Drastic changes require drastic measures, but within reason.
Be prepared, this is long.
There I was, sitting on my sofa, holding back my tears. My life was about to end as I knew it. My husband was leaving my four children and I. There was nothing I could do about it, either. He was finished and I was broken. As I sat there I tried to cross my legs. I couldn’t manage it. For the first time I realized how overweight I had become.No one in the house was happy. Tempers were always on the verge of exploding at any given moment. My husband and I were being a poor example to our children on how to love. I was hurt and he couldn’t be bothered to work on the reasons it went as far as it did. He had given up long before he told me that he was leaving and was already spending time with another woman.
For years I was used to not being shown love by him which conditioned me to not care about myself as much. Each time I did try to rise above our circumstances he pushed me back down into my little box, because it was an inconvenience to him. He never wanted to eat well or exercise and belittled me when I tried. In the effort to just make him happy I complied to his wishes. I loved him. I was in love with him. I will always love him in some form. However, I needed to wake up and put myself first, because no one else was.
That evening, trying to cross my legs, was a huge turning point for me. It was as if I were a stained glass window that someone ran up and smashed. Then, came back and smashed it some more. Yet still, came back and continued to hit and grind the glass up until it was pulverized dust strewn across the cold hard ground. You know the feeling when it is still a bit chilly outside, but you really just want to jump into the pool? You get yourself mentally prepared and go for it. The moment you hit the water you’re in complete shock and stunned for a moment. That was me, only worse. I had a choice. I was devastated. I was lost. I was unsure of anything for my future. I was a homemaker now suddenly with out my best friend, lover, and partner in crime. Not only did I feel absolutely and utterly alone I had no job, little to no experience, and no college degree. I was, after all, a career homemaker from the start. Two of my four beautiful children were still at home with me all day as well. Going forward seemed hopeless. I could remain depressed, oppressed, and someone else’s person, or I could take control of my life. I could continue to allow the circumstances of the choices that I allowed my husband to make for me define who I was and guide me, or I could choose something better for myself and ultimately my children.
I’m a devoted Christian. I strive to follow after the Lord’s heart in every aspect of my life. Stop right there. What does that mean? I’m radical in my faith as it pertains to Christ-like fundamentals.
“Radical: 1. of or going to the root or origin; fundamental:
(a radical difference.)” – Dictionary.com
What are Christ-like fundamentals? The most important one I could ever mention is love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”
There it is. The very basic rule of thumb. The character of God laid bare. The commission of every human being placed on this earth. Love.
1 John 3:11 ESV
“[Love One Another] For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Regardless of feeling like I dropped to the bottom of a 1,000 foot well with no chance of getting out I clung to that basic belief. I pulled my big girl overalls up and put on my wading boots and went to work. Nearly friendless and suffering from mild social anxiety I made myself move anyway. I said to myself “I know that God loves me. I know that He commands His children to love one another. I sure don’t feel very loved, but if I start loving others maybe I’ll at least then start to see God’s love in action through my own hands.” and I set about my business. It started with an intentional smile towards a stranger. A giggle with a small child playing at the store. Specifically waiting for someone coming to the door and holding it open when I clearly had no reason to. Responding kindly, even when treated poorly in my every day life. Each time I chose to be intentional about loving strangers loving the people close to me became easier which then made it easier to love strangers the next time. this began a work inside of me so deep I couldn’t even comprehend it at the time. The Lord was using my kindness towards others to heal my own broken heart. My self worth began to grow so much. I saw strangers as the apple of God’s eye and realized… Hey. That is how God sees me too. I’m his precious daughter. I’m His best friend.
Let that sink in, please, if you would. Say it out loud.
I’m his best friend.
Before I begin to digress into a plethora of bunny trails that lead off of this immense subject, love, I’ll get back on track. When I started to love myself again I realized I let myself go in so many ways. Before I got pregnant the first time I weighed a whopping 125lbs. I was in a size 6. I was extremely active. Even though the BMI index still said I was overweight at 4’11”&3/4in, I was right on par with my busty body. In November 2015 I weighed 220-225lbs. Granted, this was four difficult c-section pregnancies later that were very close in time frame at 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013, there still was no excuse for me to not try harder.
I set out to make drastic changes. Due to how my relationship was with my husband I had not even noticed I put the weight on. I also didn’t have a mirror in our apartment which aided in that. In my mind all I saw was the last time I saw myself in a full length mirror. 145lbs after my second pregnancy. I never stopped moving around, though I wasn’t as active as before. However, my eating choices were horrendous. Just to touch on a few things we ate fried chicken at least twice a week. I always had cookies, brownies, and cupcakes that were homemade on the counter. Lets also face it, its a lot cheaper to buy hyper processed foods that are packed with saturated fats, sugars, and sodium, and are raped of most of the goodness that was ever once part of what ever fraction of the food was actually real to begin with. That is right processed foods, I’m coming after you!
I ended up being diagnosed with salt poisoning. How on earth does THAT happen? Well, eating too much sodium, of course! But, but, but…how does one consume so much sodium that you actually get sick from it, you say? Its easier than you think when you consider how sodium works inside of your body. Once salt is ingested your body uses whatever it needs and then puts the rest somewhere else. It finds a nice neat little corner in your cells and plops it right there until it needs it. This is also how we come up with water retention. We all know our salt gets clumpy when it gets moist, right? The same thing happens in our bodies. Those little salt deposits suck up the water we ingest. When this happens we actually get dehydrated due to the water not running through our system, but instead sits in those little salt nooks in our cells. This is also what we call water weight. How on EARTH does one get rid of salt poisoning? Or too much salt in general. Stop eating it. You read that correctly. Stop. Eating. Salt. Drink plenty of water, as well. My doctor prescribed water pills to try and help me flush my system, but consider this, if you will. If I keep eating the same way and take water pills to flush my system is that actually fixing the problem? Nope. I needed my body to get rid of the salt on its own. I went for a period of three months where I added 0 salt to anything I ate. That was tough, but it worked with out the pills. I couldn’t say exactly how much of my weight was water, but I know a good portion of it was. I went from looking like a plump turkey to actually having bones again even still owning pounds and pounds of excessive fat. As my younger sister likes to say, I looked like a marshmallow.
Salt was not my only problem, of course. The rest was how much I actually ate and what I ate when I did. I filled my daily consumption with things I didn’t even like, just because they were there, cheap, and made me feel full. My next biggest goal was to remove as many processed foods as I could. I stopped buying canned goods to the best of my ability. I didn’t buy pre-boxed or frozen meals. I made as much as I could from scratch. Not wanting to stress my children out too much over the changes, I attempted to make the same meals I already gave them, just as least processed as I could. This included using items from our small yet amazing garden. When I stopped using as many processed foods I noticed a huge difference in my energy levels. I suddenly wasn’t waking up tired anymore. It is important to realize, at this point my diet was still pretty bad and I still ate fried chicken weekly, just not as processed and I already saw a marked difference.
My next step was taking out wheat gluten. I’m one of those people who likes to figure things out. I need to know what is making me feel a certain way and how I can change that, if I want to. Obviously going gluten-free became this huge fad where everyone was just buying up whatever they could gluten-free and calling it a day. They didn’t really even pay attention to what they were putting into their system or how processed it was. If it said gluten-free, they bought it. Period. While its nice to have options, I still wanted to keep myself as at least processed as I could. The market was flooded with gluten-free this and gluten-free that especially in the pasta realm. I had no idea what I was doing so I just started buying every type and style I could find and sat down and read the backs. Thank you internet for being an abundant source of information on grains. In the end I was really stuck between rice and corn flours as my new main grain product. I spent an entire month experimenting. I took two weeks and only had rice and two more weeks with only corn. What happened? I could eat corn flour to my fill and feel amazing. I ate a full plate of corn pasta and felt like I could run a marathon. I also never bloated the next day. So, corn it was for us. I still use rice and tapioca for certain things, but corn is my go to pasta. Hurray! I was trying to loose weight and I could STILL have spaghetti and mac and cheese. My life felt fairly foodie complete.
I’ll add this little important note right here. When some financial strains hit my pocket I couldn’t buy our gluten-free products for a few weeks. During that time I became extremely sick and bloated. I had to sleep 4 hours more a night on average and I still felt extremely sluggish. I attribute this to water weight, difficulty digesting wheat gluten, and the fact that it was processed. If you remove any one of these the symptoms reduced. I have eaten none-genetically modified wheat gluten products that are minimally processed in small quantities and only felt a very mild difference. I think the biggest key here is getting into the genetic changes and how its processed more than it simply being wheat gluten. Either way, corn pasta is life, for us anyway.
Moving right along once I determined those previous changes in my life style I decided to take it a step further. I wanted to get really serious about loosing weight. At this point I made some really great healthy life style changes. I even started my own “in-the-livingroom” work out for myself that I did every day while the kids napped. However, I just knew it wasn’t enough as the scale didn’t move very much. There I went, to the internet, yet again. What would we do with out you? I started to spend a great deal of time looking up diets. I went through pages and pages of all of these plans and testimonials. I looked at the price tags and I just knew I could not be a part of them. I believe most diets work, if you stick with them. I believe most simply; however, eating right and exercising is going to do it for you with out making special shakes and feeling hungry all day. While I spent time in college in nutrition classes, to which I enjoyed greatly – no big surprise right?, I was and am no professional at any of it. I whipped out my old nutrition books and went over some of those amazing concepts I learned so many years prior. The biggest importance to me was figuring out how many calories and how much protein I needed on a daily basis for a sedentary life style. Meaning, I just didn’t exercise extra at all. I also made it a priority to make sure I knew exactly what nutrients in quantity I needed too. After I got my numbers I started looking up foods.
What was the best source of protein for my calories. What gave me the nutrients I needed. How could I pick and choose what vegetables to eat daily and what would be better on occasion? Was dairy really such a bad thing? So many questions! The answers are all there, by the way, we just have to look for them. I’m never going to claim that my diet choices are perfect or that my meal plans are the end all be all. I already know that they’re not. What I do know is I like how they taste and I can still work towards weight loss goals while staying healthy and less processed and gimmicky.
Here was my plan. On days I was sedentary, meaning I didn’t exercise, I still lived, but no special exercise, I kept my calories in between 800 and 1,000 a day. GASP. I know, that is so low. I’ve had plenty of people tell me that isn’t healthy. My doctor would disagree with you, though. I’ll get to that in a moment. On the days I worked out I only ate a max of 1,200 calories. If I burned over 600 calories in a workout I ate the equal extra. So, if I burned 725 calories I’d come home and have a snack with 125. The most important part of the snack was it had to contain protein. I never ate a meal that did not have at least 22g of protein and every snack had to contain 10g or more. Why did I make that choice? When your body is not receiving fuel and it is put into ketosis (Ketosis is a metabolic state in which some of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis in which blood glucose provides most of the energy. -wikipedia.org) where it is pulling from your body stores instead of whatever you just threw into your stomach it will try to take your muscle first instead of fat. It takes a lot of effort for your body to turn fat into energy and a lot less to take from muscles. So, if you keep protein on hand for your body to burn by consistently digesting it your body then trys to pull from fat since the proteins it needs are already there. Doing this also helps reduce muscle cramping, burning, and water gain, because instead of breaking down your muscles for energy, they’re tearing to be rebuilt making you stronger. If you’re an imagery kind of person think of your muscle…now put it through paper shredder where it turns into confetti. That is what happens when you don’t eat enough protein. When you work out with protein in your diet think of it like slicing into a juicy steak. If you don’t slice all of the way through it will try to go back together. What seems easier to heal to you, confetti or sliced muscles?
Why did my doctor disagree with other opinions? My heart rate and general blood pressure normalized. My salt problem went away. I lost tons of weight. I was able to be extremely active, yet again. While it was a quick weight change that I experienced it was done properly. I don’t recommend everyone just suddenly drop down to 800-1,200 calories in a day. That would be dangerous to your health if you don’t know what you’re doing well enough. However, you can certainly get to that point. Its also important to not have tunnel vision. Don’t say to yourself “I’m feeling really bad today, but I can’t eat more.” and forget to pay attention to what your body is saying to you. Some days you just might need more than others. What is the worse that happens? As long as you don’t binge on confectioneries you wont do much damage if any at all. At this point in time I have changed my calorie intake. As I lost weight my metabolism started working better and processing foods more efficiently. Now I intake between 1,200-1,400 calories a day, but very tailored to how my body responds to different nutrients. For example I loose more weight if I keep my healthy fats between 30-40% intake a day. When I mention healthy fats I’m talking about equal parts of poly and mono unsaturated, not saturated. This wont work for everyone, but it works for me.
Another important thing I’ve discovered is that if I eat a little bit of good fat and protein one hour before I sleep I tend to loose more weight as well. Many studies out there say that we shouldn’t eat past 8pm, because your body just has no chance to really burn whatever it is you’re consuming. Our bodies ambiently burn calories in the process of breathing, pumping our blood, creating new cells, fighting off bacteria and viruses, and even just plain old thinking. Everything your body does passively uses the calories we intake. When we go 10-12 hours with out eating we’re often allowing our blood sugars to drop too low. Granted, we’re sleeping, so we don’t really feel it and we just eat when we wake up, right? The problem is, your body already thinks you’re starving it and a portion of the calories you eat first your body will want to store instead of burn. By eating something with a small amount of balanced fat and protein you’re insuring that while you sleep that will not happen. I’m also willing to bet you’ll wake up happier, too. My go to nighttime snack is a few almonds, a piece of 100% bitter chocolate, and a couple of dried apricots. I also wait 1 hour before I go to sleep to allow some of the sugars in the apricots to get digested and then I load up with water.
Working out is wonderful, but not everyone can put in strenuous effort all of the time. For me, I got to the gym once a week. I pushed myself as hard as I could for the 1 and 1/2 – 2 hours I had away from home which included changing and driving time. The key is making sure that you’re eating properly and taking care of your body’s needs. For this I also recommend taking vitamins. Pay attention to whats going into your mouth with every bite and be certain to offset anything you’re missing with a vitamin. Your body will love you even more if you do. That includes not overdosing on none water soluble vitamins which will cause an entirely different set of issues. For a time I was overdosing on vitamin A which left me unable to heal my wounds quickly and instead of scabbing when I got a cut my skin would flake off. Almost every cut would give me a scar, even with neosporin. So, be vigilant with what you’re eating! Track everything!
Keep a food diary. Start out with a typical week and write down everything that enters your mouth. Add notes to how you felt when you sneak a snack or choose a specific craving. Teach yourself to pay attention to what your body is saying. Make sure that you keep track of all of the nutritional value too. When I say that I mean read the entire label and copy it down. Keep in mind also, labels are not required to tell you all of the vitamins and minerals inside of a product, so don’t be afraid to hit up google and find a good nutrient checker. I do use one myself, especially for vegetables that don’t have any nutrition facts at all. At the end of each day add up everything you ate. How did it match? The daily recommended value of calories for a sedentary person is on average 2,000. Did you go above it or stay under? After you spend a week or two just paying attention to what goes into your mouth then start making changes. The important thing is to understand why you choose to eat what you do when you do to help you create your own healthy diet plan. I know on certain days I’ll be more stressed out, so I’ll plan to eat cherries and chocolate to help offset my mood and keep my blood circulating which helps me keep my tempter in check and not become overwhelmed. It makes a huge difference to understand how different foods can and do effect our moods.
Don’t be discouraged. It takes time to figure out what works the best for you. It isn’t easy at all. Will power is in low stock in our lives these days and you’ll have to train yourself. In the beginning reducing calories can leave you feeling hungry until your stomach shrinks back to its proper size of your fist. It can take anywhere from two to four weeks for this to happen so don’t give up. Another tip is stop looking at the scale. Through out the day you will gain and loose weight constantly. You could even see a 5-6lb difference from in the morning time and go back and reweigh yourself and see you gained it all back 12 hours later that night. Determine to only weigh yourself once a week, wearing the same outfit, at the same time of day. This will get you the best and most accurate results to your progress. Also, drink tons of water. When I say tons I mean 30 minutes before you eat drink 16oz and again 30 minutes after drink another 16 oz. Then, every time you exercise, try to drink more. Don’t make yourself sick, but do your best. Not only does it help you feel full, but it also aids in removing fatty cells. When your body is fully hydrated it stores water in your fatty cells making them plump and ripe for the picking, or in this case the burning. Its easier for your body to go after the saturated cells just like when picking fruit from a plant. When a tomato is ripe just knocking the stem often causes it to drop. Our cells are not tomatoes and its not quite that easy, but its a pretty good image of what happens when we’re well hydrated. If you can’t stand water add some lemon to it. You can make it as intense or as light as you want. Lemons are great for your system and packed full of nutrients with no calories. Do your lemons taste a little bitter? Add a dash of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt to reduce the bitterness.
Lets get back to me. In only a few months, I’m talking three to be exact, I lost 75lbs. I only needed anywhere between 4 and 6 hours of sleep. I felt absolutely astounding. I was more emotionally stable. My mind could not even keep up with my physical abilities as I blew myself away with each new physical goal I made, met, and exceeded.
Unfortunately Life happened and things changed again. Due to a complete accident a shed sitting 10 feet from my apartment caught fire on August 28th 2016. A chemical reaction happened within a newly opened 50lb box of chlorine tablets and caused it to super heat and turn into a toxic gas cloud. The heat melted the container which bubbled it’s way towards everything else in the shed. As it touched other things they instantly engulfed with flames. Once the gooey super heated plastic reached the gas can on the other side of the shed that was the end. The entire thing exploded shooting molten plastic everywhere, including the side of my apartment. I narrowly got myself and my four children out mostly unscathed. We all suffered from a little bit of the toxic cloud, but nothing else. We lost nearly everything we owned. If it wasn’t burned, it was destroyed by water. Our lives where again in pieces. Thankfully, people in the community, family, long lost friends, and the new people in our lives surrounded us with overwhelming love. They came to our aid in the best ways that they could. Every need we asked for was met over and above. We were truly touched. Truly blessed. Truly amazed at humanity at its best.
My oldest child who was 8 reminded me of something very important as we sat in the van watching the firefighters do their very best to extinguish the blaze. She said to me “Mommy, it is going to be okay. Remember the bible verse? “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans for a hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11 God has a plan, Mommy.” I began to weep. My child, in the midst of this crisis, had the best perspective I could have ever asked for. The Lord used her, not to remind me that He had a plan, but to show me how He was working in her life through everything we’ve been through. I was never more certain that He had my children in His hands.
We moved in with my parents and that was a real struggle for all of us. It was difficult transitioning into a multi-family house in such a small place. I’m sure that you could imagine the difficult dynamics that come with parents, parenting their child, who parents four children. That is a bit of a tongue twister, isn’t it? Anyway, I didn’t do all of the cooking anymore, which was fine by me as I enjoyed the break, except I started to gain weight again. I went from 145lbs and actively still loosing back up to 165lbs and gaining. It caused me a great deal of stress. I also no longer could get myself to the gym either. Everything had changed. I decided I needed to take action in February 2017. I could no longer let it continue. I had to take control of my diet once again.
So I did. I started right back where I left off. I spent more time doing in-depth research on other ways I could change my diet and become more healthy. I already knew it would be a lot harder this time around, because the more you loose the harder it becomes to shed those compounded pounds. I’ve spent many weeks trying new ideas and I think I’ve finally settled on what works the very best for me. There is no true overnight method to getting healthy and fit. Truly loosing actual fat is difficult and anyone who says that it isn’t hasn’t done it. One fun part of this that I never read about is every time I reach a plateau point and my body is about to push through it I crave the worst foods in the worst way. I even have literal pains in my sides and end up spending some serious time in the bathroom with an upset stomach. I used to think there was something really wrong with me, or that I ate something that was off. However, as long as I stuck to things when I woke up the next morning I’d be missing a few pounds and they wouldn’t come right back.
This is a process. A journey. A road that only you can take. You can have people waiving at you along the side lines, but ultimately it has to be you out there doing all of the hard work. You have to determine in your mind that you’re worth it and never stop. Don’t allow the hardships of life to derail you. It is only failure when you give up. You can do this. I have, I am, and I will continue. So can you.
Thank you, for joining me on my journey. I look forward to being a part of yours.
…and as always, thanks for dropping by and taking a read! If you like what you’ve seen don’t forget to visit, like, follow, and share The Sedentary Momma on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, & here on WordPress!
Until next time, be blessed!
The Sedentary Momma