I am so so excited to bring you all this wonderfully inspiring story of a girl that I consider a friend and a personal inspiration to me! She truly embodies all that Pretty Little Loser stands for, and I consider it an honor to be able to share her story with you. So much of what she writes is similar to my story, and I particularly love that she says that she loves the person she is today, and she wishes she could go back and love the person she used to be too. And isn’t that the struggle for so many of us? Learning to love our bodies where they are today? I know that you’ll feel so encouraged when you read this. When you’re done, be sure to pop over to her brand new blog, Texts From My Sister and follow her on Instagram (@maggiebtrfly) and Twitter (@maggiebtrfly) . She’s a girl you all want in your wheelhouse!
I love weight loss success stories. I get so much inspiration from reading about other women’s journeys to health and happiness, so sitting down to write this is surreal. I have not “arrived” but I’d love to share about the journey so far. I am a 34 year old SAHM, married to an amazing military man. We have 3 kids- a handsome athletic 10-year-old son (mine), a spirited rock star 10-year-old daughter (his) and a 17mo steamroller baby boy (ours). I am truly blessed and so grateful to my family for their support and love.
I have always had a poor self-image, and I’ve always thought I was fat. I would beat myself up for being fat constantly, and the sad thing is that I was not fat. I look at pictures from those times and wonder what on earth I was thinking, spending so much energy hating myself and the way I looked.
I have always weighed more than the other girls. When I was in middle school and high school I wore the same size as most of my friends but I weighed 20 pounds heavier on the scale and had a thick figure which gave me the belief that I was fat- when in actuality I was probably the ideal weight for my frame.
Crash dieting became a thing of my late teens and early 20s, only made worse by my career choice to join the military. The weight standard was not written for my thick frame- so every weigh in was preceded by crash dieting and exercising. In between weigh ins I was eating and drinking without abandon, with little to no exercise. So while I was not obese at this time, I was nowhere near healthy.
I’m a pregnancy weight gainer. I have been pregnant twice for a total of around 180 lbs gained between the two. I tell myself in the beginning I am going to eat healthy and stay active and initially I’m good. And then the morning sickness hits. And the only thing that helped the nausea was carbs and more carbs. The paralyzing (and unfounded) fear that exercise would hurt my baby made working out easy to drop. And before I knew it, I had blown the suggested healthy weight gain numbers out of the water.
After my first pregnancy over 10 years ago, I had lots of pressure to get the 75 pounds off that I gained. I was well over military standards and had to put on the uniform 6 weeks after my oldest was born. I bought a new uniform 10 sizes bigger than my pre-pregnancy uniform. I tried tons of diets that were very restrictive and exercised a lot. Eventually I was back to an acceptable weight, but had developed eating disorder like behavior in the process, and was unhealthy mentally- due to my all or nothing lifestyle.
Fast forward to my second pregnancy and there’s a similar pattern- I was much healthier mentally and physically, but the eating was out of control. I craved French fries, ice cream and cupcakes daily. And I entertained these cravings. My husband was so super supportive (and loves to bake) and in an effort to keep his pregnant wife happy, he made batch after batch of gourmet style cupcakes. By the time I was halfway through my pregnancy I had already passed the 200lb mark so I started facing away from the scale because each pound gained brought more and more shame and guilt. I don’t have any idea what my final pregnancy weight was but it was at least 100lb more than when I had gotten pregnant.
I didn’t weigh myself until January 1, 2012. I weighed in at 226 and took a before picture. I was going to turn over a new leaf and get healthy in 2012. I started walking everyday on mu lunch break (I worked at the time) and I also did Zumba on my Playstation 3 in the morning when I was able to wake up in time. I started with meal replacement shakes for the first 3 months- 2 smoothies a day with a healthy dinner. This worked well, but left me hungry and angry, or HANGRY. I felt deprived and resented the weight I had gained. While I did not have postpartum depression this time around, I was horribly hard on myself and didn’t find enjoyment in anything but food because of my size, but when I ate the things that made me happy I felt guilty afterwards. I was feeling good about the amount of activity I was getting but the weight had stopped coming off. I really needed to look at my relationship with food. I used Myfitnesspal (@maggiebtrfly) regularly and I always went over my calorie goal.
In January 2012 my dad was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. I became obsessed with figuring out how to cure him and make it so my family wouldn’t have to deal with cancer again. I watched the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead followed by Forks Over Knives. These affected me deeply and I wanted to make a change, I just didn’t know how. The feeling of doing the opposite of what I know is right, but feeling like the right thing is impossible, is a very tough place- and I was there for months. I watched other documentaries and read books about healthy changes, and my resolve to change was stronger, but so was that feeling of powerlessness. I re-watched the Forks Over Knives documentary and read Engine 2 diet and something stuck. I made a plan to start the Engine 2 diet 28 day challenge- to eat a plant based, whole foods diet for 28 days. I was scared and didn’t think I could cut out all animal products, no milk, cheese, meat of any kind- and what about my beloved cupcakes?!?
I started Engine 2 diet on September 11, 2012 and haven’t looked back. My first shopping trip was a nightmare. I think I may have even cried at the grocery store due to being overwhelmed. But I made a commitment and I stuck with it. I learned to cook and eat foods I had never even tried. And I loved the way I felt. I also loved the way the pounds were melting off.
I also re-committed to an active lifestyle. I began the couch to 5k (c25K) running program with an app on my iphone. I found an awesome free running group called Moms Run This Town right as I was finishing C25K and I got hooked. I casually posted a link on my sister’s Facebook page saying we should run the Princess Half Marathon in Feb 2013, and she surprised me by saying yes! We have been training together long distance and are on track to run a very good race. I couldn’t do it without her. And I love my BRFs (best running friends) here in our MRTT group. I feel like I could run any distance with those amazing women by my side. I live to best myself- I’m not competing with anyone but the girl I was yesterday.
There are of course challenges to my healthy lifestyle. If there are baked goods, candy, an open bag of chocolate chips, anything dessert like- I go overboard. I eat them until they are gone (as long as they are vegan). I am addicted to sugar. So I wait to bake until I know there will be a full house, or I send the extras to work with my husband. I try and keep even my baked goods healthy-ish, so the damage a binge would do is minimized. I’ve found a vegan baker I use for special occasions but that has to stay a rare treat. It can be difficult eating plant based in general- unless I am prepared. I eat 99% of my meals at home. This takes meal planning and shopping for 1-2 weeks at a time. We get take out a couple of times a month, and I have found vegan options at the places we go. If we do eat out, I call ahead to make sure there are vegan options or that they can make substitutions. It works!
I also have to note that I don’t drink alcohol so I don’t have to worry about the calories of cocktails and beer. This is a choice I have to make, because I am that girl when I drink. If you aren’t that girl, then you know her, and it’s not pretty. So it’s best if I stay away from the drink, one day at a time.
My whole entire relationship with food has changed. This is not a diet. This is who I am now. I no longer count calories. I eat as much of plant-based whole foods as I want. I use very little oil in my cooking and I limit sweets to once or twice a week. I run 3-5 times a week, and cross train 1-3 times a week. I love my body today. I love how strong I feel. I love seeing the pounds continue to come off. My only regret about the journey is that I didn’t love myself in the beginning. I wish I could have loved the before Maggie as much as the after Maggie- I love her now, I just didn’t know how to at the time. This is a journey of weight loss and getting healthy, but also of self-discovery. I know that I am not alone, and that there is a power greater than me working in my life.
Blog: Texts from my sister (textsfrommysister.wordpress.com) – very new but my sister and I plan on covering our running, food, and everything family.
Instagram: @maggiebtrfly (beware, I love to take pics of my delicious food and my gorgeous babies. A LOT!)