There was a time I was what I call “fat.” Yes overweight, yes pudgy, yes pleasantly plump, chica muy gorda, chunky, and all that jazz. I didn’t start out that way, you’ve seen pictures of me growing up when I was so thin people would tell me I needed to gain weight. I had gained a little bit of weight after high school volleyball ended, but quickly lost it when I joined a gym and found exercise fun again. But then I got married, and I didn’t care anymore.

Marital bliss blinded me to the fact that there are trans fats in some fried foods, copious amounts of calories in fast food, and I just can’t eat all the hummus the world has to offer! By the way, that picture was taken before I did Locks of Love the second time. I hardly recognize myself! This was also taken after work, at a job I hated, I’m just thankful for family and friends because everyone there was a bummer.

It was so hard for me to open up to anyone over the issues I was having with food. I went to a young women’s bible study every week and finally mustered up the courage to talk to them. I was shaking as I told them about how I wanted to get healthy again, they embraced me with loving arms. No one had ever made me feel that comfortable and loved as a friend before. At that time I was really trying to eat healthy foods (mostly fruits, whole grains, brown rice, lean proteins, etc.) but my friends set me on a path that would forever help and change me.

I look pregnant don’t I?! Yeah, that’s what everyone thought too, but I wasn’t! This was also at a baby shower (go figure!) and I’m wearing a maternity shirt- Target is deceptive I tell you! All their maternity stuff looks like normal clothes! I’m so embarrassed by this picture, but this is all part of the process!

My friends told me I was eating too much. Too much? What does that mean, I’m tall so shouldn’t I eat more than you? “Well Amanda, even if you eat 5 fruits before lunch doesn’t mean your body needs it. You need to be eating foods that fill you up and help you curb your appetite so you aren’t reaching for anything you can grab at the moment. Fruit processes quickly, no wonder you’re so hungry!” It was eye opening, to say the least. I never really thought to myself that eating so much healthy food, would actually not be healthy for me! So from then on I changed- and this is what I did and do now to this day! If I can do it, SO CAN YOU. Please, let me be your motivator! I know just how hard it is!

1. Stay in your calorie allowance. I joined Livestrong, and used MyPlate I got so into it, I started to not check how many calories were in foods- because I already knew! It was fun coming up with recipes that I love, to make them healthier. What I love about the site is how much they stress the importance of exercise, which brings me to my next point.

2. Exercise. Whatever you have to do to get up off that couch and get moving, do it and do it now. I tried to reason with myself at first thinking that as long as I stayed in my calories I would lose weight and maintain. I did fine for a while, but it wasn’t until I started working up a sweat and strength training that I really got more toned and thinned out a lot. Exercise doesn’t have to be formal either! Some days I turn on my “running” playlist and boogy down while I clean. Pitbull is my favorite to dance to!

3. Don’t do a cheat day. I know this is big in the weight loss community, “Have a cheat day, you won’t feel deprived!” While I think the concept is good for people that have a very hard time sticking to a strict weekly plan, I think everyday should be a cheat day. Meaning, everyday eat healthy foods, but also allow yourself to eat unhealthy foods. If you’ve ever heard of the 90/10 or 80/20 rule, this works much better for me, and others I know. You eat healthy the majority of the day (80-90%) with good wholesome foods, but then for dessert you have a Skinny Cow or a scoop of ice cream (10-20%). Or you wake up and indulge in a donut, because you know the rest of the day is filled with lots of greens and happy foods! See what I mean? This has helped me so much, because cheat days for the people I know- means “gorge yourself so much you feel sick day!” 😦

4. Give yourself a break. You and I both know there are blogs out there that are so strictly regimented with food rules, it’s overwhelming! They have these expectations that everyone will eat vegetarian or vegan, organic, fair trade, locally, naturally, all the time! I’ll tell you how that makes me feel -completely inadequate! Not only can I not afford to eat that way all the time, I would be so concerned over every bite I put in my mouth I wouldn’t want to eat in the first place! Just thinking about my breakfast for example- I had organic vanilla yogurt with organic strawberries, topped with slivered almonds. Well everything was packaged in plastic, I didn’t wash my strawberries that well, and my almonds for sure have some sort of chemicals in them. See what I mean? I need to eat in peace! I can’t be worried about every little thing, because then I would worry about every other little thing in my life! AAHH!!

5. Stay at a constant pace. This has been the hardest part for me. Weight loss is a marathon- not a sprint! There are days I get so down on myself because without even thinking I rush through the drive thru because I’m running late and get a bean burrito. As I’m crumbling up the wrapper I realize- oh my gosh, I wasn’t even thinking about my health. I was most likely in {She-Hulk-Out} mode and all I wanted was food, then and there. But instead of feeling guilty about it forever, I figure out the calories, give myself some credit for at least the beans and cheese having some protein, and plan the rest of my day to supplement the nutrients I need to increase and the calories I need to cut back on. Keeping in mind the goal is always my health, and the race never ends until I’m old and wrinkly. Hopefully I’ll still be kickin it old school with sunglasses doing thai chi with my Hulkster- dare to dream! 🙂

So what about you? What do you do to stay fit?