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by Torri Carver
Growing up in a small southern community, my family would frequently use food to show love. My fondest memories were spent gathered around the table, eating, laughing, and sharing quality time together. But nine times out of ten, the food we were consuming was fatty “comfort foods.”
After losing my dad when I was only nine years old, I naturally turned to food for comfort. I ignored the repercussions, and in my teenage years I noticed that my weight was slowly becoming a significant issue.
In the beginning, my motivation for losing weight had always largely been vanity. With everything we see today on TV, in magazines, and online, exercise was a means to an end. The health and wellness warnings seemed like idle threats at this point in my life.
Fast forward to college, a dear friend sat me down and talked to me straight about my health. I had attempted every fad diet, pill, potion, and lotion prior to this day, but only saw results for a few weeks, then I would gain the weight I had lost – plus more – back.
After that conversation, I began researching healthy eating, fitness, and wellness blogs. Now I was looking for long term and lasting results rather than a quick fix to being “skinny.” I began prepping my meals, paying close attention to labels, and eating whole foods when possible. I even learned the science behind some of the foods I was eating too.
The first thing I began to do and continue to do when planning my meals was to choose my protein source first, then a complex carb, and a vegetable to go with it. This allows my plate to balance without depriving myself or cutting out carbs completely.
Eating right is the MOST important part about losing weight. You could spend hours in the gym and never lose a pound if your food intake doesn’t match your exercise habits. I call it the 80/20 rule: 80% food. 20% exercise.
I eat breakfast within thirty minutes to an hour after waking up and continue to fuel my metabolism throughout the day by eating snacks every 2-3 hours. I keep these snacks in the 200-calorie range, but this is the only time I count calories. Some of my favorite snacks include Lara Bars, apples and peanut butter, carrots and hummus, almonds and other nuts, turkey, and fresh fruits. I don’t count calories for my meals either, just simply balance my plate and eat until I am full, not stuffed, but full.
This certainly hasn’t been an easy process. The first few day were almost unbearable. One week in, it got easier and has continued to get easier since. A journey that began as a young college girl simply yearning to buy cute clothes has evolved into a beautiful lifestyle of healthy living and feeling great, not just on the outside, but on the inside too.
I still have people that say “Are you always going to be on a diet?” They see me eating healthy meals and prepping my food and say “You’re already skinny. Eat a cheeseburger.” Comments like this are difficult to swallow sometimes, but I realize most people mean no harm. It’s hard to explain to some people that I’m not eating this way to look a certain way or just lose weight like before. I’m eating this way because I love my body and I’m fueling it properly, now and forever.
Now going into my fourth year in maintenance and 80 pounds less, I would have never imagined the goals I have accomplished when I set out on this journey, such as running my first marathon and attending CrossFit classes.
The way I feel, the energy I have, and how it’s affected other aspects of my life are what motivates me to keep going. My professional career has grown far beyond what I would have ever expected too. I can set goals and know I’ll accomplish them because I’ve finished them before, and I know hard work really does pay off.
I want to be an example of what it’s like to have struggled with weight problems and for everyone to know that it is possible to overcome them. That’s why I practice what I preach. You can’t out train a bad diet.
I was very fortunate to have that friend, but if you don’t have a support group, start with doing the research yourself. You’ll learn so much! There are a TON of healthy tips on social media and blogs that have truly helped me. Join a new gym and learn from the friends you make there. Support groups can be found everywhere!
My wish is to help others who, like me, think it’s impossible to change their lifestyle for the better. It will be hard, but it IS possible. I did it and you can too!