In August 2014, my husband and I traveled to Nova Scotia by motorcycle. On our way home we were looking at the pictures on the phone a realized we didn’t recognize ourselves and certainly didn’t like what we saw. We made a pact that we would return home and change had to be made to our lifestyle. When I got home I weighed myself for the first time in years. I was 255lbs! Sad but true. I was a size 16, the biggest I’d ever been and although I knew what size I was in, I never paid it any mind, but pictures don’t lie.
The first change we made was movement. We decided to start hiking on the weekends instead of sitting around all weekend doing nothing. So, we began with walks up Overlook Mountain and Minnewaska state park. It was very difficult at first and I can remember feeling sad and despondent that I had let myself get to that point.
We slowly started making changes at home. First, we decided to food log. We used My Fitness Pal and entered everything we consumed in a given day. Amazing how fast calories get consumed! I enjoyed keeping the pie chart in even thirds, fat, carbs and protein. So, what happened to our diet? First, we cut out sweets. Not forever, just stopped eating them everyday! Then came the slow changes to food. Instead of rice, pasta or potatoes we started eating sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash and spaghetti squash. It was fun trying new recipes and introducing new way to eat our favorites. We used to comment how it never felt like we were missing anything or this was a DIET. It was just a new and different way to eat. We stopped eating red meat as often as we had been. We used to eat red meat multiple times per week. Now it’s one or less times per week. We started eating more fish. Salmon, tuna, cod, shrimp became staples and chicken. Lots of chicken. I’m not a fan of turkey so we don’t eat much of that and eat some pork. And of course, vegetables. We always ate veggies before, but now we had more. So how we changed our diet has remained to date. We eat rice and pasta here and there (mostly when we eat out), but for the most part our starch comes from these new sources.
Then there is Exercise. The hiking added a new level of movement that was great both for our bodies and our minds. I love being outside and the Hudson Valley and surrounding mountains have some of the most spectacular views, so there was always a reward for having endured the climb. We still enjoy it, albeit my husband is way more avid than I am. He’s working on completing the 3500 Peak club. Along with hiking, which to me is fun and not exercise, I changed my exercise at the gym. I had been going to the gym several days per week and taking Zumba classes and my instructor, who has become my good friend, convinced me to take a Step class, which led to Body Attack (a Les Mills HIIT class) which led to my body transformation. That class physically changed my body for the better and the weight slipped off. By March of 2015 I had lost 60lbs and was feeling and looking better. I was into a size 12 and happy to see what I saw in the mirror, but I knew I could lose more. I reached my goal weight, 170lbs by the summer of 2015 and have remained there within 3-5lbs since. And I wear a size 10! Yay me!
This past summer I was very sad when the MAC gym closed and that class was cancelled. I then decided to try Boot Camp at Kingston Athletics, a CrossFit gym. That class has been so incredibly challenging and has taken me to a new level of fitness. I can do things today I couldn’t do throughout my 30’s. I love pushing myself to see what I can do and I especially love taking the class with my 23 year old son. My body has morphed a bit again. I have much more muscle tone than I have in decades, more energy, and all around, like myself.
I am so happy that my husband and I made this transformation together. FYI he started at 385lbs and is down to 258lbs. We joke we lost the third member of our marriage between us. We are committed to health and fitness. We do not deny ourselves something when we want it because we never want to feel like we are on diets. We are just conscious about what we ingest. This is just how we live now.
I hope people know that it starts with small changes and one thing leads to the next and before you know it, it’s just the way you are.
Deborah G. Stitt