Real Fit for Real Life
Featuring everything & anything to help you & your family live a fit, full, delicious, joyful life
For those of you new to my blog/Instagram/YouTube channel (yes, I've covered all the bases for helping everyone everywhere recover from their dieting addictions!), I wanted to use this entry to explain why I chose the name Real Fit for Real Life.
And to explain the why, I must first give my story, which honestly could be any woman's story, perhaps even your story, more or less. The story begins early, say when I was ten. Suddenly I grew this little Winnie the Pooh belly. It was the 1980s. I lived off of cereal, Pop Tarts, Kraft Mac & cheese, ravioli from a can. "Clean eating" hadn't yet been invented or coined as far as I was concerned. Sure, we ate salad often, iceberg lettuce doused in Italian dressing. When we ate out, we headed to Pizza Hut or a buffet-style steak house. Farm-to-table hadn't been invented either, at least not for middle class families. I took dance classes, rode bikes with friends, ran around in gym class. Still, I had my belly. It didn't fit with my stick skinny arms and legs, and I grew self-conscious of it, especially when one time at dance class, my dance teacher pointed it out to me & the entire class. Geez. Thanks, lady. I didn't know I had that roll there, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. I was ten. And I already disliked my body.
Fast forward to college. 1990s and all things Fat Free were the rage. We knew nothing about sugar. Just fat. And fat was the enemy. I had roommates who were active, so we'd go running together or hit the weight room. I had no car & walked everywhere. Finally, I slimmed down. My belly got a bit flatter, though still there, but I felt more confident in my body. I also found fitness as my new hobby!
I got married at age 20, 1996. Because I was in love. And that's what you did at BYU in good ol' Utah. You married young so you could a.) do the dirty legally, and b.) start multiplying & replenishing the earth. I was eager for A. But my emetophobia (fear of vomiting) kept me from B for a good four years.
And thus began the baby-making years & the true beginnings of yo-yo dieting. I still hadn't learned proper nutrition, & we were poor students. We lived off of Pasta-Roni. I got smarter and ate healthier with each pregnancy, but still, I easily gained 40-45 lbs each pregnancy. What I learned the hard way is that if it takes 9 months to gain, it takes at least that to lose it. Unless you're one of those disgusting girls we hate who zips up her size 4 jeans to leave the hospital.
My dieting post-pregnancy got smarter each time, too. After the first, I resorted to severe calorie restriction but knew nothing about macros or quality food. I ate whole grain cereal with skim milk for breakfast, 11 pretzels & a container of sugary low-fat yogurt for lunch, & whatever for dinner. I lost weight, but still wasn't lean.
After baby 2, I lost weight faster. First, because I was so busy figuring out two kids that I sometimes didn't eat. Second, because I tried the fad at the time, Metabolife, a very popular ergogenic aid that eventually got yanked from shelves after users began suffering heart palpitations & heart attacks! Yep. I got down to a size 4, the smallest I'd ever been, because I cheated. I was so desperate to lose the baby weight, I ignored common sense & swallowed the pill of ignorance, willing to try anything. When I began experiencing my own chest pains, I quit. When the news hit of how horrible Metabolife was, I wondered how much damage I had wreaked upon my body! I vowed to stay away from ergogenic aids ever after. I also never knew what was more effective-- that pill, or my own healthier eating & exercise.
After baby three, I got my cholesterol tested & got the frantic call from the the doctor's office once my results were in. 268?! They couldn't believe someone apparently healthy and young could be so high. I explained it ran in my family-- my mom had hit the 400s before gastric bypass surgery (she and two of her sisters had it done-- when I say I genetically gain, I'm NOT lying!) But the doc didn't care if 268 was stellar in my family. He put me on a strict old-school low-cholesterol diet. No more egg yolk, cheese, red meat, or butter. Lots of oatmeal. I stuck to it religiously, not wanting to go on drugs. And I lost the baby weight & then some! I shrunk down to a size 2 & at one point, even dipped below 120 lbs! I became the new teeny me. And I loved it. I had no butt. And I utterly lost my boobs. But I liked being tiny. That was such a novelty for me.
Once I trained for my first marathon, I began to bulk up (I see now that was nothing!), & I didn't like it. I hit 126 & thought I needed to go on a diet again. I decided to turn to a friend in the bodybuilding industry to give me guidance. She introduced me to the world of nutrition science & macronutrients. She put me on a plan that was ruled by numbers. I had to consume 50% protein, 35% carbs, 15% fat. I could only eat 11 grams of sugar with breakfast & none the rest of the day. I had to drink a gallon of water a day & take supplements. Initially, I was excited! I researched & took notes & felt like I was learning more about food & its properties. I spent days crunching the numbers & soon realized how difficult it would be to attain these macros! I had to cut bread out completely-- it wouldn't fit my macros. I had to cut certain fruits out of my diet because the sugar content was too high. I had to eat more chicken, turkey, fish, & hard-boiled egg whites than I'd consumed in my entire life! But I was dutiful & consummate. I obeyed.
And I began to get sudden sharp pains in my right abdomen, so stabbing that the first time, I thought I'd gotten stung by a bee! One day it was so severe, my hubby rushed me to the urgent care. I've found urgent care to be useless for me in most experiences, & this was another. At least they ruled out heart attack & appendicitis, but they had no answers for what it was. (Years later I would conclude with the help of a female hormone specialist that it was gall bladder attacks from the sudden change in diet & drastic increase in protein.) The pains eventually stopped when my body adjusted to the new diet, probably a span of a couple months.
The strict diet worked. I got back down to my magical 120, only this time with a bit more muscle. I also lost even more boobage. The empty sacs that remained were disheartening, so much so that I wouldn't let my hubby near them. He loved me as I was, but I didn't love me as I was. So he said if I really, really needed it, I could pursue plastic surgery options. And so I did.
Once I had my chest back, and I had survived that 6-week high protein diet, I approached my friend again and asked her if she thought I could compete even though I had stretch marks. She encouraged me to try, and thus began my first meal plan.
It involved following an exact outline of 6 meals a day, the same meals every day for 4 weeks straight, with one cheat meal a week. I bought my first food scale and learned how very little 2 oz of chicken really is! I ate broccoli for breakfast, exorbitant amounts of it, raw. With a side of hummus & hard-boiled egg whites. I made weird protein shakes that made no sense & tasted just as senseless. I looked forward to new meal plans just for a change, even if the new plan was worse than the previous one!
I also changed at a deeper level without noticing. A sense of superiority grew, knowing that my willpower was greater than everyone else's. But also a sense of jealousy and anger, that I had to sacrifice so much & work so hard for something others just had-- leanness. On the other hand, I gained confidence. Because I'd never done anything so difficult. Even running a marathon seemed easier than this. I also started seeing results, which led to a great sense of satisfaction. I also had many self-doubts. So it was a bizarre juxtaposition of feeling better, and worse, about myself than ever.
Despite achieving a leanness I had never before experienced, I didn't place in the two competitions I had registered for. It was upsetting because the field for one placed 5 of 7 girls! Not gonna lie, I'm a horrible loser. I stomped backstage, gathered my oil & tanner & 5-inch hussy heels & left as soon as I possibly could. Why had I sacrificed chocolate and bread and joy to feel so absolutely horrible about myself in public??
And yet, when I turned 35 and realized I could now compete in the Masters division, I decided to try again, this time on my own. I wanted to take control of my meal plans. I did my own research and wanted to create more enjoyable meal plans, ones I could stick to better, still meet my macros, but still achieve leanness & muscularity. I practiced posing more this time. I'd get a cuter suit. I'd have a better experience.
I showed up to compete in the Masters, & I was the only one. I thought, "Sweet! I get a trophy automatically!" But no. They cut the category. Instead I was simply in the general category, next to all the 20-somethings. I knew I didn't stand a chance but decided to just have fun. And it was okay. And it made me want to try again.
So I did one more. This time the masters category was so big, I knew I didn't stand a chance. My only hope was my height category which only had 5 girls, 3 of whom would place. I felt confident for once! My hair was amazing and all mine-- no extensions or wigs like other girls. My posing was stronger & not gimmicky. Sure, I had stretch marks, but my legs were the best up there! I had to place!
But no. Again, failure. Part of me thinks it's politics. I had no coach. I had no connections. I tried to compete on a budget. I thought it would be enough. It wasn't. Finally my husband, who had been as supportive as possible, asked me to quit competing. He saw what it was doing to me.
Between each competition, I immediately gained back a lot of the weight. I had difficulty transitioning to a normal, healthy off-season diet. I would eat perfectly all week only to cheat all weekend like a madwoman. My metabolism didn't know which way was up. I hated what I saw in the mirror and on the scale. I began to steadily see my weight creep into the 130s, & I was mortified.
I decided I'd try to compete one more time, but this time in figure. I figured I was better at gaining muscle. And I wanted to be stronger. And I knew figure girls got more calories. I started 18 weeks out because I wanted to do it right, & I returned to my trainer. This time she alternated the meal plans so that I could follow one weeks 1/3/5 & another weeks 2/4. Then we'd switch. The meals were more satisfying, & she worked harder to make sure I got foods I liked. It was going well. Until my back went out. And went out again. And life got stressful. And I just couldn't do it any longer. I had already started posing practices! But I made the choice to quit. It was so hard for me to not follow through on a goal. But I had to prioritize, and there were more important issues facing me at that time.
We took a job offer that moved us to CT... Of course, this story is in my first post. Blah blah blah, I gained more weight, hated myself, & discovered self-love, intuitive eating, and being Real Fit for Real Life. Long story short, or rather less long, I finally decided to stop dieting and start living. I chose self-love over self-hate. I chose a new attitude. Not necessarily new actions, but a new mindset for my actions. No longer would my every move be about a desired physique! It would simply be for the joy of it. I would eat what my body needed without judgment. I would exercise because I love it, with no regard for an aesthetic outcome, but rather for an improved quality of mobility, strength, flexibility, power, and mood. I didn't stop exercising and eating well-- I just altered my motivations & mindset. If I needed a glass of wine on a Wednesday, so be it. If a friend invited me to a weekday lunch, I didn't have to count that as a "cheat meal"-- it was just a meal. I no longer needed to track all my macronutrients in an app or stand on the scale every day or tape measure my waist and thighs. I was finally learning how to be a part of the rest of civilization! It was an enlightenment!
As a personal trainer, this epiphany went against everything I'd been teaching clients for years! At first, I was confused. I wasn't sure how to approach my plans for clients. But then I began to realize, this is a journey. I have a strong knowledge of healthy nutrition & exercise. So for me, the problem was diet and measurement obsession. But for others, they may still need the first stage, and that's education-- learning and creating habits of good eating and exercise/daily movement. There is a time and place for tracking and measuring-- that is all part of self-education. But then we MUST progress! This is not a stage to remain at! This is not a way of life! Babies can't keep crawling-- they must eventually get up on two feet and learn to walk. And then skip and run and dance! This is my new method of learning to be Real Fit for Real Life. I determine where a client is, then figure out the best path to getting to that point where he/she can eat intuitively, has a desire for exercise and activity, and achieves a body that brings confidence and a life of joy. Because a life of self-hatred is no kind of life. It's unacceptable. I'm angry at myself for accepting it for so long!
Life is too short. When I look back at these photos and remember how I felt about myself, all those negative emotions, and for what?! I looked fine. Today I'm probably at my "heaviest" but I feel my very best. I'm happy. I'm strong. I'm fit. I don't need to be shredded. I don't need to be stick thin. I need to be joyful, and I need to live life. That's what I want to give clients-- strength, confidence, joy, and self-love.
Mother of 3. Fit-philosopher. Showing my kids how to be fit via living life to the max. Newbie photographer. Simplistic cook who shares easy, healthy meals. Lover of kid-friendly hikes & getting outdoors & unplugged.