In high school, I was always an active person (I played a lot of sports), but when I started college, I became too busy to stick to a consistent workout plan.
I also developed some less-than-healthy eating habits (late-night food runs with friends were so fun!), which only contributed to my weight gain.
I didn't just gain the "freshman 15"-I had to buy different clothes in bigger sizes, mainly in black because I felt so insecure in anything else.
I was studying to become a nurse-but realized I wasn't following the advice I was preparing to give patients.
I was supposed to be a health advocate, learning how to educate others on what it means to live a healthy lifestyle and take steps to prevent conditions like high blood pressure and cardiac disease. But I didn't walk the walk at all.
Once, during practice labs, we had to take each other's blood pressure-but I refused to let anyone take mine. I knew it would probably be high since I was overweight. I felt embarrassed-I was only 20. I shouldn't have had blood-pressure issues.
That moment was a turning point for me. I realized my health was at risk, and I decided to make a change.
I challenged myself to drink a gallon of water every day for two weeks.
I also set out to get at least 12,000 steps a day and decided that I wasn’t going to get fast food unless it was with friends. I prepped a lot of my meals in advance, and while I didn't make any foods totally off-limits, I tried to focus on whole, nutritious ingredients.
I started writing down everything I ate, too-not necessarily to track calories (though I aimed for a ballpark of about 1,500 each day), but to keep track of what I was putting in my body. At first it was really a pain, but once I started getting into the habit of food journaling, I became so much more mindful and conscious of what I was eating. Oh, and I've lost 35 pounds in the three years since I made this way of eating a lifestyle-not too shabby!
Here's what a typical day of eating looks like for me now:
- Breakfast: A Clif Builder's Protein Bar with coffee
- Lunch: Meal-prepped chicken with broccoli and sweet potatoes
- Dinner: Steamed veggies with a lean protein like chicken, tuna, or deli meat
- Snack: String cheese and almonds or carrots
I still keep up with my goal of drinking a gallon of water every day. Honestly, being hydrated just makes me feel better. Plus, drinking so much water prevents me from drinking anything super-sugary-I rarely have soda or juice cravings anymore.
I started working out more, too-and discovered I love feeling strong.
When I started making healthy changes, I also tried a spin class for the first time, and it helped me discover that I’m super-motivated by high-intensity exercise. Once I realized that, I began working out at OrangeTheory Fitness, too.
The feeling of being strong and in shape keeps me coming back for more. (I love not getting tired walking up stairs.) And now that I'm a registered nurse, I have to bend, walk, and lift a lot as part of my job. Thanks to my workouts, I'm happy to say that none of that hurts. I go into my 13-hour shift knowing my body is strong enough to handle it.
Now, I have a new goal: to run an entire half-marathon.
I’ve seen what my body is capable of and how it can transform and adapt when it’s pushed, and I'm excited to see what I can accomplish next.
I've set my sights on running a half-marathon in the spring-and really running the whole thing, not run-walking it.
I love that I'm now at a point where I can say, "This is what works for me, and it's just the way I live my life."
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