(UPDATE 5/8/16: The below post didn’t go exactly according to plan. There’s a highly important and incredible sequel to this post found here)
I originally had planned to create this site for the main purpose of chronicling my journey to becoming healthy and fit by the time my 40th birthday rolled around on December 23, 2013.
Yes, maintain your shock and awe….I AM a woman who just admitted her age!
However, as luck would have it, or bad luck in my case…that didn’t happen. Actually, there was no luck at all, good or bad, there was just my attempt and then falling off the wagon…again.
Don’t tell anyone, but secretly, I believe I didn’t just fall off the wagon, I was pushed. It’s a conspiracy. That’s all I’m saying.
So yup, my goal initially was to be fitter by the time I hit the BIG 4-0. And when I say fitter, I don’t just mean more fit than I am right now (which ANY added activity and nutritional eating will make me fitter at the moment), I mean fitter than I have ever been. As in, more healthy and fit than when I was in the Army, or when I was a police officer for 12 years, or when I was a more active athlete.
I believe it CAN be done and I’m setting out to do just that!
My journey will be long and challenging at times, but I know it will be life-changing and you can follow me each and every day as I blog about it.
You’ll know what I ate for the day, what activities (aka exercise) I may or may not have done, and my overall feelings (good or bad) from day to day.
I’ll also be doing weekly roundup videos to summarize how my week went, the pros and cons I may have experienced, my weekly weigh-ins (which will be on video too), and doing a Q&A where I answer questions that I am asked.
Right now, I think it’s important for you to get to know me and my history.
It’s the whole reason behind this madness!
I’m a typical roller-coastering weight loss/weight gain, glutton for punishment opportunist. Or, at least I was. What I mean by that is that I have always lived my life in a constant flux of up and down weight loss and weight gain.
I’m THAT girl…the girl that seems to get on a health kick for a few months, then somehow kick herself right off the wagon, then jump back on the wagon, only to fall right back off…over and over and over again.
Usually my health kicks would start by jumping on the latest bandwagon following the latest fad or the nutritional advice spewing across the TV, internet, social media, books, or even worse…that old conventional wisdom that has been ingrained in us since we were young.
I’m not a licensed nutritionist, medical doctor, or any other type of health, nutrition, or physical fitness expert (here’s where I insert a good ol’ medical disclaimer) with oodles and oodles of experience and knowledge wrapped up in a perfectly sculpted body. I’m just an AVERAGE girl who has been going through the same vicious cycle that thousands of others do and have been doing for the majority of my 41 years of life.
Point being…I’m no different than you.
I would say that with the exception of the last several years, I’ve been a pretty active and athletic person. Though growing up in Kodiak, Alaska didn’t provide me with the abundant competitive team sport activities that so many other kids enjoyed in the lower 48, there were still a few and being active in other ways in Alaska was still a rewarding and easy thing to do, whether it be hiking, climbing, mountain biking, camping, fishing, swimming, or just playing pickup games of basketball, softball, or touch football in the park (btw…I come from a family of Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboy fans).
Not to mention, when you live in a place where the sun doesn’t set until at least midnight in the summer time and your folks tell you to “be in before dark”…that paved the way for hours on end of sport and active play at my disposal.
(Remember those good ol’ days…where kids could safely be out and about without fear?)
After I graduated high school, I went directly into the U.S. Army. Growing up on an island my entire life in Alaska, I felt there was so much in the world I had yet to see and experience. Not only was I in the Military, but I chose Law Enforcement as my area of occupation. Being in the military, a standard of physical fitness was required and had to be maintained. Now, with that said, I could have definitely been in better shape than what I was during my enlistment.
Even in the military, my weight went up and down. On more occasions than I care to remember, I failed weigh-ins and my body fat mass had to be measured with a tape in accordance with the age/weight/height regulations and standards of the Army due to being between the ages of 17-20, 165-168 lbs on average and a height of 5 ft 7 ½ in. Though, I never failed a body fat mass measurement, I always felt I should have never been in those positions to begin with. Not really a proud moment for me.
After my tenure in the military, my physical fitness wasn’t really a priority any longer for me. I kept active playing sports and various other activities, but I ate like crap. Fried foods and beer were my best friends, as were the occasional sweets.
2 years after I left the military, an opportunity came about for a job working as a police officer on a small island atoll called Kwajalein located within the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. Re-entering into a law enforcement career, I knew that some level of physical fitness would need to be maintained.
One of the most unique factors about Kwajalein is that there are no personal vehicles allowed for use. Most vehicles were strictly for work use only, which meant that the mode of travel on the island was either by foot or bicycle. I have never seen so many bicycles in one place in my life before.
I believe having to bike everywhere I went helped to maintain part of my fitness. However, living in a tropical climate year round made being active quite easy and very fun. From playing softball, soccer, and racquetball to wakeboarding, swimming, snorkeling, body boarding or simply going to the gym for cardio and weight lifting, the island was a wealth of physical activity.
Additionally, there are no fast food joints on Kwajalein, so food was either obtained from the local café, commissary, convenience store, or dining hall. I mean yes, junk food was still abundant if you wanted it, but I think alcohol was the worse consumable toxin on the island…and I drank plenty of it. Many of us were in our twenties or early thirties so we worked, played, played some more and partied.
My average weight on the island was between 145-150 lbs. This was actually a pretty good weight for me. Could I have been in better shape and toned up more? Sure, most definitely, but I was at the best weight, activity level, and overall health in my life…so I had no complaints. The only time my weight/health suffered out on the island was when I tore my ACL playing sports and had to have two separate knee surgeries.
During that time, my activity level and fitness became non-existent and I ate horribly. I basically had a pity party for myself and ended up gaining 35-40 lbs. and I felt like crap. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too. I said to myself that enough was enough, focused on physical therapy to get my knee back to where I could enjoy my activities again and didn’t look back. I also made the infamous claim, “Never again!”
Ah, ‘never again’. Why do we always make those statements?
When we eat too much and get a gnarly stomach ache, we say ‘I will never again eat that much food!’.
When we drink too much and have a wicked hang over, we say ‘I will never drink again!’.
And when we gain a bunch of weight, then lose it feeling totally confident, we say ‘I will never again let myself go like that!’.
…only to do it again.
I spent about 6 ½ years on Kwajalein and then in 2006 moved to sunny San Diego, California (where I currently live). San Diego is probably one of the most beautiful cities in our nation. There are so many things to do and ways to remain active. You would think that I would take full advantage of all the things San Diego has to offer….and I did….just not the healthy ones. Oh, I took full advantage of all the fast food, fully stocked grocery stores with tasty fattening goodies, and restaurants serving delightful dishes that were pure ecstasy to my palate but definitely not for my waistline and overall health.
And my physical activity level? Well, that was put FAR off to the side. As a matter of fact, I think I actually went out, dug a hole 6 feet deep and buried it.
Needless to say, my health started to decline and my weight steadily began to rise.
3 years after I moved to San Diego, I was at my highest weight ever in my life…211 lbs. I was medically obese. I was always tired, moody, sick, had chronic headaches, and was depressed. My self-esteem and confidence hit rock bottom. There were definitely contributing factors that assisted in my downward unhealthy spiral, but when all is said and done, it’s still OUR decision and the choices WE make that put us where we are. Life can just be plain damn hard at times, but each one of us has the ability to re-ignite a fire within and take back our lives.
And that’s exactly what I did.
I went out, dug up my physical activity, and brought it back to life. I also changed my eating habits to consuming what I thought was more healthy. Within 5 months, I went from 211 to 155. I felt healthier and happier.
And guess what I said?
My weight ended up staying between 150–155 lbs. for quite some time. Then some life changes occurred and my weight slowly began to rise. Though I was still active, my eating habits became worse and worse. I started getting sick more often and my moods began to sway quite a bit. At one point I hit 190 lbs. This spurred me to get back into what I thought was eating right and being even more active than I already was.
Again, my weight dropped and I felt healthier and happier. When I was at 151 lbs., I was so confident that I would lose another 5 or 6 lbs. I decided I would get rid of all my ‘big girl’ clothes and give them to goodwill because you know what I said…
Fast forward almost 1 year.
Again, some life changes had occurred and my stress level had shot through the roof, mainly due to work. Physical activity had come to a screeching halt for the most part, and extremely bad eating habits had returned. Oh, and my weight? 200.6 lbs!!!
When I kept repeatedly going through that ‘never again’ vicious cycle, I definitely thought I would NEVER AGAIN hit the 200s.
Here are some of the negative health effects I was experiencing:
- Weight gain
- Chronic headaches
- Mood swings
- Uncontrollable hunger/cravings
- Memory loss and fogginess
- Back pain
- Severe bloating
- Low self-esteem
- Irritability and impatience
- Lack of motivation
- Worsening eye sight
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Sugar/Triglycerides
- Extremely low Vitamin D
I’m sure there are a few others that I’ve missed, but you get the gist. My health wasn’t just affecting me, but those around me, especially my better half. Definite emphasis on the word ‘better’ for sure! Well the ying to my yang was quite concerned about me and adamantly suggested I get a full blood workup and gluten test. So, for the sake of my health and my family, I went and had labs done.
A week later, I was called by one of the nurses to go over some of my results and relay information and directions from my physician. My doc wanted me to go on a low carb diet and a high dose prescription of Vitamin D. My results showed I had high cholesterol (the bad kind), high blood sugar (my triglycerides were through the roof), and extremely low Vitamin D levels.
Being the only one in my family who is not diabetic or borderline diabetic, this was definitely not good news. I mean seriously, who was I kidding…like it wasn’t going to catch up to me?
I wouldn’t receive the results to the gluten test for a few weeks, but that did not stop me from starting to do research and suspecting that gluten may actually be playing a big part in my health decline, regardless if I was sensitive to it or not. It had been brought up previously to me by my loved ones, but I just sort of blew it off. Well, now I was diving in to everything I could possibly read on the effects of gluten (wheat) and other grains to our bodies.
During my research, I kept seeing words like “paleo” and “primal” spring up repeatedly. So, I decided to dig deeper into what exactly those words meant…
…and suddenly my entire world became instantly brighter.
It was like this ginormous light bulb was turned on. Everything that I read made complete sense to me.
To top it off, the thousands of other people who were just like me and having literally life-changing results from adapting to a primal lifestyle, was just astonishing.
That was it. That was all I needed. That final push to hopefully change my life forever.
So, on June 23rd, 2013, exactly 6 months until my 40th birthday and weighing in at 200 lbs., I began my initial journey to becoming FITTER at 40!
As I stated previously, my desire is not to just become healthier. My desire is to become the HEALTHIEST I have ever been.
They say that 40 is the new 30. Well, let’s see if I can squeeze out a couple more years and make it 28!
Today (as I write this) is January 5th, 2015.
I guess I already let the cat out of the bag at the beginning of this page that I failed my initial try at being fitter at 40. I mean, I did drop weight…down to 170 lbs., but somewhere down the road, I lost my way.
It’s about 19 months later and guess what? I’ve topped off at 211 lbs. again and ALL those health effects I mentioned above, I’m oh-so enjoying again.
So what’s different now? MY DESIRE! I think before it was going to be an experiment and blog along the way.
Well, the blogging never happened. I never launched my site, and never kept a journal. I had no one to be accountable to really. I mean, yes to myself and loved ones, but the passion just wasn’t there.
I desired to get back in shape, but the passion to do so wasn’t where it needed to be to sustain me on that journey.
PASSION is what keeps us going.
PASSION is what drives our WHY.
Why it is we do the things we do to live happier and healthier lives.
Now I have a long way to go, but for the first time in my life, I’m not on some incredibly unhealthy unsustainable fad diet where I lose a bunch of weight rapidly, only to gain it all back and then some. This is a literal life-changer for me.
The amount of information I have learned and absorbed in the last 19 months is incredible. I now have the knowledge and tools to live a fun, healthy, fully rewarding long life.
Know what the best part is? I get to EAT and not count calories.
My life is full of tasty grass-fed meats, pastured poultry, eggs and pork, wild caught seafood, organic fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthy fats and it’s very satisfying.
My palate is being introduced to quite a few new things and she likes it!
For some of you that are familiar, the way I am eating now sounds like I’ve adapted a Paleo/Primal way of eating and living, and you are basically right.
However, I’m not going to be nearly as strict and will enjoy the occasional ‘bad eats’. The other thing I am going to do is not beat myself up about it. I’ll enjoy it, and then eat healthy the next meal.
So again, follow me on my journey and root me on. You never know…you just might feel inspired enough to take your own journey.