You Are Only in Competition With Yourself
Kelly has spent her whole life dieting, with temporary success, and sometimes to the detriment of her health. But, a wake-up call from her doctor, and the future of her children, prompted her to make lasting, healthy changes. Now, she eats right, exercises, and encourages those around her. Before her new lifestyle, Kelly was taking 15 different medications and diagnosed as diabetic. After losing 130 pounds, she is off her medications, and no longer labeled diabetic.
Kelly is an inspiration to her family and friends. Sometimes it’s hard to see what’s really there in the mirror, but, she is catching up her mind to her healthy body.
1. What prompted you to begin this weight loss journey? Did you have an “Aha!” moment?
Several things all at once started it. I was married at the time, and my husband got sick and was in the hospital. The doctor said he had 1-5 years to live if he didn’t change anything. I had my twins who were 8 years old, and I thought, “Oh my god, if I’m going to be their only parent I need to be the best parent I can be for them!” Add to that, it was time for my 20-year class reunion. I didn’t want to be the 300 pound girl there – I had been the fat kid all my life! Then, the added challenge from my sorority: I’m an Alpha Gamma Delta sister and that spring our conference was in Tampa, FL. In order to raise awareness for Juvenile Diabetes, they challenged each of us to walk, run, or bike 1000 miles (the distance between headquarters in Indiana and the convention site in Tampa), so I figured I’d try. (I completed the challenge in about 4 months, it was crazy!)
When I started everything in January, it was after a long talk with my neurosurgeon about how if I don’t want to keep ending up in the hospital with the flu, I needed to up my immune system, and reduce caffeine and soda, and stay away from processed foods.
2. What other “diets” (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
3. Please describe how you reached your weight loss goal. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude? Did you implement any other strategies besides Calorie Count? What was the most important change?
The biggest change was cutting out soda, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and most processed foods. For me, it works to eat lean proteins, veggies, fruit, and raw seeds. I also drink tons of water!
Mentally, I feel better. I used to refer to myself as “fat girl” – so I would post on my Facebook page about how “fat girl” was doing this or that. Then, one day after a long talk with a few friends I started calling myself “shrinking girl.” She sounds more like a superhero who can take up a challenge and win it! Now, my significant other is calling me “stainless steel girl,” since I want to do an Ironman.
I put up an inspiration board and bucket list in my office. I want to do a Century Ride and found one to do and started biking and walking. Then, I found the Couch to 5K and Couch to 10K app for my phone and now I can run (slow but it’s still running). I also found monthly workouts I could do at home from online.
4. Please describe how Calorie Count was instrumental to your weight loss.
It has allowed me to connect with other people, like my friend Jeffrey who’s been a huge support in keeping me going! Sometimes it’s the messages people post, ideas or saying, “Hey, you can do this.” Also, it helps me build a treat into my goals. I never feel deprived doing it this way. It also helps me say, “Hey, you didn’t eat enough!” – Which at times has been a challenge for me.
5. What difficulties did you experience losing weight?
Oh gosh, there are tons. Dropping the actual weight in some ways is the easy part! The mental adjustments are the hard work. Before, I went from overeating and crazy binges to then being diagnosed anorexic. At one point, when I first started, I was eating 400 or so calories a day and working out at the gym for 4 or more hours a day. My hair was falling out, I was passing out, and the headaches, ugh! So, that was a challenge and it still can be to find a balance!
It is also a challenge realizing I have limits, and not going too hard. I still struggle with my body image in the mirror. There are days I still see the 300 pound girl starting back at me. Clothes shopping has been a nightmare! I go in and still grab the 4X shirts rather than an L or XL. Now, I also try not to beat myself up so much if I have a “bad” meal. I’ve had injuries and have overcome a lot of health issues along the way too.
6. How long did it take you to see results? When did you realize that you were a success?
A success? I’m still a work in progress! I guess the biggest eye-opener for me was when friends asked me for help and support. They refer their friends to me. I even was asked to talk to a group of kids recently about my journey. It’s beyond belief the numbers of people who tell me that because of me they are now doing their first run/walk or because of me they got a bike and are riding.
7. How do you prevent relapse?
Relapses are temporary! I use to let them get me for a whole week (or longer). Slowly, it’s been, “Ok, you can have meal that isn’t the most nutritionally ideal, and still be ok.” I keep trying to focus on how much better I feel, and now most of the old foods I loved actually make me feel gross. I don’t want to feel that way.
The inspiration board with my goals keeps me focused. Also, I try to do at least one organized run/walk a month, and I am always trying to better my time or go farther. You can’t train to do things – even a 2 mile run – if you eat garbage all the time.
8. How has your life changed now that you’ve lost weight?
Way too many to list in some ways! The biggest one is that in Jan/Feb of 2012 I was really sick – to the point where most days I couldn’t stand up or even walk. One week, I had 7 trips to the ER in 5 days. They tested me for everything from Multiple Sclerosis to a stroke. It turns out I have a small brain aneurysm and complex migraines. I was then on 15 different medications and was told it would only get worse as time went on. I was also diabetic and on pills.
Today, I am off all the meds and my A1C level is now in the normal range. My doctor no longer has me labeled as diabetic!
I have also met amazing people who are now great friends. I’ve completed my first half-marathon, in just over 3 hours. I have running medals! I can shop for clothes in the “normal” section. I feel amazing! I am training to do two Century Rides this September and a sprint triathlon next June. If money falls into place, my goal is to do the Tinker Bell Half-marathon and Princess Half-marathon (and glass slipper challenge) in January and February of 2015. I have friends who want me to organize the “Shrinking Girl Half-marathon,” which won’t be competitive, but just to get everyone to be able to say, “Hey, I can do it!”
9. How long have you maintained your current weight?
My weight still fluctuates, and I’m still losing. My doctor first gave me the goal of 170. We recently lowered it to 145, (though he joked and said any weight now is good but not lower than 105).
10. What five six tips do you have for other dieters?
1. Plan ahead! I try to do weekly/monthly meal prep and keep snacks I can fall back on everywhere: my desk, the glove box, the saddle bag of my bike. Set goals, and find people to help you reach them!
2. If you have a bad meal, let it be just that one “bad” meal. Don’t let it creep into a bad week.
3. Ask questions! If you don’t understand something, or know how to do it, find someone who does and pick their brains for ideas.
4. Remember, you are only in competition with yourself. If you try to be someone else you will always come in second place (at best!), so focus on being the best you!
5. There will be setbacks along the way and sometimes progress will be slow. But stick with it! The pay-off is great as you go!
6. While it’s six things, the last is support others on their journey, too! You never know if your encouragement is what they need to keep going that day/week/month, etc.
I tell people who are near me, “Look, you want to do a walk/run and you’re scared, I get it. Let’s pick one and do it together!” Sometimes, that’s what people need more than anything. I’m the same way.
There are times I wanted to give up, especially doing the half-marathon, which was all uphill. My son at several points did too, but when I asked him his words were this, “We aren’t quitters! We are finishers! We came to do this, so let’s keep going!” And we did finish it. (I have a shirt and medal to prove it.) And we weren’t even last. But, even last place is still finishing!
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