Last year when I asked my mother what she wanted for her birthday she said wanted me to get healthy. She is always there for us, but also understood the need for me to start focusing on my health. She has helped me (and the family) through many accidents and surgeries and recognized that it was time for me to become strong once again.
I love my mother, but I kept asking how could I possibly take time away from my family and our already busy schedule to get to the gym and workout? Because of my injuries and all the restrictions from my doctors and physical therapist anything I started would need to be in a gym and with a trainer to learn new movements to get around my limitations. My body has endured 19 surgeries thus far and when I had my first knee surgery at the age of 17 my orthopedic doctor said my knee looked like it was 80 years old. It's been a losing battle.
The first day I walked into the gym was uncomfortable. All around me were really fit people and they kept staring. I remember thinking if I didn't love my mother so much I would turn right around and never come back. Despite the intimidation, but I took a picture (of my feet only) and wrote "I have done harder things. I can do this."
I started slow, I went a couple of days a week. I lost about 20 pounds, but progress quickly stopped. She also wanted me to come everyday and do a cardio workout. Again, how and where would I find the time? The holidays were in full swing, children were getting sick and adding anything else to my day seemed impossible. I think I managed a few days a week of cardio, but still I was not consistent.
My trainer also convinced me that I needed to take a before picture. I hated it, if you couldn't tell from my expression, but I am so glad she insisted. I had already lost 20 pounds and in the thick of day to day your don't see the changes. Having a visual reminder of where I started has made a huge difference in helping motivate me.
Another thing at this time that I did was make the decision to get my workout in first thing in the morning before the children get up for school. Perhaps this is one of the reasons consistency was so hard at this point in my motivation. Since we started having children I have always taken the night shift and John would do the early morning time with the children. In deciding to start early (5:30am early) I needed to completely change my internal clock for I rarely got to bed before 1 am. It took months to make this change, but it has been one of the best things I have done for myself.
At the beginning of 2015, I set new goals to really make a greater effort towards health: 1. cardio 3 days per week 2. weight training 2 days per week. I was relatively successful for the next few months and I started keeping track of the days I would exercise. I remember March being the first month that I exercised more days in the month than non-exercising days. That was a turning point for me.
I don't know what clicked for me that month, but suddenly I knew I could do it. I realized that I was not being selfish in going to the gym, besides at that time of the morning everyone is asleep anyway. I was taking care of myself and my family needed a healthy mother and wife. Whatever the reasons or motivation made all the difference and from April until today I rarely miss a weekday of working out. My body misses it on those days I am not able to go. I can't describe how that works, but I love working out.
When I started exercising I wasn't able to do very much and had pain in almost all of my joints. Slowly I became stronger. I was able to lift more, push harder, bend in ways that doctors didn't think I would be able to do. I started to feel healthy again, something I had missed in a very long time. I wasn't nervous to step off a curb and hurt myself. The simple act of walking and slipping was no longer dangerous.
The month of May was a struggle for me. I was consistently exercising and I had even increased my cardiovascular exercise to an hour every day. I was lifting weights nearly every day and the weight was not budging. I finally came to the realization that I needed to seriously focus on my eating habits. I have always fought against this, not because I don't believe in eating healthy, but I had never been truly motivated. I started eating 1,800 calories per day (the recommended amount according to my InBody scan) and found this to be an effective way for me to control my intake.
I have read different eating philosophies throughout my adult life and learned through this time period what things worked for me.
1. I cannot say I will not eat a certain type of food, because then that is all I will want to eat. Limiting calories worked for me because I could eat what I wanted, but once the calories were gone I was done eating. I made better eating choices because I wanted to feel full rather than have a cookie, but some days I still eat the cookie.
2. It's okay to feel hungry. I had forgotten what that was like. I know there are people that eat several small meals a day, but that didn't work for me. I found that if I ate three meals a day and let myself feel hungry I found I had more control. I also try and not eat after 7-8pm, of course by the time dinner is over I typically don't have any calories left so it's not much a problem. I also do not eat prior to going to the gym and sometimes for severals hours after I get home.
3. All of my calories come from food and not drinks. I have never been much of a soda drinker, so that was not hard to give up, but fresh orange juice and lemonade are favorites. I typically drink water with fresh lemon juice, but not sugar added.
As this journey has progressed I have had a wonderful support system that has encouraged me and helped me along the way. I would not be successful without them. Whitney and Samantha have come and worked out with me in the mornings when they can. They make things fun and exciting. My mom and dad have been at the gym with me encouraging me in ways that I could never repay. The big boys have also started coming with me a couple of days a week. It's been wonderful to watch them get stronger and succeed in ways they never anticipated.
They gym itself has become a little bit like a family. I have unexpected friends in some huge body builders. They cheer me on when I push through the pain and ask about the children. Having 9 children makes me a bit unique. The staff knows me and encourages me. They understand the struggle as many have faced their own weight loss journeys. I look forward to going to the gym each morning because of the people. An unexpected blessing.
In February my trainer Jenny encouraged me to post a progress picture. It took some convincing and I will have to admit that I was a little fearful because I hadn't really made that much visible progress, but each month that I put the before and after together I find added encouragement. In the day to day I don't notice that changes. I don't remember where I started and how far I have come. I tend to only focus on what still needs to be done and how far I have to go, so each month it's a great visual reality check for me.
As people around me started noticing the changes. Their reactions have been interesting. A few people have commented about how beautiful I am becoming. It made me laugh and made my family defensive. I can't tell you how much it means to me to know that I was loved before as much as I am loved today. I have never felt ugly and always been treated with respect.
Quite often I hear about how inspiring I am. I always joke back that I am the inspiration of what not to become. I don't feel like I am inspirational. I am just an over weight, obese woman who finally made the time to change, but if someone can see me with all my faults and start their own journey then my efforts have been twofold.
People have asked if I am happier now or if I like myself more today. I have always liked who I was/am. I have always known that I can work hard and accomplish difficult things. I haven't known that I could lose this much weight. I have doubted and the numbers seemed too huge, but the reality is I can either work hard today or not. Today will happen no matter what I do, so I may as well work hard. Sacrifice is only hard in the moment and this has taken many, many such moments, but each month as I look back it has always been worth it.
I have found that the simple math of eating less and burning more is more complex in the human body. Your body is amazing in it's efforts to preserve and endure. I injured my ankle again in August and was unable to do much of anything for much of the month. But I healed quickly and I have been able to push myself in ways I never thought I would ever be able to again. With the down moments when I didn't want to go on I found strength to push a little harder. As I have endured sore muscles I have marveled at the body's ability to heal and grow strong. God's greatest masterpieces are our human bodies.
Today I tried not to be frustrated when the scale didn't move again this month. I tried to focus on all the inches lost and the yet another pant size down. I tried to see how far I have come and how I am capable of completing the rest of my goals.
Today I thanked a merciful Father in Heaven for the opportunity to work with wonderful people who push and challenge me. I know that not everyone is able to do this and I know without it I would not have been able to accomplish all that I have. I needed to be retaught, exercises tailored to my abilities, and rehabilitation for the many injured parts. The different trainers I have worked with are kind, loving, and strong. They teach and motivate in ways that not only make me want to push myself physically, but I want to be a better person because of my acquaintance with them.
Today I know the road will be continue to be long and there will be a few more setbacks and stalled plateaus, but I have come this far. I have lost 48 pounds. I have many, many more to go, but I now know that I can be successful.
Today I acknowledge that I would be nothing without God. I would not have come this far without the Lord's influence and strength in my life. Quite literally He has made a weak thing become strong.
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)