A Different Kind of Before and After

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A Different Kind of Before and After

 

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A Different Kind of Before and After

I know this isn’t completely photography-related, but there is a tie in… One year ago I began my journey to better health.

Years ago I wrote a personal piece about getting in front of the camera, rather than hiding behind it. It resonated with so many of you. I explained that your family and friends love you for who you are in the present time. They want you in photos. I still get emails from photographers saying they finally are listening to my advice, even if they don’t like the way they look in pictures, and stepping in front of the lens occasionally. At that time, I committed to taking my own advice and getting in photos, both with family members and friends, and even solo. And as much as I cringed, I did it.

That said, I would often have others stand in front of me, hoping to camouflage my weight. I’d rush into Photoshop and use editing tricks to slim myself. Granted, the 10 pounds I’d shave off with the Liquify tool didn’t hide anything from anyone. I was basically being cruel to myself. Everyone knew what I looked like – I was overweight.

hiding-weight-behind-family-members
Hiding behind family members – not confident – but getting in pictures anyway.

 

I would reluctantly get in family pictures, but every time I would take them off the camera, I was saddened. I knew that how I looked had far more implications than those images. I was unhealthy and unconfident.

In the early summer of 2014, I had enough. I had to lose weight so I could be healthier, happier, and have a more fulfilling life. In addition, I needed to be a better role model to my daughters. I made the decision and commitment that I would no longer hide behind excuses – my twin pregnancy in 2001, my lack of a thyroid gland, or the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. In my heart I knew what I needed to do to lose weight. I wasn’t a stranger to dieting, but that’s part of why I failed. I needed to stop dieting and start living a new lifestyle. Everything needed to change.

My new lifestyle meant:

  1. I needed to eat less, change the foods I ate, and eat more consistently and mindfully. With a wrecked metabolism and my medical conditions, I knew that I needed to eat fewer calories than most – and follow a higher protein, lower carb eating plan. Every endocrinologist had emphasized this, but I never stuck with it. I would dabble and give up, as the results were not fast enough.
  2. I needed to rethink my exercise plan. For many years I did spinning classes and burned a ton of calories. What’s bad about that? Nothing. But it never worked for me. I needed something different. For me, it was lifting weights. I hired a trainer and still do strength training (working muscles to exhaustion) three times a week. Contrary to what you may think, it not only has helped me develop muscle, but also has improved my cardiovascular system, and helped me lose and now maintain my weight. In addition, I also do yoga a few times a week, along with fun activities like hiking or biking.
  3. I needed to be accountable for everything. I had tried food journals in the past, but this time I relied on My Fitness Pal. I have not missed a day since I started my commitment on July 22nd, 2014. I record every bite of food, beverages if they have any calories, and all workouts.

mfp log

Here are my keys to success:

  • Being 100% ready and motivated when you commit. Do not start until you are physically and mentally ready. Weight loss and getting fit helps your life but it won’t change issues outside of that realm. Don’t expect things that were problems before to be fixed by losing weight.
  • Having a support system. You need your family to support, not sabotage, your efforts. Additionally, it helps to have professional help – whether that’s a personal trainer, a nutritionist, a doctor, a counselor, or a psychologist, depending on your needs. I had some other support too. My trainer has helped keep me motivated and on task when it comes to weight lifting. I can even do pull-ups now! And one other unlikely support — Lululemon. Our local store opened in August. The team there has been supportive, encouraging and inspiring. I attend the in-store yoga often, and this summer I’m even doing a community-based Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga sponsored by them. I also belong to a large number of Lululemon Facebook groups with women all over the world, and we push each other (not only to shop more but to work hard on our health, eating, and exercise).
  • Logging everything I eat and drink – and all activities – 365 days a year.
  • The P’s. Patience and Persistence. Every other time I went on a diet or exercise program, I gave up.  It was too slow or too hard or too restrictive.  This time I used my determination to push through — I was persistent in working out frequently and eating smaller portions and healthier foods.  I knew up front that I did not gain the weight overnight.  It was going to take me a while to lose it.  Patience was key —  half a pound to two pounds a week is healthy weight loss, and that meant I shouldn’t expect pounds to melt off in a month or two. It took 10 months to get to my goal weight and the past two months, I’ve been paving a new path called maintenance.
  • Changing how I think about food, as something to nourish me, versus satisfy emotional needs.
  • Changing how I move, as I now crave activities and new challenges. I love to “try new things,” from yoga — which is now part of my routine — to paddle boarding, hiking, and even inline skating and rock climbing with my daughters. I feel healthy and strong and confident enough to try these things. I no longer think, “Ugh, I need to go exercise.” I actually look forward to any chance to be active.
whistler trip-187
After hiking for hours! Loving the physical activity this summer.

 

In one year, I lost more than 65 pounds. I weigh 123-125 pounds depending on the day. My body fat is 22.6% currently (I started at 40% last summer!) I can do pull-ups. In fact, I did five in a row the other day, followed by seven chin-ups. And I can dead-lift 145 pounds.

pull-ups
“One of my first few pull-ups” — beginning of June 2015 — now I can do more and with better form and reach.

More than just numbers though, I am healthier (no longer pre-diabetic), and I am a more confident, happier person. Plus I get in photos, and even take selfies, much to my husband’s chagrin (he thinks they’re for teens).

iphone selfies
The “iPhone” selfie — the “guns” I work on at the gym…

 

And guess what? I don’t feel the need to slim myself via editing. I am finally happy with who I am – and it feels great!

No need to hide - in April on Spring Break - I confidently got in photos.
No need to hide – in April on our Spring Break – I confidently got in photos with my family – not “behind” them – and without Photoshopping myself.

So, you may wonder why I wrote about this on the MCP Blog. There are a few reasons.

  • I get a lot of questions about health and weight loss from those who follow me on my personal Facebook page, and wanted to give an update and share some thoughts based on the past year.
  • I believe that you should get in pictures no matter how you feel about yourself.  It is important, and as photographers, we need to be in pictures and as part of the memories. The changes I made throughout 2014/2015 were to start loving myself as much as my family already loved me.
  • And lastly, I wanted to inspire others to take this bold step if you’ve felt stuck and unhappy with your body and health – and want to make a change. And if you are ready to do so, I’ve created a support system for you to make changes and get healthier — join our health and fitness Facebook group, appropriately named “Liquify Me.” It’s made up of photographers, and some non-photographers, who either have successfully lost weight and gotten fit or who are on their way – people like me and you who want to live a better life.

Hope to see you there!

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11 Comments

  1. July 30, 2015 at 11:03 am —

    What a great post! I love reading people’s get healthy stories. I’ve been working since January to become healthier. I too have medical issues so the weight hasn’t come off very fast but I’m getting healthier ever day an it feels great. I’ve now lost 38lbs and I lost count of the inches. Also like you I now love to get out and get moving. Looking forward to following along on the rest of your journey.
    Cheers,
    CL

  2. Nicole
    July 29, 2015 at 5:39 pm —

    Good for you! I’m curious… you said “my lack of a thyroid gland”. Do you not have a thyroid? Also, logging everything is awesome but what was your calorie, fat daily intake?

    • July 30, 2015 at 4:20 pm —

      I’ve written in detail about what I consume on the facebook group. Check it out.

      As far as thyroid, I had it removed via RAI as I had Graves disease (hyperthyroid) and was allergic to the meds that could control it.

  3. July 29, 2015 at 10:59 am —

    You are just so awesome and inspiring! I am so happy to join your FB group. You are such a generous individual. Congratulations on you health and fitness journey…you deserve all the joy and peace!

  4. July 26, 2015 at 12:15 pm —

    Jodi,

    Thank you so much for this VERY honest blog post. You are inspiring and encouraging. I really needed to read this.

    I am also very proud of you, what you did is a very difficult thing.

    Kimmer

  5. July 24, 2015 at 8:53 am —

    Fantastic! Congratulations… you look amazing, and I know you feel amazing too!

  6. Robyn
    July 24, 2015 at 1:33 am —

    Bravo! You look fantastic, and wow those are some guns. I requested to join your FB group. I started changing my eating habits July 1, a support group would be amazing.

  7. Brooke
    July 23, 2015 at 10:45 pm —

    Loved reading about your journey. I dropped 15 pounds last year, but it sneaked back on once I thought I didn’t need to log my food. Sadly now, I’ve been “back on” since April and have rollercoastered with 5 pounds – you are absolutely right in that you have to be in it mentally see results. Here’s to getting over the mental psrt of this struggle!

  8. Renee
    July 23, 2015 at 5:39 pm —

    Hi Jodi, Congrats!! I too would be interested if you could share more details. Like you, I have twins, they are 22 now and a 19 year old daughter, thyroid cancer survivor times two back from 1998. Praise the Lord, but still have thyroid issues. It had spread into my neck and lymph nodes. Thank you for sharing your story, I know it was helpful for me to read about it and the encouragement that also came along with it. You have a precious family.. Congrats again..

  9. Robyn Whaley
    July 23, 2015 at 4:22 pm —

    Congratulations…You look fantastic. I was curious how many calories a day and the macronutrient percentages you do. I too have a hypothyroid from 2 pre-eclapsic pregnancies and a total weight gain of 180 lbs total for both pregnancies. Those darling bundle of joy are now 16 and 17 yrs old and I left 55 lbs on, ugh. I work out with weights 3-4 days a week and do cardio 5 days a week. I am really fit, but fat. I currently wear a size 14-16 pants. I have the working out part down but I’m pretty sure I don’t eat enough calories, currently I eat 1200 day. Thanks in advance for any tips you might have. Again, congrats on all your hard work.
    Robyn

  10. Linda Ferrell
    July 23, 2015 at 11:34 am —

    Fantastic!!!!! Right now is the perfect time to start, because of all the free outdoor activities. When you live in the midwest you have to take advantage of the warm weather while its here.
    You look terrific and your story is completely inspiring, because every single person who needs to loose weight or just get moving feels exactly the way you did. Thank you for posting your uplifting story.

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A Different Kind of Before and After