I am so much stronger, mentally and physically than I ever realised I could be, and so much of that I credit to trusting the process of Eat More To Weigh Less and challenging and trusting myself. I’m the lowest weight I’ve been since my mid 20s (I’m now 31) and my heart is lighter too.
I’ve lost over 29kgs / 64.3lbs in the last year. I now buy clothes in “straight sizes” instead of “plus sizes.” I lost most of that weight in the six months since I’ve been following Eat More To Weigh Less. I’m not at my “goal weight” yet but that has become less important over time, especially as I reflect on how I’ve changed my relationship with my body and food over the last year to a healthy one. For me the main reason to care about the number on the scale now is because one of my goals for 2014 is to be able to deadlift my own body weight. I focus on small weight loss goals at a time with no “ultimate” number in mind. I now celebrate muscle and strength gains more than I celebrate a loss on the scale. Eat More To Weigh Less has taught me how much the diet industry and women’s media has failed us, and lied to us. When I reflect on the knowledge I have now and share it with others who ask how they can be successful with weight loss like I am, this process feels like a radical truth.
Ten years ago I was thrown against a wall by an ex and suffered from what was probably undiagnosed whiplash. I spent the next decade in chronic and debilitating pain and experienced frequent migraines. The pain was so bad a neurologist said the reason I spent a year throwing up multiple times a day was “stomach migraine.” I was really fit and slim before the injury but now in pain, I became afraid of movement, my body got fat and tired and my anxiety and depression got worse. I had a couple of years of intensive physiotherapy for my neck, which didn’t help. I lived like a victim. This man wasn't the last abuser in my life, but he was the one who did the most mental and physical damage.
I worked so hard over the years to heal from this trauma and made some progress, but never got there while overwhelmed with other chronic health issues and battling with my weight. Over the last couple of years I have followed my intuition to release that trauma, making unconventional choices in the right “therapies” or “treatments.” I focused on relationships of love and trust in my life, and learned to love myself past the body positivity I tried to practice. I finally decided that body positivity could also mean it was okay to want to change my body. When I joined MyFitnessPal earlier in 2013, I wanted to lose weight but realised I needed to stop crash dieting, because I would lose only to regain. I’d been doing a lot of cardio and resistance training, but I didn’t feel balanced, and I was still binge eating. Overcoming disordered eating is possible, but it took me months of mindfulness and vigilance, and realising that instant gratification wasn’t helping or satisfying me.
I was lucky that some of the women on my friends list were following Eat More To Weigh Less, and I was encouraged to check out the forum and website. I had been eating my BMR (and not eating back any exercise calories) and losing weight, but with all the exercise I was doing I was hungry all the time. In June I took a leap of faith and upped my calories slowly. Since then I have a better grasp of my TDEE and eat a 10-20% cut which is around 2000 calories a day to lose weight. When I started eating more was when really started to make strength gains and lose more weight, consistently. There were times when I doubted the process, but Eat More To Weigh Less has allowed me more freedom with food and my lifestyle.
I love food and I’m a great cook, and much of my social life revolves around sharing food with friends. I don’t eat diet foods. I don’t believe food has a moral value and while I enjoy it in moderation, I don’t feel guilty about the choices I make. I don’t punish myself by exercising more just because I ate more on a given day. I’ve always known how to eat healthily (I was brought up vegetarian though I’m no longer one) with a focus on fruit, vegetables and whole grains. My problem was eating too much (sugar especially) with emotional and hormonal binge eating, taking different medications for my health that made me gain even more weight, and not exercising enough. I haven’t cut anything out while counting calories, in fact I’ve probably added more, but with a greater balance. I’ve never liked soft drink and I don’t drink a lot of alcohol either, but still enjoy it on occasion. I could never eat low carb because I love carbs. My main focus is my protein macro and eating over 100g of protein a day, to help in building muscle. I find if I focus on protein all my other macros fall in line. I break so many of those stupid “dieting rules” and eat late dinners, snack late at night (I hate going to bed hungry) and I eat dessert nearly every day. Something so important I learnt when overcoming disordered eating was learning to listen to my body and hunger again, and trust it. I now know when I need to eat more and I’m not afraid to.
This process needs patience and the results will come. Be kind to yourself and nourish your body and mind with good food and new challenges. Celebrate the changes in your body and improvements in fitness and strength. Honour your body for how hard it works for you even with all your perceived imperfections, how you can love and move with it. Reach out to the compassionate, sensible and wise EM2WL team and forum members when you’re struggling or unsure.
I made 2013 my year of focusing on getting other chronic health conditions I had under control. Eating more and being fitter and stronger helped me find the courage and energy to pursue treatments I needed, because I didn’t want anything holding me back with my fitness goals! I grew bored with the cardio and resistance training I was doing. A girlfriend of mine loved lifting and talked about it all the time and I was in awe of her, but still afraid of further injuring my neck and being in more pain. I saw all the inspiring women from Eat More To Weigh Less on my friends list lifting and I wanted to start. Your encouragement made me feel braver. I paid a trainer for a few sessions to teach me how to correctly and safely do compound lifts, and then started StrongLifts on my own.
I’m always looking for ways to challenge my fitness rather than staying still physically (and mentally). Kiki recently helped me reflect on how my relationship with cardio has changed. I used to do more cardio so I could burn more and lose more, and that worked because I was eating well. That approach is boring and exhausting though. I even used to do cardio and lift weights on the same days, I'd hate to contemplate doing that often now! My cardio goal for next year is to find more opportunities and time to go on hikes with local groups, because it's nice to get out of the city and the hikes are challenging. I get a lot of NEAT because I don’t have a car and I walk a lot. I’ve never been a runner but I’ve started doing C25K. I really look forward to it and love that it’s only a half hour commitment three times a week. I LOVE how efficient my workout is when I concentrate on compound lifts three times a week. Something Kiki wrote that resonated with me about designing her workout schedule: “some things are included out of necessity, and other just for kicks.” For me, lifting and doing some cardio is necessary, and Pilates is my kicks when I find time for it, or yoga. I change my workout routine as I accomplish goals or get bored and need variety. I'm never doing hours of cardio again though, unless it's outdoors. I even want to do Park Runs next year – the old me would have shied from running outdoors with people I don’t know.
When I started lifting heavy weights and got strong it all came together. Today I have a strong back and shoulders and can hold my neck up without exhaustion or pain. My posture has improved. My chronic pain is gone and I rarely get migraines. I've never felt as feminine as I do now with curves and muscle (I joke that my body type is now “muscular hourglass”). I thought there'd be a point before now where I'd look at my body and think, “That's enough muscle.” I now know I've got a long way to go until that point, because I love celebrating more muscle! I’ve become a more confident woman in the last year. I wear sleeveless clothes outside the house now, and even wear a bikini to the beach.
I'm centred and I feel so powerful, and that feeling comes from challenging my strength and building muscle. I never thought I’d want my body to lift weights, and I didn’t know how much I’d enjoy it. Mentally I am calm and I feel like no one could (or should) mess with me. Family, friends and strangers remark on how happy, healthy and strong I am and look. I am less defensive and I don't live in fear every day. If I ever have a daughter I will encourage her to do a martial art or lift weights, because I believe these are powerful practices to create a mental and physical posture to shield from potential abusers, and live with confidence and strength. To live with power. The real “secret” to my success so far has been getting strong!
Have an EM2WL transformation to share? Willing to let us tag along on your journey? We’d love to see it! Be featured on our Transformation/Journey page by submitting your story to Success@EM2WL.com