Ditching the diets and finding myself instead.

A photo with Mike Weaver, lead singer for
Big Daddy Weave. I think we were the same
size. I was 35 years old.

My journey to health and fitness was not as simple as changing my diet and starting an exercise regimen. The reasons for my weight struggle are not merely a lack of discipline, laziness, or whatever it is that the “lifers” in the fitness world would like to think.

I don’t feel that this is the place for my life story. It’s boring.  I will just say that my life has seen more than its share of challenges and personal trials.  Most of my adult years have included a high level of negative stress, personal responsibilities that left me drained and exhausted, and an idea that I was making sacrifices for “a season” and “someday” I would have time for me.

If I have a single regret it is that I didn’t love myself enough to make my health a priority. I regret that I didn’t model a healthy lifestyle for my children when they were young.  I regret every time I sat on the sidelines because I was too sick, too tired, too overweight, or just plain afraid of hurting myself. How much of my life did I miss out on living that I will never be able to get back?

I wish I could say that I just had an epiphany one day and saw the error of my ways.  With the combination of stress, poor eating, no exercise, too much weight, etc, my body soon starting telling me I was going to have to make changes… or else.  The details are not pretty, so I’m taking creative license and just not including them.

I tried numerous diets with some success but the weight always came back. I’d starve myself… it would come back anyway. I felt helpless. I felt like I couldn’t control my own body.  I got advice from those “lifers” I referenced earlier. Surely they would know what I’m doing wrong.  However, I didn’t find suggestions as “just run 10 miles a day” or “stop eating so many carbs” very helpful. I had done the diets… they didn’t work. And I was pretty sure that they wouldn’t be running 10 miles a day if they had to carry a 100lb backpack (which is how much extra weight I had).

I started by doing another diet. I lost 40lbs. I knew it was going to come back so I started working with a personal trainer.  But then I started gaining again just like before and I was panicked. My personal trainer explained that my weight coming back was called a “reverse.”  He showed me how my diet was actually causing the problem. I wasn’t eating enough. Wait… what?

Apparently depriving your body of needed calories is not healthy.  Losing 20lbs a month is too much too fast.  It scared me to eat more but I tried to find the right balance. I felt so impatient. I was working so hard. I was sacrificing all the foods I liked to eat. And the weight loss was SO slow or wasn’t happening at all.

Warming up at CrossFit.

Then I found CrossFit and I discovered the missing link to my mental battle for weight loss. It wasn’t about the number on the scale. It was about building a strong and healthy body so that I could better LIVE my life. So I could stop being a spectator and become a participant. So I could face my fears head on before running right over them.  My focus on my weight was blinding me to what was truly important… my overall health.

Soon after starting CrossFit, I ditched the diets and embraced the Paleo Lifestyle.  While most consider it to be “radical” (I did at first too), I really couldn’t argue with the results. Funny thing happens when you “clean up” your diet… your body works better, fights and resists illness, and ultimately stabilizes your weight.

My health and fitness journey is no longer seen as a short trip but rather a never-ending adventure meant to be enjoyed. I’m working every day to become the best possible version of me that I can be.  I have not perfectly mastered my demons. I still get on the scale and obsess on the number though I know I shouldn’t. I still wish I could eat a large bowl of Pralines & Cream every night… and sometimes I treat myself.

The difference is that my temporary “diet” has become a permanent lifestyle.  Instead of wondering if I’ll be around to watch my grandkids grow up, I’m learning how to scuba dive and knee board. Instead of battling allergies, IBS, skin irritations, migraines, and joint pain, I’m getting a kick out of beating my PRs (personal records) in the gym. My husband and I recently had a discussion about getting our Instructor Certification in CrossFit.  Oh, the possibilities!

Bottom line, I’m not the skinniest, youngest, or hottest in the gym and that’s ok with me. At 43 years old, I am one of the happiest in my new skin… and happy is good.

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30 Comments

Filed under Encouragement, Health & Fitness

30 responses to “Ditching the diets and finding myself instead.

  1. Jennifer

    GREAT story!!

    • Bailie

      I LOVE this. I am currently trying to live the paleo lifestyle as best as i can. Did you struggle at first? I feel like I do good 4 to 5 days out of the week. I still see results but I want to know if everyone starts out this way?

      • Hi, Bailie – yes, I did struggle at first. When your eating habits have been horrible for a long long time, it’s hard to suddenly make the transition. If you find yourself becoming too frustrated, try taking it in steps. First 30 days without grains, then 30 days without grains and sugar, etc. This will give you time to adjust your meal plans, grocery shopping, etc to NEW and WONDERFUL foods that maybe you didn’t consider eating before. It’s also important to keep it simple until you get the hang of things… cook all your protein for an entire week in one night. Then all you have to do is add your veggies or add into a recipe. The Paleo lifestyle really is easy… but it’s VERY different from how I ate before. At the beginning I was really stumped to figure out what to eat for breakfast because nothing on my “before” list was Paleo. Keep reading the many blogs, experiment, and enjoy the process! Best wishes!

  2. Ally

    Bethany – I stumbled across this blog when a friend – Amanda Traywick- posted it on FB. I love the way you chose to approach life. I too discovered Crossfit and the Paleo lifestyle and fell in love with it. I have had to stop WODing b/c of some nerve related issues in my neck..but you have just encouraged me to get back to as close to 100% Paleo as possible b/c I know a lot of my pain can be resolved in just eating clean.
    Thank you. And I wish you the best – you look fantastic!!

    • Thank you so much for sharing that you were encouraged by the post. More than anything that is why I put this stuff out there even when it makes me uncomfortable to “bear all” in such a public forum.

  3. Congratulations on your accomplishments! You hit the nail right on the head: it’s a matter of making a decision not to just lose weight or diet – but to make a lifestyle change. Keep up the good work! You look (and I’m sure continue to feel) great!

  4. Debra Sharp

    I think you are a very beautiful person, inside and out!

  5. ALAN BOWMAN

    Great article Bethany and I know you have worked so hard. It is wonderful that although it is hard work you and Jeff are enjoying it so much.   We are so looking forward to seeing you all soon.   Talk to you when we get home from the trailer after labour day weekend.   Hugs, Mom

  6. Fantastic uplifting story. I too have gone through that whole diet-doesn’t-work thing for decades. CrossFit and Paleo changed my life just as it did yours, with one difference. I just turned SIXTY. Eh . . . it’s never too late to remake your entire attitude about food and fitness. My daughter finds my obsession a little annoying – well guess what? I plan to remain annoying for a long long time to come!

    • Wow! GOOD FOR YOU! I am also very annoying to friends and family so you are in good company. But honestly, when you find something so wonderful that works you just can’t help yourself. Keep on with your beautiful obsession!

  7. Laura

    Congratulatons on your success! You’re an inspiration!

    • Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Laura. I’m very ordinary… not different than anyone else. Thankful to have found the answer to a lifelong struggle and I plan on living life big time for the rest of the journey.

  8. Julie

    Bethany,
    I could have written this article. I exercised excessively and thought I was eating a balanced diet without results.I joined crossfit 6 months ago and adopted a paleoish diet (I choose to eat some dairy).I am stronger, thinner (although the scale hasn’t budged)and feel 100% better.I’m 42 and I can keep up with the 20somethings at my box.Age is merely a number. You look fabulous and have set a wonderful example for so many women out in the real world.

    • Thank you so much, Julie! Congrats to you on your success. Your scale may not have budged but I bet people keep asking you if you’ve lost weight. Keep up the hard work!

  9. Lisa

    Crossfit and Paleo have changed our families life.

  10. Melissa

    Women of Crossfit posted this on their Facebook page. I cried reading this because I feel exactly like the person you described before Crossfit and Paleo. I have never fully committed to either. I keep allowing myself to derail because I focus too much on the failed diets of the past. It’s nice to know there is hope. Thanks you for sharing.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I, too, had to overcome my own issues with eating, yo-yo diets, declining health and lack of self-esteem. I started paleo eating with my husband’s box before I began Crossfit. In 30 days, I felt so much more energy and lost enough weight that I attempted CF. I started this March at the box and have not looked back since. I ditched my scale because what my body tells me is more important. My mood is so much better, I have energy, and I want to try all sorts of activities that I would never consider before. It is amazing that you and your husband are going to do the certification together! I am giving myself a year before I go for my certification and then the Kettlebell certification (I love them!). I turned 40 2 weeks ago and I have never been in better shape! Wishing you continued success and all kinds of PRs 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment, Stephanie! It made me want to instantly give you a high five and a hug! 🙂 I’m thrilled for you and the success you are having. It’s really nice to CF and Paleo with your husband. My husband and I started CF together after we had been dating 4 months… we just got married this past April. CF was such a big part of our courtship as the box was halfway between our homes and we met there every day. I’m glad that our fellow CF’ers didn’t mind all our smooching during the WOD’s… 🙂 Heck, we still smooch during the WODs.

      • *high five and hugs* 😀 I love that story of how you and your husband met! The box that I go to is just 2 blocks from our home and we love to go to WODs together. We can’t always do that because we have a one year old. But you know that our little guy is going to be a little Crossfitter some day! As for smooching during WODs, Mike and I have been married 10 years and we still smooch in and around those WODs 😉 Our box has quite a few couples who are CF’g together, I really do think that it helps keep each other motivated.

  12. Linds

    Hey Bethany – I love your story – it’s so close to my own – I’m a year or so older and was probably closer to 60lbs overweight but same, same – the struggle to lose weight for 10 years and the panic when you either don’t lose or you start to reverse – I can really relate. I really needed to read this because this week the stress just kind of took over and my old friend chocolate moved in for a few days – but now I feel quite sick and happy to return to my 90% paleo ways… And I love the sh*t out of CrossFit. Wouldn’t miss it for the world. Just did my Level 1 a few weeks back and am studying to be a personal trainer because I’d like to help people like me. Thanks for your post. : )

    • Congrats on getting your Level 1! I feel that more “people like us” should take the plunge to become trainers. We don’t have to have the perfect body or the perfect CF abilities to encourage and instruct those that share our journey. Keep it going!

  13. Colwyn

    Thanks Bethany! your article has inspired me to find out more about CrossFit in Canada and the Paleo (diet?)

  14. Pingback: 8-27-12 |

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