Hello there, I’m Rochelle. I am a health and fitness enthusiast who, in the last 3 years, has completely remade my life. I used to weigh about 300 pounds; it was a long road to get to that number and a long road to get away from it. Here is the path that I took. I am also a very honest person, so here is the good and the ugly!
About 3 years ago I was sitting in a nutrition seminar at my yoga studio, praying for a change in my life that would make me feel better. One of the presenters was a therapist who specialized in eating disorders and disordered relationships with food. I had also just gone through a time in my family that was very hard. Both my grandmothers and my brother-in-law had passed away, and my grandfather had gotten sick all in about 10 month’s time. It was a lot to take on. We were talking about body image and our relationship with our food and it just clicked in my mind…I am ready for this change. Life is short, and for me there really wasn’t a reason to be unhappy anymore.
My first step wasn’t to throw out all my food or to run a marathon; my first step was to stop seeing food as either good or bad. You see, food isn’t “good” or “bad.” Food doesn’t have intent, it’s food. It is something that allows you to sustain life. Cupcakes aren’t evil and eating one does not make you a bad person; cupcakes are only delicious, that is it. I had buried some things in my past under a nice layer of cookies and french fries and it was time to look those demons in the face and tell them to get lost. And I did.
After all that I did clean out the junk, I had to. It all had to go, along with my guilt over it. I not only had to change my relationship with food, I had to change the types of food I ate. You don’t need to be 100% organic to have high quality food in your house. It is a bit more expensive to buy food you can pronounce and it is indeed cheaper to buy junk food sometimes. I had a choice to make: invest in good food that will allow my body to heal and be healthy or stay sick and unhappy. For $2.99 I could get a bag of chips that will last a week or a bag of spinach that will make 2 salads…same price with a very different effect on the body. Now I by no means eat perfect, however, I eat clean at least 90% of the time. Plus, trying to be perfect with your food just causes stress that you don’t need.
What food works for me may not work for you. I find that the diet plans-Weight Watchers and what not-are not helpful for me or my goals. With the intensity of my workouts, they don’t help my body. They make me obsess over food and my next meal. They make me obsess over a scale. I don’t find the scale to be a helpful representation of my health. I have had to play with my diet and still do all the time. I eat higher in protein, tons of veggies and fruit and keep the grains and processed foods to a minimum. This is what works for me, it helps to support my body through my workouts and recover from them. I know people who thrive as vegetarians. I am not one of them. I tried it, I weighed 300 pounds. I firmly believe a person’s diet is extremely individual to that person. There is no “one size fits all” approach to food or fitness. People get really up in a tizzy about other people’s food, don’t really understand it but they do. If you have found what works for you that is fantastic! People will want to give you unsolicited advice (people still do to me), my recommendation is to take a page out of southern manners and hit them with a “bless your heart” and move on. Just remember, it’s your body, you have to fuel it in a way that works best for you.
And now the fitness! I knew I needed help with this adventure and I am lucky enough to be able to use the Rec Center at my school. The trainers are insanely cheap but amazing. It really was the only way I could have done it! I got paired up with my trainer, Ryan MacTaggart, and a dynamic duo was born. If you are going to work with a trainer, picking the right one is really important. I have gone the trainer route before but felt like some were just not there to help. My first trainer about 8 years ago was a pro Kickboxer…she was awesome! She got me hooked on lifting and is one of the first people who showed me that, although I am a female, I can be strong and still be, well, a girl. And yes…I was a little scared of her. The main reason I like using trainers is that when you find the right one they can really keep you on track. Plus I like the somewhat intense ones who compete at something in their life (kickboxing, coaching), because they get the dedication and time it takes to change your body and are not just going through the motions to get a paycheck. Then I went through a string of terrible trainers. They had read someplace about somebody who did something that worked and that’s what we’re going to do even though it didn’t fit with my goals…not a good route to take. Ryan listened to my lofty sometimes unrealistic goals and shook his head yes or no and set forth to help me conquer the gym and fitness in general.
We did a combination of interval training and traditional cardio to begin with. When you are as big as I was there was no running on a treadmill… there was walking on one! I started with walking and after about a year I was running. Ryan also helped with the mental aspect of weight loss. You don’t only lose weight off your body, you have to change your mind as well. I had to start to see myself as a capable person who could do this, someone who could be fit and strong. With his help, every time the weights went up in the gym, my confidence went up as well.
Once we were about a year into our fitness program we started to add weights in, heavy ones. We used your typical weight room equipment and that is really when the magic began to happen for me! I know what most women say “But Rochelle, if I lift heavy weights I’ll look like a non-green HULK!!” no…no you will not. Women who look like that train insanely hard to get those types of results and their diet would blow you away! It’s eating several thousand calories of clean food; lean meats, veggies, TONS of protein and there is a chance there is some hormone therapy in there as well. They also train for about 4-6 hours a day. Women do not have the testosterone to get 30 inch biceps…it will NOT happen. Women get small, shapely even, when they lift weights. When you build muscles you also help your bones strengthen. It will also help you prevent long term bone loss, support your joints and prevent injury.
I am still on my journey to fitness. The path is never ending. I spin, run and do CrossFit. I feel like this combination works best for me. What keeps me going and motivated? Starting this process again would be a huge pain in the butt. Not to mention expensive. I threw out or donated all my old clothes and continually set new goals. I found the key to my success is to find what you like to do and do that. If you love classes, do ‘em. If you would rather eat someone’s old flip flop than do a Turbo Kick Extreme Cycle Step Fight Combat Boot Camp with Abs class, don’t do classes. As with diet, you have to do what works for you or you won’t stick with your plan. I embrace my training plan and do the high intensity intervals, weight training, running, spinning, CrossFit, whatever comes my way. I have laid on the floor of the gym covered in sweat thinking I was going to die. I didn’t. I got back up, found a spotter if Ryan wasn’t with me, and did another set or ran another lap.
Hopefully I am not the first person to say this, but losing weight is freakin’ hard work! People on TV make it seem all easy peasy, it isn’t. There will be times where you feel like giving up. It isn’t like it is on the Biggest Loser where you lose 25 pounds in a single week. That 25 might take you a month; just keep reminding yourself why you are doing it. Maybe you have a big event coming up or you’re a Mom or a Dad. Whatever your reason, just keep going!
In the long run, the changes will all be worth it. You will get a whole new life you never thought you could have! I know I did.