How to Change a Life: When a Perfectionist Gets Fat – Then Fit

iStock_000064271367_SmallIf you don’t know this about me, I’m half Filipino. My mom emigrated from the Philippines in the 70’s and became a citizen after finishing nursing school. She married my dad (his family is from Yugoslavia, but he was pretty much your standard white guy) and after he died I grew up in a home with impossibly high standards. If you know me well, you likely know this. Stick with me here, I promise it all has to do with weight loss.

So, for years every time I thought I did something really well and was pretty proud of it, I would take it home to hear, “You could’ve done this better.” “Why didn’t you do this?” I can’t even tell you what that does to someone psychologically. But, I’ll try. In essence, it puts you into this state of mind where you have impossibly high expectations for yourself and an internal struggle to continually be better (on top of having impossibly high standards for everyone close to you).

I grew up an exceptionally skinny person and maintained that through college. I got to a point where I would gain 10 pounds here and there, crash diet for a little bit, work it back off. Thankfully, I worked in hospitality, so I was constantly on the move. But when you grow up in that type of hypercritical atmosphere, you develop a mindset – you can do better. You can look better. And you nit pick all of your tiny imperfections.

Fast forward to 2 babies later, and I was sitting at a hefty 160 lbs. To put that in perspective, typically my “skinny” weight (and I’ve always maintained pretty good muscle since I’ve worked in hospitality, but never been the “workout” type) is anywhere from 118-125, with (up until this point) my “fat” weight being 130. Prior to getting pregnant this time, I was in CrossFit and pretty happy with my weight at 135, because I had built so much muscle. ANYWAY (sorry) – 160 lbs after 9 months of not working out is big, because it’s basically all fat at that point. Let’s be real.

Because I hold most of my weight in my midsection, it was even worse. I have some pretty bad midsection stretch marks, and while I don’t have my “fat waist” (that is, where the biggest part of your stomach measures – no, it’s not an actual thing, I just made it up) measurements from then, I have them from 154 lbs and my waist was 39” at that point – so I can imagine that I was probably around 40” at my fattest waist. That’s… just… excruciating. Like, its bleepin’ fat for my body. I’m 5’3″ if I round up, I’m not a big person.

I remember I sent in my measurements for a bridesmaids dress. The last wedding I was in was during my post-1st-baby CrossFit days, and I wore a size 6 in that bridesmaid dress. The woman said, “Well, according to your waist measurement it says you need a Size 20.” I might’ve cried. I settled on a size 12 based on what other girls were getting and vowed to lose weight. To my credit, the measurement chart was way off – but still. Even 6 dress sizes is pretty epic.

To put this even further in perspective, I was in so much hatred of my body that every time I looked in the mirror, I was completely disgusted. I wouldn’t let my own husband come into the room when I was getting dressed. All of the lights had to be off when we were intimate. It was an awful time. Every time someone brought up going to the beach, I would make up excuses. I even picked fights in getting ready for the beach so I wouldn’t have to go. I was still wearing my maternity bathing suit. We all went to the splash park and I went into the water with a swim cover up on. It was just a bad situation.

11218055_10104133187446072_6776648618415155072_nMy disclaimer here is – all bodies are beautiful, yes. If you are big and learn to accept your curves, by all means. But that’s not me. This person that I was looking at wasn’t representative of the person inside. And I think that’s why I was so miserable. I knew I could be better. I knew I could do better. But it was so hard… My kids are challenging kids. They’re not those kids that chill – and so every day it was pick them up from day care and just make it through the next 2 hours until bedtime. Our marriage was a complete mess, because add my weight issues onto the constant stress of managing dynamic, amazing, spirited children that are only 20 months apart, and trying to grow a small business, and me being so miserable on the inside… We were doomed. Add to all that my impossibly high standards and learned critical nature constantly hammering my husband and myself…

I don’t remember the exact day, but I drew up some divorce papers online. I couldn’t do it anymore. It was time to focus on me and I was convinced that I couldn’t do it in the format that we were living in at the time. We were in such a shitty spot, I can’t even tell you. Some of the most fucked up shit (excuse my language) in our relationship went down… Just so much. So much was said and done and I don’t want to put it on my weight and personality, but I was just in such a bad spot. That was July, though, I remember that.

Something clicked somewhere. I can’t really tell you the catalyst, but both of us finally decided – we need to get us right, at any cost. So we started eating better. We started treating each other better… and things were on the up.

Fast forward 3 months and I had only lost 6 lbs. I talk about this in my “Public Service Announcement” blog where I talk about 4 people asking me if I was pregnant in a few months. (Spoiler, I wasn’t pregnant.) So, it was time. It was time to start working out again. I chose Pure Barre. I have always dreamed about being a dancer, but was a basketball player and tomboy instead when I was little. Add to that that a studio had opened up less than a mile from my house and I was in.

pure-barre20I thank Rachel for coming with me, because I don’t think I would’ve gone back if I had done it alone. The entire room is covered in mirrors and you feel a little bit like a whale. Everyone there is so fit and trim and you’re a little bit like, “What’s the point?” I started going and I quickly became amazingly addicted to it. Like, seriously addicted to it. I go 6-7 days a week (usually 6) and the muscles that I’m seeing come out – I’ve literally never seen before. Did you know, for example, there’s a muscle on the top of your thigh that protrudes if you work it out enough? Had no idea. Literally none. Never even felt it before. I can’t even tell you the name of that muscle. I thought it was a knot the first time I felt it. Hah.

But it wasn’t Pure Barre alone. In order to burn fat you have to be at a calorie deficit. Period, you just do. And I live an amazingly sedentary lifestyle. I mean like – bed to desk to couch and back to bed. Yeah, maybe I chase around my toddlers for a little while when I get home from work – but even eating SUPER HEALTHY like we were, I was just eating too much. They say not to count calories on Paleo, but I had to change the way I was eating. I started eating more for breakfast, a very healthy lunch (like, salads most of the time) and just a few things as a “dinner” before 6. I TRY (if you see my wine posts on Instagram or Facebook, you know I don’t always stick to this) to not eat after 6 and when I eat that last meal, it’s really just grazing a few things.

I think some people might criticize both that and my obsession with my scale. Because my body is so sensitive to some things, when I eat those things I gain weight on a dime. I mean, like, where someone might eat pizza and cake and soda one day and gain a half pound or so, if I ate those things I would gain 3 lbs in a single day. My mom uses this sensitive body as an excuse to not diet at all (she has Type 2 Diabetes and is on literally 20 different medications for blood pressure, cholesterol and everything under the sun) – but every body is truly different, so you have to find what works for you and I use the scale to keep me on task. And it works for me.

I measured myself once a month for three months and total I’ve lost 24.5 inches and as of today 30 pounds. It’s insane. It truly is.

I think when it comes to your weight you have a few choices- you can let your unhappiness completely overwhelm every aspect of your life, you can accept your body and live happily regardless, or you can decide to make a change and have a different mindset going forward. I chose the third and I’ll never look back.

12189760_10104627395050072_8636696478284394003_nOver the last 6 months, my husband and I have fallen back in love, I’ve lost a ton of weight, gotten my body confidence back (those formerly intimidating mirrors now allow me to check out my butt, arms and legs at every opportunity during my workout – hey, don’t judge me, I worked my ass off for that ass!), and really completely changed my life.

It’s not easy to admit when you haven’t been doing right by yourself, or that really the problems that you’re experiencing in your life are things you have the power to change if you put yourself in the right mindset. I think I’ll always struggle with that perfectionist side of me – the side that criticizes everything, the part of me that holds those impossibly high standards. Even now, I look in the mirror and I see that last 5 lbs of fat in my waist, after so much progress.

We have to live with ourselves, so all we can do is be the best possible version of us and do our very best to work our asses off to be happy.

One final thought (if you made it this far). I overshare with intentions. I like to think that social media is my format for helping people, even if its in the smallest ways. I hope that sharing my story can help someone to change their life. Whether that’s their mindset or their weightloss motivation. We are so much more than our genes and our upbringing. You have the power to change your situation.

Here’s to being your best you. XOXO

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