Monday, October 13, 2008

Me--The Before, The During, and The After

In honor of Missy at, I'm writing this long-dreaded blog entry. I've put off doing this for so long, but I'm going to gut it up today just to show her (and YOU) that it can be done.
So here it is. For all my blogging friends to see. My before picture. I didn't want to post it on here, but I think I should be proud of where I came from and where I am today.

So, here's the story behind the picture. BIG story. Because, obviously, it's a BIG picture!

I was never skinny--except when I was about 11 years old and EVERYONE was skinny. I wasn't exactly "fat" either. Until I quit athletics and got a job in a bank when I was a sophomore in high school. (As you'll see throughout my story, jobs tend to make me fat.) So began my battle of the bulge.
Before I got out of high school, I was up to 150 lbs. All throughout college I was heavy, save about a year when I had developed a stomach ulcer and couldn't eat for a while. (Thanks, Intermediate Accounting!)
When I got married, I was heavy. And hardly anyone is heavy when they get married. But my dress was a size 12...Maybe a 14. I've sort of blocked that whole experience out, I guess! The point is, I wasn't a skinny bride. And most of you probably were.

My fitness journey began right before I got pregnant with my little girl. I had lost my job through a RIF, and I was going CRAZY at home by myself all day long. So, one day, I thought I would go check out a water aerobics class at our local rehab/fitness center.

Oh, water aerobics. The water aerobics class at my rehab/fitness center has an average age of about 87. I was one of the only ones who didn't have to wheel my little oxygen tank to the edge of the pool and unhook before I got in the water. Yes, really.

But I was not discouraged! I continued going until I had gotten in shape enough to advance to some classes with people my own age. And I lost weight almost effortlessly and was able to continue exercising throughout my first pregnancy.

In fact, when I delivered my little girl via c-section, the nurse said, "Wow. You had great abs." Uh huh. Had. Like in Never gonna see it again, Honey.

And you know the rest. New baby. Another baby 18 months later. Postpartum depression. Drugs to combat said postpartum depression that make you blow up to roughly the size of a large barn. A job outside the home. A long commute.

And that's the way I lived for years. Fat. Uncomfortable. Unhappy. Camoflauging my body with the biggest, baggiest clothes I could find.

Then, one day, my wonderful husband came home and announced that he was offered a really fantastic one-year job assignment in the UK. We could move to the UK, maybe sell our house and build a new one (even though we had just built the house we were in and had only lived in it for about eight months), have a wonderful experience as American expats in a foreign country, give our kids a little culture, etc. etc. I would get to quit my job and have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mom for the first time.


So, we moved to a little town called Woking in the county of Surrey, just outside of London.

Do the words culture shock mean anything to you? Yeah, they didn't really mean much to me either before I moved to a foreign country.

But I was in culture shock. Serious culture shock. The funny thing is, I had to get used to being a SAHM more than I had to get used to living in a different country. And my kids had to get used to not being in daycare.

I had never done this SAHM gig before. I had no IDEA what I was doing! But I figured out pretty quickly that I needed to get out of the house at least once a day.

Well, folks, it rains in the UK. And rains.

So about my only choice was to find a gym. With a nursery. (By the way, the nursery in the UK is called a creche.) Enter David Lloyd Leisure Center.

The kids and I started making a daily trek to David Lloyd. They offered a "free" personal training session about every 4-6 weeks as part of the membership. I use the term free loosely because I paid about $200 US every month PLUS $16/day for the creche.

I started losing weight. It was like a miracle even though I knew that exercising would help one shed extra pounds. It's as if I thought that little rule didn't apply to me or something. Exercise, for the record, represents about 60% of the losing weight equation.

The other 40% is diet. Not as in "I'm going on a diet." More like, "My diet consists of..."
Let me tell you a little something about the UK. The food is horrible. Just horrible. But the British do have one saving grace. The food in their supermarkets is fabulous. I have yet to find a supermarket in the US with a fresher, better selection of fruits, veggies, breads (oh, the breads!), and chicken, turkey, and pork.

So, since the restaurants in the UK 1) are overpriced, 2) serve digusting food, at best, and 3) don't get any hurry whatsoever to serve you when you have a 2- and 3-year old in tow, both of whom are usually throwing a huge fit because they're hungry, I learned to cook. Not that I didn't know before, but I never did it because I was too busy trying to get home from my outside-the-home job.

I started losing more weight as a result of eating better. I didn't realize how much I was pulling through the drive-thru at Whataburger back in the US because I was too tired to cook.

By the time Christmas rolled around, I had lost about 25 lbs. Yes, that's right. From May until November when I went home for Christmas, I had dropped 25 lbs. And I didn't diet. I did work out, but it was fun and I came to enjoy it and think of it as "my" time. I guarded that selfish time with my life, and I continue to do so today.
I still have a really hard time shopping for clothes. I tend to gravitate towards the bigger sizes, mainly because I've never in my adult life been able to wear the smaller sizes. Until now. I had a moment just this past Saturday at Costco. I found the cutest skirt and looked up at the handy dandy price sign to find that it didn't come in my size. Yes, Dockers doesn't make that skirt small enough to fit me. Wow. Never in my wildest dreams...
So, today, as a result of my newfound freedom and love of fitness, I'm a Cooper Certified Personal Trainer. I'm 40 lbs. lighter, weighing in at 128 lbs. I continue to work out five days a week. And my body is the healthiest it's ever been in my life. God is sure good.


Anonymous said...

Wow, how inspiring is THIS! Thank you for sharing! :o)

Sarah said...

I looked at your blog yesterday from a comment you left on It's Almost Naptime. I don't know Missy personally but I love her blog.

Your story really hit home with me. After having my daughter a year ago I was told to not have any more children due to complications during my pregnancies. My son and daughter are 22 months apart.

After a summer vacation I saw the pictures and vowed to get my body back. I was running 4 miles and day and nothing was happening. I've tried diet after diet and the only two that have worked for me are Body For Life, and Jillian Michaels - Making the Cut. I'm doing Making the Cut for the fourth month and I work out from my home. I've lost 18 lbs and my goal was to lose 20-25. I weighed 128 when I got married and would love to get there again.

Being that you're a "fitness junkie", as I have become, I would love your input on things. I have plateued and don't know what to do. I've only lost 1 lb in a month.

You have come so far, and I love success stories. I will also be looking at the new blog that's being created by Missy. Below is the link to my blog.

Here is the link to my blog:

Janet said...

Thank you so much for your input. I, too, came to your blog through Missy, who I don't personally know. I am at a place where my number on the scale is ok with me... about 130 pounds... I'm 5'6". I am not unhappy with that number, but after three children in three years, my body is just not the same. I have a huge "muffin top" that I absolutely hate. Do you have any ideas on how to get rid of that? I do ab exercises, but it just doesn't seem to help. Thanks.

Jenna said...

Hey! You look great! I clicked on a link from Missy... and here you are! You are an inspiration. I might even have to go work out now after reading your story. And by the way - I don't remember you looking anything like that "before" pic.
Keep up the good blogging, I'm adding you to my blogs I follow.
-Jenn K

Membership Required said...

WOW. I needed to come back for more. I am impressed with your transformation. Thanks for coming by for a visit on my blog. I cant wait for friday to post my activity. I'll be back to read more. ML