Saturday, July 7, 2012

Reflections on my Learning-to-be-Healthy Journey

I am sharing this in response to a question asked about me by Leah in regards to my weight loss.
I share this from a place knowing that weightloss and weight gain are very sensitive issues for many people (me being one of them!) I share this in love and this is JUST a small part of my story.

Let me give you a short break down of my weight journey.

Throughout my teens I struggled with having very thin friends who were somewhat focussed on their weight. I therefore always felt I was heavier than what I actually was. I was fit, very sporty and physically strong yet underlying that was a feeling on being 'not as good' as.....whomever simply because I didn't 'look' the same as the other girls.

Fast forward to being at an industry (theatre) where things are very 'look' orientated. If you don't 'look' the part, you won't get the audition. This doesn't mean you need to be stick thin but I did go to a few auditions where I was asked questions around my physical attributes (not my weight). This always made me feel like my weight was also important, even when it really wasn't.

Fast forward to meeting Brett, a man who loves me no matter what my size! This gave me much peace although I still silently struggled with not looking 'as good as' the other women in my life. Why? I guess poor self image was a big factor. And somehow I had mistakenly tied my worth to my weight somewhere along the way.

I had kids and was somehow able to manage to lose weight after each baby.

Then when Ethi (baby # 3) was a couple months old, I was diagnosed with
It was a chronic condition that would not go away with steroid treatment. The steroids meant that I gained ALOT of weight and RAPIDLY too.
After a splenectomy, I realised that I really needed to lose the weight.
I started walking LOTS and cut out processed rubbish.
I lost close to 25kg on my own, winging it and then went to Weight Watchers for the last couple and ended up losing over 30kg's altogether.

This photo was taken around that time....


I was thin and was loving it, smaller than I was at my wedding....BUT in all honesty, I wasn't really all that healthy.

Now, please don't get me wrong...this is NOT a bashing of weight watchers or tony ferguson or any other place. I've tried most places like this that help with weight loss and they DID help at various times and in various ways and for that I am very thankful!

However, after having 5 children now and having been back to WW and as I said after trying many other things, I was getting increasingly frustrated that I could NOT predict my weight loss any more!
Some weeks I would work really hard and eat my points and then get to the end of that week to weigh in and find I had only lost maybe 200g or worse still had put on 500g! It seemed like it was almost pot luck and that was really upsetting me. I ended up losing a total of 3kg in 3 months yet people around me were dropping 10+ kilos in that same period! I couldn't understand what I was doing wrong.
I had a tooth removed then did my back in and was unable to exercise those 3 weeks while I was recovering.
And guess what?
During those 3 measly weeks, I put back those 3 kilos that I'd lost over 3 months!!!
Are you kidding me?!?!?!

People said if I came off gluten, then the weight would drop off me.
I'd been off gluten for 5 months and the weight was definitely not dropping off me; it was gaining on me! (I've been gluten free now for 10 months in total).

My WW mentor said that if I just ate my points, then I should see a change.
I was eating all my points and I still wasn't seeing any big changes at all.

I thought if I just tried to up my exercise and go for a run then that would help.
I went for a run AND. NEARLY. DIED.
I couldn't keep that up; I didn't have the time or the know-how on how to actually run and instead just came home sore and more frustrated.

Why wasn't I able to lose weight?

Then a couple of things happened for me that changed everything!

1. With Brett being away and renovating the house, I was missing my weekly WW meetings and I couldn't justify paying for them and not attending. So I decided to cancel my subscription and stopped attending meetings.

2. I was really frustrated at the hit-and-miss approach to my journey and wanted to get a hold of something more concrete.

3. My AMAZING friend and homebirth photographer MELL MALLIN went from
                THIS...                               TO THIS...                     

My Journey

...losing 50+ kilos since January this year. I was one of her 'support' people I guess you'd say and was honoured to have watched her WHOLE LIFE change during this time.
(She's not the only one of my friends who've been losing weight though; Donna, Kathy, Channi have all had their own journey's which have inspired me too).

So I went to Mell's one crazy afternoon, holding back the tears and asked her for some advice. I told her of my frustration and as we sat on her porch for what felt like seconds, she shared some facts with me that I'd NEVER known before!

Just as we measure length in centemetres, we can measure energy in values in food and exercise in kilojules and calories. WHY had i never known this before? I'd always seen those pesky little tables on the backs of food labels before but never really knew what they stood for.

Mell helped me to understand these values and work out calories from kilojules (basically dividing the kj by 4). I worked out as a breastfeeding mama that I would need to have more calories than the average woman losing weight would and set my intake to be between 1800-2000 per day. Mell helped me to understand that water LOVES salt and so there can be water loading after a salty kind of meal. I stopped adding salt to my meals, started looking at the RDI (recommended daily intake) on the packets of food and if it was too salty I would choose something else.

There are great tid bits that Mell has shared
if you would like to read them.
Mell shared this info with me and it changed me.
I started the last week in March 2012.

I must say that I haven't been very 'strict' on this journey.
Rather, I decided I would just start making BETTER choices.
I'm still gluten free, avoid most dairy and watch my chemical intake.
However, I still eat chocolate, have a glass of wine or go out for my fave cafe veg brekky when I need some down time for myself.
I decided that my goals would be:

1. To make better choices and be in control of my food rather than *it* being in control of me!

2. Live as active a lifestyle as I possibly can.

3. Not obsessive over numbers but rather enjoy feeling *free* and *in control* over living a healthy life!

So my journey began.

I started to look at the kj values, divide them by 4 and realised that sometimes, some of my choices previously were mistakenly high cal choices!

For day we went into Maccas on our way home from renovating our house. The kids were hungry and although I didn't really want a big meal, I thought I might go for a little sweet treat and check out what was on offer at McCafe. Brett said there was a gluten free jaffa cake there. Maccas have all their kj values on a big list and next to each item of food on their menu! Previously I would have looked at those numbers and silently shrugged, having not really had a CLUE as to what they meant! This time, I looked at that jaffa cake and Oh.My.Goodness....each slice had a kj value of 3000+ kilojules! I did a quick mental calculation and knew that ONE slice of cake, even though it was gluten free and only a small piece, would make up almost HALF of my DAILY CALORIE INTAKE! No way! In the past, I would have thought that was a 'good choice' since it was a small piece and was gluten free! But instead I opted for a fruit smoothie which had about 200 calories in it instead. It was yummy, healthy and filling AND lower calorie than my other choice!

So here is a little before shot:

and here i am 8kg's lighter, 3 months later...

You may not be able to see much of a difference but I know there is.
You know where the biggest change is?
In my mind!
I am actually EQUIPPED with info for the first time in my life that helps me make informed choices. No more hit or miss. I know why I've had a gain if I have. I also know why I've had a loss if I get one.

The best parts?

I've been doing this while breastfeeding and managing a very full life.
I've started looking after myself a little better.
I've been learning to live a healthier life.
I'm making better, informed choices.
I have started to run! Yep using a couple of apps, I've started teaching myself how to run in short bursts intermingled with stints of walking too.
When life gets too much (like now when I'm still overcoming bronchitis) I just do what I can and don't sweat it if I put on a couple of extra kilos.
'Cause see now there's a difference...once upon a time I would have been so upset that I had 'fallen off the bandwagon' if I'd put on a few kilos BUT now, I feel confident enough to use the keys I have!
I'd still like to lose another 8 kilos by the end of maybe next year if I can manage it.
We'll see ;)
This is my journey to health and this is just what has worked for me.

I hope in sharing this (quite intimate look into my life) someone is helped or encouraged in some way.

Much love,
Lus x


Leah-in-the-Kia said...

oh lusi thankyou!!!! I must admit I got a thrill to see my name there in a post ! LOL
you sound so much like my weight story and how AMAZING does Mel look!!!!! WOW. I have yo yoed 20kg since my wedding day, but in the last 10 years it has stayed on and I feel like i am getting bigger and bigger. I feel awful, tired, and I hate seeing old friends and family i havent seen in a long time becuase of my weight. i too didnt feel right at school although looking back i was a size 10! thankyou for some inspiration! i had noticed on donna's blog she looks thinner, you girls have done a wonderful job
well done Lusi! Love Leah

Nat said...

I definitely noticed in your Fiji pics that you were looking slimmer honey! You're looking great! Thanks for the tools. I have a lot of weight to lose after bub is born - and thankfully I haven't put on much weight this pregnancy either - but I still have about 35 to release. So I'll be looking at some avenues when I'm ready after he's born. I have looked at calories in the past, but seeing as though I'm looking at labels now anyway, maybe I'll watch the calories for myself a bit more rather than doing WW or anything.
Love you.

lusi said...

Thanks Leah for sharing some of your story too. I think for me it has been so much about getting the right tools and then applying myself as much as I can. I haven't slogged my guts out (so to speak!) but I have been learning to make better choices and more of an effort and I truly do feel like it is paying off. I really hope this helps you in some way for your own journey mate. Donna has done SO WELL too and have encouraged me greatly also on this journey. Love to you!

Hi Natti :) I think that WW works for alot of people for sure and it may be the tool that you use again for your journey mate. Mine just took another turn in the path I guess. One of the things I didn't add in the post ( i forgot!) was that there are heaps of cool apps that can help too like MyFitness Pal which my beautiful bud Bek got me onto or calorie counter which Mell told me about. I prefer My Fitness Pal because you can scan the bar codes heaps of Aussie grocery products and it will tell you the serving size and cals. Tools like that help I reckon. Anyway missy, you just enjoy being pregnant for now and revisit this post sometime down the track when you are ready. Love you (phone call this week?) xo

Sumara said...

Hey Lus,
You are one of the most beautiful people I know, whatever weight you are.
Remember to keep the focus on your health and fitness, not the numbers on the scale.

Moira said...

Shalom Luci,
What a great post! I must admit I dont have much to lose but I was looking at staying strong and healthy as I age. I found a book called "8 Minutes in the Morning for Extra-Easy Weight Loss" at the library that I really like. It has simple but effective exercises that really seem to work.

He also talks allot about self image/self respect. I can say that I started thinking of myself differently/better within a day or two,and it has improved my eating habits etc....

I hope that you succeed in becoming a more healthy you :)

Shalom Shalom,Moira

I really admire your head bands, do you make them yourself or is there a brand that I may look for to purchase? Could you let me know, I guess by leaving me a comment on my blog(BLESSED)THANKS!!

lusi said...

Thanks Sumi and that's EXACTLY what my focus is on; a healthy way to live! Makes ALL the difference :)
Much love my beautiful friend x

Hi Moira!
Thanks for stopping by! Glad that book has been helpful to you; sounds great especially if it helps with self image/self respect. I'll pop over to your blog and tell you there too but the headbands are ones I get from stores here from a couple of different places; markets, Tree of Life and a local supplier. Sorry there is no brand name as such to leave you and I wish I could make them! Sorry that's not so helpful! Love to you and yours x

Smaller Version said...

What a great post Lus'! You look amazing! and I LOVE seeing that before and after shot. LOVE it!!! YOu look great!!


Moira said...

Thanks Luci!! I will look and see if they have an online store, if not I may attempt making my own :)

Leah-in-the-Kia said...

Thanks Lusi, i have knuckled down and done some research this morning , then went shopping to prepare my self for the week, i really feel determined to suceed! I told hubby of my plan and he pooed and pahed! heard it all before he told me, so I thought- i'll show you! LOL - wish me luck, Im going to do this!

lusi said...

Thanks lovely x

lusi said...

Please keep me posted on what you find/make! I'd love to see what you end up with x

lusi said...

You ABSOLUTELY CAN do this!!!! Please keep me updated with your journey and keep updated with Mell's blog too. There are great links, recipes and info on there that can really help! Information is knowledge and knowledge can lead to true change! All the best Leah x

Karen said...

Well done Lusi! I have been on a similar journey this year - I have now lost over 15kg by eating around 1200 cal per day - I don't sit and count them all the time but seem to make much wiser food choices now. I now also exercise at home every day, I can't afford gyms but use my Wii program and treadmill. Sites like Calorie King are a great way to track your calories and remember to measure yourself as well as weigh.
Keep up the great work!

lusi said...

Karen that's fantastic! What an effort! Well done to you :) 1200 cals seems to be what most people stick to in order to begin to lose (except those of us breastfeeding!) I don't calorie count either but I feel the same way in that I now seem to make better choices based on what I know about kj's and cals. I use my WII as well and that has definitely helped me. I have also measured myself and I think that helps to keep you encouraged. When I haven't seen loss in kg, I have in cm's. Most importantly, I think feeling in control and healthier are the best side effects of a journey like this.
Keep it up Karen and please keep in touch with how you are going.
Love Lusi x

kathy said...

Thanks for sharing this post Lusi. I love learning about other peoples food/weight journeys. Like you I'm now trying to focus on health rather than weight and what the scales say (i still find this hard but am slowly changing my mindset) Hopefully we can teach our children and they won't have these issues. You look great btw. Can't wait to see you in person! :)

Stace said...


I have been reading Mell's blog, today I went to see if there was a new post but she has made it private :(
Please wish her well in her journey for me!!!

Stace x


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