Finding My Iron Giant
How I Started
My whole life, I’d been chubby. 'Obese’. I'd struggled with my weight, with my body not letting me do the things I loved, with loving food, with the potential of health issues. At 22 years old, my weight had become a serious health issue. Not only was I struggling with my thyroid, but I could see myself heading toward more health issues in the future. In Spring 2014, after graduating from college, I decided to take charge of my life and make a change. After trying and failing to get a handle on my health numerous times, my weight had become a serious enough concern that I was considering weight loss surgery. What initially began because of consideration for weight loss surgery (I knew I'd need to be in a safe BMI range for the procedure and that I'd have to change my lifestyle drastically following the surgery) quickly grew into an intense love of health, fitness and nutrition. I started by going to the gym, lifting weights and eating a clean diet tailored to my body's needs. It only took a few weeks for me to realize that I didn't need to go under the knife. I needed to get under the bar. In the first year, I shed more than 100 pounds without surgery and significantly changed my unhealthy habits. I am now health issue free and my life has changed for the better with the simple realization that what we want and what we do are completely in our own control.
Getting Started: Nutrition
You've asked how I started, so here's my story. I'll break it down into two parts: nutrition and fitness. I currently sit at 6’ and around 190 lbs. I haven’t had weightloss/plastic surgery or used any specific weight loss products on my journey.
Instead, I made simple but effective changes to my nutrition and fitness.
When I started in Spring of 2014, I was morbidly obese with blood pressure and thyroid issues at over 300 pounds.
I’d failed to get healthy enough times to lose count. I was resigned to being the sore, tired, fat girl for the rest of my life...
and then I wasn’t. Something clicked and I realized my life would be what I made it.
I’d been through enough failed diets to know what DIDN’T work for me…. so I started there.
When I began, I didn't have a specific diet plan.
I was so nervous this was a temporary change that I didn’t bother adopting anything substantial -
nothing I could cling to as doctrine.
Instead, I just adjusted my diet.
I ate lots of clean foods and removed all starches and processed sugars.
I stopped eating out. I stopped getting takeout.
I stopped buying junk at the grocery store. I stopped having alcoholic drinks with friends.
I stopped binging on crap.
That was it.
I didn’t under eat or starve myself. Instead, I ate a ton of food but changed what I was eating:
Five or six meals 8 to 10 oz of protein (mostly raw, sashimi grade tuna from the fish market down the street - conveniently, one of my favorite foods) with large servings of green vegetables.
I drank lots of water. That was it.
Down the road, when I was sure I was committed to changing my lifestyle,
I adjusted my food intake to fit my specific needs.
I calculated caloric requirements using online tools from sites like @bodybuildingcom and @jillianmichaels.
(I have a post on my blog here on starting with the basics.
I’ve used lots of methods: carb cycling, macro counting, intuitive eating…. but that’s not how I started.
I simply stopped eating junk.
Getting Started: Training
Getting Started: Training
That April, I gave myself a challenge – thirty days of increased activity and a healthy diet. No binging. No skipping. No cheating. For thirty days. I started at my university gym with a very simple system: lift weights for a specific body part for as long as you’d like and then do about 20 minutes of low intensity cardio. Walk on the treadmill at an incline, use the elliptical, ride the bike. I began my journey in fitness in the weight room, embracing my natural strengths and pushing myself out of my comfort zone with high rep, low rest exercises like those offered in my IronGiantess app.
I trained in the weight room about 6 times a week and found a blend of weightlifting and bodybuilding that I really enjoyed and have been flowing between the two throughout my journey. I threw some cardio in there three or four times a week to spice things up, but weightlifting was my first love. I loved every moment of it. In that first month, my aches and pains reduced substantially, I was no longer out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs, and I felt better than I had in years. It only took a few weeks to realize I didn’t need to go under the knife. I needed to get under the bar.
If I were giving one piece of advice for gym-timidation, it’s this. Go in there and be humble. If you’re just starting, go in with your head down, ready to work. Good people will never judge you for starting… for trying… for working. Go in there and grind. If you have questions, ask. Ask the guy who grunts during his sets. Ask the man who still looks jacked at 70. Ask the woman who pushes the same weight as the guys. They won’t judge you. They all starred somewhere. If you’re nervous to try something, watch someone else do it a few times first. If you’re tired, rest. We all rest. But go in there and work. Attitude is everything. Don’t go in and grumble that you’d rather be anywhere else. Respect that, to some people, this is their church. To some people, this is where they find their motivation, their determination, even just their sanity. Some people aren’t there to lose their love handles. Some people are there to find their peace. Don’t act like you’d rather be anywhere else… like it’s a waste of time. I know that tendency well. I’ve done it. And I’ve learned. Respect the grind. Even if it’s not yours yet. Maybe, just maybe, it will be soon.
I had fallen pretty hard and fast for the weight room. I was so excited when I started that I didn’t want anything to derail my newfound enthusiasm. I was also petrified. The seriousness of weight loss surgery is rarely discussed. Because my real issues with food stemmed from wanting to eat large quantities in one sitting, what we refer to as binge eating, the repercussions of surgery seemed very serious. I knew that, without the surgery, a slip up might keep me at an unhealthy weight or making losing weight difficult, but after the surgery, a slip up could be incredibly dangerous. Once I was already loving making my changes for myself, I saw no reason to pursue surgery.