Quite a leading question of course.
The shortest answer is that I’m a 36 year old wife (11 years this August), a mother (our son will be five in October), and a Registered Nurse (9 years now, 4 as a paramedic before that) who is on a mission to become the best version of myself through proper nutrition and exercise. Pretty basic stuff there that I think most anyone – currently fat or fit – can relate to. The more detailed/accurate answer is a bit more complex. Bear with me.
I’ve been one degree or another of fat my whole life despite being a very active kid in many sports and activities, including multiple years in ballet, tap, jazz, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swim team, track (just 1yr here), competitive hunter/jumper horseback riding, colorguard/marching band (loads of jazz running!), and I also rode my bike 5-10mi daily for about 5-6 years. Despite all that running around when I was young, I fell into the typical too-busy-working-to-exercise habit so many adults do, and only in the last few years have I really made a conscious effort to do anything about that. Still, lack of physical activity (well, beyond the running around I do as an ER nurse and chasing a young child around) isn’t the only contributor to my physical size, and I’m VERY firm in saying that despite my size I have ZERO HEALTH ISSUES that often accompany obesity. No high blood pressure (I run low actually). Better than perfect cholesterol. Resting heart rate in the 40-50s when sleeping. Definitely no diabetes here, though I do have an endocrine disorder that absolutely plays a big part in my body size and the extra tough time I have losing weight vs. gaining it.
I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which jacks with my hormones significantly and causes both weight gain and infertility. It’s a damn miracle I have the one kid after 6 years of trying and years of failed fertility treatments, and I’ve given up hope that I’ll have a second child at this point as age 36 has always been my hard-stop age for trying for a number of both physiological and personal reasons. Ironically, though, my PCOS is unusual, because while I have all the classic symptoms and definitely suffer from the insulin-resistance that creates issues with ovulation, the #1 medication that is supposed to help (Metformin/glucophage) causes me to become hypoglycemic. As in waking up with blood sugars in the 50s vs. the 80-110mg/dL that’s considered normal for non-diabetics. As such, I pretty much just have to deal with the PCOS and all its glorious side effects (obesity, hirsutism, amenorrhea, and acanthosis nigricans to name a few) or be on birth control for life and deal with all the potentially dangerous side effects that can come from that as well (blood clots being the biggest baddie). No easy decision, but it’s what I’ve got to work with.
I’ve also got the crappy obesity genetic factors at least from one side of my biological family, though I don’t know my bio-dad. My bio-mom died at age 68 in 2013 (more to do with her hard lifestyle when she was young, but still), and my alleged bio-dad seems to have also died young (around age 55) based on the research I’ve done. My mother who raised me (I’m adopted, so no genes shared) also died in 2013 at age 71 from cancer, and I despise being in my thirties and motherless. I don’t want that for my son, so while their particular deaths were specific to them and, in the case of my bio-mom, not necessarily due to any kind of genetic factors I may have inherited (unsure on bio-dad at this time), I’m not willing to risk another minute of being in any way “out of shape,” even though I have NEVER been prevented from doing any activity because of my size. That doesn’t mean I excelled at all the activities I ever tried, but other than never being a prima ballerina as I’d wanted to as a child, the only limitations my size ever created are the ones I’ve imposed on myself.
I’ve never been an overeater – quite the opposite, actually – but I have to work really, really hard to remember to eat more than once or twice a day. It took me the better part of a decade to start taking in calories in the morning (whether it was real AM or my “morning” since I’ve worked night shift for so long), and left to my own devices I often go all day without eating until the late evening when the hubby gets home. I’ve been MUCH better with that since we had our son only because making food for him triggers the, “hey, you should eat, too,” thought. I don’t EVER intentionally not eat – I’m usually just too busy doing other things to think of it. So, I get fat from the opposite reason those who binge do: my body often thinks it’s starving and holds on to every. single. calorie. I put in. I admit freely that I’ve often thought to myself, “I wish I was an overeater. To me that seems like a comparatively easy thing to fix,” though I know the psychology behind overeating is FAR too complex for such a flippant point of view. I can only do me, and I know my issue is just as complex and frustrating for very different reasons.
I also admit to having a chip on my shoulder about why some people just “ARE” thin &/or fit while I’ll have to bust my ass (literally!) to be even close to the size/weight/fitness level I wish to be. I get pissed off just like every other non-thin/fit woman/man (or anyone, really) that sees some celebrity who can afford chefs and trainers touting the newest BS diet craze/gadget they SWEAR is their secret to looking as fab as they do, when really a quick google search shows they’ve always been thin, their parents are thin, their siblings are thin, etc. Not everyone is fortunate enough to win the body size genetic lottery, however, and those of us on the short end of that stick will just have to do the old “suck it up buttercup” bit and do it for ourselves. Period. Loving yourself no matter your size is of course an important piece of both your mental and physical wellbeing, but realizing that sometimes you MUST change your physical body in order to actually be HEALTHY is even more important. No, I don’t want to look like a typical model, and I never expect to even be as fit looking as an athlete, but I do know I’m sick and tired of not loving what I see in the mirror, especially with the knowledge that it does NOT reflect how I physically and mentally feel inside. I am a fit person trapped in a fat body, and it’s time that body matched my mind’s image.
I officially started my fitness journey in September 2014 with Camp Gladiator bootcamps. Then I picked up running shortly afterward because I got pissed off I couldn’t run the 1-mile warmup at one of the CG camps I attended but was able to rock out the sprints in that same workout. Short burst running has never been an issue for me (see the list of sports I’ve played? Lots of short burst running there…), but the one cross country meet I was forced to do in 7th grade had me come in dead last of 5 different schools. Endurance running, clearly, was not my thing. Since that day in 2014, though, I have completed 3-5Ks, 1-10K, 2-15Ks, and one half marathon. I shattered my right 1st metatarsal on my maiden motorcycle voyage (anyone want to buy a Harley Street 750?!) 5/28/15, and I’ve spent the last year rehabbing from that. Since running had become my primary form of exercise, I had dropped from the 240-245lbs my body got stuck at after having my son in 2013 down to about 219-223lb range, but being laid up with the busted foot (and a TON of job related and moving stress) caused me to creep back up to about 238-240lbs by January 2016. I did a run/walk of that 2nd 15K in February 2016, and since then we’ve moved back to Texas from Colorado. The summers here are too damn hot for consistent outdoor running (and I neither have a treadmill – hate them anyway – nor want to pay for a gym membership to use one), so I’ve decided to spend my summer powerlifting instead.
My husband has been lifting for almost 6 years now, though not nearly as consistently as he’d like. Now that I’ve taken it up, however, we’ve dramatically improved the quality/quantity of equipment we have for the task and are both working versions of Starting Strength and the Texas Method, both by Mark Rippetoe. Since I’m the type that needs a set goal to reach, preferably one I have to pay for to stick with it, I’m signing up for my first powerlifting meet with the USA Powerlifting Federation in January 2017. I’m hoping to double my current (as of 6/26/16) 1-rep-max in the three lifts by then: squat 145lbs, bench 80lbs, and deadlift 155lbs. I’m also going to start running consistently again in the fall to train for my 2nd half marathon, which is at the end of February 2017. I absolutely could have run the entire first one, but I got spooked by the huge hill at mile 9 and stopped to pee. I never quite got my momentum back after that, so this time I’m determined to go all 13.1mi at a solid run no matter how slow that may be. In between now and the fall, though, I’m also currently doing my own little HIIT-type program I’ve created using some exercise demo clips I found on the Fabletics Instagram account. I haven’t been as consistent with them as I had planned and have already shifted them to only being on the days I don’t lift, but since life (aka work and family) obligations keep messing with my lifting schedule, the #FortyDayFablete Challenge I created is shifting as well. It’s all good – I’ve got no one to please but myself, and I’m just happy I’m sticking with it at all!
The other piece of my fitness puzzle is my diet, which as I mentioned has always been a tough thing for me. Thankfully, the types of food I eat have never been a problem as I MUCH prefer healthy food to junk foods, and if I can see fat on my foot (grease, fat on meat, etc) I just can’t bring myself to eat it. Yuck! As such, I will never do a proper Keto diet because the very thought of eating that much fat – healthy fats or otherwise – makes my stomach turn just thinking about it. I did do my own bastardized version of Atkins way back in 2004 that worked well for me at the time (really, it was mostly just salads is why lol), but I gained weight the last time I attempted a truly low-carb diet. As such, I prefer plant-heavy meals with lean meats for protein (simply because they’re the easiest form), and I currently use Portion Perfect Meal Kits for my work lunches (2cups protein, 1.5cups veggies, 1cup fruit or fruit/veggie mix). I usually just have a protein shake for breakfast (that’s how I started taking in AM calories a decade ago, and it’s still the best method for me), and I’ve been using My Fitness Pal more frequently to stay around 1800cal daily. I have my macros set to 40% protein, 35% carbs, and 25% fat, but I’m always tinkering with that formula and don’t beat myself up too much if I don’t get it just right. From the research I’ve done, about the only time a powerlifter can cut weight and still gain muscle strength is at the very beginning of their powerlifting career, so I’m taking advantage of those “n00b gainz” and trying to do just that. It’s important to me that my body doesn’t just get stronger; I want the aesthetics to improve as well.
>(:::) So, here I go. (:::)<<
P.S. I want to send a shout out to the creator of the Girls Who Powerlift website, Ivy. Her story of finally finding her passion inspired me to write about my own journey into powerlifting, and her inspirational t-shirts are epic. My own collection is steadily growing! ❤