On May 1, my second book – the Healthy Tipping Point book – book was released. It’s a healthy living guide packed with tips on mental wellness, healthy eating (including loads of recipes), and tricks to making exercise fun. Also included throughout the book are about 20 inspiring success stories from people of all walks of life; I chose to include such stories because the variety proves that healthy looks and feels different on different people.
In celebration of the book, here are a few success stories from HTP readers. Read on!
Katherine’s Weight Watchers Success
Katherine says: My healthy tipping point occurred last fall. It was late September, and every morning I was spending more and more time in front of the mirror trying to conceal my love handles. My “I’m not getting any bigger than this” jeans were feeling tight. I worked out regularly and I read a lot of fitness blogs and magazines, but I was so discouraged with how my weight was playing out – it was clear from the message my jeans were sending me that I wasn’t actually implementing the healthy choices I was reading about. I needed to do something.
How did I get there? I had some weight issues in early high school and had managed to maintain a healthy weight through college by eating okay and running. I was so proud of the moment at my wedding dress fitting when they asked me if I wanted to order a smaller size and I proudly replied, “Nope! I’m happy. He’s happy. You can order whatever size I am now.” After I graduated college and got married, I let things slide. I had moved to Texas where it was always “too hot” to run and the enchiladas and margaritas came in Texas-sized portions! Over the next three years I slowly watched my weight go up. It was easy for me to excuse away 5 or 10 pounds, but as I stared at a 30 pound weight gain, an overweight BMI and day after day of dressing to cover my muffin top—I knew things had to change.
I called my mom (who has struggled with her weight for a long time) and asked her if she wanted to join Weight Watchers and attend their meetings with me. I knew I needed to get my eating on course. I exercised at least three times a week and although I was eating some healthy things, I was using my few good habits to justify a lot of bacon cheeseburgers and chocolate. Weight Watchers has a reasonable plan that emphasizes healthy eating. I also love that there are no “forbidden foods” so you can treat yourself every now and then! I had tried the program online before but gave up after a few months; going to the meetings honestly scared me because it meant that I needed to go, that I wasn’t as healthy as I thought I was, and that I had a real problem with my eating habits.
Habit by habit, I began to change. I started measuring portions, drinking more water, eating carrots with my lunch, and exercising more consistently. I kept track of what and how much I ate. And if I wanted to “spend” some of my points budget on cheesecake or Christmas cookies, I did. I learned the truth that being healthy is simple, but not easy. It was not an overnight process and was not without some slip-ups, but I believe each rough week helped me learn that this is a lifestyle not a diet: there is no such thing as cheating—you only cheat yourself.
Over the past 6 months, I have lost 21 pounds and am getting closer everyday to my goal weight. More importantly, I have learned that no amount of exercise can undo a bad diet. Through my meetings I have taken a hard look at why I eat certain things: am I seeking stress relief or fun in a helping of French fries? And what can I do to express that feeling in a healthy way? I remind myself that I work out not because I need to “work off” but because I like the way it makes me feel—happy, strong, and confident. (You can read more from Katherine on her blog.)
Maggie’s Decision to Stop ‘Counting’
Maggie wrote: I lost my extra weight six years ago, during my senior year of high school. It sounds really cheesy, but my AP Biology class inspired me to lose weight and get healthy. Seriously. Learning about how my body worked and how amazing it really is inspired me to nurture it, take care of it, and fuel it with the best nutrition and exercise possible. By the time I was 18, both my mind and my body were suffering from exhaustion and lack of use. I went though a very trying period, and was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 17. I tried prescription drugs to alleviate my problems, but it wasn’t until I gained the maturity to change my physical lifestyle that I was finally able to control my mental lifestyle as well.
On a school trip to Dallas, Texas, I made a resolution. I was sick of feeling terrible about my weight and my appearance. Over four months, I lost the weight. My lifestyle change may have been drastic, but it kept me inspired enough to continue to learn new, healthy ways to prepare my food. It inspired me to take up running. As soon as I lost the weight, my ability to exercise returned. I discovered exercises that I liked and ones that I didn’t. I became self-confident enough to be more interested in the opposite sex. I asked my high school crush to prom (and he accepted!) and spent my summer having fun with my girlfriends, like a healthy 18-year old girl should.
Then, a new chapter in my life began as I went to college, flirted with boys, made new friends, and eventually found the love of my life. I have kept this weight off ever since, first through a low-carb lifestyle, which transitioned into a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and enriched by exercise and physical activity. I have kept my weight off for almost seven years. While most of my college friends were snacking on all-you-can eat buffets and eating pizza at 3 A.M. (okay, okay, I did it a couple of times!) I was resisting temptation and working out routinely. While most of my friends were doing beer bongs, I was worrying about how many calories were in my rum and diet coke…. There became a point when my weight control became obsessive. In my mind, I will always have a weight problem, no matter how silly I know that may seem. When I walked into parties, I had to be the thinnest and best-looking girl around, or I felt uncomfortable. When I made close friendships, I constantly compared myself to my friends. My self-image has never recovered from my stint with being overweight.
Marrying the love of my life has brought me into a very peaceful period with my body. For the last year and a half, I haven’t counted calories or carbs. I’ve continued to work out regularly, and have learned to find fun in fitness. I’ve also learned how fun it can be to eat a truly healthy diet rich in nutrients. The ‘downside’ to this lack of restriction has been, as you might expect, a healthy weight gain. Not dramatic weight gain – I’ve gained about five pounds since my marriage. I feel healthy, happy and relaxed, and I really find the fun in enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle. (You can read more on Margaret’s blog.)
Erin’s Greatest Challenge – Emotional, Not Physical
Erin wrote: My greatest challenge in life hasn’t been anything I could see or touch; rather it was a deep rooted insecurity which made me question everyone and everything in my life, including my own value. One of my first memories of moving to Brockton, Massachusetts in 1st grade is hiding behind a fence so that I could watch the neighborhood children play. I remember wanting to introduce myself and play with them but I remember feeling a vice-like grip of fear around my heart. What if they didn’t like me? What if they told me to go away? What if they didn’t accept me? Needless to say, I never went over and introduced myself and it wasn’t until a few weeks later that I met anyone in my neighborhood.
Looking back to high school I now realize that the intense, suffocating anxiety I felt was a symptom of my insecurity. Since I didn’t see myself as a valuable person just for being me, I was always trying to please everyone. I’d bring cupcakes to classes, give people rides home, help classmates study – I did all of this in the hopes that they’d accept and like me. Insecurity was also the main motivating factor in my quest for perfectionism. I thought I needed to be perfect to gain my parent’s love, my teachers respect, my friend’s time and essentially the only way I could amount to anything in life. I thought if I wasn’t perfect I want good enough.
Let me say, trying to be perfect day after day is exhausting. It literally makes your heart and mind ache from constantly being "on.” Reflecting back to college, I can better understand that my loneliness, the type that makes everyday seem darker than the last, wasn’t because I necessarily missed my friends and family (though I did). It was because I was done. I was done trying to be someone I wasn’t, I was done trying to make everyone like me, I was done striving to be perfect. At that point I just wanted to be me, but I didn’t know who I was. I was always trying to make others smile and laugh that I had no idea how to make myself happy. I had no clue how to love myself.
So I started running on the treadmill at the gym. I found the thump thump thump of my feet comforting and enjoyed doing something just for me. Then I started journaling and writing about my feelings – getting them out on paper was amazingly cathartic and it helped me breathe a little easier. The tipping point towards self-acceptance was when I went to see a therapist. I needed to express myself to someone that would listen and wouldn’t judge. By exercising and sharing my feelings I began to see slivers of my true self and I began to realize that I was pretty awesome just the way I was. Since then I’ve started to accept my true, authentic self – flaws and all – and that acceptance has given me the confidence and power to try new things and open myself up to new ideas and new directions.
Even though, I’ve come to truly love myself those insecurities and feelings of self-doubt still rise to the surface on occasion. However, instead of letting them wrap around my heart and squeeze out all of my confidence and self-love, I breathe through it and remind myself that: I am (and we all are) beautiful and capable of anything and everything just the way we are. My greatest challenge in life was learning to love myself. Once I did that everything else came a little easier. (You can read more on Erin’s blog.)