I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination - Jimmy DeanWhat is the difference between these two women below? Is it just 100lbs? Oh friend, I wish I had all afternoon to answer that. These two women may have the same DNA, but they are far from the same. Looking back at my "before" photo, I don't know how it got to that point so quickly. My breaking point came in a JC Penny dressing room. I was a few months postpartum with my second child, and was in need of non-pregnancy jeans. I grabbed a few off the rack that I thought might fit, all sizes 12-16 in the women's department, and headed into the dressing room. I started in the smaller sizes, working my way up thinking "something has to fit!". By the time I got to the size 16, I still had trouble buttoning those pants. I sank down on the dressing room floor, quietly sobbing until I had no tears left. My husband and kids were in the car waiting on me, and there I was...a puddle of tears on the dirty, disgusting dressing room floor. I bought the 16's with the determination that I was going to button them one way or another. It may have been those 2am runs to Wendy's with my newlywed husband. It may have been the honeymoon phase of my marriage. Stress. Eating my emotions. Hormones getting the better of me. Pregnancy. It all took it's toll. Before I knew it, I was at a doctor's office for a checkup and the scale read 210lbs. I've never been more than 200lbs. I had never been more than my comfortable weight of 135lbs until pregnancy. Even at 135lbs, with my small frame, I was still sitting at a size 10. Most of my life, even through my teenage years, I was 135lbs and never hit lower than a size 8/10. I have never been a "small girl", but I had never been morbidly obese either. My husband soon came home with news of our impending move to Japan. Okinawa is a small island, filled with beaches and tons of water activities. Activities that I wanted my family to enjoy, but I knew I would be uncomfortable doing it in a swimsuit. I finally had enough. I made the decision that this was my year. I was going to get healthy, and no one was going to stop me. I did the first thing in this master plan of mine, I started my healthy weight loss journey. Now, stay with me. Dear reader, this is the most important step in your journey; the beginning. How you start will determine so much in your success. Step One: Learn the STRIVE Method
The S.T.R.I.V.E. Method is my personal plan for success. Once you've decided to change your life, it's time to STRIVE. I'm going to break this down for you so you clearly understand our goal here.
S- Set Clear Goals: First, these goals must be clear, reasonable, goals. My goal was to lose 2lbs a week. Sounds fair, right? Your goal shouldn't be "I want to lose 30lbs in a month". That isn't safe or reasonable, and it will just set you up for failure and disappointment. I had an overall goal of 50lbs, but I surpassed it and kept going. It's best to have a weekly goal and a master goal in mind before you get started. Talk about this with your doctor. Once you have these goals, write them down where you can see them. Personally, I chose to put them above my scale, and on my refrigerator (a clever deterrent). T- Training Begins in the Kitchen- If you think weight loss is just working out, then we've got a lot of ground to cover. Weight loss begins in the kitchen! So it makes sense, then, to prep your kitchen for success. We'll go more into this in Step 3. R- Rest - Rest days are vital. I repeat, your rest days are vital to your success. Get as much sleep as you can at night. I had a newborn, so you can imagine how many times I was up and down at night. I still made it work. I- Invest In Yourself - Hit a weight loss goal? AWESOME! Celebrate it! I loved buying new clothes for my new body. I invested in my healthier self by getting new clothes, and selling and donating the old clothes. Without those larger clothes in my closet, I no longer had an excuse to put the weight on. I didn't have "fat pants" any longer! V-Visualize The New You- After a while of working out and eating healthier, your mind gets tired. Visualize who you are. Visualize the new version of yourself, the healthier you! E- Endure & Overcome Every Obstacle- Lastly, remember this; you will hit roadblocks. This is not a smooth ride. If it was, we wouldn't have high obesity rates in America. Push through those mental and physical blocks!
The Strive Method is my personal weight loss solution, and how I mentally and physically overcame what was before me.Step Two: Planning (S) I made a plan. I found an eating plan and a fitness plan that I could follow. Not just any eating or workout program, either. It had to be a solid plan, one that fit my budget, and that I knew was fit for me. I chose Weight Watchers, as I had been on the program before in my yo-yo days, and I knew it worked (when I stayed on the plan). It was cheap, only $14 a month when I joined for the online subscription, and I didn't have to attend meetings. The fitness program I picked out was The Biggest Loser Boocamp, and I paid a whopping $10 for that DVD. I loved the show, The Biggest Loser, and had an instant connection to Bob Harper, a trainer on the show. I also ordered his book "Are You Ready?" to get my mind in the right place. Then, I saw a doctor to make sure I was good to go with the program. Those four steps in my planning set up up for success. I followed the guide in "Are You Ready?" to find out where my body was on the obesity scale. To my shock, I was in the "morbidly obese" category. I also calculated my fitness level online, which ended up being beginner. In all, I paid less than $50 for my first 3 months being on this program by altering my portion sizes on Weight Watchers, using a $10 DVD from Amazon, and using 5lb weights I already had in my home! Then, I snapped a "before" photo for my records. I want to see my progress! This will start us with the first part of The STRIVE Method, S. Step Three: Prepping Your Home (T) Now that you know The STRIVE Method, you've set your goals, and you know your plan of attack, it's time to get the house in order. We're going to focus mainly on the kitchen here. I want you to remember something very important. Training and Weight loss begins in the kitchen. Otherwise known as the "T" in STRIVE. Yes, you read that right. It doesn't begin with weight loss pills or wraps, buying a scale, or the latest fitness equipment. Those are not healthy weight loss options! It all begins with what is in the refrigerator. Take a close look at what you have. Does it fit your plan? If you're just beginning your journey, I would say it probably looks like mine did; a total mess. I had processed foods everywhere, minimal fresh foods, and no real plan in my kitchen. This is not the time for extreme diets. If you're used to fast foods, processed food, and lots of sugar (like I was!), then please don't try to go to a 100% clean eating diet. That set me up for failure every time. I needed an in-between plan that taught me how to eat, and taught me portion control before I could move on to totally clean eating. This is why I am such a fan of Weight Watchers! I still get the foods I want, but I learn how to not only make the foods healthier, but I learn what my portion sizes should be. Keeping them in the online counter was perfect for me, and now they have apps for tracking food as well. A little indulgence kept me going. Extreme diets, pills, wraps, and shakes will not make you healthy, skinny, or fit. Please trust me on this. Healthy weight loss will happen slowly, and if it's done right, it will stay off and not return in a few months. I decided to get organized. I bought a cookbook that had many Weight Watcher friendly meals inside. I recommend "SkinnyTaste" and "SkinnyMom". They have tons of family-friendly recipes that my kids (and hubby) enjoy! I planned out my meals, and my points. I had no "oh no! What's for dinner?" moments. I had no reason to call for pizza, or stop at a fast food place on the way home. No excuses! Step Four: Making Time (R and I) The number one excuse for not working out and eating right that I hear is "I don't have time!". I didn't have time either. Sitting here 6 years later, I have even less time, as I own Amanda's Designer Decals and still trying to be a mom, a wife, and run a household. I get it. Oh momma, I get it. That alarm goes off at 6am and you want that extra hour of sleep. I am urging you, don't hit the snooze button. This time, get up for you. Get up early for you. Did you hear me? Do this for YOU. This is your time. Give yourself a little time each day to do this. I started with 20 minutes. I made the time between nightly feedings to get it done. I knew I had to do this for myself, no matter what. Let's take this a step further. If you work, like I do, then you know that you are on limited time. I workout around 5am every morning. The night before my workouts, I lay out my clothes, right down to my sneakers and socks. I set out my hair ties. All I do in the morning is roll out of bed, throw on my clothes, and get moving to hit the "play" button on the day's workout. I keep a calendar of all my workouts so I know ahead of time what workout I'm doing, and how long it is. There are no surprises in the morning this way, and it keeps me from running late. You have to make time for you. Whether it's before work, after work, after the kids are in bed, or while your baby naps, you need to make the time for you. Invest in yourself. Remember to prep your body as well. You need sleep. This is part of R-Rest. Step Five: Telling Others (V) I was so hesitant to tell other's my plan. My family had watched me yo-yo my entire life. My husband had witnessed 6 years of it throughout our marriage already. I knew they might think "so what will be different this time?". The answer to that question is outlined above in Step One: Make a Plan. I had a plan this time. I also had a fire in my belly that I never had before. I knew in my soul I was not going to fail. I knew I wasn't going to allow myself to fail. I set up a photo album on my Facebook account for my progress pictures. This helped tremendously! Their positive posts, comments, and all around love for how I was doing made me feel like I could accomplish anything. I started posting photos every couple of months, and started a new name for myself, HarperGirl. I chose HarperGirl because I became Bob Harper's #1 fan. His weight loss books, DVD's and seeing him on The Biggest Loser became my source of inspiration and pushed me through to the end. I also started a fitness blog online to help others and document my experience. Doing this helped me with V -Visualize the New You. I could see myself getting smaller and smaller, and so could everyone else. The new me was coming out more and more every single day. Step 6: Road bumps (E) In the last part of STRIVE, I told you this would be a bumpy road. This road is winding, it's bumpy, it's hard, and there are roadblocks that will come up that you will have to go around. DO IT. Whatever you have to do, do it. This is your healthy weight loss journey, not anyone else's! If you have to put a meal replacement bar in your bag just in case you can't have something to eat at the place you're going, do it. If you have to offend your grandma because you won't eat a piece of pie for dessert, do it (sorry, grandma! I still love you!). If you have to order salad without dressing on it or a piece of grilled chicken when all of your friends are having burgers and fries, DO IT. Don't think about it. Set your sights on your goal. Those who love you will understand. Stay on track! Endure. Overcome. Success! My story began in the dressing room, and I’m going to end in another dressing room. This time, my story has a much different ending. After a year of putting The STRIVE Method to use, I went jean shopping one last time. I was with my mother in Florida, and my pants were loose again from the consistent weight loss. With my previous experience in the dressing room still fresh in my mind, the last thing I wanted to do was go jean shopping again, even though I was visibly much, much smaller. Mental roadblocks can be the hardest hurdle to overcome. It takes a long time to see yourself as you are when you lose so much weight. I was still seeing my 210lb self, struggling to get a pair of jeans on. I still went shopping anyways, and my mom threw a bunch of different sizes over the top of the dressing room door. One by one, they were too big. I wasn’t paying much attention to the numbers until she gave me a pair of size 4 designer jeans. I’ve never had a pair of designer jeans. They looked really small. Not just small, but tiny, compared to what I normally grab off the rack. I thought to myself “if I try to put these on, and they don’t fit, I could end up on the ground in another puddle of tears”. My mother insisted though, so I put them on. They fit me like a glove. Better than that, they looked like they were made for me. This time, I cried again, but for a different reason. I think I squealed a little bit too as I stepped out of that room to look in the 3-way mirror. Half the people in the store were staring and my mother exclaimed “this girl just lost 100lbs, and this is her moment!”, as I stood there staring at myself in the mirror with tears running down my face. The rest, as they say, is history. With these tools, I was equipped to finally lose the weight for good. I now maintain that loss by still eating healthy and working out 5 days a week. Something else happened here too. I changed almost everything else in my life. I changed careers; I went from being a teacher to working in the Home Decor industry. I finally had the confidence to dive head first into the field I wanted to work in! This was more than just a wardrobe change, this was my life. My life changed and I finally felt good enough about myself to make a career change that I knew wouldn't just make me happier, but would benefit my family. You now have the 6 steps I used to lose 100lbs! If you've gone through this with me, you are on your way to healthy weight loss. You have the steps, you have the prep work, you have the drive. Remember that prep work sets you up for success. I hope that my story has helped you and shows you the way to a healthier you!