I grew up on an island in Alaska as an only child in a two-parent household. Sitka is a small town with about 9000 people and 16 miles of road. As you can probably imagine, it is very isolated and food can be extremely expensive. Without knowing any better, we consumed a lot of packaged products. It was cheaper, easier, and promised to give us all the nutrients we would need. We supplemented that with fresh fruits and vegetables when we could and fresh seafood (my dad is a commercial fisherman).
I was pretty active through freshman year of high school and maintained an average weight. Of course I had my fluctuations as most people do. After that and until a couple years ago, I remained fairly sedentary. I worked a desk job and didn't factor exercise into my schedule. I started to gain considerable weight in the following years and into my mid-20s. I tried every diet in the book, only to gain back the 10-15 pounds I had lost, plus some. I have always struggled with anxiety and depression, and the weight gain made it worse.
Simply put, to cope I used antidepressants, food, and alcohol. My body was a mess. It was an endless cycle of unhappiness. I had many days where I refused to leave the house because I didn't want anyone seeing me. Although they are fewer and far between, I still have days like this. I would go on diets and gain the weight back; exercise for a few weeks and then stop. A friend of mine once told me I was an "all or nothing" person. Moderation did not exist in my book. I was either going to be 100% healthy or 100% unhealthy. If I messed up my eating regime by having an unhealthy meal, I would throw in the towel and eat whatever I wanted until I decided to eat "healthy" again.
At 27, I decided I had had enough. My weight had reached an all-time high of 209 pounds. My local gym advertised for a new personal trainer they had on staff and something inside me just knew I needed to contact her. Lucky for me, she also happened to be a brilliant nutritionist. I worked with Shannon starting in October 2013. Not only did she put me through workouts 3 times a week, but she taught me how to fuel my body properly. She made me realize that moderation is key. She reminded me that we're all human and being perfect 100% of the time is not sustainable. It's perfectly normal and healthy to have a "cheat meal" once in a while (or once a week!). It's also perfectly normal to have a crappy day, go into your personal trainers' office crying, and have a therapy and stretching session instead of a workout.
Through moderation in both nutrition and exercise, I lost countless inches and over 60 pounds in less than a year. I am not a proponent of weight as a measurement of success, but I am still in awe when I see that number. It was not an easy ride - I cried through sprints and burpees, cussed and yelled at Shannon on more than one occasion (and yes, we're still friends!), and pushed my limits further than I ever thought I could.
Weight loss is such a powerful journey. Through my time with Shannon, I found myself on more than one occasion thinking, "I want her life! I want to share this with people!" After 27 years of not knowing what to do with my life, I realized what I was truly passionate about: nutrition. When I found the holistic nutrition program at NCNM, it was like a dream come true.
Throughout this journey, I have learned A LOT about myself. I have learned to be a person of moderation. If I have been thinking about a cheeseburger and fries for days, then I get the cheeseburger. Do I eat it every day? No. Do I make sure I also am eating nutrient dense foods like fruits and vegetables as well? You betcha. I have maintained my current weight for over a year and for that, I am damn proud of myself. Sure, I gain and lose 5+ pounds here and there - but that does not measure my success. Even if I gained back 30 pounds, I know I have the tools to lose it again. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, I now focus more on how I feel in my own skin.