A friend of mine posted on Twitter and Facebook a few weeks ago inquiring if any of her friends might be interested in a weight loss challenge this summer. She said it has been a goal of hers for months to lose some weight and get back into shape but that she needed some sort of challenge to push herself. She needed the push for positivity, accountability, and fun during her journey to a more healthy lifestyle.
Her post rang a bell inside me. Truth be told, I’ve gained more weight over the past six months than I care to admit. Where most brides attempt to lose weight for their weddings, the stress of planning my Big Day actually caused me to gain enough weight to bring the scale to the heaviest I’ve been in years. Not only is the scale glaring at me, but my own reflection is too. I can see the weight gain. I can feel it in my clothes. And I can feel how my confidence levels have shifted and the changes in the way I carry myself — I’m slowly resorting back to Old Ashley. Someone I do not wish to meet again.
Unlike the old days though, I know what caused my physical change. Even though I was keeping to weekly meal plans, my weekend habits hung me over a cliff and my scarce workout sessions threw me off completely. While some may fast during stress, I tend to overcompensate by snacking. I also allowed myself to have one (or a few) beers each night to “calm myself.” All in all, my healthy habits have been on a standstill for 2018.
Fortunately, choosing one’s health can never come too late. And today begins a six week journey with 26 other people towards the starting steps of losing weight, gaining fitness, and getting back on track. Today begins our own Biggest Loser’s Challenge.
And I aim to win.
This past week was my warm-up for this challenge. I set goals for myself on a daily and weekly level, and I am proud to say I stuck to them. One of the hardest parts about any health challenge is that you can bore yourself. And boring yourself leads to cheating. And cheating leads to more cheating. And more cheating leads to… well, you get the picture.
My main objective for this weight-loss challenge is to lose inches. The challenge, however, is being run on a body weight percentage loss. This means my aim to win is not necessarily by beating the others competing (though a nice little $250 prize would be nice), but to beat my own self and hit a few goals I’ve set for myself along the way. As with many multi-participant challenges, this Biggest Losers Challenge is being hosted on Facebook which means participants can support and encourage one another. And hold each other accountable for their goals.
This is why I decided to join.
But I also created a little list of personal reasons as to why I would compete as well. These are 10 of the top reasons why I chose to enter this challenge:
- to treat my body like a temple
- for better self-esteem
- for more comfort in my clothes
- to make G proud
- to be active and present for my future kids
- because I refuse to buy a completely new wardrobe
- for overall better health
- because I KNOW I CAN
- to be proud of myself — again
- to say I love myself and mean I love every single piece of me
As you can see, some of these reasons rely on my own personal view of myself. How I feel. How I look in the mirror. How I think of me.
I know these reasons should not hold a candle to my happiness. And truthfully, they don’t. I’m actually very content with my life. I have a body able to do a lot — it can walk, bend, jump, run, and so much more. I have security in my talents and know my worth. I have a man who tells me I’m beautiful on a daily basis. Yet there are still those nagging voices deep inside my head pointing out my flaws. “That roll shouldn’t be there.” “Your arms don’t look anything like hers.” “You could never wear that dress.” No matter how happy I am, there’s always those comparisons to haunt me.
So I am proud that the majority of my reasons are not self-deprecating or a hit on my esteem. They are reminders of the bigger picture: my body is a blessing from God which I should work to make the best for me as possible; weight loss does not equal beauty, weight loss equals a healthy body to be ready and able for my future; and achieving my goals is a way to grow in love of myself, not find that love.
I do not need to do this challenge to be happy. Instead I am doing this challenge to be the best I am able to be.
Four years ago I won this challenge. Not specifically this challenge, but a health challenge of my own. I was the heaviest I had ever been at 210 pounds and with dedication, discipline, and determination I lost over 55 pounds to become the fittest and healthiest I had ever been. I was proud of myself and of my accomplishments then. And I will be again.
Realistically, I don’t look to lose that much again. In 2014 I was suffering from a broken heart and was working ungodly hours which allowed for a gym-rat mentality and lack of eating routine. Today I have a happy heart, wifely roles at home, and an active social life which means I will continue to enjoy Life.
My plan is simple. I have created a meal plan which implements a high protein and low carb diet. My meals focus mostly on meat and veggies with grains, dairy, and sugars (including fruits) being limited each day. I am allowing myself to enjoy one cheat meal per week along with a limit of three glasses of wine weekly. I will perform at least thirty minutes of cardio five days a week and strength train for at least thirty minutes four days a week. I cannot drink any beer throughout this challenge, I cannot eat any additional snacks other than my mid-afternoon “anti-crash” snack, and I cannot eat after 8pm. My focus is to eat as clean as possible and to workout as smoothly as possible to decrease any chance of injury.
From my past experiences and refined research, I believe I’m on the path to success. Sometimes Life gets away from you, but it’s never too late to realize the direction you’re traveling and turn around or readjust your sails. Health is a constant battle, but I’m waging to win the war.
I will keep you updated on my status, and I would love to hear any suggestions and/or fitness goals you’ve set for yourself. Wish me luck, friends, and best wishes for you as well!