A few months ago I received an email form Kimberly after I asked you all the question “How do you handle criticism?” It went a little something like this…
…The success I am experiencing currently is because over the past few years of tackling my issues, I realized many of these same strategies and put them into play. You have to PLAN if you want to succeed.
- Structure your day
- Prepare food in advance
- Take food with you…wherever I am, there is my food.
- Turn off the TV; take care of daily business first….
- pick up heavy stuff frequently and walk ….a lot
Doing all these things has helped me eliminate 81 lbs of fat off my body, I have lost it and I will NEVER find it again…
81 pounds! I had to interview her. Little did I know the insight and amazing journey she would tell. Without further ado, I give you Kimberly.
Q: Talk to me about when your weight became an issue for you and some of the details as to why that was? What was your breaking point?
A: My weight has been an issue for me my entire life. I went from “newborn” directly into “pretty plus”. I yo-yo’d my entire adult life. I lost about 50 pounds in the mid 80’s, gained it all back plus some until I was at my highest weight of 297; lost another 60 lbs in the 90’s, then would gain 5, lose 7, gain 10, lose 15, gain 20, lose 5 etc…
Got a divorce in 2005..boo hoo sad and nervous; lost weight , met my current husband in 2006..yee haw happy; cooked up a storm of love food; ended back up around 275. I was shocked and so disappointed with myself. At this point , I was 46 and was having female plumbing issues and general unwellness. I found a woman gynecologist who was in her own practice. She fixed me up that way and hooked me up with an endocrinologist. I have been taking thyroid meds for years prescribed by a family doctor. The endocrinologist told me I was crossing the line into type II diabetes. I was right on the edge, I knew I needed to do something. I WAS NOT GOING TO GO THERE. Period Dot The End. NOT.
So, that started me on my journey into wellness, I started eating better and working out steadily. A group of friends have gotten together for the past two years and run in the WARRIOR DASH. I lost a lot of weight..body fat..and gained a ton of muscle mass. I walked two miles a day, went to the gym and did another two on the elliptical, lifted weights. I started this journey in 2008 wearing size 24W pants. I was down to a size 18W. Then I hit a plateau. I wasn’t gaining, and my body was still changing, although much more slowly, and I wasn’t losing much weight. I did this for a long time. My blood sugar reached the 80’s so my doctor took me off the medicine. I could not figure out why I couldn’t lose my belly, and why I had heartburn and gas.
Q: How did you discover the Paleo Diet? And explain the gradual changes you made and how you stayed motivated?
A: One of the gentlemen in my wellness group is from the UK, he is a brilliant brilliant man. He started posting things pertaining to Paleo and whole foods; however, this INCLUDED MEAT AND FAT!! WHAT? Meat and Fat!! I had been eating Fruit, Nuts, Grains and Beans ( and Oreos, m&m’s, Doritos, bread bread bread bread, but that’s another story) for so long that the thought of eating meat and fat blew me away.
I didn’t know that then; I thought it was normal to be gassy and bloated, and have brain fog, and generally feel like shit all the time. I am an inquisitive type so to the GOOGLE I went and started exploring. I had been taken off the diabetes meds, and immediately gained 18 lbs. My endocrinologist wanted to put me back on the pill, but I didn’t want to. What taking the pill did was allow me to still eat boatloads of shit and metabolize it. Not the way to wellness in my book. So, taking in everything I read on-line, I started Juicing, I started to use coconut oil. I started to eat more protein as opposed to grains; eliminated most grains completely.
I realized that my relationship with food was as unhealthy as my first marriage, and that I allowed food to bully me. I was immature in this relationship and I needed to grow up. So, in 2102, I divorced food, I broke up with it.
I have always loved to cook, I have cooked trough loads of food in my lifetime. This year, I stopped with the majority of what I used to make and I have SIMPLIFIED, meat, veg and fat. Easy, Delicious, packable, movable feasts.
Q: So explain what gradual changes you made and how you stayed motivated?
A: I love food. I have always loved food. My father loved to cook; my mother was a great baker. I grew up at their elbows helping in the kitchen. I have always cooked for my family and friends. Even when I was ridiculously fat, I cooked real food. It has taken me close to 5 years to get to where I am now. Mostly because I had a difficult time giving up certain things…ritual food, comfort foods, celebration foods, anger foods; get the trend here? Had to deal with emotional issues etc. I have achieved that by learning to live in the PRESENT. The past can only interfere in my now if I allow it. The future has not happened yet so quit having expectations on how it should be; quit trying to control everything. And while I was dealing with the emotional burdens we all think are SOOO IMPORTANT, I learned to eat real food. Now If I am upset and want to eat something; I eat cooked greens. or fruit and cheese, instead of bingeing on Oreos.
Q: Talk about the first month or two? What where some of biggest obstacles and how did you address them?
A: When I stated previously that I divorced food in 2012, I meant that I eventually realized that eating the “extra” stuff, the mindless eating that I did throughout my work day etc, was KILLING me. Why wasn’t I reaching my goal? Maybe because I had a drawer full of crap that I munched on all day at work? AHHHHH Lightbulb moment. Sounds stupid, as any intelligent person would figure this out sooner, but we humans constantly rationalize and I was no different. The thing with higher consciousness is that once you get there, once the light goes on, you CANNOT continue to live in the darkness. Living in the darkness is now a CHOICE. So you have to face the “it;” whatever it is that you just had the moment over, and deal with it, Make whatever changes you have to make. Give yourself time to figure it out. The first thing you try may not work, there is always a plan B, plan C, plan D…… use them. I began to think of my self as an experiment in action.
As I began this journey into wellness, I began to educate my self. The internet has changed how we live; information is so easily attainable in these times. I intrinsically knew that the whole package needed an upgrade; this wasnt just a diet. Diet’s are events; wellness is a process, an ongoing continual process.
Changing my mindset(s) has been the biggest challenge. I am a child of the 60’s and 70’s; we were sold a life all about convenience and fun as we watched our Hanna Barbera Saturday morning cartoons, as our mothers watched the afternoon soaps, we were all indoctrinated in the lies of advertising. Unlearning that has been amazing. Accepting responsibility for my life and all I do ( what I put in my pie hole and how I move my body are just two aspects of the whole shebang) has allowed me to be a full functioning total adult.
Big obstacles are things like social functions with NON PALEO, non health freak people. That is a tough one; the great thing now is that the crap food just doesn’t interest me anymore. I am glad to be over that hurdle. I eat before I go anywhere. If that is not a possibility, I make the best choice I can from the available selections. I aim for eating clean 85% of the time. I actually think I am starting to do better than that, but for a while that was a good guideline. I allow myself to occasionally eat goodies, and now, what I think of as a goodie is changing. I can walk past the bakery aisle and the chip aisle and the ice cream aisle easily now. I feel like a million bucks, I am thinner and fitter than I have been since high school. No donut is gonna make me feel as good as that.
Q: What are some strategies you used to make the transition sustainable?
A: Going Paleo was actually easy for me. Cooking this way is easier than all the carb stuff. Stir fries, roasted veggies and meats, soups in the pressure cooker or slow cooker depending, salads, eggs. I cook on Sunday’s so I have food ready for the week. I take my food to work with me everyday to avoid temptation. I cook a omelet every night and pack it…usually spinach, bacon, mushroom with some swiss cheese with a huge helping of cooked greens on the side, for breakfast.
I pack a salad or a meat and veg combo for lunch. My husband is home all day and he eats when he is hungry; we don’t do big dinners very often. In the evening, when I get home from work, I work out, then we have some yogurt and fruit or something small like that. I front load my food, big breakfast; good-sized lunch and small evening meal. I eat lots of coconut oil and avocado. What I have noticed about eating more protein and fat is that I am really satiated..full and satisfied for HOURS. I used to eat a lot of carbs ( cereal for breakfast, snack all day at work, eat lunch, eat a big meal for dinner. eat dessert); a lot of really “heavy” foods. I feel so light now eating the way I do, and I’m not hungry all day. I’m not constantly grazing,..its amazing. My energy level is through the roof.
Q: How long did it take before you noticed positive results? What were the first things you noticed?
A: What I’ve really noticed since going more Paleo is that I’m getting leaner; losing the belly fat finally! My hair had been thinning for years, it’s now becoming thicker and healthier, very exciting for a woman of 50! I have an all around better sense of well-being. I have muscle mass; I run the stairs out of the subway every morning going to work. I power walk or elliptical and do a weight and stretching workout 3-4 days a week. I want to do these things. I can do these things!
“The motivation is in the doing“, and I believe that. Some days I don’t want to work out, some days I gave it the 10 minute rule and usually end up doing a full work out. What I know now is that I have changed my lifestyle, one habit at a time, one day at a time, one accomplishment and a whole shit ton of failures at times, and I am in a great place.
A: I now know for sure that support is essential for a transition into wellness. My on-line buddies have become real life long friends…as I stated previously, I have met several of them face to face and we have run in Warrior Dashes together. We call them Warrior Weekends! This year, instead of doing the dash, we are going to skydive.
I was married to an abusive man for 22 years. Our relationship was great as long as he had total control. Any time I attempted a diet; he sabotaged it. I always gave in and gave up. I was terribly unhappy for years and was too unwell and too busy in the chaos to even realize it. I was 30 years old when the lightbulb dimly lit for the first time; I had a baby and gave birth to my son by myself. My husband left me at the hospital and went home. As I looked at my son in his bassenet, being the ONLY mother in the recovery room without extended family members, a husband, balloons and flowers, I hit rock bottom. I knew I had to change my life.
So I started, I started reading. I made friends against my husband’s wishes. I started to take more control and more responsibility for my life. Finally, after twelve years of contention; he left. I felt like I had the rug pulled out from underneath me at the time, but it was the best thing that could have happened. Going through that divorce taught me how capable I am.
Now I am married to a man who supports what I do 100%. He is disabled from a genetic issue; Charcot-Tooth-Marie, a muscular dystrophy type genetic disorder has robbed him of the muscle mass in his extremities. He has no muscle mass in his lower legs or arms. He works out everyday to retain muscle mass. Since he met me and quit sugar, he has lost 80 pounds as well.
My son just turned 21 this week. He played high school football; O-line, and started playing in college. He just quit this year. Why? Because he started seriously training and lost 50 lbs. He was in such turmoil over football but how could I tell him to gain the weight back so he could play? Not gonna happen. He went from 280 to about 230 and he looks amazing. He is teaching himself to cook, which thrills me to no end, and I have given him Paleo cookbooks to help guide him. I have made many mistakes as a parent, but if my son is NOT AN OBESE ADULT then I will consider myself a success.
I do my best to surround my self with like-minded folk. How I eat is still so confusing to many, and that is ok. I explain best I can when asked. I do not offer information as most people are sadly, so indoctrinated into the standard american diet.
Q: What are 3 habits that you do consistently regardless of the chaos that may be going on in other areas of your life
1) Plan Plan Plan Plan…structure and consistency are key for me. I am the hyperactive type and hyperactive brains like mine are all over the place! While certainly being flexible, cause life happens no matter what, I try to be consistent with my daily habits. I get up at the same time every day. Right now, and probably for a long time to come, my office is short-staffed; I am working ridiculous hours. Taking a few moments here and there to plan how I spend my spare time and prepping for the next chunk of work time reduces stress levels. I plan out my wardrobe for the week on Sunday evening. I cook my self a omelette every night and pack it with cooked greens for my breakfast the next day and I pack my lunch out of the stuff I cooked on Sunday
2) TURN OFF THE TV . Really. Do it.
3) Sleep. I go to bed early; usually about 8:30 pm as I am up at 4:30 am for work. Yep, you read that correctly. Per number two, see above, when you practice that, you are ready for bed by 8:30! There are a few shows I like, and I can DVR them and watch them when I wish. I get home from work, I exercise, I Facebook, Hubby and I chat. I cook my breakfast and prep for the next day. Cuddle my kitties. I don’t need to know anything about anyone named Snookie. I think one of the reasons I hit 300 lbs was sleep deprivation.
Q: Talk about your triggers. What food triggers did you have that you had to break? How did you do so?
A: I had more food triggers than fingers and toes. Seriously. Ate when I was happy, ate when I was sad, ate when I was anxious, ate when I was mad….I just ate. I was so very unhappy in my first marriage, and so delusional and unconscious, that my mind would not allow my soul to know just how unhappy it was. I had a HUGE revelation when I started learning about Paleo; I had been as addicted to carbs for 30 years as Jerry Garcia was to heroin. I was on that intake refined carb-sugar high-crash cycle continuously for decades. I grazed all day.
As I started to change my lifestyle habits in 2008, I quickly eliminated packaged foods, rarely did I purchase cookies; I upped the quality of my binges by baking the crap myself, smart move. Treat day was on Saturday’s. However, I still had the secret stash drawer at work with tons of crap…cookies, pretzels, candy etc. So I was tricking myself into thinking I was eating healthier, and I outright lied to myself about my secret stash. Eliminating these kinds of habits takes time, so as I encountered situations where I wanted to eat, I examined the thought behind the impulse, I stopped and thought. I had to recognize the triggers; stress, impatience, unhappiness, or basically, whatever I was “feeling” in any given moment and then examine why I had the impulse to balm my emotion with carbs.
One has to have the ‘aha’ moment when you realize that YOU control your emotions, they cannot control you, or your choices. For me, I realized that living in chaos, which my first husband and daughter thrive on, is lethal for me. I have eliminated as much chaos from my life as possible. My household used to be competitive, I have changed that, and my household is now cooperative. I have learned that eating high quality, real food, very regularly eliminates cravings. Nourishing my body in the best way I can make me feel amazing; why would I want that doughnut? I eliminated the snack drawer at work. Period. Gone.
The best thing I learned about breaking triggers is this. No matter how stressful the day is, how shitty my work situation is, whatever family issues are brewing on the back burner, I can ALWAYS CHOOSE to eat real food. I can prepare and pack food to take to work with me. I can eat something high quality before I go out to a social event, and then at said event, make the best food choice I can.
The moment I realized I was as addicted to sugar as a druggie is to heroin, I was repulsed by my cravings. Repulsed! Still am. Which is awesome cause it keeps my hands out of so many cookie jars, not even funny.
Q: How about a sample day for you before you lost all this weight (what you ate, how you felt, etc..)
A: OMG!! I have so many horrific samples; I’m embarrassed to write them.
For the majority of my adult life, I was a wife and mother who worked part-time in restaurants during the evening or midnight shifts. My husband worked at a bank; daylight. I was up at 6am; drank coffee; nibbled at whatever the kids were having for breakfast ( handfuls of whatever popular sugary cereal was purchased that week) and nibbled at whatever was being packed for their lunches ( the Oreos or chips ahoy). After every one was out the door, I would have more coffee; talk on the phone while I cleaned up ( nibbling at more of whatever was available).
On days that I was working, I would prepare a simple dinner that could be easily warmed up ( pasta, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs) for the family and eat some myself before going to work. At work; I nibbled constantly at whatever was extra: french fries, ice cream. etc. On days that I was not working, a huge dinner, including desert, was prepared. I was never one to use things like Hamburger Helper etc, but I still made a ton of “bad” food. Lots of deep-fried and breaded stuff.
Even after I started my Wellness Journey in 2008, I continued to eat TONS of carbs. Dieting in the 90s dictated that. Every thing was low-fat, high fiber, no meat; no fat. I went back to that, and lost 40lbs quickly, however, still had a huge belly with bloating and gas. Still had skin issues; in fact skin issues got worse. My hair was thinning and brittle. I was thinner, working out, wearing smaller clothes but I still did not “feel” right. I was still eating cereal, by the box load; went thru several boxes a week. I was hungry all the time; I grazed constantly at work on pretzels.
Bottom line: for 30 years I fed my sugar addiction with refined carbs. I was absolutely starving myself while weighing between 250-300 lbs.
Q: How about a sample day after the weight loss?
A: My life is so different now; Since learning about Paleo, my life has completely changed. Meat, eggs, fat, and veg. Done. I make my self an omelet ( spinach, mushrooms, bacon and swiss cheese is my fav), with a side of cooked greens ( kale and swiss chard with onion, squeeze of lemon, cooked in either bacon fat or coconut oil) for breakfast every day. I cook it at night and pack it. For lunch, I pack a meat and veg (thousands of combinations with stir fry’s , salads, roast meat and veg). I go to the gym after work to do the elliptical a few days a week or come home and do weights.
On the weekends, I indulge in some ice cream. I can buy pints of Ben & Jerry’s; one for me one for hubby. Between Saturday and Sunday, we eat it . I feel NO GUILT for doing that. Since adding meat and fat back into my diet on a daily basis, I am satiated! I feel full..for HOURS, which is wonderful. I am no longer thinking about food constantly; looking for something to take the feeling of hunger away! Imagine this; sometimes, now, I have to remind my self to eat. I actually get to the point where I feel HUNGER. Physical hunger pains; not emotional neediness or stress reduction urges to fill my pie hole. Amazing.
Q: How did you measure your progress?
A: Throw away the scale, I mean it! Throw it away and only get weighed at the doctor’s office. I was enslaved to the scale; when I wasn’t terrified to get on it. It is a number and not a true reflection of progress. Right now, I weigh anywhere from 211-220; I have weighed that amount for about two years but I am currently purchasing the smallest size clothing I have worn since graduating from high school. I am actively building lean muscle mass; the most metabolically active tissue in the human body. While I am building lean muscle mass; I am burning the fat off my body. I could not care less what the scale says when able to put on size 14 pants again.
This journey into wellness has had its stops and starts for me as I have learned lessons. It’s an experiment on myself to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t. If plan A doesn’t do what I expected it would, then I learned to structure plan’s B, C, D and E instead of just throwing in the towel. I measure my progress now in different ways; yesterday I walked four miles in preparation for the seven I am walking in the Marathon May 5th; I did it easily and without pain. I was able to breathe the entire time; heart beating, oxygen pumping. PROGRESS! When I first got back to it in 2008, I could barely do the warm up portion on an aerobic workout DVD. I was so out of oxygen, I laid down on my living room floor and tried to catch my breath while the DVD played on.
Q: What are 5 uncommon lessons you would want people to walk away with that they could apply to their journey right now?
1) Unlearn everything you think you know about food and weight loss. We have been fed a pack of lies. Companies want to sell their products and sell them they do; put them in slick packaging and convince us we need them. Start at square one and educate yourself. Whether vegan or meat-eater like myself, the biggest thing is to put away the franken-food, and learn to eat real food.
2) Convenient is not convenient. It may be really easy to pull something out of the freezer and pop it into a microwave and then eat it; but what do you gain from that experience? heart disease and diabetes maybe. What is lost is the CONNECTION with our food. What we put in our mouths is the single most important thing if we want to be highly functional human beings.
3) Start where you are and build from there. As mentioned above, I could barely make it past the warm up in a DVD when first starting. Modify, modify, modify everything. Can’t run? Walk. Can’t walk far yet? Sit in a chair and put your hands up and down; do sitting leg lifts until you build enough stamina to walk around the block or the distance between two phone poles. Do one squat; then do two. Do that every day and before you know it, you are doing 3 sets of 10 squats and walking four miles. Consistency, perseverance, determination, and focus on self are imperative for success but just like a muscle, they need to be built slowly and are occasionally painful.
4) Keep on keeping on, no matter what others say. There will always be Negative Nelly’s and naysayers. There will always be someone somewhere who will scoff at what you are doing, let them. You are not doing this for anyone but yourself. I am not doing this for my husband or my children; they reap many, many benefits from my new-found health and wellness, but at the end of the day, its my effort, its my reward; its’ my body and my health.
5) Weight is not the only thing you lose. Wellness is about more than just weight-loss; it’s a total lifestyle redo. Everything you think and feel will be challenged by what you learn and how your body reacts to new food and exercise. Motivation is not something we have tons of; it is something we create by doing and accomplishing one goal at a time, so create realistic goals. There are still only 24 hours a day, so when you add something in; something else needs to be removed. Can’t exercise cause you have obligations every evening doing this, that, or the other thing? Examine that. Re-prioritize and eliminate doing those things that do not serve this goal. Set yourself up for success by simplifying and streamlining your life. Turn off the TV for an hour in the evening and prepare your meals for the next day. If relationships aren’t working well, lessen them for now. You don’t have to be rude; you are simply doing something else right now.
Q: What are your goals moving forward?
A: In a million years, I never expected to achieve the kind of success I am currently experiencing. I screwed around for 30 years trying to lose weight. Shifting my perspective, educating myself, creating a realistic plan of action, rewarding myself in other ways beside a celebration meal, challenging myself to do things I would never have been able to do while fat, are all PERMANENT changes. No going back. I have one and only one goal moving forward;
I will continue to practice wellness from now until the moment I draw my last breath; I will NEVER be 300 pounds again.
Thank you so much for allowing me to tell my story. I don’t think that what I have done is really all that remarkable. In 2004, when my first husband left, I had the false sense of security pulled from underneath me. I had no idea who I was or how I was going to create a life for myself. I started by putting one foot in front of the other. I advanced one lesson, one experience, one failure and one achievement at a time. I eliminated things from my life that created chaos, stress and anxiety (that includes people, but that is a whole nother story) and continue to add in things that give me pleasure, feed my soul, and bring joy to others. I live simply. It’s doable and its sustainable. I hope I can help others to create lives that bring them joy and peace.
Health and Wellness to you. Keep up the good work!