This is a guest post by my dear friend and favorite fitness guru Megan. I hope to have more guest posts in the future, and I hope you enjoy one person’s testimony on self improvement and can find inspiration in it for yourself!
– Drill Soul
Hello! My name is Megan, I’m a 26 year old homemaker, part time bartender, and now Jr. High Track Coach. I love baking, doodling, tattoos, and all things black or with a high protein/fiber content.
I started my fitness journey a month after my second daughter was born. I remember sitting down at the end of the night to give my new baby her last feeding of the evening before I (tried to) lay her down for bedtime. As I was sitting there rocking her, my left arm started getting uncomfortably tingly. My breathing felt labored, restricted. Waves of pain began to wash over me, radiating from the center of my chest. I remember I had been arguing with my husband, and I was too stubborn to tell him what was wrong. I figured it was heartburn or something, after all I’d just had a baby and, well, I was a mess. I’d only given birth to our older girl eight months before becoming pregnant with the little one. I chalked it up to my body just being wonky, and denying that anything was wrong.
Until it hurt so badly I started gasping, and crying.
Austin had to carry me to the car; I was in too much pain to move. The slightest movement made breathing unbearable. I remember my mom practically force feeding me baby Tylenol, and she was more scared than I was. You see, my father who is now passed had a heart attack at 55. Both of his brothers started having their…oh jeez, five heart attacks a piece right around 30. Heart disease and high cholesterol run rampant in my paternal family. Mom thought I might be having a heart attack. Luckily, I didn’t. We chalked it up to an anxiety attack, new mom to two under two stress, etc. But I found out at only 23 years old, my cholesterol was 275. The ER doctor strongly urged I come back in for a follow up and get on medication. I was equal parts mortified and scared out of my mind.
I knew I had to change. I had to at least get to my pre-pregnancy weight. The first six months were very rough. I fell off the wagon countless times. I was, on September 15th 2013 when I fought back tears as I took my “before” photos, weighted 203 lbs at 5’5″. You know, now that I know about calories in, calories out, macros, even just throwing together a quick meal of grilled protein and sautéed or steamed veggies, it’s all really pretty simple. Really, it is. Even BMR and TDEE is silly simple. But I was completely ignorant to all of these. I had to learn on my own. I was totally in the dark, and these terms and recipes frightened and overwhelmed me. I had to really fight to educate myself.
I had to fight myself to keep getting up and back in the saddle. I wanted to give up and just say “Oh I’m just built bigger”. But I was so, so very scared of having an inactive life and letting my kids down. I was scared of only finding joy in food. That’s absolutely no way to live. I was living to eat, and I was miserable.
Now, I fully admit I’m very lucky to have a husband who makes enough to allow me to stay home. I was able to stay home and workout in my living room; I have a treadmill and started with just walking. I slowly educated myself on nutrition, calories and how they worked. I very, very slowly dropped 20 lbs walking and using myfitnesspal. It took me a long time to figure out low calorie high volume foods.
For a long time I still ate how we normally did, but tiny portions. I was so cranky and miserable! Google was my friend. Seriously, looking back it makes sense to eat a bunch of veggies, lean meats, load up on good filling fats like nuts and cottage cheese…but like I said, I was starting from square one. I mean, I knew I had to eat better and more veggies and less candy, but it is seriously scary looking back at how in the dark I was.
So, after some googling and lurking reddit, I happened upon BMR/TDEE, and the amazing website that is If It Fits Your Macros and was able to dial in my calorie allowance in myfitnesspal, browsed the healthy eating subreddit and slowly started getting my diet under control. That was hard. I am pretty sure I suffer from binge eating disorder. I have a pretty addictive personality. Before we had kids, my husband and I used to party often, lots of drinking and smoking. When I became pregnant with our oldest I quit both, cold turkey. But, I replaced them with food. It was very hard for me to stop turning to food when I was stressed or upset. I had to find new coping methods. I had to admit I was living to eat, not eating to live.
I started getting more serious. I bought some at home workout videos, and discovered the Couch to 5k app. I lost another 20 lbs! I was 5 lbs below my pre-pregnancy weight with my 1st child by my 25th birthday. I was so happy, and I felt so good, I thought, why stop? So I didn’t. I got serious about my running. I bought more intensive living room workouts. When spring came I ventured outdoors and absolutely fell in love with outdoor running. By June of 2015 I was 128 lbs, the lowest I have ever weighed!
But it wasn’t enough. I was getting tired of the passive aggressive skinny comments, the backhanded compliments about my stick arms. I wasn’t unhealthily thin but I had no muscle. A very good friend whom I met in the tumblr parenting and fitness communities got me into weightlifting. He drew up a simple Starting Strength 5X5 routine for me and I started there. I LOVED IT. It is now March 2016 and I look so different. I was actually told I look “solid and strong” by another woman at work the other day!
Best. Compliment. Ever.
I mainly run and lift weights. I do enjoy attending the local REFIT class. My goals right now are slimming down to expose the muscle I built this winter and see where I am and what I need to do to get into bikini competition shape. Like I mentioned earlier, I am lucky enough to be a stay at home parent, and I have an amazingly supportive spouse and parents who are willing to help with childcare so it’s a little easier for me to fit fitness into my life. When my husband is home from work (he’s in the oilfield and travels out of town often) I will get up in the mornings and run outdoors, weather pending. I like to go to REFIT twice a week in the evenings, and they have childcare there. If the weather is yucky or my husband is gone I run on the treadmill once or twice a week. I currently have a personal trainer who has built a new free weights hypertrophy program for me that works my whole body. It takes me two hours, but I only do it twice a week because that’s all I can fit into my schedule, usually on Monday afternoons, and after work Wednesday nights.
I won’t lie, sometimes it gets a little overwhelming, balancing kids, making time for my spouse, making dinner for my family/meal prepping for myself, with my working out. I don’t really have a lot of spare time so fitness is pretty much my main hobby. But, I love it.
I am building a career on my new found love and healthy life. I remember being fat and afraid to be active growing up. I just wanted to hide. I want to inspire young men and women to take control of their health and their lives. I am so much more confident and comfortable in my skin. Yeah you know what, I am a lot happier with how I look physically but it’s honestly just a perk. I can chase my kids and run at a steady pace for over an hour if I want. I can get up at 6 am and stay up until midnight, parenting, working a full 8 hour shift, lifting for two hours and coming home and making dinner and doing bedtime, then taking care of myself and I’m not burnt out, it’s doable, and I can honestly say I’m happy. I feel good about myself and my life. I enjoy the juggling act that is marriage and parenthood with a fitness-oriented life. I do take on a lot more than I have to or need to, but I love it.
Something else that is very important to me is getting my kids interested in an active lifestyle. In the summers we walk to the post office and grocery store. I carry a backpack to pack our mail and purchases in. We walk to my mom’s to visit and the park to play. We play in our yard. They have fun exercise toys, and my oldest especially LOVES to do at home workouts like insanity with me! I guess I probably sound a little overzealous, but I think fitness hasn’t consumed me to the point it’s crazy. I grill our meats and use less oils and such in our cooking. My kids will choose apples and carrots over candy because of my constant work to be a good example.
Pat (Drill Soul) asked me to suggest some ways to balance life and fitness. My biggest piece of advice is, you have to make time. People say, “Oh I don’t have time” Well bud, neither do I, I make it. If you have time to Netflix and binge, you got time to go outside for a walk or do arm day. It’s not a matter of having time, you have to want it. This is not a simple diet for me. I made a lifestyle change. Maybe I go a little overboard (okay okay, I do, for sure) but this is what I want. I would love to veg out and play Final Fantasy 14 every night, and I do make time for this, but it’s not nightly, and certainly not with the snacks I used to gorge on. My goals are more important to me than my old hobbies. Maybe I go a little overboard, but watching my kids run for the produce aisle instead of the candy at the grocery store, and beg to take a walk instead of stay inside makes it all worth it.