This article is shared with permission from our friends at Drew Canole.
I guess it would be accurate to say that I was raised in a fitness-focused family. My mom was the “Jack LaLaine” of the southeast. As far back as I can remember, she had a daily television exercise show called Exercise for the Modern Woman. Even as tiny kids, my sister and I were always on the show with her. As a teenager, she would have me leading whole episodes by myself. As a shy kid, this was torture for me.
Weight Loss and Body Image
It probably goes without saying that body image was extremely important in my family and we learned that thin was in and fat was NOT. This was the era of Twiggy, Charlie’s Angels and Cher. By the time I was a teenager, at 5’8” and 130 pounds, I began to see myself as fat. It’s a miracle I did not end up with a severe eating disorder early in life.
I look back at pictures of myself in high school and college and realize that I was in shape. I had a great body! Unfortunately, I had to measure up to the image of my 112-pound TV star mother and all those other TV idols. Now, I only wish I was the weight I was when I first thought I was fat. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think I ever want to be that thin again.
I got married in 1979 and had our only daughter in 1987. I gained 50 pounds with my pregnancy and this seemed to be the beginning of my real battle with weight. Although I managed to lose the weight by becoming a regular at the gym and living on instant breakfast, I soon began adding about 10 pounds per year once I quit working out and started eating solid food.
Dealing With Grief And Shifting Perspectives
Over the next 25 years, I made my family my focus and quit working on me. I would lose 10 pounds and then gain 15 until I found myself at 235 pounds. I had tried diets, gyms and extreme juicing, but nothing left me with permanent results.
Life was uncertain for me in the summer of 2014 when I came to Fitlife.tv. I had been married to my best friend, the love of my life and my soul mate for 32 years. We were enjoying early retirement and had plans to do mission work in developing countries. Our future was set. It seemed secure, only it wasn’t. It never is. In reality, our future included cancer, treatment and ultimately, his death.
Looking back, I realize that I didn’t dream about my life. My husband had big enough dreams for the both of us and our life was filled with love and adventure. When he died too soon, I realized that I had no idea how to live, much less dream.
I slowly worked through the process of grieving and was beginning to be comfortable alone, but my sedentary life seemed to have no purpose and my identity was wrapped up in being a wife with no husband, half of a whole, not my own person.
In the summer of 2014, two and a half years after his death, I began to do some soul searching and spiritual renewal. I also signed up for Fitlife.tv Small Group Coaching. I had tried some juicing, but I realized that I needed accountability, connection and help if I was really going to change my body.
I had no real clue what a transformation journey I was beginning. I joined the program to lose weight and as I write this, I have currently lost 72 pounds! But more importantly, I am living an abundant life because of all this journey has given me. My mind is clear, my heart is full, my body is thriving and I know my life is limitless. I feel alive and joyful for the first time in years.
I’m still on my journey, but I am getting to share that journey with others who are only just beginning to realize the life that is theirs to live. Fad diets don’t work. We need real transformation from the inside out complete with real food.
Editor’s Note: The following segment has been added to provide Hearty Soul readers with the most valuable and up to date information possible.
Why Doesn’t Dieting Work?
Many women (and men too!) have a similar experience struggling to manage their weight and overall health. But in the same way that being overweight takes years of habit-forming and patterns of thinking, it must also take time to undo! While there are many scientific reasons that explain why fad diets like extreme juicing, extreme fitness, and cutting out entire macronutrients simply doesn’t work for your body, the most important reason is that being healthy is about changing your lifestyle completely, not attempting a quick fix.
But, let’s back up. What does it really take to support fat metabolism and get to a healthy weight?
Get Your MacroNutrients
The human body needs 3 basic nutrition groups to function properly: protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates (read more about each of them here). Any diet that tells you to eliminate one of these groups will actually weaken your body. You’ll end up with less energy to work out, relentless cravings, and a weakened immune system. What you should focus on intead, is where you’re getting these macronutrients from.
For example, while you do need protein, you don’t need red meats to get enough. In fact, a diet too high in red meats has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular problems and even cancer, compared to the Mediterranean diet. Instead, balance out your protein sources by eating beans, legumes, and a variety of vegetables (yes, there’s lots of protein in veggies!). Getting your protein from a wide variety of whole foods can help you absorb all of the vitamins you need, plus the fiber will support your digestive system.
You should also check where your fats are coming from. Processed foods high in trans fats should be swapped for healthy fats like avocados, fish, and seeds. Likewise, swap white breads and pastas for better sources of carbohydrates such as fruits and veggies. You can browse through these recipes for ideas to incorporate more whole foods into your diet (without breaking the bank or overwhelming your schedule).
Take Your Workouts Seriously
Many nutritionists and holistic doctors argue that diet plays a more significant role in weight loss than physical activity does. That’s why we recommend addressing your diet first and then focusing on your workouts. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself “running on empty” and getting discouraged. (Actor Jonah Hill used this same approach). Nevertheless, you can’t ignore fitness! There are several things you can keep in mind to help maximize your workouts to burn fat, build muscle, and feel great:
Try High Intensity Interval Training for short and ultra-challenging workouts you can do at home. HIIT routines are designed to push your body to the limits and up those calorie-burning numbers.
Don’t shy away from weight lifting and resistance training. Using resistance bands and weights is a better way to burn fat than cardio workouts on their own. And ladies, don’t be afraid about looking too muscular! This mom completely transformed her body with weight training- here’s what she wishes every woman would know about it.
Start at you own pace. Joint pain, back pain, and other considerations are quite common, but they’re no reason to skip workouts altogether. Try modifying your home workouts with exercise balls or joint-strengthening exercises to keep injuries from getting in the way of your weight loss goals.
Most importantly, your weight loss journey should start with the realization that weight loss is a complicated and fairly long journey. Keep yourself accountable with friends and family who have similar goals. Don’t use the scale as the only measurement of success. Know that healthy living always has its ups and downs, but that you CAN make it!