I’ve got another Shed & Share story for you that will surely get you moving towards your fitness goals! I actually know Sarah in real life! My husband recruited hers to the college he attended. They stayed friends which meant I became friends! They were a huge part in helping us with our “fixer-upper” house almost 9 years ago. We don’t see each other a lot now, but thanks to facebook, I have been able to keep an eye on her wonderful journey! Read away and be inspired!
Name: Sarah L
Profession: Stay at home wife and mom to three children 6,4, & 2 years old. Homeschooling my oldest.
How long have you been on this weight loss journey: My weight yo-yo’d for five years. I’ve been consistently loosing (and keeping it off!) for the past two years.
Weight Loss/Inches Lost: 65+ pounds/4 pants sizes
What was your “low point”?
Wow, where do I begin? To truly understand my journey I guess I need to give you some background history. I was born into a very food-focused family. Gatherings ALWAYS revolved around excessive amounts of food. Additionally, my immediate family did not have a healthy relationship with food at all. We would often go all day without much more than a slice of toast and then gorge ourselves with one huge meal. My mom has had a life-long struggle with her weight. She currently weighs well over 400 pounds. During my teen years I was involved in a competitive dance troupe (several different forms of dance: jazz, lyrical ballet, tap, etc). Being in a room full of mirrors several times a week messed with my perception of my body.
In addition to the fear of one day “turning into my mother” I also had the pressures of the dance world pressing in on me. This combined with unhealthy meal habits at home resulted in a decade-long battle with bulimia. My struggle continued through the first several years of my marriage. My husband eventually figured it out and helped me put a stop to it. (At my lowest point I was 5’6” and weighed less than 110 pounds.) I had done severe damage to my body and my esophagus even had scar tissue on it. There was a time where I was unable to consume certain foods because I couldn’t get it past my scarred esophagus and would choke.
With my husband’s constant accountability and through a lot of prayer, I was slowly able to improve my body image and my relationship with food. Things went well for a while.
After a two year battle with infertility, we were blessed to conceive our first child. I gained 70+ pounds with my first pregnancy. Thus began a bad cycle of over-gaining, losing some of it, then getting pregnant again. Rinse and repeat. I had several miscarriages in between my full term pregnancies. (All total, I was pregnant or nursing from June of 2005 through June of 2011.) The miscarriages affected me emotionally and I rarely lost the weight gained from those pregnancies before conceiving again. Throughout the pregnancies and even while nursing, it was easy for me to abstain from purging because I knew it would be bad for baby…unfortunately, it didn’t prevent the “binging” part. I’m not honestly 100% certain of what my highest weight was. I got to the point where I would turn away from the scale and refused to look at it. My best guess is that I topped off somewhere around 220.
How did you get started?
After my third healthy baby was born (sixth pregnancy) I got a wake-up call. While putting laundry away I got dizzy, blacked out, fell into a dresser and hit my head. My daughter (who was only four years old at the time) used my cell phone to call my husband and told him that Mommy had a boo-boo. I wasn’t out long but it was scary for sure. I went to the doctor to find out what had caused me to pass out. We discovered that I had both hypotension and hypoglycemia. (Abnormally low blood pressure and low blood sugar respectively.) My resting blood pressure was 90/50 and sometimes dipped even lower. (Normal is 120/80.) The doctor wouldn’t confirm for certain, but he suspected that my hypoglycemia might be a direct result of my years of bulimia. Basically my body wasn’t properly processing food anymore. I have to be very vigilant in eating several small meals a day to keep my blood sugars consistent. To keep my blood pressure up, I’m supposed to drink high volumes of fluids. It has been somewhat difficult to find the balance to maintain both conditions. When I’m drinking enough water, I’m not hungry, and my blood sugar drops. If I’m eating the wrong foods, my blood pressure can get out of whack. It’s been a long two years of trial and error to find the balance that works for my body.
While doing all of this juggling of my eating and drinking habits I found it tremendously difficult to lose the weight. I had always been involved in team sports like indoor floor hockey, but I was so far out of shape that I was slow and sluggish. Several friends had recently started running so I decided to give it a try. At first it was difficult to run one full mile without stopping. I had run track in high school, but at that time I thought that the 400 meter was a LONG run. Eventually I worked my way up to training for and running a 5K in 2011. I even managed to get an “age category” second place medal. (I should mention that there were not many in my age category…but there were more than three so I was pleased with my second place! 🙂 )
After my 29th birthday I set a goal of running a half marathon before I turned 30. I signed up for one and the training began. I ran a few times with my cousin (who has run several half marathons) and regularly ran with a dear friend (who has run two full marathons). My friend quickly became my training buddy. She knew all about my history with an eating disorder and would keep me on track with my eating during the week and proper fueling during our long runs. We crossed the finish line April 21, 2012. My “finisher’s medal” is still proudly displayed in my living room.
After running her first half-marathon!
What is your workout routine and eating plan?
I followed a Hal Higdon half marathon training plan for my running. Now, post race, I’m running one short distance (2-3 miles), one half hour of Pilates, forty-five minutes of “team sports” (floor hockey), and one longer distance run a week. (Along with lots of play time running around with my kids.) I’m not following any specific diet plan. As a family, we’ve been striving to eat healthfully. All things in moderation is our overall philosophy. My eldest has a gluten intolerance, and my middle has an allergy to some preservatives so we rarely eat out and avoid most “processed” foods. The result is I predominately cook from “scratch” so I’m certain of the ingredients. Accommodating these food issues has had a natural consequence of eating far more healthfully. We have a rule in our house and my kids often chant it if one of the siblings starts to complain. “If you don’t eat your fruits and vegetables, Mommy won’t buy chippies EVER again.” Sounds harsh, but I’ve stuck to it. No snacks or treats if even ONE person doesn’t eat their healthy food first. It has really eliminated the meal time battles because the kids encourage each other to clean their plates. 🙂 It’s great accountability for me since the kids watch me like a hawk. Knowing they’re watching what I eat keeps me from snacking on something I shouldn’t. We go through a lot of fresh fruits & veggies, yogurt, & cheese during a week.
What are your top 3 favorite resources that helped you along the way?
♦ “Cardio Trainer” app on my phone.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is sitting on the sidelines and waiting?
Don’t wait for something drastic like passing out to be your wake up call. Be preventative instead of reactive. Go to your family practitioner for an overall wellness check and ask for their input on where you should start. See if they can help you set some realistic goals. Many will even set you up with a dietary plan or perhaps even have a dietitian on staff. At my most recent physical my doctor said he was pleased with my progress and was no longer concerned about my blood pressure or blood sugar levels. My weight was down to 145 pounds. My BP was 117/60 and my fasting blood sugar was in the “low normal” range. A vast improvement from two years ago!!!! He said that distance running was the best thing for me and my particular health concerns and to keep doing exactly what I’ve been doing. That was great news to hear!
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is in the process but is feeling discouraged?
Consider getting a phone app like Cardio Trainer if you have a smart phone. (Or join a similar web-based option.) Tracking my workouts on my phone and being able to see my progress (even if it’s just shaving a few seconds off my time) really helps keep me motivated. (All the Facebook “likes” help too.)
If you are a parent, how have you balanced everything?
My husband has been my biggest support. He watches the kids while I go on my training runs. He has even watched my running buddy’s kids so we can run together (for a total of SIX kids. Yes, he is super dad if you ask me.) Often my only time to work out is in the evening after my husband is home and sometimes even after the kids are in bed. It’s not ideal, but it’s the only way I can fit it in. My husband and I trade off for week day workouts. He’ll go to the gym or do “TRX” on Monday nights, I run on Tuesday Nights, we play hockey together Thursday nights, and we trade off on weekends. We’ve found that this does cut in to our “quantity” of time together. However, when we’re both getting our workouts in, we’re in better moods and our “quality” of time benefits. When the weather cooperates, we’ll often take the kids to the park. One person runs while the other plays on the playground with the kids and then vice versa.
Anything else you would like to share?
Don’t let fear stop you. Because of my low blood pressure I have to run with a hydration source. I wore a 2 liter Camelback for my half marathon. (With a solution of ½ water, ½ coconut water.) I sometimes got weird looks from the “real” runners who only rely on water stations. I had to choose to not let it bother me. Don’t be afraid to join that Zumba class because you can’t dance. Don’t be afraid to start running because you have to walk every ¼ mile. Don’t be afraid to join that fitness class because you don’t know the routine yet. Don’t let fear stop you! And remember, no matter how slow you’re going, you’re lapping everyone on the couch.
Sarah is so inspiring, isn’t she?! I love her determination to fight and her creativity to “get it done”! Thank you so much for sharing!
If you have a Shed story that you would like to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear it!