Today I am 45 and fit, but I spent a good chunk of my life overweight. My weight has gone up and down like a rollercoaster because I never took control of it. I always loved exercise, but I also love food—and I used food to comfort myself way too many times. (Picture it: Alone in my apartment, Golden Girls reruns, a pint-size of ice cream, me and a spoon.) And that was probably after a heaping plate of spaghetti with lots of parmesan cheese covering the sauce. What finally clicked for me? I saw a picture of myself. It’s amazing that you can look in the mirror every day and not see what you see in a picture. I couldn’t believe how heavy I let myself get. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, but if I could go back and talk to my overweight self, here’s what I would tell her.
1) You can have total control over your weight and how you look.
Boy, would I tell my old self this one. I thought fit was for fit people. I didn’t think I could be one of those people. I didn’t think it was possible for me. I knew my bad habits led to my overweight status, but I couldn’t picture myself fit. At my heaviest, I was 40-plus pounds overweight and stuck in an overweight loop: the extra pounds contributed to an extra-low self-image, which made me feel defeated, so I never made a concerted effort to change. I dabbled, but I never went full tilt with healthy eating and working out because I didn’t believe it would work for me. My belief in my self was nil. Enter Team Chris Freytag: As part of Chris’s team, I see every day how people achieve their fitness goals with clean eating and regular exercise. Making healthy recipes is fun and women supporting each other with exercise has the coolest community vibe! So let me tell you: You can do it.
2) Stop wishing you were someone else, and get busy becoming someone else.
Nothing changes unless you do, and I wish I got this lesson a little sooner. I’d look at other fit people and wish I could be them. I’d see someone rocking a dress with no belly poking out and I’d wonder what it felt like to smooth your dress and not have lumps. I admired every woman who didn’t need to lose weight. But I’d also see other fit women (in the gym, out at a dance club) and I’d wish I was them. It was a whole lot of self-torment feeling crappy about me as I lifted everyone else up with adulation. If I knew then what I know now, I’d tell that girl: Take all of that energy you spend wishing you were someone else and put it toward changing yourself … cause girl, it’s totally possible to change.
3) Eating healthy does not have to be complicated.
I am much more of a cook now than I was in my twenties and thirties, but I see now that I could have easily made healthy meals. I didn’t have to magically wake up one day and be a vegan sous chef in order to get healthy. Small changes work. I eat more salads than mac and cheese. I only eat pasta (wheat pasta now with veggies, olive oil and garlic) as a treat instead of a staple meal. I go to farmer’s markets and focus our meals around vegetables and then I think: What lean protein should we have with those veggies? Salmon? Eggs? Chicken? Tilapia? And sometimes I experiment with clean eating recipes. For snacks, I often have a handful of nuts or a KIND Bar that has a high grade on Fooducate. (Fooducate can help you become a smarter shopper because it gives the food you buy a letter grade) Instead of a pint of ice cream and a spoon, I might have a Skinny Cow Fudge bar. Bonus, here at team Chris Freytag we put up healthy clean eating recipes on her website all the time and that means weekly ideas for you and me! Score.
4) You can lose weight and still have your favorite things.
I remember my reluctance to embrace healthy living because I thought I’d have to take up residence on deprivation street. I liked my life of happy hours after work with my coworkers, eating out most of the time or grabbing take-out food at a restaurant after work. I liked having something sweet after dinner like we always did growing up. I thought thin people or in shape people had to give all of that up—from the margaritas to the ice cream and pretend they liked only eating celery and carrots. Now I realize I can have what I want if I follow a few simple rules.
Big indulgence means big workout. (And I try to make it a rare occurrence.)
Eat healthy most of the time.
Have water within arms reach 24/7.
Use the weekend to lighten up a bit and get right back on track on Monday.
Find an exercise you love (for me that’s running) and do it most days of week.
Enjoy happy hour but only have one or two drinks … and make happy hour an occasional occurrence.
Use your weight as a gauge on how you are doing.
5) You are going to love life so much more fit.
OMG. Can I list the things I love about living life fit?
I love going to the doctor and seeing my numbers. I love hearing the nurse say “great blood pressure, great resting heart rate, great iron level.”
I love clothes!
I love feeling strong when I exercise and running without extra weight.
I love shopping.
I love getting the compliments from my hubby.
I love looking in the mirror and not seeing a chubby face staring back at me or thick arms.
I love not thinking all the time about being overweight. Now I think about getting more fit or working on getting sculpted and that’s way more fun to think about than wanting to drop pounds or a dress size.
I love bathing suit season and ditching that wrap I always used to wear.
I love running a 5k and beating my fastest time.
I actually like seeing pictures of me now.
The best thing about my weight loss is the confidence gain. Knowing my healthy decisions changed my body (no gimmicks) gave me a sense of empowerment that never goes away. I did it! If I could go back in time and talk to my overweight self, I’d tell her fit is possible. It’s not just for other people.
READ THIS NEXT: What I’d Say To My Younger Self About Healthy Eating!
This blog was originally published in 2014 and updated in 2015.