There is a story behind every blog and today I am honored to finally share mine. As you can imagine, there is a reason why I am so passionate about creating healthy food that is not only good for you but is also delicious. Grab a cup of coffee, get comfy and join me as I open up about the true inspiration behind every leafy green, whole grain and clove of garlic that embodies The Lemon Bowl.
Like many sedentary Americans, I spent much (all) of my early years as an overweight child. Believe it or not, we always ate healthy, homemade meals. We drank skim milk, shopped at the farmer’s market and filled our plates with bright colors and lean proteins. White bread was not an option, pancakes were made with buckwheat and our oats were steel cut. (I love you, Mom!)
Ultimately, though, if you eat more than your body needs for fuel, you will gain weight. Despite a love for softball, volleyball and skiing, my athletic ability was lacking and I often got cut from the team. After years of dance lessons, I eventually quit performing because squeezing my body into skin-tight spandex costumes became too much for my pre-teen self to handle.
As the years went by, I gained more weight and eventually graduated from high school weighing over 220 pounds. I had no idea how big I was until my first post-college doctors visit when I learned I had lost 23 pounds my Freshman year of college. How on earth did that happen? One reason: I didn’t have a car and had to walk every single day. By incorporating daily movement without making any other changes, the weight fell off.
During my Junior year, I moved to London to study abroad and travel through Europe. When I returned home 5 months later, I had ballooned up to a size 20 and was stuck wearing Men’s Gap pants size 42.
Despite being overweight, I graduated from college and began a successful career in hotel sales. In 2001, I met my husband and we got married in 2005. With a great career, plenty of friends and a wonderful love life, I was fat and happy.
My weight loss journey didn’t officially begin until 6 months after my wedding, at the age of 25. I saw a photo taken of me from a friend’s wedding and couldn’t believe what I saw. The photo was worth 1,000 words and within minutes I did an online search and discovered MyFoodDiary, a website that helps you track calories and exercise to gradually lose about one pound/week.
In addition to weighing, measuring and tracking food calories for the first time, I also began exercising regularly. Just 30 minutes, 3 times a week is exactly what sold me on joining Curves. Within 18 months, I lost 35 pounds and was just 5 pounds away from my goal weight when I moved back home to Michigan with my husband to buy a house and start a new job.
Unfortunately, as anyone with in sales can attest, my life was soon filled with client dinners, food-filled trade shows and networking cocktail receptions. Instead of nipping the problem in the bud, I kept living my life and ignoring the scale. Within a year of moving home, I had gained back half the weight and my brand new work wardrobe no longer fit.
In 2008, I was laid off from my dream job. All of those horrible things you hear and read about losing your job are true. It was one of the lowest points in my life. The good news? I joined a gym to help cope and fell in love with group exercise. Each week I took Kickboxing, Boot Camp, Yoga and Spin. The bad news? I was making lots of friends and taking advantage of my “pre-baby” life with too many nights of drinking and 2am snacking. Lesson learned: it doesn’t matter how many hours a week you exercise if you spend your weekend drinking vodka sodas.
Fast forward to 2010 – we are expecting a baby! For the first time in my life, I had to be comfortable watching the scale creep up each week. In 2011, we had our beautiful baby boy and I was officially over 200 pounds again (after he was born.) Something had to give.
You know the phrase “If it worked once, it will work again.”? Two weeks after my son was born, I re-committed to logging and tracking my calories on MyFoodDiary. Six weeks after giving birth (with my OB’s blessing), I was back at the gym. Was I taking boot camp classes? No. But I was moving again and learning to be more mindful of what I put in my mouth.
Slowly but surely, the weight came off. The feeling of accomplishment and setting a good example for my son was so motivating that I was able to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight just six months after he was born. Riding the wave, I decided to keep going and I am proud to say that I am now 20 pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight. (And yes, I’m still 5 pounds away from the ever-ellusive goal weight.)
The icing on the cake? On January 2nd, 2013, MyFoodDiary featured my official Weight Loss Success Story on the front page of their website. In my interview, I answer questions such as “What has been your biggest challenge along the way and how did you overcome it?” and “What has been your greatest reward of weight loss?” After reading so many success stories over the years, it is very surreal to be on the other end.
In an effort to pay it forward, I am thrilled to announce Healthy Habits, a brand new section of The Lemon Bowl focused on inspiring others to live a more healthy, happy and balanced life. Each week, I will feature new content ranging from video demonstrations, interviews with Registered Dietitians, healthy living tips, meal planning guidance and more.
What would you like to see in Healthy Habits? What would you ask an RD if you had the chance? What are your biggest challenges when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle? I would love to hear from you.
Thank you for reading my personal weight loss journey. In my next post, I will share more specific tips and advice on how to overcome weight loss hurdles and every day struggles when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.
As always, thank you for being here. It is an honor and a joy to interact with all of you every day.