Monday, February 17, 2014

Perfectly Imperfect - why the journey to 'perfectionism' through extreme dieting - doesn't work

She's a Long one - but well worth it!  Happy #MondayMotivation ya'all!

As a representative for health and fitness - First for Women magazine - its important to me to give women the real truth about how to take care of their bodies. Extremes – whether in cardio or diet – never pay off. They aren’t sustainable – maybe for a few years, but not for life. I know - because I lived it.

I spent most of my life over 200lbs - lost 70lbs on my own and then decided I wanted to compete in a figure competition. One year later at 125lbs at 5'7", I felt I was the fittest I had ever been in my life! I got used to wearing XXS and feeling 'tiny'- something I had never felt before in my life. I wore a size 0 dress at my wedding and felt awesome in a bikini on my honeymoon – sounds great right?
Here’s the darkside – the side people DIDN’T see - I began to FEAR 'normal foods'- heck I was afraid of ALL foods, I spent HOURS in the gym because I was afraid I might start ‘gaining’ again – I even went to the gym for 3 hours a day ON MY HONEYMOON!

I avoided any social outings where food/alcohol was involved and hated what I was becoming- all in the name of what? Being tiny? My only focus became the gym, my body, food – the gym, my body, food. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Deep down I was miserable, unhappy, exhausted, HUNGRY and I knew something was wrong with the way I was staying ‘healthy’. I lost my menstrual cycle - the one thing that signifies a healthy reproductive and hormonal system in a woman. I began having trouble sleeping, digestive issues, an emergency appendectomy – yet I STILL didn’t admit something was wrong.

I placed top 5 in my first 3 fitness competitions - but one year later and several pounds of muscle lost, I wasn't winning any more competitions- after all, they are MUSCLE competitions, not get skinny competitions.
But WHY couldn’t I just STOP the madness – the hours of cardio, the minimal caloric intake? I was emaciated and my friends and family began asking me ‘are you ok?’ ‘You need to eat’, etc. I was only following my coaches plan – how on earth could I be unhealthy when I was following what my plan said?

My lifesaver is Kelli Hinshaw - my good friend and former teammate who had ‘seen the light’ – she began watching posts by a man named Dr. Layne Norton and sharing them with me, encouraging me to listen, read, absorb. She started ‘reverse dieting’ to rebuild her metabolic capacity, cut back on cardio, started living on ‘macros’ – which is eating the foods she wanted as long as she hit her macronutrient (carbs/protein/fat) goals for the day. Here was my thoughts the first 6 months of her sharing this with me ‘YEAH RIGHT! I cannot stop cardio – I will get FAT. I cannot eat honey nut cheerios, chocolate, pizza – I can’t eat ANYTHING processed or I will get FAT. It won’t work for me. Ever.’ Then the tailspin began...

I was in my ‘off season’ – not competing again until the following season – my calories were increased but I kept the same high amounts of cadio, and insane hours in the gym. I started having more than one ‘cheat meal’ and would freak out, go do 2 hours of cardio to get rid of the calories and start over. Binge, Guilt, Cardio, Repeat. Binge, Guilt, Cardio, Repeat.
This became my life. I KNEW I was in trouble metabolically and I knew I had to take the step towards better health. But that fear of gaining all my weight back haunted me like a plague. I was DEALTHY afraid of it – I wouldn’t keep peanut butter in the house, cereal (my former vice), anything Mexican food related, and I wouldn’t dare take a day off training. So why wasn't my body responding the way it was in the past? Simple math (calories in vs calories out) would suggest that all the cardio I was doing would keep me thin! What in the world was WRONG with me? 

In the words of Kelli, "Rip. The. Bandaid. Off." Ok – she was right. I slowwwwlllllyy started cutting back cardio, adding more calories and carbs and rebuilding my metabolic capacity. I remember watching one of Laynes blogs saying "who will have an easier time cutting down – the person who is maintaining with minimal cardio, higher calories and carbs, or the person who is doing 2 hours of cardio on minimal calories and carbs?" Bingo – that was the lightbulb for me.
I started reading about Ashley Swoboda: Athlete and Brooke Erickson - beFIT 'sfitness journeys and sobbing – realizing that what I thought could never happen to me, had INDEED happened to me and that I could also PROVE there is another way. 

I decided to reach out to Brooke regarding coaching and am so blessed to now be working with her toward the BEST health inside and out that I possibly can. I couldn’t ask for a better coach and it’s only the beginning! She is a true inspiration to me through similar struggles in her life and coming out on top – not just in fitness but in life! I LOVE both Brook and Ashley's vulnerability and honesty in their posts - they have reached so many this way and I am inspired to do that same.

So fast forward 8 months later from my thinnest at 117lbs to - A 25lb + gain (Yup!) that I have slowly but surely gained by reverse dieting, flexible dieting through macros, hard work and determination in the gym (and yes a little indulging!) and I am hitting PRs (personal records – 35lb side lats YES!) left and right and gaining muscle I never thought I could - but more importantly - I am ENJOYING my life, my incredible husband who has been there through it ALL, social outings- yes even wine and (gasp!) nachos! With the hours I am not in the gym, I am taking my dogs to the park with my husband, trying out awesome healthy recipes, blogging more often, catching up with old friends and LIVING my life. I LOVE going to the gym again – its not a 3 hour dreadful chore – it’s a constant drive to PROGRESS!

Is it hard on me mentally to gain? Yes. It most definitely is – you don’t spend your life overweight then gain some again without any mental effects…. I’ve been through it all – wearing my husbands sweatshirts, avoiding my ‘usual gym’, negative body speak in the mirror….but the BEAUTY of it all is – is that NOTHING is permanent where your body is concerned. It’s only temporary. This holds true for those of you TRYING to gain weight for a PURPOSE or those of you TRYING to LOSE weight as well! It’s ONLY temporary – anything is possible and you can do anything you want to do with your health and fitness goals WITHOUT going to extremes. At the end of the day, I am so thankful I have begun this process towards healing and better health – there IS ANOTHER WAY! I just wasn’t ready to accept it at first.

I've had some incredible support throughout my journey and am so blessed with all of you (you know who you are)- and WHEN my body decides it's ready to get back on stage with serious gains this time around, I'll be ready- and healthy. And most of all- I will be HAPPY - INSIDE and out. #iloveiifym #fitforlife

I HIGHLY encourage any of you reading this who are thinking ‘this is ME’ or even if you want to compete without going to extremes and are wondering what all this #macros hype is about – check out Dr. Layne Norton - watch his informative blogs and be ready to be blown away! Sohee Lee also has a GREAT ebook on 'How to Count Macros' and another great resource here , and   

Follow Layne Norton, Ashley Swoboda, Brooke Erickson, SiouxCountry, Lean bodies Consulting and so many more you will discover on all their networks on FB and Twitter.

Knowledge is Power.  And Perfectionism?  Doesn't Exist....THANK GOD! :-)


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  2. wow incredible, it's such a hard journey (mentally & physically) i've been there done it, but only to loose focuse and go back to where i was initially, but i hope to get there and stay there ONE DAY, LOL, keep up the good wrk

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