Today is officially day 1 of the Slim by Spring Transformation Challenge, and periodically I will be updating my progress (or lack thereof). The areas I’ll focus on for that are measurements, weight trends, and my food log. I’m gonna let it all hang out there over the next 6 months. Fair warning, it might not always be pretty!
Before we dive into that, I thought it would be beneficial to look back on where this all started.
That’s me on the left, arguably at my heaviest weight somewhere just south of 200lbs. The people around me are my siblings, Mike, Jodie, and Matt. You’ll notice my frame here is weirdly similar to Matt’s – only he consumes somewhere in the vein of 3000 calories a day to maintain his muscle – an amount of calories I have no business being near at 5 feet 6 inches, and certainly not when it was mostly fat.
That thin smile? Yeah, it’s likely no surprise that I wasn’t too happy with myself then, and it showed.
That photo was taken about 3 years ago now in December of 2014, and I’m pleased to be able to say I’ve made some progress, but it wasn’t until about 6 months after that that I actually stepped on the scale and was like, “Shit, I need to do something about this.” It’s amazing how much denial you can be in about yourself. People tell me all the time, when they see me now (in my smaller frame.) that I was “never really that heavy” or that I “carried myself well,” and I know they mean well, but when I look back on photos like that above, I can’t even explain the level of disappointment and embarrassment I feel about myself for letting my weight and health get that out of hand.
So what was the catalyst for change, my “A-Ha!” moment? Everyone talks about having one, as if you’ll only ever have one (I disagree) and you’re never really prepared for it, it just sort of… happens.
For me, my first was in June of 2015. The weather was starting to get nicer and I was spending a lot more time outside. I’ve always loved summer but I haven’t always felt wholly comfortable in summer; wishing that I was thinner so that I could wear cuter clothes, not be embarrassed to swim or play sports that I love with friends or worry about how people think I look when I want to lay out for a tan. It’s amazing how many thoughts go through your own mind when you’re worried about your health and body shape that have nothing to do with your actual health and are all purely thinly veiled criticisms that you think other people are having about you.
So it was nearing June when I started giving thought to making some changes because I was noticing things I didn’t like, like losing my breath more than usual when out doing basic errands for example, (and as someone that has grown up playing a wide variety of sports and has always had pretty good cardiovascular health and lung capacity, that is a shocking revelation) but it wasn’t until it was actually June that I stepped on the scale and saw the read out. I was mortified. It was real now. “A-ha, something has to change.”
The next 6 months was a series of trial and error. I didn’t have a plan per say but I knew what tools and activities might help me reach my goal, whatever my goal was.
I rejoined MyFitnessPal, which for those of you that don’t know about it, it’s basically a free online community & app that you can download to your phone where you can log your daily intake, get an overview of your macro nutrients, set a goal for weightless (0.5-2lb a week loss depending on how much you have to lose.) learn how many calories your body actually needs to function (BMR) and manage your exercise calories. It is the first thing I recommend to anyone looking to drop a few, because it seriously works.
It teaches you how to:
A) See how much you’re actually eating
B) Learn how much you should be eating
C) If it’s relevant to your diet, you’ll be able to check your macros to make sure you’re not going over/under your carbs/fat/protein goals
D) Be accountable for your weight loss goals (Because it’s not until you find yourself logging every bite and liquid that you see where those pounds are coming from, thereby teaching you where you can cut back.)
E) See areas where you can improve
The online community is also fabulous for finding the answer to just about any question you might have. It’s full of people that have not only going through the process themselves, but maintained their loses. They’ll also set you straight about whatever diet-myth you might have been lead to believe. I highly recommend checking it out, I still frequent the boards myself.
Having a support group is one of the biggest things I advocate for when you’re working on your health. It doesn’t have to be big, but it should be consistent. It’s one of the reasons WeightWatchers is so successful – those biweekly or monthly meetings with your group are huge boosters and aid in accountability as well. Otherwise, all you’re doing with Weightwatchers is following a calorie deficit plan like I was, only they’ve drawn up dinky cards that allot “points” to foods instead of just counting your calories. I guess the smaller number makes it easier for some, but for me it just sounds more complicated. Find what works for you.
This photo was taken in March 2016. I was making improvements and had lost some weight, but I hadn’t come to terms with how far I’d let myself go at this point. Fortunately, my lovely fiance Matt is a huge supporter of my goals, regardless of what they are. He doesn’t always understand why I’m doing what I am, but he tells me all the time that I’m doing great, killing kilometers on my runs, and doesn’t put up too much of a fuss when I want to make a healthier dinner – there just have to be snacks on hand for him in case he’s still hungry.
Speaking of those kilometers – coupled with logging my intake (of which, I followed no particular diet but I made sure that I was in a calorie deficit – so if I wanted pizza, I could have it, I just had to manage how much – way easier than trying to follow a complicated diet plan.) I downloaded RunKeeper and started a Beginner 5K running plan.
I don’t often talk about the Beginner 5k plan as if it was the real game changer, but looking back I really think it was much more relevant to my success than I thought then, and the reason I think that now is that by following a steady running plan, I was able to see gradual improvement over time (it does wonders for your mental health to be able to see that one week 1, you only ran 10 minutes, and by week 4, you’re doing 5k with ease.) and it also impacted my dietary choices. When you know you have to run 10k to work off just half your usual helpings of pizza, it really makes you question how badly you want to go back for seconds. You also start to learn that foods higher in fat and grease and all that deliciousness don’t lend themselves to well to a long run, they make you feel sluggish and perform poorly – so reaching for a protein bar or some yogurt and berries becomes a more natural choice, as well.
After a while, the runs got easier, and my goals got greater. After my June “A-ha” moment, I set a goal for myself to run the Terry Fox 5k that September. I ended up making a mistake on the course and kept running after the 5k, and I didn’t realize my mistake until I saw the 6k marker – I was going for the 10! I ended up finishing the 10k, my first 10k, and was so proud and motivated I set more goals, and the following year I participated in a variety of races, like the Toronto 10K Waterfront where this snap was taken. Looking a little leaner and a lot happier, I must say.
This one was taken March of this year. When you compare it to the first photo, you can really see the difference, right? I’ve pleased I’ve been able to mostly maintain my loss, but I’m not done yet.
So that brings us to right now. Day 1 of the Slim by Spring Transformation Challenge.
Participating in races made me realize how much my competitive nature can be used to my advantage as I work towards my goals, which is why I signed up.
The first weigh in is on November 23rd and I’m supposed to lose 3% of my body weight by then in order to get a piece of the money pot, but I’ll update periodically until then. Want to cheer on my progress? Click here!
Working towards your own goals and want to connect? E-mail me! Or add me to your socials!
That’s the story so far, but the best is yet to come.