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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fat to Fit

As I plan a small get-together for my son’s second birthday party in a week, I was looking through pictures of his 1st birthday bash.  Boy, was that a great day! We had a Sesame Street theme party for him in our newly made over backyard, which included a jumping castle, Elmo visiting, a clown making balloon animals and singing and dancing along with the 30+ children ages 8 and under. I had activity stations including a table to color and draw, a tattoo parlor with cute fake tattoos, and other fun things for the kids to keep themselves busy.  Of course there was a nice lil’ candy buffet also.  It was a LOT of fun.  Elijah had a blast, and so did all the adults who attended, including my husband and I. 

Elijah dancing with his buddies while Elmo coordinates a sing-along :)
Elijah smashing his "smash" cake for his birthday!
As I was looking through pictures from that amazing day, I saw pictures of myself and I was a little bit taken aback.  Why had no one told me how fat I was?  Ha! Just kidding.  It would have been hurtful for someone to point that out, as a mom of a one year old.  Granted, being a “mom” is not an excuse for poor nutrition and exercise habits, it still would have been hurtful.  Thank you for NOT pointing out what I already knew – I was fat. 

Family photo with Elmo - I am 30+ pounds heavier here than I am today
I have struggled with weight most of my life – on and off. I've always been the "cute, chubby" one of my cousins, and most of my friends. In high school, I was a size 7-8 when most of the girls I knew were rockin' size zero's, two's and four's.  That was tough.  I didn't think I looked 'fat' and I was pretty active, but I sure did feel fat in a sea of students who looked like they could be my 8 year old sibling - I don't have an 8 year old sibling. My weight peaked during my pregnancy when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my third-trimester. Asian women (this includes Indian women - such as myself) are susceptible to gestational diabetes simply because of the race specific traits carried in our genes. In those three months, I gained over 30 lbs. It was very difficult. Not only on my body, but emotionally.  After Elijah’s birth, I, like many moms, dropped a lot of weight through breastfeeding and just delivering a baby.  But alas, a year later, I was still far from my pre-pregnancy weight.  Thankfully, I have a great support system, which has constantly made me feel good about who I am and not made me feel bad for being overweight.  I have known I needed to lose weight – not just for my health, but because I wanted to look and feel good.  However, I just did not have the energy to fully commit.

You really have to commit to wanting something before you can really achieve it.  At least, I do. 

A few months after Elijah's 1st birthday, around September of 2012, I decided enough was enough.  I was tired of not being able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes and I was even more tired of buying BIGGER clothes.  It was time for a change.

I recalled my past - Cabbage soup diet. Tried it. Atkins. Tried it. Weight Watchers. Tried it. Sort of. Mostly I did them for a very short amount of time because I wanted quick results, and was discouraged when I didn't get them. I know that some of these may work for some people, but they didn't work for me. Although, I do think Weight Watchers is a great support system for people who need to lose weight, I also think if you have the drive, desire and commitment to lose weight, you don't have to pay a company $11 a week (or whatever it is now) to help you get there. Reluctantly, I can admit now that I've tried diet pills that I knew were dangerous for me. As soon as your heart starts racing to a point where you feel like you're going to pass out, you know you're not doing what's best for you.  And no matter how much I wanted to lose weight, I didn't want to die trying.  I want to be healthy - not skinny. Let's make that very clear.  I know my journey to get to my final goal weight/size will occur slowly (but surely) because I'm not making drastic changes. I'm not "dieting" and I'm not looking for a quick fix.  I realize that it took me years to put all this weight on, even though a large portion of it was during my pregnancy; therefore, it's going to take some time to take it off.  I also realize that it's detrimental to my health and well-being for me to continue this journey.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the leading causes of death for Asian or Pacific Islander women in the 25-34 age group (I am 31) is cancer (22.3%), suicide (14.5%),  influenza & pneumonia (5.4%), heart disease (3.9%), and stroke (3.9%).  The numbers don't seem very daunting, but they only increase with age.  The leading causes of death for Asian or Pacific Islander women in the 65+ age group is heart disease (25.8%), cancer (22.3%), stroke (9.1%), and diabetes (4.2%).  Throw in your family health history and it really becomes an eye opener.

In January, I asked my primary care physician to conduct a full blood panel on me.  I wanted to see what deficiencies I had, and where I was at most risk.  Thankfully, I was given a great bill of health - especially after dropping a lot of weight in a short amount of time.  My blood pressure was excellent, my thyroid was regulated and I had no issues with blood sugar (diabetes), which I had during my pregnancy.  I still felt the need to get this done, because I had found out, through my parents, we had a long history of stroke, cancer, heart disease, and even cataracts in my family.

I do not want to die at the ripe age of 63 like my loving nana (mother's father) did in Fiji when I was only seven years old.  I do not want to die of ovarian cancer like my dadi (father's mom) did in her 70s, and I do not want to have two strokes in my early 50s like my father-in-law has.  I know these are risks that not only run in my own family history, but my husband's and every Indian family I know.

I do not want to be a statistic.  

I decided diets do not work, not for me anyway I do not want quick, temporary results.  I want a lifestyle change, and I want to set a good example for my son.  I do not want him to think that eating french fries is the end of the world, but I also do not want him to think that he could eat that way often and lead a healthy lifestyle.  So I began eating healthier foods and working out more consistently.  I have hit many roadblocks and fallen off track a few times where I will go two or three weeks without working out while eating like crap.  But by the end of that week I would feel completely disgusting. When you feel heavy, fat, and unhealthy it can really weigh on you. No pun intended. In all seriousness, my body has started to reject the 'bad' foods I consume, when I do, by the nausea and headaches that take over. That's a clear sign to me - don't put that crap in your body!

Now, I refuse to go more than 3 or 4 days without working out.  I just can’t.


Here I am... the picture on the left is on my son's 1st birthday, May 2012.  The picture on the right is today, May 2013, one week before my son’s 2nd birthday.  I am approximately 35 lbs lighter (I stopped getting on the scale so I lost track).  I have dropped three pants sizes, and many inches off my waste, arms and thighs.  My arms don’t look like thighs anymore!  Ha!  (You have to be able to laugh at yourself).  Subsequently, I have dropped my body fat percentage quite a bit and although I have a long way to go, I am excited for my progress!

I currently workout at least 3 days a week but more consistently and realistically, I work out 5-6 days a week.  This includes 30-60 minutes of cardio (depending on my schedule), and 3 days of toning and ab workouts.  I started going to boot camp, but then stopped for awhile, due to a hectic schedule (we're always busy on the weekends and it became tough to make it to the classes consistently), but I am going to try to go back very soon. I am also trying to get more into Yoga for my mental health and Pilate's for added toning.  But my main focus is CARDIO, CARDIO, CARDIO - and full body toning exercises.  I believe the HIIT routines work best for fat loss.  HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  Working out in the evening, after work, is tough for me. I pick up my son after work, get home before my husband is home, start dinner, and we begin the mad dash of the evening routine.  By the time Elijah is going down to sleep, I am exhausted. Definitely too exhausted to jump on a treadmill for an hour! Therefore, I decided the best thing for me to do was to go to bed around the same time Elijah goes to bed (he goes to bed around 8:30-9pm and I lay with him until I fall asleep around 9:30pm-10pm) so that I can wake up at 4:30am and work out for an hour before getting ready for work.  

This has worked wonders for me. I know early mornings aren't for everyone, but I have always been a morning person, so for me, training myself to wake up even earlier was hard but doable.

I have a long way to go, but I'm excited and determined to continue! There are tons of great free resources online, including on YouTube. Check them out! 

Follow my journey and feel free to ask any questions along the way! If you look through old posts, you'll find other 'progress reports' with tips as well as other posts of healthy meals and foods I make and buy :) 

I hope I can inspire others as so many have inspired me! 

Wish me luck! :)

Progress over Perfection

finally something that actually works

True that!