Guest Blogger | Brianne’s Story
Brianne is one of my dearest friends in NYC. I’m inspired by her health and fitness journey and following her food logging on Instagram (you should follow her). I’m reminded that no matter the circumstances, constantly pursue health and happiness. Please welcome, Brianne.
Towards the end of 2012, I married a handsome fella and ran off to Jamaica for our honeymoon, bathing suits a blazin’. Prior to then I had been working hard for years to combat my battle with emotional eating. I had been focusing on my health and remained in what I considered to be pretty decent shape, fluctuating at a normal rate. However, my pre-wedding workout/healthy eating efforts weren’t producing the results I wanted as easily anymore. I was working with a personal trainer and working out at a Marine instructed bootcamp, and I was only seeing minor improvement. I chalked it up to the stress of wedding planning from 2,000 miles away. In 2013, I started really struggling. No matter what/how I ate, no matter how often I made it to the gym, the scale continued to climb. Many onlookers made comments like, “Ohhhh, looks like marriage agrees with you!” or “Wow! You must be so happy. You’ve both put on weight.” While there is certainly truth to those comments (marriage does agree with me and I am so happy), I knew in my gut that was not the sole reason I was gaining at least three pounds a week.
I had gained about thirty pounds in just a matter of three months. I went to my doctor and gave her the run down. After blood work and a few tests, she was at a loss. She felt that my thyroid levels weren’t anything to worry about and that couldn’t have been it. She sent me on to an endocrinologist. I then began to have incredibly uncomfortable swelling in my feet and my hands. I didn’t think I was eating anything out of the ordinary or anything in excess that would cause it. I was poked, prodded, scanned, and medicated. Nothing seemed to be working. While the endocrinologist disagreed with my GP, and put me on medication to bring my thyroid levels down, that didn’t stop the swelling. Dr. G changed my birth control as another possibility. My mood did improve and my lethargy did get a bit better, but not my feet/legs. I purchased compression socks; I elevated and iced my feet, all to no avail.
Needless to say, I was a mess and at a loss. I joined #PSPFit. #PSPFit is the baby of CeCe Olisa. With her team of experts and sponsors she provides the opportunity for a reasonably priced program with access to a BRILLIANT Nutritional Coach, Abra Pappa, a wonderful team of trainers at Personal P.E.P.P.E.R., and a positive environment for plus sized women to open up and discuss our own journeys. I will confess that while the first round was FANTASTIC and extremely beneficial, I can admit that I didn’t make it through those six weeks as on-point as I could have. I ended that cycle grateful for the new recipes and a new handful of positive women to surround myself with.
Shortly thereafter, I sustained injuries to both of my feet, making running or any other standing cardio/strength training impossible. At the time, I couldn’t even ride a bike or take a Spin class. I was able to lift as long as I was wearing my boot for the stress fracture in my right foot. Add this on top of the ever-growing series of unfortunate events (Lemony Snicket, anyone?) in my life and I wanted to spend the rest of my days in bed.
October found me signing up for the second cycle of #PSPFit. I had recruited a few ladies to join me and I was a proud member of the Cycle 2 #PSPFit Cheer Squad. I was ready to roll for this round. This session was going to run for the 30 days prior to Thanksgiving to give us a good kick-start of healthy habits. (We all know that the holidays can be the WORST for maintaining any sort of momentum.) This time, for me, was different. I was going through a really rough time and was determined to pull my rear out of bed and make my other #PSPFit friends proud. How could I be a part of the Cheer Squad if I wasn’t walking the walk? I took the time to read all of Abra’s guidebook and I prepared my kitchen and myself. I answered her provided questions and goals. This is where the turn happened for me. “Why is this journey important to you?”
Why is this journey important to me? What is my ‘why’? A “because I want to be healthy” wasn’t allowed; it wouldn’t cut it for a motivating answer. So, what is my ‘why’? I want to wake up daily and be excited for what lies ahead whether it’s a day at the office or a day of cleaning the bathroom at home. I want to be able to climb up the subway stairs and not be embarrassingly out of breath. I don’t want to spend my money and time constantly under a doctor’s care. I want to feel pretty and confident when I put on either a little black dress or a great pair of jeans and V-neck t-shirt. I want to unabashedly and proudly lead worship at my church without worrying if people have noticed how much bigger my double chin and belly have grown. I want to inspire people. Most importantly, I want babies. I married an incredible man that will make one heck of a daddy, and we want to raise a family.
These things fueled my fire for Cycle 2. That desire, motivation, and preparation helped me be much more on track than the first cycle. I knew that I could only get out of it what I put in. I told myself that I’d try anything. I told myself to be open to new foods and habits, no matter what. Were there recipes in the weekly meal plan that I’d probably avoid going forward, sure, but I’ll be darned if I didn’t try to eat those shrimp and artichoke hearts! I stepped out of my comfort zone. I hesitantly posted daily pictures of what I was eating. I bought myself a good blender/food processor and made more use of my kitchen, spices, and Paula Deen pots than ever before. The result from those thirty days? I developed new habits. I became addicted to green smoothies for breakfast, I can’t shove enough kale into that blender! I can finally pull myself out of bed. I am able to pull on that favorite pair of jeans that I haven’t fit into in months. Guess what, after a year of the scale only moving up, I lost 18 pounds and 18.5 inches. The swelling stopped. I don’t walk around feeling like I’ve got an inflated balloon in my stomach. My system was cleared of whatever my body was angry about. I’m no longer on medicine for the edema. My medicine is in the form of lemon water, kale, collard greens, faro, raw almonds, zucchini, and butternut squash, all wrapped up into delicious recipes.
I’m so grateful that I was able to head into the holidays with all of the #PSPFit information in my back pocket. Of course there were holiday parties and visits with friends and family. You would be nuts to think that I didn’t have a cookie or three. I’d be a fool to try to convince you that I didn’t make a few slightly less than great choices. However, I’m armed. I am not afraid to keep plowing forward. What a mistake it would be to go back to my old habits, my old comforts.
This time last year I reached out to my dad with an email that simply stressed my exasperation with the situation and the growing number on the scale. I’ll close by sharing a few words from his response, from a man that struggled all his life with the same issues as me. Please read it as though he were saying it to you.
I’m the last one who should be preaching to you about your weight and possible eating habits. You and I both, need to be cognizant of the possibility of Diabetes, undue stress on our joints, and the stress this puts on our hearts. You are such an unbelievably beautiful young lady, and for the sake of your health, please try to make smarter choices, and think about how everything you intake into your system, will effect your body, before you decide to go ahead and eat it.
Because of my neglecting my health over the last 20 years, I now have an enlarged heart, am borderline diabetic, and although the doctor tells me I’m currently okay, and very much better than I was at 387 lbs, I have to continue to get damned serious about taking more of this weight off. I owe it to you and your brother, and I owe it to your Mother, to take care of myself. You, my love, owe it to yourself and your fantastic new husband to make healthy choices.
I’ve got faith in you. I swear to you, and make you a solemn promise, right now, to make better choices, take better care of myself, and get this weight thing under control. I would ask that you please do the same, for me.
Keep your chin in the wind, Munchkin
I love you
Unfortunately, we lost my dad unexpectedly just six months later from a motorcycle accident. So this exchange above, the promise we made to each other, has also become my ‘why.’ Dad would be proud of the changes I’ve made. I know that I will have moments of weakness. I know there will be setbacks. I know I have a long way to go, a journey for the rest of my life. But that journey didn’t start last year. It’s been a fight I’ve fought from the get go. However, I’m prepared now more than ever.