Happy Saturday! I (Leah) am so excited that it is Saturday… this year I am going to be having guest posts on Saturdays. I have lined up quite a few stories about people who have a unique journey concerning food and health. All ages, males and females, people who are sick and those who are healthy, more or less… if they have a story, they will be telling it here.
The reason I find this to be so important is because I honestly believe that we can learn from each other. I think that if we are honest about our mistakes, we can help others not make those same mistakes. If we are honest about what it has taken up to accomplish our goals, we can help one another get to our goals faster. I also love the idea of being able to encourage one another, to be able to see pictures, here about accomplishments and also pit falls. I think that a sense of community, actually… I know that a sense of community will help all of us along our health journey.
Today’s guest post comes from a lady who I am so close with, that we have one another tattooed on our wrist. I’d like to introduce you to my sister Amy, but we should all call her Ella. A little over 2 years ago, my sister and I got tattoos that say “Sorella” (sister in Italian) on our wrists, our relationship really has never been the same and I am so thankful for that. This girl is a really special person, she has a killer sense of humor, is stunningly beautiful and one of the most sensitive and caring people I know. She has fought a hard fight to get to where she is and I know she isn’t finished.
Growing up in a big Italian family was great. I had a mom who loved to cook and we were always surrounded by food. With not much money to spare, my parents often had to figure out how to feed 6 mouths with whatever they could find. We were always active kids, playing outside was one of our favorite things to do, but afterwards we would run back into the house for a pasta dinner.
I grew up feeling the way that I thought most people felt. I mean, it wasn’t normal to feel good right? Nausea and sickness was a part of my daily life. I struggled while growing up with several colds, sinus infections, and daily stomach aches. I didn’t think anything of it and I just figured that the way I felt was normal.
Despite my sickness’s I loved food and when I would feel the shame of eating one of my favorite meals (which most of the time consisted of chicken strips and french fries) I would tell myself that I would rather be happy and fat, than miserable and thin. By the time I graduated high school my weight was averaging around 270 pounds. I told myself and doctors that I was no bigger than 230 and prayed that they wouldn’t weigh me when I came in for my appointment.
In April of 2013 I got that familiar ache in my throat which could only mean one thing. I looked in my throat often and showed just about everyone in my family what I saw and I knew I had to go see a doctor. Yep, white spots covered my tonsils. Even now, I don’t think weighing in is necessary for a simple case of strep but that is why I’m not a doctor. I dreaded stepping on the scale and was almost in tears when I saw the number. 301. I couldn’t believe it. I had never felt such shame and self-loathing. My doctor ran the typical tests and had a heart to heart with me where she shared with me just what my high blood pressure meant. It was scary! She also warned me about the concern of diabetes. I was terrified! I was only 21 years old and there was no way I was going to let myself get to the point of diabetes because of my weight.
I decided to make a change. My diet started on April 30th, a Tuesday. I woke up that morning and ate an apple before finding a secluded road where no one would see my pathetic attempt to run and jiggled my way 2 miles with mostly a brisk walk and running for the occasional 15 seconds. I began eating a low carb diet packed with protein. Giving up the pasta, bread and rice was hard but I knew it would be even harder to live a life with diabetes. I worked hard. I was determined to show my family and friends that I could drop the weight without surgery or a program that I really didn’t feel like following. It was just plain and simple exercise and healthy food.
I gave myself one week with no weigh in, and you can imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale 7 days later and was 11 pounds lighter. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t tears in my eyes. I now knew I could do it, and a simple 11 pounds gave me the motivation that I needed to get the ball rolling.
Running became easier and I found myself craving it. It was my chance to get some fresh air and have some “me” time. I also found that if I woke up and started my day with a good run, it motivated me to eat healthy that day! This became my habit and watching the scale drop daily gave me the strength to keep going. Only 4 months later I was down 50 pounds, but still not feeling good. Breathing became hard and I was starting to get light headed while working out. I immediately saw my doctor and it was determined that my tonsils were so large, they were blocking my air way.
Two weeks, and thirteen pounds later I was recovered from my tonsillectomy and ready to start back on my journey. Now down 63 pounds I was convinced nothing could stop me…that was until my weight loss slowed down. I wasn’t losing the way I should and I still didn’t feel good. After several scans, tests, and a few awesome doctors it was determined that my life long nausea was from a bad gallbladder. After having it removed we realized that functioning at only 20% wasn’t the only problem. My gallbladder was over twice the size of a normal one and ready to burst.
So here I am, now down 80 pounds in 8 months and feeling better than ever. The nausea has gone away and although I am less than 2 months into recovery I am slowly getting back into the swing of things.
The best feeling in the world through this entire experience has honestly been the confidence I have gained. I have always been very outgoing, but never felt beautiful. After losing the weight that I have, one of the greatest rewards has been seeing the reactions of the people who never thought I could do it, especially the reaction of my best friend who has always been somewhat of a health “freak”. I surprised him and stayed away for the first 6 months, not telling him about my weight loss and the moment he saw me was the first time I felt truly beautiful. I still have about 70 pounds to lose and saying no to my favorite foods has been hard, but I know that a healthier lifestyle and looking great is well worth counting my carbs.
I plan on sticking to low carb and beginning to incorporate more things like all natural smoothies and juicing into my diet. I am exploring different flavors and foods that I always swore looked too gross to try and learning how to cook them so they are not only tolerable, but tasty. If I could only do one thing to keep the weight off I would choose eating healthier. Exercise is extremely important but I believe that the food we put into our bodies has the power to make or break us, and if I could give one tip to those trying to lose weight, it is to stay positive! There were so many times that I broke down in tears because of hard work that didn’t seem to be paying off in that moment, but I have been blessed enough to have a strong support system surrounding me to help me stay motivated through those tough times.
Another tip to remember is to use your resources! Through this journey Pinterest has been one of my best friends. Once I decided to explore other workout routines without the money to go to a fancy gym, Pinterest was the first place I looked. Below I’m going to share with you my favorite healthy dinner and workout routine:
- 1 Pound of ground turkey
- ½ of a small onion
- 1 tsp. of garlic
- 1 ½ tbsp. seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- ¼ tsp. salt.
- Just a pinch of pepper
- Use just a drizzle of olive oil and start to heat up your pan
- Mix ingredients together in a large mixing bowl
- Form mixture into patties
- Cook 5-10 minutes on each side
I love to turn my turkey burgers into a lettuce wrap and usually pair it with a side of steamed mixed veggies!
Now onto my workout: I got this from Pinterest and I love it because it pushes me with a mix of cardio and strength training to burn the maximum amount of calories and fat!
- 40 Jumping Jacks
- :30 Jog in place
- 5 Burpees
- :30 High knee kicks
- :40 Butt kicks
- :45 Jog in place
- 50 Jumping jacks
- 10 Jumping squats
- 1 Burpee
- 30 Mountain climbers
- 5 Jumping squats
- :30 Jog in place
- Rest for 1 minute-Do this 3x
If you would like to contact Ella to encourage her, ask her questions or just keep up with her health journey you can do so here…