Whenever I share pictures of my progress, the first thing people ask is “How did you do it?” The short answer is that I got healthy. The complete answer is just too long for Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform.
This is a picture of me in early 2015. I don’t actually have any pictures of me at my highest weight. I was much too ashamed of how I looked to get caught on the wrong side of a camera. The jeans I’m wearing are a size 16 and clearly don’t fit. At one point, I was too embarrassed to buy size 18 jeans, and my size 16s wouldn’t button, so I just started wearing a belt and long shirts.
This picture is two years later. I’m wearing a size 14 jeans that actually fit. The tight fitting shirt reveals that I still have plenty of fat rolls to work on, but you can see a lot of progress!
This is a more recent picture of me riding. It’s hard to tell with the wind and puffy jacket, but those are size 12 jeans. There’s only about a 30 pound difference between the first picture and the second picture. The most dramatic change has been in my waist size. In the first picture, it’s 40″. In the last it’s 33″
So how did I do it? I applied some basic health principles to my life and my diet. The same principles that I teach others my health coaching. The principles are applied differently for each person, taking into account differences for bio-individuality, but the overarching principles work for everyone:
- Eat 5 servings of vegetables a day, making sure to include a rainbow of vegetables.
- Eat 2-3 servings of vegetables a day, including one serving of berries.
- Drink plenty of water each day.
- Eat only whole foods (or things made from whole foods).
- Get 7-8 hours of high quality sleep each night.
- Practice stress relief techniques throughout the day.
- Develop a spiritual practice that feeds my soul.
- Love my job.
- Ditch toxic relationships.
Easy right? 😛 Not really. Each bullet point was a process of developing new habits, so it took time, attention, and intention. I suppose I could have latched on to a fad diet and lost weight much faster, but my focus was never on the weight, and I didn’t want to risk losing it and gaining it back. I wasn’t interested in the dieting roller coaster.
In addition to carrying around all that extra weight, I was on medications for high cholesterol, chronic rhinitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. I wanted to be healthier, and I didn’t want all the crappy side effects from the medications.
I wanted to be healthy. Really healthy. I wanted to have fun riding my horses again. I wanted to feel strong and confident like I used to. I went from training off-the-track Thoroughbreds to jump to being scared to trot a dead broke cow pony.
If you look closely at the picture below, you can see that I had also developed very dark sunspots, including one on my upper lip that made me look like I had a dirty face. I spent hundreds of dollars on skin care treatments and nothing helped.
But here I am four years later. The sunspots are still there, but they’re extremely light. Most people don’t even notice them. Keep in mind that both photos are unedited, and I’m not wearing makeup in either one, so it’s an honest comparison of the improvement in my skin.
It’s been a long journey. One I’m still on. I still struggle with gaining weight in the winter when the days are shorter and darker, and I can’t be out riding horses until 8 o’clock at night. I still struggle with sweets and the resulting bloating and inflammation.
But I’ve made a lot of progress! I’m not on any meds for anything. I can confidently canter and jump again. I can ride bratty horses and not freak out.
Keeping the focus on adding new healthy habits to my life rather than trying to give things up made the difference for me. Over time, I made healthier and healthier choices and actually started to crave blueberries and avocados rather than french fries and cookies. I eventually even gave up caffeine, because I was sleeping so well at night that I just didn’t need it anymore.
The revelation that I didn’t have to accept chronic disease, weight gain, and loss of stamina as a natural part of getting older completely changed my life. It inspired me to go after some long forgotten dreams, and it inspired me to become a health coach. I want nothing more than to help my fellow horsewomen achieve the same health success I have!