if you got caught unbuttoning that top button for a little breathing room. You’re just plain sick of feeling, well…sick. But you don’t stop. You can’t stop. Because you’re an addict.

You think you love these foods, but after a while it doesn’t even make you temporarily happy. Not even for the 10 minutes you take to scarf it down. Not even when you saw that supposedly delicious burger on a commercial the night before and you have been thinking about it for 12 straight hours. And it’s not just the guilt turning your food sour. The novelty wears off when you eat it every day. Sure, sometimes you’re hung-over on Saturday morning and you’re just craving something greasy and bad for you. But nothing in your body is craving that type of fat intake on a daily basis, and your brain is mostly smart enough to get any real kick out of it after prolonged exposure. But you just keep doing it, because somewhere in your brain (your past associations, your comfort of routine, and your chemical dependence), you are still inexplicably drawn to it.

If I’m in love with fried chicken, then sadly I’m in a horribly dysfunctional relationship. It makes me feel bad physically, I’m overly dependent on it, and I’m afraid to be seen with it in public. I’m trying to wean myself off it, for all of the obvious reasons. I do sometimes prefer having salad for lunch, or a yogurt for breakfast, but all too often I forget that my requited love for fried chicken is no longer making me happy. I just need to remember what my mother told me about the girl that broke my heart around right around the time of that aforementioned slumber party: that there are other fish in the sea. Or grilled chicken. Or spinach. And they’ll treat me a lot better.

Your turn – Have you ever turned to food during a time you’ve been extremely unhappy or to cope with something else going on in your life? How did you overcome it?