I remember standing in the line of a concessions stand, looking at all of the options. In my mind I was trying to figure out the opportunity costs of five icies vs. one large ice cream cone (with a chocolate crust!) or a large licorice twist vs. starbursts. Now, my position was a tenuous one. I had been told specifically not to go to the concessions stand. I was supposed to save my money for important things like college and a future, but those words were far away from my thirteen-year old mind. I hadn't bothered to sit down and do the math of how much a cone a day would cost me, not just in my piggy-bank, but in my waist-line.
Through my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I weighed around 165 lbs, a lot for a 5'3'' 14-15 year old girl. By this point my parents had realized that something was going on, but they really didn't know what to do. I'm grateful that in the end they decided to lead by example and teach me true principles about healthy eating. My mom had been trying to lose weight herself and was being pretty successful, exercising and learning about healthy eating. This was a huge help and example to me. My father wanted to support her, and though he was in good physical shape, he got on the bandwagon with my mom and started getting up at 5 am to workout with her.
Inspired by their example I started working out, and managed to lose a little weight. I dropped about ten pounds and went from a size 14 to 10 by the end of junior year (still at about 165 lbs, but now 5'5''). My parents were always a huge support to me. I never heard a negative comment about my weight, just love and positive affirmation. Then I started taking college classes. I hopped into the college routine, grabbing fast food between work and classes. By the time I was 19 I had gained 10 pounds and was back into size 12s.
|173 pounds at a size 12|
After that I managed to avoid gaining weight. I went and served a mission for my church and enjoyed my time there helping people. One of the women I served with was an avid runner and she started me running laps during our morning workouts. I didn't lose weight since I wasn't eating very healthily, but I didn't gain either and I felt pretty good about myself.
It was a good time, and I was fairly content. But it didn't stay that way for long. After a while I moved to a new place and my diet changed dramatically. Previously I had been eating with a lot of Hispanics, and so the meals were home-made. Though there was a lot of meat, they also had plenty of veggies, beans and corn tortillas. My new diet was primarily of white breads, desserts and holiday foods. Thanksgiving hit, and my health started a downward spiral. I started getting migraines, I was nauseous much of the time, I felt depressed and anxious.
|190 pounds about a size 16|
Christmas came, and in the 9 months since I'd started, I had gone from 170 pounds to 190. 20 pounds in 9 months. I remember one morning getting up and feeling like I had become a network of stretchmarks over night. I about cried. Christmas wasn't quite so holly or jolly that year.
Gah! I didn't know what to do. I felt awful emotionally and physically, I went to get pills for my migraines, but they got worse. I was tired all the time, and my friends will testify that I wasn't always fun to be around. Things didn't change until I told an older friend of mine about how I wanted to get back to my start weight before I returned home from my mission. But I only had 9 months to do it, and honestly, losing 20 pounds in the amount of time it took me to gain it? Impossible!
But my friend looked at me and said, "If you stop eating white breads, desserts and lots of meat, it'll happen. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables."
Any other day I would have laughed. I was surrounded by desserts and I hadn't had a serious exercise in months. But I was desperate and I took what he said to heart. After just a week of cutting out breads, desserts and eating veggies and fruits the change was amazing. I felt healthier, and emotionally I was a different person!
But the big changes didn't start until I got home. It was at this time that my mom had discovered Dr. Fuhrman and his book Eat to Live which was all about eating a plant based diet, no meat, no dairy, just fruits and vegetables. It wasn't hard to make the switch. Mom had gone down two pant sizes in a matter of months and hadn't had a migraine since she started. I already knew what a big effect white breads and sugars had on my emotional health, so dropping them entirely for equally tasty, healthy substitutes was not an issue.
The first few weeks I'd lose about a pound, but as I started to introduce exercising into my routine I started to lose three to four pounds a weeks. By the end of 6 weeks I was back at 173 pounds and feeling wonderful. I stopped craving desserts, stopped wanting burgers, but instead started craving hummus with cucumbers, and fruit smoothies. It was so liberating! I could eat however much I wanted, of whatever I wanted, and still lose weight. I felt good. Then the holidays hit again.
You can imagine my trepidation, considering what the last year's festivities had done to my waistline, but this year was different. I wasn't losing, that's true. I had many 'free days' with friends. But I maintained. By New Years I was still sitting around 173-175 pounds, and it was all due to the fact that not matter how many times I fell off the band wagon I got back on.
I won't pretend that this is an exact science, or that it's easy. That's part of the purpose of this blog. College (single life in general) is a tough environment to live in. Low finances, time shortage, and lots and lots of stress. So I want to document my experiences here, favorite recipes, struggles, successes, hoping that I'll be able to help other people be happier, healthier, and skinnier!
I have a long way to go, but looking at these two photos here, I've already come a long way. I hope to share my journey with all of you, and prove to the world that not only is living a healthy lifestyle as a college student possible, and affordable, it's desirable.