Over the last year my life has changed drastically. On any given day you can find me wearing multiple hats, including mother, spouse, entrepreneur, photographer, artist, site supervisor for a before and after school program, noon hour assistant at the school, ECE supply staff for a kindergarten classroom, fitness instructor, or event photographer for a local paper.
When 2013 hit, I looked in the mirror and found myself unhappy with the way I looked and felt (okay realistically, I had been unhappy about it for a while but unwilling to own up to it), but not just that. I was seeing how the way I looked, felt, and spoke about myself was affecting my relationship with my family and my 7 year old’s own self talk. I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to watch a beautiful, healthy, vibrant little girl start to copy her mother’s poor self-confidence and negative body image, and start talking about herself as fat, ugly, or stupid.
With a new year, and my spouse being off on an adventure out of province, it was time to step up my game. I started out with a jump back into clean eating. It took a couple weeks to get back into the swing of it, but once I did—WOW! I felt great, and without a scale or mirror I knew my body was changing. The biggest changes for me:
1) Lower the carbs!
I am one of those people who could have lived quite happily on just pasta, bread, pancakes, etc. for a long, long time. I pulled it back to whole grains only and tried to keep anything processed at all (like whole wheat bread) to the first half of my day.
2) Step away from the Sugar!
This is such a no brainer right? Wrong! It’s not just about the sugar you recognize, like a chocolate bar. Do me a favor next time you’re in the store. Pick up 3 different tomato based pasta sauces, read that ingredient list...yep, that’s right. They add sugar. Check out your milk—sugar! And your fruit yogurt—sugar! Crazy, eh?
3) Add more protein
No, this doesn’t need to be meat, but if it is, please, please, please stick to the lean stuff for your health’s sake! Other great options for protein? Protein Smoothies (I have one for lunch every day!), raw nuts & natural nut butters, fish, dairy (plain yogurt topped with fruit, milk, cheese), beans, quinoa, eggs...and the list goes on! Experiment away!
4) Learn the portion sizes
This took a little work because I like to go big or go home.
Did you know your protein should only be the size of the palm of your hand or about the size of a deck of cards?
Fruits and Vegetables* – One Cupped Handful (*Leafy Greens is two cupped hands.)
Whole Grains – One cupped hand or about the size of a tennis ball
5) Eat more often
Eating every two to three hours works! But only if you’re following the steps above. Not having enough protein? You’ll be hungry. Having processed or sugar laden foods? You’ll be hungry. Stick to the good stuff and follow your portions and you’ll be rocking a healthier body in no time!
I became friends with my local YMCA fitness center when I added in two days of Zumba a week, and two days of Group Power a week and I was ready to rock. My energy skyrocketed! I felt healthy, strong, and passionate again. I finally felt like me again!
In six weeks I went from tired, grumpy, and flabby to energetic, positive, and well on my way. I lost 12lbs and 4.5 inches off my waist in that first 6 weeks. It was then I set a new goal. I didn’t want to be just the weight I was when my spouse and I met; I wanted to be a tighter, leaner, stronger version of myself. Not only that, I wanted to be more confident! It was time to step outside my comfort zone and onto the stage. I set my goal to compete on the stage at the UFE Showdown 2013 in the Bikini Division.
Now with the countdown to the UFE Showdown on June 22nd running down, I still have a ways to go but I also have a new tool in my arsenal. You see, when my spouse returned from his adventure to a lighter, thinner me, his excitement and pride was obvious. Unfortunately, his eating habits and mine don’t match and I regressed. I never gained back all of the weight I lost, but I spent the next three months bouncing up and down between 154 to 160lbs.
How am I ever going to get on stage like this? Like I said, I have a new tool. A supportive spouse! As of May he’s on board! We did a seven day detox together (to curb my massive sugar and salt cravings more than anything else) and we’re tightening up the clean eating without the junk food in the house.
I know that success is in the cards for me. My goals now:
- Hit competition weight of 135lbs
- Add more weights to my routine for added strength and definition
- Find more ways to be active with my family to set an example of a happy & healthy life for my daughter
Join me on my journey and share with me your struggles and successes!
Find out more about how Rebecca is “Celebrating Life & Love in Art” at www.rebeccanashphotography.com.