When I started the Precision Nutrition Program, I was super motived to make lasting change. I have struggled with loving my body for as long as I can remember. My relationship with food was contentious, to say the least. I was cranky, unmotivated, and directionless. Oh, I knew the right foods to eat and that I needed to move my body to make it feel better but applying that knowledge was elusive. Unfortunately, I pretty much gave the program the middle finger the first four months. It wasn’t until January that I had a few “come to Jesus” moments: 1.) my son kept asking me about the baby I was growing in my belly, 2.) I said something in passing to my colleagues about not wanting to be known as the “fat midwife” and no one corrected me, and 3.) I was starting to act like the miserable person I felt like inside.
I was at the highest weight I have ever been at outside of pregnancy and I was miserable. I couldn’t get out of my own way, sabotaging one effort after another. In addition to being at my heaviest weight, I was also the most out of shape I’ve ever been in. Going up one floor in my house winded me. My blood work was that of someone on the verge of heart disease and metabolic syndrome. I had always been active, dancing through my childhood, playing softball, volleyball, and cheerleading in high school, and regularly going to the gym through young adulthood to now. Then I just stopped going; and the bad eating habits kept coming.
Spurred by a new year and new chances, , I caught up on the weeks of lessons I had neglected on a ride home from New Hampshire on New Year’s Day. Meal planning every week felt like just another task on my never ending list of things to do, so I bought a monthly desk calendar, sat down on a Friday morning and spent three hours planning out my meals for the entire month. I made a commitment to getting to CrossFit 3 times a week, even though that meant getting up at 4:30am two mornings a week. I knew that I had to make the time to get it in or I would never feel like my work in the kitchen was going as far as it could and I would make excuses as to why I couldn’t go in the evening.
Committing to going to NRCF 3 times a week was very different than actually going. Before I made that promise to myself, I had started and stalled many times when it came to establishing a routine there. First, it was the fear of walking through the doors and feeling like an outsider; feeling like the most unfit person masquerading as someone who belonged. Second, the workouts and people just felt so intimidating to me. I was scared to be the last one to finish a workout and have people judging me or to be using so much less weight than everyone else that I would look out of place. I could not have been more wrong!
I was blown away by how welcoming and supportive everyone was. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some badass, fit women who intimidate me but it’s not because they are unwelcoming, it’s because I’m in awe of the strength they have, not just during a WOD but in their lives. I aspire to be like them both in and out of the gym. About a month after I started going regularly, I was hooked. I “drank the Kool-Aid,” to say the least. I began to feel great! I made the workouts my own, completing them to my ability level and getting in a great sweat each time. I never felt like I wasn’t getting from them what I should be just because I was scaling.
I started going four times a week, trying to figure out where in my schedule I could add more classes. After three months, people started to notice the changes I was making. Those kind words, in addition to the encouragement I was getting during the workouts and seeing the progress I was making myself, were like a drug. I was on a high before, during, and after workouts. I stopped thinking about the numbers on the scale and started thinking about how my clothes were starting to fit or how I was progressing in my workouts.
As a mother it’s difficult to take time for yourself. If I went to the gym in the evening or took Bear along with me, I felt selfish, like I was neglecting him and the time we could be spending together. Now I completely understand how much taking that time makes me a better mother and how having him watching me working hard and staying healthy will lay the foundation for him to develop a healthy lifestyle. When I started this program it was with the intention to lose weight, build lean muscle, and develop healthy lifestyle habits. Fast forward one year and it’s all for him. Hoping that he’s watching Al and I doing something that we love, enjoying an active lifestyle, eating foods that fuel our bodies to perform at its peak but also enjoying treats!
Over the course of the last year, from my heaviest weight, I’ve lost 43 pounds. But that is just the number on the scale. The numbers that really make me proud are the two pounds of muscle I put on. Or the 14% body fat that I lost. Or that I brought my visceral fat level down to an index level of 9 from 18. Or that I dropped from a tight size 14 pants to a loose size 10.
One of my proudest moments over the course of this last year was at work. I’ve squeezed into a size Large scrub pants for a long time before starting this program, and they were getting snug. My goal was always to be in a size Medium. The drawstrings are color coded depending on size. One day I was walking down the hall and a coworker stopped me and said “Umm, Danielle, I think it’s time to change the color on those,” pointing to my pants. I knew they had gotten a little looser but I was so scared to try on a Medium for fear that they would be too tight and I would be discouraged. But I decided to try anyway. Lo and behold, they were loose! Now I wear Medium scrubs and can even fit into a Small top…snuggly.
This summer was the first summer for as long as I can remember that I wore short sleeved tops and shorts and felt comfortable. My legs might not look the way I want them too (yet) but they are strong! I have definition in my arms and shoulders that I never thought I would see. Hell, other people may not even see it, but I do. My belly button still looks perpetually disappointed but some day it will look surprised again! The confidence that has come with learning and applying the new lifestyle habits learned over the last year is immeasurable.
I’ve learned that a healthy lifestyle is about balance. This program wasn’t about the “diet” or exercise, it was about changing a lifetime of bad habits that got me to where I was. Along the way I learned how to be kind to myself; how to forgive myself for things I didn’t realize were hurting my efforts. I learned how to take a step back and really listen to what my body was trying to tell me. Most importantly, I’ve learned how to be grateful. Grateful for the ability to get out of bed every day and move my body. Grateful for the ability to buy and prepare foods that nourish my family. Grateful for the supportive Crossfit family I’ve gained. Grateful to be able to help other people overcome the same struggles that I have dealt with. Grateful to be a role model to my son.
I still have a long way to go but building a healthy lifestyle and maintaining it are lifelong pursuits, ever changing, always evolving, never stopping. And that’s me. Always growing, always changing, always learning.