Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My ongoing fitness journey

In October of 2002 I married the love of my life, it was dreamy. I didn't mind too much that my wedding dress was a size 20. My guy loves me whatever my size and I didn't feel unattractive. But I did feel uncomfortable; my back hurt, my knees hurt, it was hard to get a deep breath when I sat down, and I was always tired.


On January 1, 2003 I decided to try Atkins and lost about 60 pounds over the course of that year! I know a low-carb lifestyle is not for everyone, but it turns out to be the right one for me. I was able to quit eating sugar, white potatoes, rice, corn and wheat. I felt instantly better. My life-long food and candy cravings went away and so did a lot of my Asthma symptoms!

Me at the start of 2003:

And just by eating what I was cooking, my husband lost 40 pounds we didn't even realize he was carrying!

I had plans to lose all the weight, I had a modest five year plan. But I took my eye off the ball, I got distracted by ordinary life events and between 2004 and 2010 I quietly gained back about 20 of those pounds. By July of 2010 I was totally sedentary and unhappy and uncomfortable again. I thought about Yoga, but I realized I don't enjoy group exercise. I thought about exercise tapes, but I have done those in the past and found they quickly got boring. I decided to start using my trusty Nordic Track skier again. I bought it back in 1993 and have enjoyed using it on and off, lugging it from old home to new home. It was time to climb back on.


To psyche myself up for the long haul and to avoid feeling discouraged if weight didn't come off right away, I told myself I was only exercising for FITNESS and if the weight came off that would be a nice side bonus.

I started really, really slowly. I exercised 10 minutes a day, three days a week. In that ten minutes I would alternate walking for one minute then lightly jogging for one minute. I was making a lifetime change and I wanted morning exercise to become a habit. I decided that going at my own pace was the most important goal so I only increased my exercise to 20 minutes a day when it felt right. It probably took a month, but that was the only way I was going to get it to stick.

Every morning I would get up and put on my exercise clothes, I wouldn't leave the house until I'd done my minutes. Every day was a mental struggle. I would sit there in my exercise outfit, willing myself to just start. It was SO HARD!! I'm lucky that I work for myself, don't have kids, and have a schedule flexible enough to allow for this struggle to play itself out. I will tell you, it took well over a year and a half of persistent effort for the exercise to become a habit. I did not think it would take that long for me to feel like my day hasn't started until I get off the Nordic Track.

I was up to 30 minutes a day, five days a week in April of 2011 and guess what? My weight was EXACTLY THE SAME as when I began. I couldn't help it, I was discouraged.

I tried to tell myself I'd probably lost some fat and gained some muscle, probably true. That my body was more toned, it was. I tried to remember that I was in this for fitness above all else. But, come on. Then I decided to stop eating all the non-gluten grains I had added back into my diet over the years, and increase my workouts to 45 minutes.

I was eating meats, dairy, veggies (except corn and potatoes), beans, and nuts. I was totally satisfied and didn't miss the grains at all! I had really thought I would. It turns out the way I was able to quit sugar 9 years ago and feel like NOT eating the treat was the treat I was giving to myself, that's how I felt about not eating grains.

And a little bit of weight came off! Hurray! Then I read that you need to exercise 5-6 hours a week for consistent weight loss. Oy. So I decided to increase my exercise to an hour. And that, combined with ditching grains, is what finally tripped the trigger.


In 2011 I ended up losing 30 pounds! I feel fantastic. I will admit it was a bit of a shock to realize I was 75 pounds lighter than I was at my wedding. And that I am still 35 pounds overweight. But it's much easier to start fresh at this point. This year, twenty twelve, I'm increasing my 5 days a week exercise to 72 minutes per day. I'm determined to lose the last 35 pounds, however long it takes. Because I am in this for the long run. And this time, I'm paying attention.

Me and my husband in December of 2011:

33 comments:

  1. Liz, what an inspiration you are!

    P.S. You look fantastic!!

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  2. You know I think the sun rises and sets on you no matter what size you are, but I am so proud of how you kept with this diet and exercise plan. That it is paying off for you is just wonderful. This is a totally great blog post, so honest and inspiring !

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  3. Well there you go mom, making me burst into grateful tears! Thanks so much for all your kind support, I love you.

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  4. Go Liz! Did you happen to hear the Sci Fri about self control- very interesting. You are probably ready for anything now!

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  5. I have been following your blog for awhile and admire your work and am fully aware of the amount of time you devote to your art! I am a quilt artist who focuses more on teaching children the art of sewing at this point but still create for myself and enter shows every once in a while. Having said that the alone time in the studio was too much for me so I went back to school this year and became a certified personal trainer. I admire your perseverance and share your philosophy. I hope to convey to all my clients that exercising is a personal journey and one must come to their own decision how that will happen. Whether you begin to exercise because of a medical diagnosis, to lose weight, gain muscle, or to have more stamina it all begins with motivation and a willingness to put in the time and find what works best for you. You should be very proud of yourself. You accomplished what many cannot AND you are much healthier for it!!!!

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  6. Thanks Mimi! I didn't even talk about the toll it took on my business. I'll go look for that Sci Fri bit, thanks for the tip!

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  7. Thanks Linda! I appreciate your kind words. I didn't discuss how my business suffered a bit as I shifted my focus to my health, but I knew I had to make a change and I am nothing if not determined :) Congrats on your journey to fitness and helping others achieve their goals!

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  8. Wow! Totally awesome...and very inspirational as well! You GO girl! :-)

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  9. You look fantastic! Such a healthy approach to it all. I admire you for it Liz!!

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  10. Thanks Liz! I know you can reach your goals too :)

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  11. What an inspiration you are, Liz! Congratulations and I can tell you'll keep up the good work, so I won't even say that. :)

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  12. Thanks Ann! I wasn't convinced I could do it, or that I could even make it work if I was able to do it, but I was determined to try :)

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  13. Let me start by saying that you were beautiful at your wedding and you beautiful now. This post is so inspiring and your mom is SO sweet!

    You mentioned that this took a toll on your business, and honest that is a big concern for me. I try and make my business work in my "spare time." Which usually means maybe 3 hours a day if I am lucky... Usually more like 1.5 hours. If I have to take away an hour to exercise a day, I basically have to say good-bye to my business. I don't really know how to resolve this conflict :(

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  14. Thanks for your kind words Ana!

    Let me clarify that the toll on my business was from going from very overweight and sedentary to being a person who exercises regularly. During the beginning of the weight loss I believe some toxins were released into my bloodstream which caused me some depression. That seems to have passed.

    I don't think this is analogous to your situation as you are not obese, you are younger, and you might find that exercising regularly gives you more energy, helps you sleep better and gives you a more positive outlook on your situation.

    I think it's worth adding at least 15 minutes of exercise a day to your weekly routine :)

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  15. Your mom is so sweet! Congrats on your amazing weight loss! I read that incorporating weights a few days a week can help lose the last bit of weight better than cardio. I'm no expert, but you could try it.

    I have also set an exercise goal this year...not to lose weight, but to get strong and healthy. You are an inspiration! xo, Mary

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  16. Thanks Mary! Yeah, my mom is a keeper :)

    Yes! Weights, definitely!! Excellent tip, and good luck with your goals, I hope you feel great all year :)

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  17. Liz, you are amazing! Keep it up and smile that beautiful smile. You and your husband look great. xoxoxoxo

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  18. you look great! congrats with the exercise -i've made it a goal of mine as well :)

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  19. I thought you were looking (even more) fabulous. Good job, keep it up, and you'll get all the results you deserve. Definitely consider a little heavy lifting, it can accelerate fat loss!

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  20. You look amazing, I need some of your motivation! :)

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  21. Congrats Liz! I am somewhat addicted to those weight-loss success stories on People.com and your achievement blows some of them out of the water! Rock on :)

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  22. Thanks so much Kim!! xo

    Thanks Andrea, I hope you find the right plan that works for you :)

    Thanks Amber! Great tip from a fitness pro :)

    Thanks PeculiarForest, the motivation comes when you just can't take it one more minute :)

    Thanks Lucie! I love before and afters too, so encouraging!!

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  23. You wonderful, beautiful Girl you!

    How inspiring, honest, truthful and downright uplifting your blog post is.

    Keep on smiling that 1000 watt smile of yours and keep on going and reach your target.

    Sending you hugs from across the pond - actually sending you both hugs because I would love to do that in real life! Wish we were closer geographically lovely Liz. xxx

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  24. Awesome! Just the post I needed to read. Thanks for your honesty and sharing. You look fantastic. Crazy Aunt Purl has a post that mirrors this and it is inspiring to read about both of your dedication.

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  25. You go girl!! You are an inspiration.
    I plan to work at getting healthy this year and hopefully shedding my extra 40 pounds.

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  26. Thanks Athena, I know this is a struggle you can relate to, I hope 2012 is a great year for you!

    Pippa! What a lovely comment!! You made me tear up a bit and you filled my heart with warmth :) Thank you!!

    Maxly, thanks so much! I went and found that Crazy Aunt Purl post and it was great, thanks for the tip! I think real stories of how hard it is but that it is doable can really help folks move past the obstacles they find. I hope you have a great 2012.

    Cindy! Thanks so much, very sweet of you :) I know once you get settled into your new life it will be easier to maintain a routine, which I think is key to setting up a new habit. Plus you'll have a nice chef to cook you yummy healthy meals :) xo

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  27. You look fantastic! I wish I could do what you do, I also work for myself, but you need to add 4 kinds to the equation. They get up before me and make it so hard to do anything for myself! They even got up at 4am this morning! I just can't beat that! Thank goodness my hubby decided to put his foot down and sent them right back to bed with a stern talking to! I may just have to start small and cut out a few things add in a few veggies and try the eliptical a couple times a week. Here's to giving it a go!!

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  28. I am so proud of you, Liz! You are an inspiration!!

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  29. You look amazing Liz! But more than that, you must feel amazing and energetic. That is incredibly tough to get up and face a workout like that. I admire your stick-to-it-ness! Thanks for sharing your story!

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