For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with my weight and self image.
Maybe it’s just a girl thing, but I can distinctly remember all the different phases of my life where I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, where I felt chubby or fat or gross. I remember wanting be thin so badly in high school, but the funny thing is that I wasn’t even close to being overweight then, despite how I felt about myself. Looking back at old photos – I was actually pretty thin!
It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I started actually putting on weight and becoming “overweight.” Dustin and I were already dating at the time, and he was attending school in Dallas and I was at school in Santa Barbara, California. In that one year, I gained about 40 pounds – yikes. I distinctly remember weighing myself and I was 181 pounds.
Then, when Dustin returned to California and I was accepted into a graduate program in central California, we moved to San Luis Obispo where we started living together. We had lots of fun cooking our own meals and “playing house” (as my dad would say). In fact, it wasn’t abnormal for us to finish off an entire meal of chicken fetuccini alfredo with a whole loaf of garlic bread and then follow it up with banana ice cream shakes.
And I gained even more weight.
Then, in 2003, we got engaged. I knew I wanted to lose weight before we got married (we scheduled the wedding out one year), but I didn’t really know how to get started and, honestly, I didn’t really have a huge drive to do it. I just figured women are supposed to look and feel beautiful when they’re brides and that sounded great.
But then, one day, I weighed myself before going to class and saw that I weighed 202 pounds.
Dustin, my 6-foot-3-inch-tall fiancé, weighed 230 pounds (he was also packing on the pounds) and I almost weighed as much as him at 5-foot-8-inches. This needed to stop. I had to lose the weight and I needed to do it now.
It finally clicked.
I had learned in a nutrition class that weight loss and weight gain was all about “calories in versus calories out” so I thought this would be the way to go. So, I started calorie counting – keeping track of every single little calorie I ate. I weighed myself every single day, sometimes twice. And, very quickly, I started losing weight. In fact, I was losing about half a pound a day and it was freaking awesome. I felt like I could actually lose all the weight I wanted and all I had to do was watch my calories.
The problem was that I didn’t stop. I kept restricting my diet more and more, limiting the calories I could eat to smaller and smaller amounts. At one point, I decided I could have 1100 calories in a day (way too little for what my body actually needed!) and then I would pride myself on not even reaching that maximum. Hunger was normal and proved to me that I had control over my body.
I didn’t see then just how little control I really had.
In addition to becoming obsessed with my weight, I started to get all sorts of anxiety about eating food. Any time I sat down to eat, I would get so nervous that the food I was going to eat wasn’t going to fill me up enough. I started to hate eating because all it did was point out how weak I was and that, unless I could control my behavior and not eat everything, I was a failure. I would also choose foods that weren’t very nutritional, but were low calorie, in order to spread my calories out further.
The whole time this was going on, everyone in my life was telling me how good I looked and how impressed they were that I had lost all this weight. They were saying how jealous they were and wished they could do the same. And I loved that positive attention so much.
So, I kept doing it.
By the time the wedding rolled around, I weighed 160 pounds and I felt awesome. I was so proud of how I set forth a goal to lose the weight and I accomplished it.
The problem was that I didn’t stop there.
I kept trying to lose more weight. I felt like I still had a lot to lose and so I kept following the same diet I had used to lose the previous weight. I would say I need to get to 150 pounds, but then would want to get to 14o when I reached 150, and so on.
The turning point for me was two years later. I weighed 133 pounds when both Dustin and my mom sat me down and told me I needed to stop. They said I no longer looked healthy or happy – that I looked week, frail, and too skinny. They explained I needed to find a way to eat more, but to make healthy choices so I wouldn’t keep losing weight and be so consumed by my weight. I had become so obsessed with the calorie counting and losing weight that I had become unhealthy.
While, at first, I really didn’t want to listen, I knew they both had my best interests in mind and so I worked at changing and improving my eating habits.
After that, I wound up bringing my weight back up to about 145 and felt pretty good about myself. I had stopped calorie counting to any major degree and the obsession started to fade.
As luck would have it, things changed again. In 2008, Dustin and I found out we were going to have a baby girl in May, 2009. We were both very excited (and super scared!), but I was worried if/how the pregnancy weight would trigger my old thoughts and behaviors. I really didn’t want to start calorie counting again as I had worked so hard to lose the weight in the first place and gaining weight scared me.
On top of all that, Dustin started exercising right out of the blue while I was pregnant – running with a friend and watching what he ate. He wound up really starting to enjoy running and lost a lot of weight himself. So, while I got fatter and fatter with the baby, he got fitter and fitter and into shape. You can be sure I gave him a hard time for deciding to get in shape while I was pregnant! 😉
When Jordan was born, I had gained 40 pounds of pregnancy weight. I knew I needed to lose the weight and hit the ground running once I had been cleared by the doctor. This time, I combined exercise (mostly running and walking) with more controlled calorie counting and I was successful at losing the weight and then some within about 2 months.
Life was good again.
When our second child, Savannah, was born two years later, I had kept the weight off and was still in decent shape. I no longer had the fear that I wouldn’t lose the pregnancy weight since I had proven it could be done after Jordan pretty easily. I gained about 40 pounds again with Savannah and lost it the same way.
Then, three years later, there was Hunter. My pregnancy with Hunter was completely different than it had been with Jordan or Savannah. I was in a lot of pain during the whole pregnancy, and unable to exercise at all. I gained about 30 pounds while pregnant this time, but was already a good 15-20 pounds over what I would have liked before getting pregnant. For some reason, I had stopped exercising before getting pregnant so my body wasn’t very well prepped for being healthy. Since the doctors weigh you a good 1,000 times when you’re pregnant, I was well aware I got up to 205 pounds with Hunter. And that freaked the bejesus out of me.
Finally, after having Hunter, I made the decision to take control of my life. I felt so stuck and so trapped in my own body for too long and needed to break free from all the poor choices I was making. While I was able to keep weight off with calorie counting, I was tired of it running my life. I was tired of constantly checking the scale to see if I went up or down a pound.
And, because Dustin is totally evil (lol), he started going to the gym ad weightlifting with his brother during my pregnancy. That stinker – getting fit while I was pregnant, again! He started losing weight, getting stronger, and feeling great about himself. I wanted that!
I knew this time after Hunter had to be different. While I lost all my weight and then some after Jordan and Savannah, I also lost all my energy, muscle mass, and love for food. Instead of counting calories and wasting away, I wanted to become strong and confident, not thin, hungry, and weak.
Making the decision to start eating healthier, paying attention to what types of foods I was choosing, learning what was in my foods, and changing the way I thought about food, dieting, and healthy living totally changed my life. And I haven’t looked back.
So, once Hunter was born, I also started weightlifting to build muscle and strength.
Hunter, my only boy, is now a whopping 18 months old now (yowza) and I am super happy to say I have lost all the weight I set out for. In fact, I lost 60 pounds – all without worrying about calories and enjoying everything I was eating! Combining my new healthy eating lifestyle with fitness has been the best decision I’ve ever made for my health and self confidence. I finally feel in control of my life and my future and I no longer feel like I struggle with my weight or self image.
Working hard every day to get in shape, eat well, and be in control of my life. After having three kids, I’ve never felt stronger or healthier, thanks to eating healthy and strength training. Not where I want to be yet, but am happy with the progress so far. Lots more to come! #asweetpeachef #workhard #fitmom #fitmoms #fitmommy #shapeup #getfit #postbaby #makingprogress #feelinggood #growingstrong #believeinyourself #fitnessmotivation #gymlife #fitnesslifestyle
I rarely check my scale anymore. Instead, I rely on how I feel and how I fit into my clothes to gauge if I’m reaching my fitness goals. I have also gained muscle and feel stronger, prouder, and sexier than ever. And that’s after having three kids! Who knew that was even possible?!?
I tell you all of this because I want you to know it’s totally possible, whether you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle, feel better about yourself, or just start living a healthier lifestyle. You’ll see recipes all over this blog of how to make food from scratch – and that’s really where eating healthy starts. If you don’t prepare your own food, it’s very difficult to really understand or control what you’re putting into your body. That’s one of the guidelines I really like about clean eating. I’ve found that a combination of healthy eating and fitness is the best method to achieving my results. While I have shared lots of healthy recipes on the blog, I’ve never really had a good overall purpose or goal for the recipes, other than just providing easy, tasty, homemade foods. Lately, to coincide with my fitness and healthy lifestyle goals, I’ve been adding healthy, high protein recipes like this dinner, these, and this.
Woohoo! #cheatmeal at @hopdoddy, baby! Every week, Dustin and I choose one meal to “cheat” on, meaning we don’t worry about sugar or fat or healthy eating – just eating tasty food we’ve been craving. And we often crave the burgers and fries from Hopdoddy Burger Bar in Austin. Adding in a cheat meal every week allows us to stay focused on eating well and making good choices every other day. #asweetpeachef #burgers #lunchflow #lunchdate #lunchtime #hopdoddy #lunchselfie
A photo posted by Lacey Baier (@laceybaier) on
That being said, I do still love all types of food and definitely partake in the occasional (read: weekly) “cheat meal recipe” where I share more indulgent recipes that may not be super healthy, but are super tasty…like these, this, and oh this yummy one.
I hope that, by sharing my story, I can help show you more of who I am, what struggles I’ve had, and what battles I’ve overcome. I realized this hasn’t been a part of what I’ve shared on this blog before, despite how big of an impact it has had on my life.
Have you battled with fitness or weight in the past or currently? What lifestyle changes have worked for you? Please share in the comments!