Hi everyone! In light of the new year, I'd love to tell you my personal story of weight loss for Melissa's health and fitness feature. When I was in high school, I was always comfortable at an average weight for my height. During college, I got engaged my freshman year and between school, working a job, planning a wedding and trying to maintain a personal life - I was constantly stressed. My weight shot up higher than it had ever been before in my life. I was technically considered in the "overweight" range of the BMI calculator. I never felt comfortable in my skin and would awkwardly avoid photos where you could see my whole body. After we were married, I slumped into this comfort zone with my new husband of laying on the couch every night together, cooking at home together, eating dinner out a lot - my weight just kept increasing and increasing! I tried to make it my new year's resolution in 2008 to lose the weight and succeeded until Girl Scout cookie season came about in spring and I found myself destroyed on the couch with a sleeve of thin mints and vitamin D milk. I put myself right back on the gaining weight schedule and stayed that way until the following new year. In 2009, I knew I had to do something. I forced myself to purchase a gym membership (even though we couldn't afford it at the time) and stole all of my mom's Weight Watchers books and calculators... and I started on the journey of a lifetime. My motto during the process was "every day counts". I had to convince and force myself to believe that every single day really did matter. It is so easy sometimes to say, "Oops, I screwed up, I'll start my diet again tomorrow." You just can't do that! So from January to May, I worked hard every single day at tracking my points, keeping a food journal and exercising (with the elliptical machine, walking fast and eventually jogging/running), I lost 25 pounds and trained for a 5k, which I accomplished. It was the most amazing feeling in the world. My goal was ultimately 30 pounds, so I kept at it. I was so close and it was really easy to say, "Eh, I'm 5 pounds away, who cares?" but I wanted to really accomplish that goal of 30 pounds lost. So it was by my 23rd birthday in July, I was down to an amazing 120 pound weight. I felt like a brand-new person and felt after accomplishing that goal, I could do anything I wanted. I even lost 5 more pounds on top of that and have very diligently maintained my goal weight for the past two years. It's a constant struggle to maintain and I still (and forever will) consider myself on the Weight Watchers plan, but it has been so amazing to see my confidence grow from losing the weight I wanted to lose and finally feeling comfortable on the beach in a bathing suit. It was something I never thought I could do.. and I did it. That's the best part of all.
I think fitness is important for everyone because the bottom line is to keep yourself healthy so you can go for what you want in life. At least, that's the way I see it. If you don't have your health, you've got nothing. I don't think some people value their health as much as they should and when you think about people who are less fortunate, we really should consider ourselves lucky. And in that sense, we should do what we can to maintain a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle.
In terms of fitness, I try to work out 2-3 times a week. I like running and hot yoga. Running for cardio and hot yoga for an all-body workout that helps to detox my system and improve my posture and flexibility. I've tried some spin classes, which are fun yet challenging. I think the most challenging aspect of working out is making time for it. I know I have difficulties trying to fit in a run or a yoga class, and when you're working during the week, it's tough. Work days can be long and tiring, and by the time you're off, you just want to fall face first into bed. I think once you can get yourself into a routine that works, then the rest if downhill from there. I find that having a good play list of songs on my iPod helps to keep me motivated when working out.
With regards to health, I try to drink as much water as possible. 6-8 cups is a lot even though it's the recommended daily intake. I like my water with lemon juice because the lemon alkalizes the water, which means that it helps to increase the purity of the water by filtering out toxins and impurities. The funny thing is, I always liked my water with lemon, but I didn't know the benefits of drinking lemon water until my mom told me about it. I've cut back on red meat, saturated fats and sugary foods. I love fruits and vegetables, so I eat those to my heart's content. I'm also a big fan of tofu (I highly recommend the Sesamum Salad at The Foundation on Main St. - it's my favourite!) Lately I've been trying to maintain a more vegetarian-based diet, it's tough but I try to think of how it will benefit my health in the long run and that usually keeps me in line (I think). And when I'm craving dessert, I turn to frozen yogurt to satisfy those cravings :)