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Growing up I was your typical kid. The days that I didn’t have the square pizzas they served at school, my lunches consisted of a sandwich with processed meat, cheese and butter, some chips and a soda to wash it all down. I never ate vegetables and only had fruit occasionally. I honestly can’t remember being able to fit in to the teen sized clothing at the store. I went from children’s sizes straight to adult 12 or 14. In middle school there was a group of boys that used to call me “Chunky J.” I didn’t really like it and it was embarrassing when they did it in front of my friends, but I didn’t think there was anything I could do about it so I decided to grin and bear it.
By the time I got to high school I was wearing a size 18 in jeans. I didn’t really think there was anything wrong with me though. I realized that I was bigger than my friends and thought that maybe if I just had a candy bar for lunch instead of my regular lunch, that I would magically lose the weight. That bit of magic only added to my size. By the time I graduated high school I weighed over 210 pounds! Thinking back on those days now, I wonder how much bigger I would have been if I wouldn’t have been involved in marching band since that was my only physical activity at the time.
When I entered college, things started to change a little bit. Living in the dorms, I didn’t have access to food at any given time, so I only ate during meal times. I was still in marching band and I also started walking a lot more to get from class to class. In the winter I started going to the gym with my new friends and just doing whatever they were doing. By the time I came home for the holidays I had lost about 30 pounds without really trying! I was obsessed with the scale and weighed myself at least once a day. By the time I graduated from college I had gotten down to about 165.
I took a job teaching in Illinois and I started working out after school 4 days a week. I still wasn’t losing as much weight as I wanted because I had no idea how to eat right. I used to eat 2 or 3 Lean Cuisine meals at a time and thought it was okay because they had fewer calories than going out to eat. I had no idea that they contained a ridiculous amount of sodium and that it was bad for me. I used to take every kind of diet pill thinking that the next one would be the magic one that would help shed the weight. Some of them worked for a little bit until they didn’t. I got tired of being dependent on the pills one day and decided I needed to stop taking them so I did…then the caffeine headaches kicked in so I started taking half the dosage to wean myself off of them. Eventually I decided to just quit cold turkey again and deal with the headaches for a couple of days.
After 3 years of teaching I moved back down to Georgia with my family. This is when I first started to hear about how to eat correctly. My sister had been reading the book Best Life Diet by Bob Green and working out like a mad woman so I decided to start working out like her. I had a personal trainer 4 days a week and this started getting me interested in working out more. I also joined a weight loss program with my mom and my sisters that taught me more about eating. The program told me how many servings of each food group to eat, but not what good food was and what good food was not. Never the less, the program kept me accountable for what I ate. It was a few years later that I came across the show The Biggest Loser and Jillian Michaels. Watching her work with the contestants made me want to help people in the same way. I became a certified personal trainer because I wanted to help my mom lose weight.
I began doing more research and reading about food and nutrition. I read Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels and it taught me so much about food and our environment. One book that really scared me was Maria Rodale’s Organic Manifesto. It really opened up my eyes and taught me that we are what WHAT we eat eats. In other words if you're eating chicken or beef, it's not the chicken or beef that makes you who you are, it is whatever the animal ate that makes up who you are. Scary but true. I also went on Jillian Michael’s Ultimate Wellness Cruise during this time and learned much more about exercise and nutrition from her and other world class trainers and chefs. It was a life changing experience.
From there I wanted to continue learning so I decided to become a Holistic Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. About a year after IIN I decided to continue deepening my coaching skills through different programs at Holistic MBA and recently became a Transformational Coaching Method Master Coach.
As you can see, there was no magic pill for me, and there is no magic pill for anyone! Taking your health and your power back will not happen overnight. Since I graduated high school 18 years ago I have lost about 75-80 pounds. I went from 212 to 133 or so for the last 3-4 years. I feel great and empowered knowing that I can eat what I want without having to count calories. My body works for me instead of against me, and if I want a cookie (or 3) I eat the cookie(s)!!! Working out doesn’t take up my entire day. On average I workout 30-60 minutes 4 or 5 days a week and have plenty of time to do the other things that I want to do. By letting go of the weight, I literally gained my life back. It has been a long process, but everything I went through has given me more tools to help YOU change your life.
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