My Journey to a Healthier Me

Seven months ago, fed up with the continual defeat of pulling myself up by my bootstraps, I started working with a personal trainer/nutritionist. To say that it has changed my life would be an understatement. But before I continue on with that, let’s back up a little.

I grew up around the idea of health and fitness. I watched my mom do the Jane Fonda exercise videos, get on the step bandwagon (I have her old step!), pump some iron and build some muscle. Physical activity was always encouraged. In my teen years I spent a significant amount of time practicing, teaching, and competing in Kenpo Karate. But then college came along, as did life and the slew of body image issues and insecurities it often brings. So right along side my mom I joined in on the workout dvds/treadmill and ascribed to the low-fat, high carb, starve yourself mentality that is so pervasive. Slim fast shakes, lean cuisine, and rice cakes anyone?

I, like many of you, did the up and down with my weight and diet. Life events such as having my now husband come into the picture (get in shape), getting married (get in shape again b/c familiarity breeds laziness), the stress of new jobs, new cities, and a whole lot of moving around (stress weight gain), and flat out feeling like crap perpetuated what I knew how to do… eat, gain, feel like crap, shame and beat myself up, and then some how muster up the determination to attempt to clean up my diet and lose the weight.

Heart rate moniter

Life settled down and again I realized how tight my clothes had become and how round my face was. So I did what I knew how to do, pulled up my bootstraps and went straight back to cardio and cutting calories. This time around a new friend became my walking buddy and support system (she was simultaneously on her own journey with health and fitness.) Shortly thereafter I purchased a heart rate monitor, used it’s built in training program and dropped some weight. Everything was great… I dropped some weight and felt better for a time. It was great till I burned out and ran out of energy. As I have now learned from hindsight, if I don’t properly fuel low energy levels my diet quickly spirals down and I give way to sugar and the like.

Meanwhile, my love for food and cooking sent me down a path to discovering how I eat today. Living in Portland, Oregon for seven months opened my eyes to the slow food movement and organic foods. It’s where I first experienced farmers markets. I was exposed to food documentaries and started working to remove processed foods from my diet. The first to go? Diet coke. It’s been a snowball ever since. It was also during this time that I discovered the world of food blogs which opened me up to exploring other cuisines and diets. Everything was fair game… whole foods, raw foods, weird foods, Middle Eastern, Indian, vegetarian, paleo, etc.

Summer farmers market haul

For three years I repeated this pattern. Lots of cardio, cut calories and fat. Feel great for a bit. Push myself harder (more cardio, burn those calories!) till my body simply didn’t have the ability to sustain what I was doing. Burnout, exhaustion, stop exercising, and diet spirals downward.

Then the pattern changed. Things stopped working properly. I reached a new level of exhaustion, had consistent persistent headaches (migraines some of the times), and hard core afternoon crashing. What was going on? Why didn’t I get any energy from all the working out I was doing? I was “lifting” weights too. But why? I’m eating healthy? I need energy, carbs are energy, right? So I’ll eat more carbs! Life became difficult. I was confused, didn’t know what to eat, and I started to fear falling off the bandwagon yet again. My body was freaking out for good reason. It was a slow progression that escalated to the point of impairing my ability to do basic day to day functions.

This had to stop.

I couldn’t keep doing this.

I needed help.

Despite my state, it took several months to convince myself that I was worth the expense of a trainer. It didn’t matter that Will completely supported the idea and didn’t care about the expense of it. At the same time I struggled with the shame and pressure to “pull myself up by my bootstraps.”

I broke through the lies. I needed help.

Finding a trainer was an interesting search. I knew I needed more than what the local gym offered. I wasn’t interested in classes or group workouts, I had very specific issues that needed addressing. I also didn’t jive with what the local personal trainers had to offer (more group work.) What I needed individual attention. It’s called “personal” training for a reason, right? I also knew I needed serious nutrition help. This forced me to start looking outside my local area.

Through a series google searches I found Daniella Dayoub. She actually has a website, that has all the relevant information you need (we won’t get into how many trainers I found that did not take their website seriously or simply didn’t have one), is a nutritionist, and also actively blogs (I ❤ bloggers!) and uses social media. So while I was working on convincing myself I was worth doing this, I took some time to get to “know” Daniella. I knew she was a right fit for me after reading this blog post of hers. She understands that the trainer/client dynamic is all about relationship. Only from that foundation can you truly reach your goals.

And so my journey began. We started with a thorough nutrition and physical assessment.

Ready to go

The physical assessment revealed a few minor things such as developing rounded shoulders and range of motions issues. Things I would have never seen on my own. And as of result, we were able to fix before they turned into problem down the road.

The eye opening part was the nutrition side of things, which shouldn’t have been a surprise given my poor nutritional state. Daniella immediately knew why I was crashing so hard in the afternoons and had no energy. I was overdosing on carbs. From there she gave me a crash course on up-to-date nutrition. In an instant everything I knew about nutrition was challenged and ultimately debunked. But that is where my re-education began. We started with a simple strategy that focused on fat, protein, and vegetables with an emphasis on satiety. Little did I know how much this simple change would radically change my whole life style.

Following her advice, I cut back on the carbs, embraced the fats, and doubled my vegetable intake. I’ll be honest, it felt wrong. Especially the fat part… it didn’t last long though. Things quickly started realigning. The afternoon carb crashes stopped. And for the first time in my life, I learned what it felt like to truly be satiated. Eating nutrient dense food has a powerful positive effect on my body and brain. Once I was eating food that made me feel good, I knew I was pretty much done with conventional nutrition.

As for training, I work with Daniella once a week in the gym which sets the tone for my workouts that week. What we do changes as my goals have either been met or change. We do everything from traditional strength training, bodyweight exercises, pyramid sets (that’s one hell of a way to get both your muscles worked and your heart rate up!), and other various sets. From there I do 3 days varied cardio, including HITT and tabata’s, and then a repeat of the session I did with Daniella on my own. I’ve also added in yoga flow two nights a week which has proved to be an incredible compliment to the strength work I do. Needless to say, I stay pretty active 5-6 days a week.

Recent workout

And the result? I am strong, I can do things I couldn’t do seven months ago. I’ve lost inches, I’ve lost lbs, I stand up straight, and carry myself in a completely different manner. My stamina has increased, my thighs jiggle a little less, and I’m getting real definition in my arms. My whole perception about my body is changing. I think clearer. I see myself as strong and capable. I absolutely believe that eating the way I do gives me the ability to accomplish all that I do during the week. There is no way possible I could do what I do on the amount of carbs and sugars I used to consume when I thought I was eating healthy.

If I have learned anything from my journey it’s that I am worth it. I am worth taking care of myself. I am worth being able to function. I am worth living a full life. I am worth asking for help. I am worth taking my health in my own hands. I am worth nutrient dense foods. I am worth restoring my body.

I am worth it.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. You, my dear, brought tears to my eyes! THIS, empowering amazing people to see how amazing they truly can be, is why I wake up in the morning! Thank YOU, for allowing me to be a fly on the wall in the journey.

    Hugs!
    DD

    1. Fly on the wall? More like major path re-aligner! So blessed to have you in my life. 🙂

  2. Dana says:

    So glad to read all this, girl!! You are definitely worth it! I can’t wait to hear all the great stuff happening in your life in the months to come.

    1. Thanks! It will definitely be interesting to see what God does this year.

  3. Erica Jensen says:

    What an encouraging post, Elisabeth, thanks for sharing your heart and what worked for you. I’m paleo about 80% of the time … I’d like to be better than that but sometimes it is just too hard controlling my food in sometimes uncontrollable situations. You inspire me!

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