They say that in the present, we are a reflection of everything we have ever experienced. These experiences come in all shapes and sizes, some of them are good, some of them are bad, some of them are terrible, and some of them are f*&king fantastic! And all of them combined make up the person that looks back at you in the mirror. This is my story.
In 2007 I graduated high school, and as one does, I spent my final year preparing myself for the real world. I had plans about where I wanted to go in life, what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. It was definitely an exciting time where anything you wanted, could happen. It’s a time where you start living your life for you, and nothing is certain. It is the first time the world is your oyster, and you can order that au naturale, kilpatrick or with mornay sauce!
For most the end of high school is stressful as much as it is exciting with final exams and all. But for me, it was worse. I was sick. More sick than I had thought actually, and I had been sick for quite some time, but it wasn’t until this point in my life did I realise. I was overweight (and that’s putting it nicely) at 120kg and I had intestinal issues I had been dealing with for years. On top of this, due to my body’s lack of proper functioning, I had terrible immunity and was always battling some kind of cold or flu or sinus, but it had reached a stage in final year that meant I had a permanent migraine and sinus and middle ear infection and inflamed intestines. A great state to be in for final exam prep. But at the time, my focus was my grades, so it wasn’t until I had sat through my final exam in cold sweats that I actually got off my fat ass and went to the doctor. From the moment I left those offices, my life would change forever.
Usually I didn’t like going to the doctors because their advice for every ailment I had was “lose weight.” I always took this more as a personal attack than anything helpful, and I was one of those girls with the “you don’t know me” attitudes. I didn’t care I was fat. I was all about being the fat girl. I was friends with everyone, and we were cool, and it was all sweet. I didn’t need to be skinny to be liked, and I made a point of it. But making a point of it, becomes dangerous when you put your health at risk. Sure I had dabbled with trying to lose weight in high school, but it was all too hard, and I kind of didn’t mind so much. I was happy. Or so I thought.
That day after the doctor was all different though. I had never been this sick, or this fat, or more determined to get better. This time, instead of just directing me to lose weight, the doctor told me to cut gluten out of my diet. I thought that was easy enough, and so I did. It wasn’t so hard, considering I had grown up in a family that loved making whole delicious food, all it meant was I couldn’t have pasta or bread, but I could still have the sauces with meat and veg, and I didn’t mind it so much. Little did I realise that in the next couple of months I would drop an insane amount of weight, and start to heal from the inside-out. It was incredible.
As the months passed I started feeling better, and looking better. Not just in terms of losing weight, but my skin was clear, and people always commented on my bright eyes. And as I was feeling more fantastic, I decided I wanted to actually get serious about getting healthy. And (time for a confession) since I have always been a bit of a nerd, when things interest me I like to study the crap out of them. And this is where my life with health and fitness began. It was love at first sight.
They say that knowledge is power, and in terms of health and nutrition, this couldn’t be more true. Previously, I had absolutely NO education and NO idea what it meant to be healthy. I thought you just kind of could eat everything in moderation, which I did, if I was trying to moderate for a small army. And I had always kind-of-but-not-really been physical with walking our pet dog each day (I sat in the park and watched him run around). My family had never really advocated sports or exercise as both my parents are overweight and diabetic. And we just loved food so much. All foods! And most of my fondest childhood memories were of huge family gatherings, with grand delicious feasts. I was a product of my environment to say the least. But as I read articles and journals and blogs and websites about the amazing world of health I was captivated. I couldn’t get enough of it. So I got serious about it, a little too serious, and I abused my power of knowledge. From 2008 to 2010 I managed to lose nearly half my body weight, shrinking to an amazing 62kg.
Yes this was great. in terms of weight loss, but my journey getting there had obstacles of its own. During those two years I had basically gotten so slim by following a calorie-restricted program with huge amounts of exercise. But I had gone from one extreme to the other. I had become so scared of calories that anytime I ate more than my daily allowance I would exercise the crap out of myself the next day and more than make up for it. I would lie about how much I had eaten and I found social situations with food scary. I actually had become more insecure about my body, and less confident with myself, than when I was at 120kg. Not to mention the comments I was receiving from family and friends. I believed it was more jealousy, which I am sure a part of it was, but at the same time there was truth behind their remarks on my ever-shrinking physique. I loved the attention I got from being so slim, but it brought other burdens. And after a while, my ridiculous regime began to play havoc with my emotions. For the year of 2010 I had been travelling and studying in England, and when I returned home to Australia in 2011, along with the emotional imbalance I was having from not treating myself right, I also had post-travel blues, and for about three months just sat around and ate a ton of McFlurry’s. I was run down physically, and emotionally, and I began to miss my care-free, happy self, and so I let myself go a bit.
I had regained 20kg in the year that followed. I was punishing myself, treating myself like shit because I felt like shit, and I was starting to get sick again. It is a terribly vicious cycle. But, I would still read about health and fitness all the time, and I still kept up with the exercise. One thing I did learn during all those years was that I do love working out, a lot! I love the endorphin rush and the feeling of being active. I get restless now when I sit down, and I hate when I don’t get to go gym, or go run, or ride my bike. I find exercise to be me time, when I get to dedicate everything I have to making me better. I relieve stress and tension, and use it as time to just deal with whatever issues I have going on. But unfortunately, you can’t out-train a bad diet.
I finished university at the end of 2011, and well hello, another time in my life for more change. I decided after my trip to England I wanted to move to London, which is exactly what I did. And it was a time for a fresh start for me. My research towards the end of 2011 had began to look into more natural and holistic forms of diet. I knew I needed to build a healthy relationship with food again, and a calorie-restricted regime was just not going to be that for me. I also needed it to be gluten-free to heal my body back to a healthier time. In and amongst my reading, I stumbled across a new kind of gluten-free diet, one that you may know as the Paleo diet. It was incredible to me, and completely made sense. I had to eat foods that complimented the way my body was designed, e.g. like a caveman, and just exercise smart, and everything else would fall into place.
I began my Paleo journey at the beginning of 2012 and I haven’t regretted a day since. After the initial transition phase, which can be a challenge I won’t lie, it has just been incredible. I no longer have a love-hate relationship with food, and I no longer want to treat myself like shit. I want to nourish and nurture myself, and I can do things like sit down and eat a meal and enjoy it. I don’t scoff it down as quickly as possible, and I am no longer hungry every couple of hours. When you give your body the food it requires, it’s ability to send out hunger and full signals become so clear. You can listen to yourself and all the guesswork is taken out of it. And it is so liberating to not have to worry about weighing and measuring everything, and not being hungry means my mind kind think about other things. I actually accomplish more in a day! And I don’t get anxious and irritable if I haven’t eaten in however long because my body is able to tap into its own resources. Some people think it’s extreme, but I have never felt this good in my entire life, and so it makes sense to me. Sometimes I get questioned when will I eat “normally” again, to which I respond I choose this way to eat because I want to. No one has a gun to my head saying I can’t have another McFlurry, I just genuinely do not crave processed food anymore. In fact, I often crave a nice bit of steak and some fresh veg! My body only asks now, for what it needs.
The Paleo journey has been ideal for me. You look and feel so amazing. And yes, you lose weight, but I threw away the scales (another huge liberation) though so don’t know how much I currently weigh. But I can see through how I look in photos and how my clothes fit that I am doing something right. But most importantly I feel fantastic! I also took up Crossfit at the beginning of the year, which is so much fun and perfect along the strength training work I so love! It is a form of exercise where I can keep improving. I can lift a heavier weight, do another rep or get a faster time, and all the time I am improving. Not to mention the support network and community of the Crossfit world is incredible enough in itself you’d like to workout just for the amazing people you meet! And while my journey to getting healthy is well underway, it still has a while to go. But boy am I looking forward to it!
My whole experience with getting fit and healthy has made me who I am today. I now realise that my future career will somehow be to change other people’s lives through fitness and health. My current desk job just won’t cut it. Health and fitness is all I think about all day, and it is so inspiring to me. I want to educate other people on how they can change their lives through getting an education and changing their perspectives, and I want to be able to let other people feel the way I do, because words can’t quite describe what it’s like when you look after yourself. You learn so much about yourself, physically, mentally, emotionally, and you become a better person for it. Your mental space changes when you treat your body right. Losing weight and getting healthy is more than just an aesthetic achievement, but it is hard to explain it to people who don’t get to discover that themselves. The only way you will ever find out is if you do it for yourself. You only get one chance at this life thing, but if you do it right, once is enough.
Want to know more about Steffi (That’s what her peeps call her)
Visit her blogs: Crossfit For A Queen & Bubble and Squeak
Tweet her here: @steffiradnan
I didn’t ask her what she liked to do in her free time…. she just forced it on me 😀 Just kidding! Check her out. Don’t be afraid to give her a shout. A super friendly chick!
Oh and my hobbies are writing, photography, and most of all travelling 🙂 Hence the big jump across the pond so I can explore the world from Europe. Aus is just too far away! And we all know you like to be fit and healthy when you travel cause I love to hike and do adventure stuff!
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