Finding Balance: Interview with Krista R
40 years old, mother, lost 40lbs in 12 weeks
I have deemed myself overweight my whole life. My Dad was always trying to lose weight doing fad diets and he didn’t want us kids to “turn out overweight” like him so I was always self conscious of myself. Over the years my weight kept adding up (Ukrainian farm kids who’s family motto was “it’s good, but it would be better if you add cream” mentality!) Food was used to express every emotion. Happy: eat. Sad: eat. Anxious: eat. You get the picture. But the life altering event was when my sister passed away from pulmonary embolisms from basic knee surgery when she was 27 (15 years ago). One of her major risk factors was that she was obese. I was worried that my weight could affect my health. I could not put my family through more devastation than we had already been through. I was already diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and vasculitis since my teen years and the weight on my joints was making my life miserable. I’ve tried many fad diets and unhealthy things. I did have success with weight watchers but found that when my weight stopped going down I became frustrated and gave up. Soon the weight crept back on and I was back heavier than ever. I had never learned why my eating habits were unhealthy and I had never learned to exercise. I thought I was active because I was so busy with my husband, kids and work. I was also scared to do real exercise thinking it would make my joint pain worse. When I saw my friend Celeste (who had the same work/family lifestyle as me) lose weight and be healthy I was ready to try anything. I was tired of feeling lethargic and so frustrated with the aches and pains in my body, so I signed up for the competition!
You are a nurse that has always worked shift work, 12 hour days? What was your life like before the challenge? How did you eat? What was your training like?
When the kids were young I always worked around the family so we did not have to pay for child care. That meant working late evenings and getting up early in the mornings with the kids. I would stay up over 24 hours on a Friday by being up with the kids then working a 12 hour night shift to get some hours in. I would do that once a week. Now that the kids are in school all day I work 12 hour night shifts (yes—by choice!) because I am home when the kids get home from school or if they are sick I can still be home with them without cancelling a shift. I ate to stay awake. I learned how to drink coffee (but liked lots of sugar/cream in it). Being tired you are always looking for that burst of energy to get you through the next hour and I felt that by eating something, it would perk me up and make me feel better.
You talked about doing many fad diets, how long would they last, how long would you last on it and what would happen when you were on them. What would spark you to try another diet, again and again?
Fad diets would vary. Most would last a couple of weeks. Weight watcher was the longest I tried (about a year long) but I was disappointed in the results and obviously didn’t sustain it. I get very cranky when I don’t eat properly, and my family would not know I was doing ridiculous things to lose weight. If there was a magic pill, I would take it. I have even signed up for weight loss surgery which was a major issue when my husband found out and lets just say it did not go well! So that didn’t happen! There’s just such a desperation when you are morbidly obese to find the cure. That’s why I kept trying another diet again and again.
With working shift work, how did you manage to stay on track with your diet in the challenge? Were there days that you were just so tired and wanted to just say screw it and eat the donuts?
Kept on track with my diet by planning my meals and so it is easy to eat what you bring. I would never bring money/debit card to work so I wouldn’t be tempted to buy something. Yes, there are days when you are tired and your trying to figure out your macros and are ready to say screw it but I was never tempted by the donuts. I can’t rationalize why the cravings went away. I find I am more tempted at home to eat the sweets. I’m not sure why.
Were other coworkers inspired by what you were doing? Anyone else change their ways after seeing what you were doing?
Yes, co-workers were inspired and were big cheerleaders during this process. It totally helped to talk with Celeste (past winner!) and Kursten who was doing the challenge with me. People were awesome in bringing healthy snacks but were very conscious of moving treats away from the desk so we wouldn’t be tempted. I know another co-worker has signed up for the next challenge!!
You grew up seeing your father diet all his life, how do you think that impacted who you were before you started the challenge?
My father wanted us to be healthy and appropriate weight as all parents want for their children. I want the same for my kids too. But we grew up in a family that uses food to celebrate, to treat, to make you feel better when you’re sad, etc. He did not want us to have health problems like he did. I think as a society it is socially unaccepted to be overweight. I don’t want that for my kids. But my parents instilled in me a strong sense of self and I do have the confidence to know that anything is achievable. My family is my biggest strength and we are a strong unity together. I didn’t join this challenge for anyone but myself. I need to learn the tools for success and teach my children the same so they can live a healthy lifestyle.
What is next for you?
Keep on going! I am no where near my goal but I finally feel like I can get there. “I may not be there yet but I’m closer than I was yesterday”.
For all the working moms out there, what advice do you have for them, ones that work shift work or not?
That it is possible to find “you time”. I would never have thought in a million years that I could fit in exercise in my day. Frankly, I thought it was impossible. For me, I would get up 1/2 an hour early and exercise. Kids would come home from school, get a snack, chores then I would be done in time to do after school activities. Supper meals would be planned out in advance (usually I would get things ready before I would go to sleep in am after night shift). I didn’t really miss the less sleep because I felt good when I was eating and exercising. I was less tired and had more energy to get things done. And life didn’t end if the house wasn’t clean or the laundry wasn’t done. It was refreshing to find that I could ask the kids and husband to help me around the house so I could exercise. There was no complaining!
You worked out at home or in the gym? How did you like it since you said you are very new to working out?
I work out at home. I seem to grunt and swear a lot! Plus I like the privacy of being at home and I am home with the kids.
What is your favorite food to indulge in? give us the goods
I like steak, wine and chocolate! I have a sweet tooth. I love food in general and I love to eat. It makes me feel good! Like I said before, my family uses food at every occasion!
What is your favorite clean food that you now like to have?
It may sound crazy but I love fat free cottage cheese with a tablespoon of chopped walnuts. Can’t explain why I put the two together but I crave it!
What have you learned from all of this from a mental stand point?
The power of “I can”. I can sustain this lifestyle. I can exercise. I can eat clean and like it!!
What was the difference between what you were doing previously vs the challenge?
I would punish myself before by not eating or the guilt of eating that much wine and chocolate would depress me thus making me eat more.
What is your mantra? Explain it.
It’s Dory (from Finding Nemo) saying: “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” It became my mantra: just keep moving! I don’t know why it stuck in my head but it gets me through difficult exercises or difficult days. It’s simple but has resonates for me. Even though sometimes I feel like an itty bitty fish in a big ocean, I can have a big impact on myself or others.
Have you always had a passion for living a healthy lifestyle?
No, just a passion to live long and feel great!
What is some of the best advice you have been given?
“It gets better” I was told that a long time ago and it works for me.
You went on a trip right after the challenge ended? What did you learn in the challenge that you were able to apply on your trip?
The healthy options are out there! And I threw guilt out of the window. I knew that I was going to have cocktails and treat and enjoy myself. I also knew that I didn’t need a bucket of ice cream but a small amount tasted ever so good! I didn’t look at the hotel gym but went swimming in the ocean and pool every day. I even joined when they had water aerobics at the pool. Something I would have been too self conscious to do before especially on my own. My family even praised me for it.
If you would like to start your own journey like Krista, click here for your free assessment!