It often seems like whenever we finally get motivated to lose weight and reach our goals, our efforts fizzle out as soon as obstacles get in our way.
Kristin’s story shows us that when we’re motivated by factors deeper than just how we look – then pair that with the right help – there is very little that can get in our way!
After college, I moved to Cambodia and lived there for two years doing seahorse research. It was an amazing experience, and it kept me very active. I was diving twice a day, having fun, and enjoying the culture. During this time, however, my immune system took a hit because of the limited resources and medicine on the island. This affected my health down the road.
After those two years, I went to England for six months. I was having a great time traveling and eating good food. My body, however, did not agree with the new sedentary lifestyle I had developed in Europe. Eventually, I developed a weird cough and felt awful for so long that I got used to it. It was my new normal.
(Enjoying the local artifacts abroad)
When I came back home, I was the biggest and unhealthiest I had ever been. Unsurprisingly, during my first doctor’s visit back in the states, I was told that I needed to improve my diet and exercise habits. This is when I truly started being concerned about getting my health back in order, more so than just “improving” the appearance of my body.
That appointment made me realize that my poor health was severely impacting my quality of life. After years of neglecting my nutrition and fitness, I was finally open to making a hard, swift life change.
That Annie Thorisdottir Chick
Soon after, while I was spending time with my family, I noticed my dad watching the CrossFit Games. He looked at me and said, “you should see this Annie Thorisdottir chick on ESPN, she’s something else!” A professional CrossFit athlete and two-time winner of the CrossFit Games, something about Thorisdottir really inspired me.
After my dad’s comment, I decided to go 80% paleo and got heavily involved in Crossfit. In just a few weeks, my athletic abilities improved dramatically, and I knocked off 20 pounds. I was feeling good and feeling better.
An Unsustainable Lifestyle
Unfortunately, my new eating habits only lasted a few months. I found the Paleo diet very challenging to stick to. I wanted to hang out with my friends, but my diet made that very difficult. Just to make it work, I would bring a cooler to my friend’s house so I could make my food. As you might imagine, that proved difficult to sustain in the long term.
My diet just didn’t fit well with my lifestyle, and eventually, I found that with every passing day, I would worry less and less about eating well. Even though I was working out 3-5 times every week, I continued to gain weight and my extra boost of energy that comes with eating healthy started fading. I thought that I could just workout more to make up for my bad diet, but unfortunately, that was not the case.
It took a couple of years to get to the point where I thought, “I gotta start treating my body better.” I even tried to go paleo a few more times, but I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I couldn’t have any of my favorite foods – it wasn’t satisfying. I tried to track my macros with a fitness coach, but all I found was frustration. I was single, working in restaurants, and in school all day – I definitely wasn’t at a point in my life where I was ready to weigh and measure all my food, and counting calories just wasn’t feasible for me. Honestly, I remember crying a few times because I just couldn’t make the numbers work.
What Made Me Get Serious
It got to the point where I was unhappy with my own reflection – I couldn’t even stand to look at pictures of myself. I couldn’t believe I had gotten “there.” I’ve always been super confident; I didn’t want to be the girl who is always thinking negatively about herself.
Then I got engaged. This was yet another wake-up call. I didn’t want to get married and start a family and continue living my unhealthy lifestyle. I didn’t want to start a whole new chapter of my life in that physical and mental condition. I wanted to start by being the best version of myself.
(My fiance and I)
On top of that, I discovered that cancer exists in my family history. I knew that if I wanted to reduce my chances of developing the disease, I would have to seriously start taking care of my body. I couldn’t have asked for more signs that it was time to make a change in my lifestyle.
The Power of a Coach
That’s when I called Kari.
Kari is a Registered Dietitian at Wilmington Performance Lab. I got her number from a friend who experienced amazing results from seeing her. He had the same kind of problems and goals as me, so I decided to give her a try.
Kari helped me make maintainable meal plans and discover the common obstacles that kept me from following through on my good intentions.
One of the biggest obstacles we found was the conflict between my fitness goals and my social life. I overcame this by learning to say “No” more often. I used to be a yes girl. “Yes, I’ll go out. Yes, I’ll go out to lunch.” I said, “yes,” all the time because I enjoy being social, but I realized that saying, “yes” to everything was contributing to an unhealthy lifestyle. Now, I feel freer to say “No” and know how to pick and choose what events I will say “Yes” to. I understand the value of having time to myself and enjoy making dinner and relaxing at home.
When I do spend time with my friends, I’ve developed solutions for the situations that usually get me off track. For example, I often invite people over for dinner instead of going out. This way, I can control what I am eating, and can even make a different meal for me and my guest if necessary.
Letting people know about my goals is also important because it helps them understand that I’m driven to reach my goals. They don’t try to pressure me into anything that works against me. If I were to keep it to myself, I would probably get off track.
One big area that hindered me in the past was the belief that I had to eat food that I don’t enjoy. But Kari showed me that I can eat all the foods that I want and crave all the time, even if it’s in smaller portions. Since I’ve been working with Kari, I’ve been steadily losing 2-4 pounds a week! And I still eat foods that I love. For example, every night before bed I eat frozen yogurt with chocolate chips.
This program is called flexible dieting. You still have to keep within the calorie intake and the number of macronutrients (think: protein, carbs, and fat) that are set for you, but you’re not locked into a certain meal plan. This allows you to substitute foods or adjust your diet when life throws you curveballs. For me, this is a sustainable way to eat better.
Since the program is all based on my specific needs, it feels like an accelerated program. I can feel my muscles building and the fat melting away. Plus, the measurements prove that it’s working! But my favorite benefit is that I have plenty of energy and feel great!
The Glue That Held My Journey Together
Even though I had tried similar programs before, I never found sustainable success until now. When I tried a similar program in the past, the person who put it together had a hands-off coaching style, and the numbers that person came up with were a lot different than what I’ve been doing with Kari. The person probably wasn’t trained to do it – they probably learned through the internet. It wasn’t actually tailored to fit my energy needs.
(Down 25 pounds just in time for my engagement party!)
In hindsight, I’ve learned that it is vital it is to have this program set up properly for it to work well. More importantly, I learned that I need the accountability a Dietitian provides to succeed, rather than just having a plan to follow all on my own.
This is why Kari’s was a huge help. I know I’m accountable to her and not just myself. Every time that I don’t track or hit a bump in the road, she helps me figure out what outside factors caused me to stumble. She worked with me to overcome obstacles and has helped me make wise decisions, even when special events or unforeseen circumstances arise. She has taught me that I don’t need a rigid diet plan to follow, I can be realistic and flexible and see results without sacrificing my social lifestyle.
To get ahead, ask for help
I owe a lot of my success to having Kari as my nutrition coach. She’s just so positive and upbeat! I used to think, “I don’t think I need a food doctor to tell me how to lose weight.” But the accountability, the advice, and the education she provided have been vital to getting me healthy even though it hasn’t always been easy. It’s astonishing when I think of how much progress I’ve made. Sometimes when I’m at the gym, I’ll pick up a 25-pound plate and think, “Wow! That’s how much weight I’ve lost. This was on me?”