Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Journey of Discovery and Weight loss~ Part 1

Three years ago, I lost a lot of weight. Along with that, I made some lifestyle changes. The most important thing, the lesson I'm continuing to learn, is that I'm me, no matter how I look on the outside. What true beauty really means to me.

For the next couple of days, I'll open up in raw, heart-felt honesty and share with you some of these very personal feelings about my journey. Maybe there's something you can relate with or take from my experiences.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

When I started this blog, I knew there would be a time where I would want to share my journey of weight loss. It’s something personal and emotional to express, but I feel like this is something that I could easily talk about to any one of you, one on one. So many people have asked about how it has happened. I feel that I need to put down my thoughts and experience in words, not only for my sake, but for any one of you that might be on the same journey I have been on.

Last year, at the end of November, I went to my doctor for my regular check up, which I had neglected to do for 2 to 3 years. I was in good health, which I was thankful for, but at the end of the visit, I expressed frustration about my weight and efforts with walking faithfully, every day, and not seeing any progress made toward weight loss. After doing some tests to rule out thyroid problems, (which I was secretly hoping might be my “excuse” for being fat) the doctor suggested other ways we could deal with the situation.
Growing up, sports and athletics were always a part of my life. I never had to watch what I ate. Then the babies came. My life was centered on my motherhood. I devoted all my time and energy to my family. I was trying to survive day to day with those babies, a husband going to school and working full time, growing children, household tasks, and home schooling. The pounds kept coming on, and before I knew it, I was at an all time high. I really didn’t care at that point. But it was difficult to see myself in the mirror. I started to feel old, especially with all that gray hair coming in! I felt that I would be an unattractive, frumpy mom for the rest of my life. I remember going to a yoga class a few years ago, and crying when I came out, realizing that I hadn’t really moved or felt my body or sweated for so long.

I decided to go on an appetite suppressant for 3 months. It was during the holidays and would be a perfect time to begin. However, I made the decision that I would do anything in my power to really make this wish a reality. I didn’t want to just go on a diet- I didn’t really believe diets would work. I didn’t want to starve myself and let my children know that that was something women do. I wanted to change my eating habits. I started reading nutrition books. I was inspired by Dr. Phil’s weight loss book, (he didn’t mince any words, but told it as it is), and a book that helped something click inside me, Running with Angels.

I decided that if I were to maximize the weight loss, I needed to start running. It was the middle of winter, freezing cold. I walked some and ran some. I could only go from one telephone pole to the next, but pretty soon I could go farther. I felt ridiculous and wondered what people thought of when they saw me. Cute little joggers would go past me and I thought, “that will never be me.” But I just kept going. After a few weeks, my knees said, “we aren’t ready for this, Emily.” I was in so much pain that I honestly believed I couldn’t go on. Ibuprofen became my friend. Good shoes helped, too. I let up for a week or so, and then kept plowing through it. As the weight started coming off, the knee pain eased up.

The medicine was a blessing to me. I didn’t feel any side effects; only a dry mouth. Therefore, I was drinking a ton of water. I didn’t have any desire for all the Christmas goodies. I just didn’t seem hungry, but I made sure I was eating decently. I cut back somewhat on carbohydrates at breakfast and lunch and ate what I cooked for my family at dinner time. I drank 2 percent milk like I always did, but only with dinner or on my cereal. I started to really eat a lot more fruits and vegetables with every meal. Lots of salads with chicken, string cheese, cottage cheese, plain non-fat yogurt, raw almonds, whole grains, low-carb tortillas, and lean meats. All the things everyone knows. I watched my portions. No more soda. I also really limited sugar and sweets whenever possible in the beginning. I enjoyed a natural plant sweetener called Stevia, that has no calories or carbs. I liked to mix that in my yogurt and in my peppermint tea that I had in the evenings -that seemed to become a “comfort food” for me that satisfied some sugar cravings. Later on, I didn’t want to deprive myself if I made a treat for the family, so I just enjoyed it, and that was that.

Amazingly, in that first month I lost 20 pounds, Christmas and all! I weighed myself every morning after the exercise, took my measurements and logged my weight weekly. I recorded in my journal my weight loss goal each month. That was a big thing to report to myself the progress I was making. I also decided to lift some 10 pound weights for about 20 minutes 3 or 4 times a week. Doing that seemed to tone my upper body. More pains in other parts of my legs…more Ibuprofen.

Pretty soon, I needed new clothes. That was exciting! I decided to purge my closet and get rid of those big clothes- that was hard because I had just purchased some of them and I liked them. Plus, now I had nothing to wear! But I decided that there was no way I was going back to the old me. The day came that I could wear cute jeans, with shirt tucked in, with a belt. I remember putting my hip out and asking Gary if I looked “sassy” and him putting his hands to his face and shrieking “NOOO! I want my mom back.” I went through, and continue to struggle with my identity. Am I still the same person who loves to wear aprons and bake bread and can I be the cute sassy woman who people say “wow” about? It’s weird when you feel like a person in a different body, when people you haven’t seen for awhile don’t recognize you any more, when you start to see cheekbones and collarbones that you didn’t know were there.

I loved the compliments and encouraging words I got. Normally, I loved having people compliment me, but one day at a wedding reception, so many people I hadn’t seen for a long time didn’t recognize me and just didn’t know what to say to me, but their surprised expressions said so much. I came home and felt like crying because I felt like I was still the same person inside. I somehow felt shameful and embarrassed of the way I used to look. It is still extremely difficult to look at pictures of myself. It’s something I need to work through. In my mind, I know that I was trying to do the best I could at the time and I was good enough, but it’s so hard living in a society that focuses so much on the outward appearance. I’ve learned that self worth does not equal thinness.
65 pounds in less than 5 months is a lot to lose. It really hit me when I tried to carry a 50 lb. sack of wheat and realized that I had lost that much. It made me scream! It is a miracle. I would never believe this could happen to me. But there is something else that is unbelievable to me, though. It’s the running and how it has not only changed the way I look, but changed the person I’m becoming. I always hated to run, even when I played on sports teams. It started out as a chore, then became a habit, and now has become a part of who I am. It has given me so many gifts and taught me so much about myself.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned is self-discipline. It’s hard stepping out of your comfort zone. At the beginning, I had to force myself by making goals, but as the weight came off and I started to feel better physically, emotionally, and spiritually, it became easier and easier to head out that door. I learned what self-motivation was. Nobody was forcing me to do this. I did it for me. I could be a committed person. I know that my example has also inspired others, and that also keeps me going.I’ve learned that I can do hard things. Things that seemed impossible. I can endure cold temperatures, physical pain, thunderstorms, mean dogs, nasty old men, and hills. Knowing I can do this gives me strength and power. The first time I went up a hill without stopping, I had a “Rocky” moment, tears filling my eyes. The physical endurance has helped me learn that I can endure the emotional and spiritual day- to- day trials and exhaustion. I know this will strengthen me when other kinds of enduring may happen in the future.

My health has never been better since I started exercising. I know my heart is strong, my bones are stronger, I’ll be able to ward disease off better, and PMS is a thing of the past. I’ve experienced more peace and joy. I don’t feel so overwhelmed with life. I feel invigorated and cleansed every time I walk back in the door. I love to spend that time by myself. I love the sunlight, watching the sunrise, and being in the fresh, clean air. I wish I would have given myself this gift a long time ago.

Looking back on this year, I can see God’s hand in my life. He knew I needed to be in a position to have more energy, confidence, and joy as I’ve been given even more responsibilities and demands. I know that I will continue to make exercise and healthy eating a part of my life forever. I’m grateful for the journey He has sent me on.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. What a great accomplishment! You DO look amazing, but you have always been an amazing woman. I have lately been missing my "running" days. There is something very therapeutic about pounding the pavement as the sun rises over the horizon. I need to get back to that! Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Wow Emily, that's an amazing story! I have to confess that my husband and I might have been those that didn't recognize you at first at that wedding reception! You are such a good example to me because I go up and down with my weight and so I totally know what you have gone through! But I haven't gotten my body to the best shape that it should be in. I have really put on a lot of weight lately, but I can't get motivated to go run outside since it's so cold! I hope that I can get motivated soon! :)

  3. Yes...it is a journey! The best is that you are healthier and happier! Love you! Thanks for sharing it. It is inspiring and touch me in many ways!

  4. oh, this was such a good read. Your journey is nothing short of amazing. You should be so incredibly proud of yourself. The reactions of others is always so interesting. I am not sure what to think of it. And, yes - when someone loses a significant amount of weight I always have them pick up a dumbbell or something similar to show how much they have lost. Your knees must feel so much better now. And, yoga has a way of surfacing some emotions that are buried deeply inside.

  5. 65 pounds in 5 months! Well done Emily!
    Thanks for the inspiration,
    I'm gonna start running, now!
    You looked good before and now you look gorgeous ;)

  6. That is so exciting, Emily. You look wonderful and ARE wonderful. You are such an inspiration to many of us. WOW!!! I just love you even more for your desire to share your success and completely open yourself for the benefit of others. That is one quality that I admire greatly in you. You are true, loving to all, faithful, and I know that you would give your own life if it were to save your sisters. I love you!!