Guess what?!?! Yesterday was my 2 year “anniversary” of the day I started my health journey! I can’t believe it! It has me feeling all kinds of nostalgic thinking back on what these last few years have been like for me.
I also realized I’ve never really written my whole story top to bottom… so what better time than now?
Here’s the good, the bad, the raw of my journey. I share this in hopes that if you see any similarities in your journey, it helps you to not feel alone. I want you to know that if I can do it, so can you. If I can get through these things… so can you.
Why Did I Begin?
I have been on self-inflicted “diets” since middle school. Which is a sad, sad thing to admit. I grew up with a self-loathing of my body and the ways I saw it as imperfect and different from my sisters and friends. I had an unhealthy attachment to sugar and mindless snacking and I never learned the basics of nutrition or healthy movement. There were always SO many conflicting schools of thought about food and exercise, that I never knew what to believe.
As much as dieting was always on my mind, I would only yo-yo… losing a few pounds here and there, only to “celebrate” with chicken fingers and a milkshake and pizza and a taking a week “off”… so the weight would just come right back.
By the time I was done with college I was over 230 lbs. I was so uncomfortable in my clothes, sitting in chairs, driving, or trying to do any kind of physical activity. I was also struggling with daily headaches that would escalate to migraines about twice a week. Over the next couple years after college, I discovered I had an intolerance to gluten, and cutting that out I lost 15 lbs easily.
When I met my now-husband, I was actually vegan by then! But… not a healthy vegan. Sure I would eat broccoli and carrots but mainly French fries, and carbs, carbs, and more carbs.
After we got married in December of 2016, we got pregnant right away in January of 2017.
We were thrilled. Everything seemed perfect. We were newlyweds, I was writing my second book, our photography business was taking off, and I was getting ready to leave my job in ministry to stay home and run our business and now raise our first baby.
The day after I left my job, the first week of March 2017, we found out the baby had stopped growing and didn’t have a heartbeat.
And grief is the worst. Having been in therapy for many years, I had learned a lot about grief and all the different things we need to make space for to grieve in our lives. I knew about the stages of grief and that besides anger, denial, and sadness… you have to make room for newness… for new passions and a rebirth. It’s called “reorganization” and as you accept your loss, you need to find new patterns of behavior and new meaning to life.
That is why I began my health journey.
I had a choice – stay in my state of sorrow, keep eating bagfuls of chocolate chips, keep watching too much TV… or throw myself into a health program, give 110% to focusing on my health.
Someone along the way told me to always remember that my child up in heaven in the arms of Jesus didn’t want to see me continue to struggle endlessly. They wanted me to be happy. To live a life of fullness and love and joy. That was my first motivation.
It was super scary to try something new, a different way of getting healthy – focusing more on nutrition and accountability and education than on exercise. But I couldn’t stop thinking, “what if” … and I didn’t want to look back and regret that I hadn’t tried everything I could to get healthy.
The First Round: March 2017
So day 1 was March 25, 2017. I weighed in at 216 lbs.
And… for the first week I was miserable.
Like really grumpy and unpleasant. It was SO uncomfortable to come face to face with how much I wanted to eat and couldn’t. I didn’t know what to do with myself if I couldn’t eat or bake or order my usual Venti Caramel Macchiato while I grocery shopped, or basket of french fries with dinner.
Very quickly I realized that emotional eating was a big issue I would have to face. Especially as I was going through such a high emotional time such as a miscarriage.
And yet… I just kept focusing on my reason why I was this journey in the first place.
I had many reasons why…
- I didn’t want to cry trying to pick out clothes.
- I wanted to have better energy to be more present and loving to those around me.
- I wanted to give God glory and honor with my body, not destroy it with greasy fast food.
- I was tired of the discomfort, the lack of self-confidence, the constant adjusting my clothes and my body to look better.
- I wanted to create a new legacy of health for my own young family.
But above all, we wanted a family. I wanted to be able to carry a healthy baby, for a whole healthy 9 months of pregnancy and I knew that among other things, being the healthiest version of myself in my body would only help with my fertility.
That’s the reason “why” that would bring tears to my eyes and enough resolve to my heart to turn away from brownies and ice cream.
As you can see, I lost 20 lbs in the first 48 days, and overall I lost about 35 lbs between March and September that year. It was amazing. I felt phenomenal.
Dan had joined me on the journey and together we were learning to cook healthy meals, we were going for runs together, and having more fun no matter what we were doing because of the energy and confidence we both had found!!
I remember taking a weekend trip to Chicago that September and instead of Uber-ing everywhere we actually wanted to walk or to take bikes! I felt like a new person – someone I barely recognized!
Between the end of September and the end of October, our lives were upended a bit as we decided to move to Los Angeles. I wasn’t at my goal weight but because of the stress of moving and the logistical reality of packing up our lives – I got off the program….
And right after Halloween we found out with great excitement that baby #2 was on the way!!!
I carried that little one for a wonderful 8 weeks, and then a few days before Christmas, we again found out that our baby had stopped growing. No heartbeat.
The first loss I could wrap my mind around – 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. That’s a high statistic.
The second? And to have two in a row? I was emotionally lost. I ate my way through Christmas gaining weight rapidly. But knowing I had to get myself back on track with my health, and knowing how healing it was last time for me to throw myself into radical, healthy self-care, I restarted my health journey-round-2 on January 1, 2018.
Round Two: January 2018
Just as it was the first time, taking care of my health was the best thing I could do for myself. The struggles were many though, don’t get me wrong.
The program is simple, but it’s never, ever easy to lose weight and get healthy. You have to change your deep-set habits and it’s hard! There were many times that I fell into binges because of emotions, or got off track at social events, or when traveling.
It felt like there was always one stumbling block or another in my way.
I had to decide again, that no matter what… my reason WHY was bigger than the obstacles. I became obsessed with the vision of the healthiest Christina I could be. Every day I would wake up and decide I would make good choices that day. No excuses.
I let this burning desire for the life I wanted to create burn away the desire for sugar.
And it didn’t hurt that as I was losing weight and getting healthier I felt so, so, so good. I became obsessed with that feeling of health and I never wanted to go back to the lethargy, the stomach aches, the headaches, or the guilt of eating a whole pizza. I loved waking up and bouncing out of bed! I loved crushing my to-do lists! I loved the mental clarity! I loved the confidence that radiant health gives you from the inside out!
Slowly… oh, so slowly… I realized that when I would slip up and have a sugar binge, it didn’t feel like “me” anymore. It was the anomaly, not the norm.
Christina was healthy. Christina loved eating healthy foods. This other person who snuck around every so often and stuffed her face with gross, unhealthy foods… that was no longer the real me or my default.
Realizing that truth I felt set free. Free from the old me. Free to live the rest of my life as “healthy Christina” not “230 lb sugar-addict Christina.”
I was in control. I choose when I want to indulge in ice cream, the ice cream doesn’t have command over me. The whole game was changed. My life was changed.
I reached my lowest weight in the Summer of 2018. But it wasn’t about the number. The number is a measure of the work you’ve done, it should never define you. It was about how I felt. How I could go out on a Saturday morning and run 4 miles for fun, not to punish my body. It was about that freedom over food and sugar.
Since starting my journey way back in March 2017, I was down 50 lbs of weight and an immeasurable amount of baggage.
And then, as history will repeat itself… I was feeling great having gotten so much healthier, we were getting ready to move again to Colorado this time, exactly a year after the move to California… and we found out baby #3 was on the way.
I had been working with an amazing Napro technology Doctor to be sure all the signs of my fertility (according to the Creighton Method of tracking your fertility) were healthy. But we were still so scared. A positive pregnancy test had previously only equalled pain and suffering.
But I made a choice to celebrate with gratitude each day I got to carry our 3rd little one. I felt more confident in my body than I ever had before because with each passing month I had only gotten healthier and I had complete trust in the doctor I was working with and who was monitoring my blood work in the early months of my pregnancy.
This was my reason why, and I had to take the leap of faith and trust that either this was going to be a healthy pregnancy, or that there was something else we needed to problem-solve about my health and we hadn’t discovered it yet.
That obsession with feeling great and loving to choose health each day didn’t fade. I kept up as best as I could with healthy movement, and with everything I had learned about nutrition, balancing my blood sugar, drinking water, and managing sleep and stress.
This new me knows myself well enough to not even keep any sugar or chocolate in the house. I grocery shop totally different now! I eat consistently every 2-3 hours, and aim to drink 100 ounces of water a day. I prioritize exercise in my week because I love how it makes me feel!! It’s a huge factor in how I manage stress and emotions – exercise does wonders for my mental health.
Today, March 26, 2019
So… here I am. I am 8 months pregnant with our double-rainbow baby. I am two years into my health journey. I am a different person…. and all day I feel my little reason WHY kicking and punching around inside me.
Nothing. Nothing at all about these last two years of getting healthy has been easy.
But everything. Every. Single. Thing. Was worth it a hundred-fold.
Every stumble. Every night of tears because I wanted ice cream, or because I had eaten too much ice cream. Every day that I forced myself to make a healthy choice even when I didn’t “feel” like it. Every time I went to my coach for advice. Every “no thank you” I said to birthday cake, or nachos, or wine.
The life of freedom and new healthy habits I am living today is worth every moment.
My story isn’t over. Of course I’ll have extra baby weight to lose in a few months. (People keep saying I’m “all-belly” but my hips and pant size say something different! lol)
However, the amount of confidence I have in myself and my ability to choose health is off the charts.
It didn’t happen overnight like I wanted it to so badly when I started “dieting” in middle school.
Two years is how long I’ve been at this and I know my health will be a lifelong journey.
So no matter where you are with your own journey… I pray that you hear this:
- It takes time.
- You have to become obsessed with WHY you want a healthier life.
- You must have accountability and a community to carry you on your bad days.
- It can be simple but never easy.
- You have to change your habits – what you do when you’re sad, glad, angry… how you grocery shop, how you order in restaurants, what food you pack when you travel, how much you sleep, and how you incorporate movement into your weekly schedule.
- There will always be obstacles and hard life circumstances, but you are stronger than that. You are in control of how you respond. Be the hero of your life, not the victim.
If I can do it, so can you. If I can over the course of 2 years, grow into a new person, freed from food controlling ME… free to choose fuel for my body that will help me feel amazing, free to say no when I want and yes when I want… it’s possible for anyone. I really, truly believe that. Do you?
You Are Enough
Don’t ever forget that okay? You are beautiful and precious and deserve good things — and I can’t tell you that enough! Look I even dedicated a side-bar-box-thing to it. God has a plan and a purpose for your life and He died and rose again because He wants to spend forever with you! Okay, read on. Important reminder over.
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“The glory of God is man fully alive.” St. Irenaeus
I can blast off this list because it’s literally been the same for (about) two years now!! The thing about losing weight is that if you do it right and with the right mindset, two things happen…
These are the 4 basic principles I’ve found myself eating by during this pregnancy. I’m so glad that in the year and half prior to this, I’ve solidified the desire and love of healthy habits – which made these things come naturally to me.
Sometimes I still get nervous to share my before/after photos. I have this idea in my head that people will look at it and only see how overweight I had become. I fear they will judge me. I think of all things they “probably” think about me…