Today’s ‘What’s Your Story‘ comes from my sweet friend, Laura.
Hi readers! I’m Laura from Becoming The Odd Duck. I’m here to share My Story of what made me decide to become healthier.
I grew up with a very health conscious mother. We ate a mostly vegetarian diet and I grew up drinking carrot juice and eating avocado, lentils, nutritional yeast and whole wheat bread. We had fruit for dessert each night and I was allowed to drink only one coke a week. I was a healthy weight my entire childhood and was extremely active in athletics and played sports year ‘round.
I left home at 16 for a “boarding school” (if you will) and my healthy habits went out the door. I began to eat out at fast food restaurants, stopped exercising and drank several cokes a day. The weight slowly started to accumulate, especially after a family tragedy and my new habits of emotional eating to deal with the depression from that.
Through college the weight gain continued. I was living on the adrenaline from too much stress, too busy a schedule and not enough down time. My emotional eating became more frequent and I spent all my free time eating or drinking, both alone and with friends. By the time I graduated college, I had gained 60 pounds from my previous healthy weight 5 years prior.
After graduating college, I began working full time in corporate finance. My job was based at a computer and I now spent 9 hours a day as a spreadsheet monkey. Through college I waited tables and tutored, so I was always on my feet and moving around. This completely sedentary job and office lifestyle caused me to gain another 35 pounds in my first year and a half at my job.
In case you are bad at a math, I gained a total of 95 pounds gained in just shy of 6 years since leaving my healthy household and venturing through college and the working world. I will admit, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at age 21, so that did have a bit to do with my weight gain, but the primary cause was a bad diet and lack of exercise.
In 2008 I was 22 and I went in for my normal yearly checkup. During this checkup my doctor diagnosed me with pre-hypertension (or high blood pressure for those that don’t know medical jargon) and threatened to put me on blood pressure medicine if I didn’t clean up my diet, start exercising and reduce my blood pressure. She also stressed this would be a great opportunity for me to lose weight, which would greatly improve my blood pressure as well.
I started on the DASH diet, as suggested by my doctor. The DASH diet is a low sodium, high fruit and vegetable diet designed to lower blood pressure (but not to lose weight). After a few months of DASH, I discovered Spark People and started logging in every day to track my food and exercise. Spark People was the most amazing resource for me and I latched onto their program. I began running in February 2009 and by September 2009 I ran my first 5K and had lost almost 35 pounds.
Spark People taught me how to embrace good nutrition again and suddenly all I could think and talk about was food, cooking (which was always a love of mine) and healthy eating. But I was conflicted because I still sat for 9 hours a day at my job and was still stressed and emotionally eating. I knew I would always have to choose between my job and my health, which made me miserable. After some serious soul searching, I decided to return to school to become a Registered Dietitian. I knew my career ambitions and my health would always be in sync as a RD and I’d be able to share my passions about healthy living, eating and cooking with others.
I didn’t have the luxury of quitting my job immediately and from Jan 2010-Aug 2010, I went to school full time and worked full time. During this time my boyfriend and I also bought our first house together and renovated it. To say this was the hardest time of my life is a huge understatement. As much as I wanted to be healthy, I was too busy and too stressed. I gained almost 25 pounds back during this time – which left me upset and depressed with myself.
In August 2010, I quit my job and returned to school in the Fall semester as full time, non-working student. I finally learned the importance of not overloading my schedule and allowing myself to relax in a healthy way. I also finally started to deal with the emotional issues behind my emotional eating and I learned to deal with my stress and feelings in other ways.
I was very slowly losing weight and running more than ever. However an injury sidelined me and in April 2011, I had to stop running and was limited to only biking on flat roads or swimming. As hard as it’s been to be injured and not able to run (It’s been almost 5 months of recovery and I’m still not back to running or vigorous activity), being injured has finally allowed me to focus back on nutrition. Since quitting my job 13 months ago, I’ve officially lost the 25 pounds I’ve gained and completely overcome my emotional eating. I’ve found the method and diet that works the best for me to lose weight and I’ve been 100% dedicated to weight loss again for a few months.
I still have a long way to go – almost 60 pounds left to go before I reach my rough goal weight. But I’m finally in the right place in my life for weight loss to happen and I’ve dealt with all the emotional reasons behind my weight gain and my unhappiness. I’ve focused on improving my body image by dressing better and embracing my body at the size it is now. I’ve learned that you can lose weight, but you’ll gain it right back until you learn to deal with the reasons behind that weight gain. I’ve learned nothing matters more than my health and happiness and when I focus on those, I’m the most successful with weight loss.
There’s my story. I want to thank Lauren for the opportunity to share it with all of you. I also want to thank her for being a HUGE source of inspiration for me in my weight loss journey. We’re both Texas girls and we’re the same height – so I find myself looking to her for inspiration on what body changes I can expect when I reach my goal weight and how to push myself to get there!
If you’ve written your story, please share it with me – I’d love to read it!
Thanks for sharing your story with us Laura! I love that Laura is focused on what she wants to achieve, but also has learned to live in the moment and embrace life! I think that’s very important to do. Way to go, girl!
If you’d like to share your story of what got you to the point that you decided “I want to be healthier!” Send me email at [email protected] with the subject line “What’s Your Story?”