My mom signed me up for the local track team when I was four, maybe five. I had a tall and skinny build until late in high school when I matured. I was a runner my entire life, until college at least. I had a bad hip injury my freshman year of college and my heart just wasn’t in it to rehab and run competitively. [Side Note: I had knee surgery in high school and it took me forever to feel 100% again, despite being able to walk the day after surgery, which wasn’t expected.] Instead, I hung up my running shoes in the fall of 2012 and got a work study job working in my school’s athletics department. I think that decision worked out pretty well for me.
I maintained the same weight through college, after that initial freshman year of course. After graduation I moved back home to New York and worked multiple jobs at a time until I figured out what I wanted to do. One of my jobs was a manager at a gym and it was awesome because I was basically forced to work out every day.
That November I moved to South Florida for my first “grown up” job. For those of you that have moved to a place where you knew literally no one, you know the struggles you face. For me, I was alone and very depressed and one of the youngest people in my department. Being 22 and living in South Florida sounds like a great time right? Not when you are constantly on the road and working 60+ hour weeks for 10 months of the year. It was hard to make friends my own age and have a social life, so that’s when my weight gain began.
In the summer of 2014, after a few inspiring conversations with Katie leading up to CoSIDA’s convention, I decided to start running. I stopped drinking alcohol and eating fried food. I was up to four miles a day and had lost nearly 30 pounds. I was in the best shape of my adult life. But, then SID life happened. A new school year began, I was on the road every week, sometimes for more than 4 days straight. I slowly began to gain the weight back.. and then some.
Hiking in Phoenix, 2015
In the fall of 2015 I moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. Our staff was young and we all lived close to each other. I had a social life again, which seemed like a good thing, but it was maybe too much of a social life. I partied a lot with my friends in Greensboro. Beer, which I’m allergic to anyway (not the beer but hops), was consumed with almost every meal. Wine Wednesdays were a weekly thing at my apartment with my coworkers. I didn’t step on a scale for the entire year I lived in Greensboro, but I noticed the changes; my clothes were tight, my jeans were wearing out faster. It was awful. Even though I had plenty of friends in Greensboro, I was still sad and being away from my family was taking its toll on me. I’m an emotional eater so I would eat late at night when I missed home. I even got a dog to help me be less sad, and as much as I love her, I didn’t love taking her for walks like I thought I would.
Celebrating an overtime win at Old Town with my friends in Greensboro
This past January I moved a few hours east for my current job. In my first two months in Greenville I gained 15 more pounds. I found myself once again living somewhere with very few friends. Work and travel consumed me and it was easy to just eat unhealthy and go to bed early.
Our women’s basketball conference tournament was in Connecticut this year so my mom and sister came up to watch my team play. Keep in mind they had both seen me in January when I moved. I’ll never forget the words my sister said to me: “Mom told me you’ve gained a lot of weight but I can’t see it.” Either my sister is a big fat liar or she was just trying to be nice. Mom on the other hand is much more honest, just not to my face. Well, that night I cried in my hotel room when I looked at the photos I had taken earlier in the day - photos of my family and my colleagues.
Chevonne Mansfield and I at the American Conference Tournament, March 2017
I got home from the conference tournament and stepped on the scale. I WAS 46 POUNDS HEAVIER THAN I HAD EVER BEEN. That was my wake-up call. I called my sister and cried for a couple of hours. I hated myself. How did I let it get that bad? And how could I fix this?
We started researching ideas. Should I get a personal trainer? No. Weight Watchers? Nah. Shakeology/Beachbody? Nope I hate at-home workouts.
My sister helped me to connect with a former high school teammate of ours who does nutritional cleansing. I figured, heck, let me try this out. I started my new lifestyle on March 8 on this year. I quit drinking, except for a few occasions the last few months like my best friend’s wedding, Easter and seeing friends I hadn’t seen in a year at convention. I don’t eat red meat or drink soda. No dairy, no coffee, no bread. I have protein meal replacement shakes twice a day and a low calorie (400-600) meal for dinner. My snacks consist of green apples, almonds, celery and hummus. Every few weeks I do a two-day deep cleanse.
Left: March 3, 2017, Right: May 19, 2017 (30 pounds down!)
I lost six pounds in my first week and 15 pounds in my first month. As of this morning (June 30), I have lost 41 pounds. My goal when I started was 40 pounds by CoSIDA17. It seemed completely unattainable at the time but after a few setbacks, I was at 36 pounds the morning I left for Orlando. Pretty close!
Photos from CoSIDA, June 2017
When I started this journey in March I could barely walk up the few flights of stairs to my office. Two weeks into cleansing, I ran a mile. Then I signed up for the CoSIDA/NACDA Charity 5k, which helped keep me motivated and active every day after work. I had a goal of finishing my first race since high school in under 35 minutes without stopping or walking. I met that goal. I’m full speed ahead on my next goal and have a vision of losing a lot more weight as I continue to live my best life.
After the CoSIDA/NACDA 5K with Ira Thor, June 13, 2017
So what’s the point of me telling this story? We need to take better care of ourselves. At 26 I stepped on a scale and saw a number I never imagined seeing in my lifetime, even if I was nine months pregnant! It’s so easy to eat pizza and chips in the media room and drink soda for that extra energy boost in the middle of a long and grueling athletic year. It’s so easy to let your health deteriorate while working long hours.
Last week, Katie had the genius idea to start a #smsports group in RunKeeper. If you haven’t joined us yet, do so! It’s a great way to stay connected with your colleagues across the country and help motivate each other towards their goals.
In reality though, it’s not always about a number on the scale. Other than the change in my physical appearance, I’ve noticed a distinct change in my personality. I am genuinely happy every day. Quitting coffee was hard for me -- I used to drink up to four cups a day. I don’t even crave it anymore because I have so much energy from simply living a healthier lifestyle. I sleep a minimum of 7-8 hours a night without interruption. I was someone who wouldn’t fall asleep until 2 a.m. and then I’d wake up several times throughout the night. I now wake up without an alarm every morning by 7 a.m. I used to be late for work every day, strolling in around 9:15. Now I am in my office by 8:30 almost every morning.
Changes in my back from early March 7 to June 10, 2017
(This was my hardest photo to share)
I hope my story helps inspire some of you to take a look at your own lifestyle and to find some ways to improve it. And remember, what works for me might not necessarily work for you. Everyone is different.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.