How long have you been on this journey?
All my life! Ever since I was young I was always aware of my weight, probably due to the media influence. Even as young as four I thought I was fat. I watched my mom struggle on different diets over the years as well. Her journey with food and weight loss had a big impact on me. As a teen, I would try different diets, everything from basically starving myself, to Atkins, to South Beach. In college I tried the low-fat approach. All these diets would work for a period, but none gave me the body I wanted and all left something to be desired. After graduating, I started to pack on pounds at a desk job, and that was what led me to find MFP (MyFitnessPal) and calorie counting. It wasn’t until about a year later that I found the EM2WL group.
When did you first learn that you needed to eat more to reach your goals? What was your original response?
Probably about a year after I started calorie counting. In 2011 I joined MFP, and signed up for the standard 1,200 calories/day diet. I was also training 3-4 times a week for a half-marathon. I would eat back my exercise calories, but I was always hungry, tired and grouchy (ask my roommates!). One day I somehow came across the EM2WL group. All the facts seemed to make sense, but I was scared. In fact, I was really scared. I had managed to lose a couple of pounds eating a 1200 calorie diet, and didn’t want to gain any of it back.
How did others around you act about your decision to discard the usual low cal methods for weight loss?
Most people were supportive. I don’t think anyone likes being on a diet, so most people are open to the idea of eating more if they can do so without expanding their waistline.
How did your body react to the initial increase in cals?
Pretty well. At first I didn’t want to increase too drastically, so I went up to about 1,800 calories a day. I didn’t gain weight, and best of all, I felt SO MUCH BETTER. I wasn’t foggy, had better concentration at work, and felt like I recovered from workouts much faster. On 1,200 a day, I was always hurting and required more sleep, but still didn’t feel fully recovered. I stayed at 1,800 calories for about 2 years until Fall 2014, when a trainer encouraged me to up calories again! I had the same response as before – I was scared because I didn’t want to get fat. But I trusted him, started packing in the protein, and for the first time in my life, I saw real muscle gain!! I started lifting in 2012 around the same time I discovered EM2WL, but never had great strength gains. Sure I got a little stronger and increased my PRs, but I didn’t have much muscle growth. Once I learned to trust the process and eat more, it was like BOOM! There are the muscles!
Did your family notice or comment on any changes once you upped your calories for a period of time?
In the past several months since upping my calories to 2,200-2,400 a day, several co-workers have noticed. One said I look a lot leaner, and another commented, “whatever you’re doing must be working!”
Can you describe your typical workout schedule prior to EM2WL and today?
Prior to EM2WL I was working out about 5 days a week, 3 days running, 2 days doing some kind of resistance or strength training. After EM2WL I switched to 2-3 days of lifting plus 2 cardio workouts a week. I mix up my cardio between HIIT, hiking and boxing.
Has proper fuel affected you in ways other than weight loss? (Good or bad)
Eating more has affected me positively in so many ways. I have more energy and have longer more effective workouts; I am less tired throughout the day and can focus more when I’m at work. Instead of wondering when the next meal is, I just go about my day. I used to always have brittle fingernails, I have noticed they’ve become much stronger with the diet changes.
Would you please describe the mental journey since upping your calories?
This was not easy. I think most diets have as much of a mental component as a physical. I was so scared to eat more because I didn’t want to get fat. The before and after pictures told a story of success, but would it really work for me too? I wondered. It didn’t take long to move past that though because I started feeling better almost instantly. That gave me encouragement to trust the process.
Any parting words of encouragement to those who are new to eating more, or struggling with the decision of whether or not to fuel properly?
Don’t think of it as a diet, think of it as a lifestyle change. Do you want to lost weight only to regain it, and then lose again for the rest of your life? No one wants to do that. We all want to keep it off, and be happy, healthy, and strong. The benefits to eating well are numerous — more energy, improved mood, better sleep, clearer skin, stronger hair and nails, and you even smell better! Stop wasting time with diets. Instead starting learning to fuel yourself and give your body the tools it needs to keep the metabolic fire roaring!
How can the fam hear/see/read more from you?
Be my friend on MFP (kelseyhere) or follow me on Instagram for cool recipes and healthy living tips @hideas_kitchen.
Oh wow – what a really inspiring story!