My Health & Weight Loss Journey
Disclaimer: The intent of this story is to share my personal journey - I’m not a medical professional, nor am I in any way providing any form of medical or weight loss advice; please consult your own doctor or medical professional for appropriate medical information/advice. This is also NOT a sponsored post, as previously mentioned, I am just sharing my journey and what has worked for me.
My health and weight loss journey is something I’ve been thinking about sharing for a long time, because for me, it goes way beyond weight loss and how I look. Honestly, it has been an ongoing struggle for me for a really long time. Within my fashion styling work I speak a lot about dressing for your body, regardless of one’s size, and have shared a bit about what I’ve experienced during my styling sessions and events. However, this is a more thorough and in-depth story that I now feel inclined to share on my blog and social media channels.
My styling work’s foundation is to inspire women of all sizes to feel amazing in their bodies - in my adult life my weight has shifted exponentially, and I’ve fluctuated in sizes from a 4 up to size 14. So I know from a personal level what it feels like to have clothing in your closet that no longer fit, and to have your body shape shifting based on weight loss and weight gain (I go from being more rectangular when I’m smaller, to filling out in my hips and bum and becoming more pear shaped when I wear a bigger size). I know first-hand the feelings of shame that can arise when I regain some weight, to being too hyper focused on the stupid muffin I ate for breakfast, and so on. I think you get where I’m going with this.
Most importantly, I know too well the struggle of going through health issues that impact your weight; which then impacts your size, how you feel in clothing, how you feel about yourself, and ultimately, how you show up in the world.
But I digress. So let’s start at the beginning…
Photos: About 2008/2009 before my second major weight loss journey.
I’ve been struggling with a thyroid disorder for almost 20 years, and this road has not been an easy one. When I was first diagnosed, after many visits to the doctor where they kept telling me that I was drinking too much caffeine (which I wasn’t, they just assumed so because I was a Starbucks barista while getting myself through school), they kept turning me away with no answers. It was finally my family doctor that diagnosed me with Graves Disease when I went back to my hometown for a visit.
What followed was a really tough time of going to see specialists, radioactive therapy, and too many pills to count. With this also came a surprising and rapid weight gain that shocked me. Not only did I feel disgusting and unwell due to the Graves Disease, but now I felt frumpy and uncomfortable in my own skin. Growing up I’d never had issues with food or my weight, so this was a tough concept to come to terms with and accept.
This was just the beginning of a struggle that still exists today.
The radioactive therapy ended up “killing” too much of my thyroid gland, which moved my condition into Hypothyroidism; a condition where your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. For those of you not familiar, the thyroid is a big deal - it helps your body regulate temperature, energy, weight, and other factors that affect your daily life and overall health. I’ve been taking Synthroid ever since - a medication that helps to restore the body’s thyroid hormone levels to the appropriate levels necessary for each individual*
Ok then, so it would appear that all is good?
Actually, not so much. Over the years I’ve experienced so many fluctuations and medication changes; it’s been like a never-ending cycle of trying to figure out what medication dosage is working properly. Sometimes I’ll be on the same dose for years and feeling ok. Then at other points, my thyroid medication dosage needs to be changed and altered every few months. Furthermore, stress also happens to really exacerbate the symptoms and make things much worse, which in turn causes even more stress. And on you go, a little merry go round of shit.
About 11-12 years ago, I had one of my major relapses where I found myself at my heaviest weight, and not feeling great - again. After months of being fed up and annoyed, I decided to deal with the weight loss issue - again! I decided to stop eating sugar and wheat and the pounds melted off, while I was finally able to get my thyroid condition stabilized, at least for a while.
With the 40+ lb weight loss, I was feeling on top of the world, and really excited to finally be at a body weight and size that made me feel healthy, confident and happy. I was determined to keep it that way, and I succeeded for a number of years.
Photos - And here she is, over 40 pounds lost after eliminating wheat and sugar.
But I wasn’t quite expecting the unexpected turn of events that were to come, which definitely contributed to me getting derailed again, followed by additional health conditions that put me into an even more vulnerable position. My father suddenly passed away, and my stress levels went through the roof. With this and other life events that followed, and the continued elevation of stress, my thyroid issues were back in my face again, and the numbers on the scale too - and at a surprisingly rapid rate, where I was almost shocked to discover that I had regained that 40 lbs, plus a few more. WTF!?!?!
This is especially concerning when you think you’re eating well - I was sticking to regular meals of chicken and veggies and allowing myself one cheat day a week. At this point, I was working out 4 or 5 times a week, getting dizzy in my various workout classes, and barely getting through a chill day at work - I’d be sitting behind my computer in the early afternoons, fighting to keep my eyes open. This is when I found out that I was anemic.
Just over three years ago, while dealing with anemia and trying to figure out the cause of it, I randomly picked up a book called Bright Line Eating (BLE) - a few things came to light that I wasn’t quite understanding in the past - a new awareness of just how intense sugar and flour are on your body.
I was hoping that this program would be the answer to my prayers, and most importantly, to the inflammation and pain I was feeling in my body - mostly stomach issues, acid reflux and general sluggishness and fluctuating energy levels (to name just a few). I was also hoping that a regular and regimented diet would help me with the thyroid issues and anemia as well.
Photos: Weight starts to creep back, before my journey with BLE.
I’m so happy to report that I was right. I knew that dropping sugar and wheat from my diet worked in the past, but this program has truly taken my health journey to another level. I’m now in my fourth year on the program and there’s seriously no looking back. My health is in such a better place. My thyroid levels haven’t fluctuated in years. I’ve dropped the weight and keeping things steady at my ideal weight and size.
That’s not to say it’s been perfec or that I haven’t slipped up a bit - especially during the pandemic - but I now know what works best for me and how to reset when shit gets wild.
I’ll do a separate post about Bright Line Eating, but the premise is simple. You don’t eat flour or sugar. You eat three meals a day, no snacks. You weigh your food (I know, I know, I never thought I’d be that person, but what a huge relief this has turned out to be. I no longer get consumed by trying to figure out if I’ve eaten enough or too much.) I feel free. I feel healthy. And I’m appreciating my body for the things that really matter - the energy it gives me to do the things I love.
Have I been perfect over the past three years within BLE? Nope. And that’s ok. Last March when our first lockdown happened, I did get a lot of joy and comfort from the banana loaves my hubby would bake, and for the first time in almost three years, I brought wine back into my world. I gained a few pounds, but I didn’t allow it to stress me out or take over my life, as it had before. And then the holidays happened and by the end of it, I was back trying to squeeze into my favourite jeans and experiencing some stomach issues again. So I did a hard re-set in January and I’m back to eating clean and healthy, and feeling great again. I dropped the 10 pounds that needed to go in the first month, and I’m entering April feeling like a bad ass.
After 20 years of struggles I finally feel that in the past few years I have grasped a hold on this and I’m capable of seeing my body in a different light - a light I wish I had seen it in all along. I’m taking more time and energy to be grateful for all the amazing things my body affords me to do - hug my beautiful husband, go for walks in nature, move my body, and live my life!
Photos: After starting Bright Line Eating - this was in the first couple of months, about 20 lbs down.
Photos: At about 6 months of BLE, I had lost all the weight I had intended to release.
Like I said above, this isn’t meant to be health advice and I just hope that this was helpful to someone. I want others to see that we all have struggles, and as much as I love sharing my OOTD photos and my personal style on social media, it’s not all perfect. Sometimes, my skirt isn’t zipped up all the way, but you can’t see that in the photos.
And that’s what I strive to do in my personal styling business - I love working with women and showing my clients how to feel comfortable in their clothes and their bodies, no matter what. Get rid of the jeans that no longer fit and buy the ones that do. You’ll feel better and you’ll look better, guaranteed!
If you’re still here, thank you for reading. As hard as it is to share certain stories and be vulnerable, I’m glad I shared this one, and I would love to hear your stories and experiences too.
* Please note, as mentioned at the start of this post, I am not a medical professional and am not providing any medical advice. Please do not start/stop or adjust any medications without prior consultation with your actual doctor or medical professional.