Finding Balance: Interview with Paula H.
Paula H, 47 years old, Nurse, Lost 30lbs in 12 weeks
“I have always been a big girl. Played every sport, and did it with all my heart. Always one of the bigger girls on the team. I remember starting my first diet in middle school after a guy on the bus called me thunder thighs! It’s funny the things we remember! My pattern was diet, more like starve myself, exercise my heart out then go through a life stress and gain it all back with extras! Stress like raising 2 kids, working shift work, dealing with the loss of my mom, divorce, single parenting teenagers and numerous attempts at quiting smoking which I have now conquered for over 7 years.
Before starting this challenge I had already lost the same 20 pounds I’ve seen over and over again. I had hit a plateau and was starting to go up again I truly believed I was not meant to be small. My genetics make me have a big bum, thighs and hips. Then I saw some of the transformations from Nadine’s previous challenges. These girls looked like an average person. I felt like I was an average person. The after pictures looked like they were within my reach. They were toned but not bulky. I wanted to look toned with what I classify as the “body of my life!” I am about to enter the next phase of my life with my son on his own and my daughter graduating in the next year. I want to enter this stage of my life looking and feeling the best I’ve ever been! My life was busy with working full time, driving my daughter around, playing roller derby 2-3 times a week and dabbling into the dating world. This is my time!”
During the challenge, how did you manage to fit in eating healthy and training with everything that you do?
I made that a priority. I filled my house with the clean foods from the food groups, washing and prepping them when they entered my house. I set aside Sunday as my cooking day. I cooked my meats, rice, sweet potato, and oatmeal for the week. I learned to plan at least 1 day in advance so I wouldn’t be left with too much or too little at the end.My exercise was done mostly in the morning to make sure nothing would get in the way. My cardio would sometimes be done in the evening though, it’s such a great stress relief!Fail to plan, plan to fail!
What was the hardest part about the challenge?
At week 8 I broke my ankle in roller-derby. I was devastated! I could no longer do many of the exercises, no cardio and couldn’t drive! So I was left at home with limited exercise equipment, counting on others to get groceries and having to prep and cook my meals in stages due to the pain and swelling. It was truly a stressful time in my life!
What had to change for you in your every day life when you had your injury?
I had to slow down! A LOT! I couldn’t do things fast, I had to do things in stages as I couldn’t stand that long. I had to adapt my meals to what I had in the house. My exercise had to be all lined up as I couldn’t move from one place to another very fast or from floor to standing. Everything took time, planning and concentration. I really slowed down!
During the challenge you had to have surgery, how did that impact you physically and more important mentally in the challenge?
I had pain with all movement initially, later with certain movements. Then I got constipated, that’s not fun! I hated getting out of bed because I hated using the crutches so I would just lay in bed. I spent a few days in a pity party, poor me. I am thankful for family and friends and this challenge for pulling me out of this and giving me a focus!
One thing I truly respect of you in the challenge was that you never gave up, why was that?
I could see it working! I felt strong both inside and out. I couldn’t let that go! I have to see more on this life of fitness. Plus you were an amazing cheerleader!
What was the easiest part about the challenge?
For me the easiest part was the meals. I am not a cook. I make food to fill the hole. I found it so much easier having someone set a short list for me to pick from for each meal. No more guesswork, or wondering what to make for supper. I loved that!
What was the one most important thing you learned from the challenge?
It is real hard to pick one thing! I would have to say I learned that I can’t exercise to eat. My intake makes 80% of my results. No one ever noticed I was in shape as it was covered in my fat! I’m not doomed to have a big mid section, my intake can diminish it! Also weight loss with fitness looks way different than weight loss without it. The first part of the challenge I was losing weight but could only tell once I did the measurements or tried on some clothes. The weight loss after I broke my leg was soft and saggy. Interesting isn’t it!
I was a binge eater, I would eat so clean and appropriate amounts for 3/4 of the day then I would shovel food in my face. I tried many home quick weight loss programs like the cabbage soup diet. I also did weight watchers, was a lifetime member! I would succeed at most everything I tried but would get tired of the limitations and start binging. I also ate my emotions away. Stress triggers impulse eating for me.
What was your training like before the challenge?
I played roller-derby so I would practice 2 times per week for 2 hours then run in between doing some core work or light weights as I “didn’t want to bulk up”! I also enjoyed exercise classes like Zumba, kettle bells, whatever our town would offer.
What is one thing you would say to others that are on their health and fitness journey and hit a road block like you did, to keep them going?
Don’t take it as life is telling you that this isn’t for you or what you can’t do it. Look at what still can be done! I broke my leg, not my whole body, I worked even harder on my upper body and core. This not only energized me but mentally this saved me!!!
For all the working women out there, what advice do you have to them, ones that work shift work or not?
We all say, “It sure looks nice to have the time to exercise and eat healthy”! We all have the time, we just have to find where our priority is. It the same thing over and over, you are the priority. If you take care of you then everything else will be so much easier!
What have you learned from all of this from a mental stand point?
I am not good at estimating. I did a lot of mindless eating. I would grab a handful of nuts or fruit or cereal and not count it. Food is meant to nourish my body not to subside some emotion or boredom.
What was the difference between what you were doing previously vs the challenge?
I was exercising to eat. I would binge then punish myself by eating less then exercise my but off to burn away the damage I just did.
What would you say to others that are interested in joining the challenge?
You are worth it! I was expecting a generic exercise and food plan and a motivator. I got a food and exercise plan that was based on me and I now know how to eat clean and what I need to do to adjust my macros or food intake to maintain my weight. I also learned how to really work my body in an exercise plan. And so much more knowledge to take away and inject into my own life so I can keep on this lifestyle. If you want something to change your life, this will do it!
How did others react around you to you being in the challenge and on a meal and training program?
Initially there was some saying, just take one, it won’t hurt, no one will know. After politely saying no I got tremendous support and encouragement from everyone around me. I have heard more than once that I motivated other to do something about their life and to get off the couch!
What did you do at social events to stay on track with your diet and training and not derail?
When possible I looked up the menu ahead of time and planned my days intake so I could have what I wanted at the event. Other times I asked if they could accommodate a clean food and was surprised that some places will do that. Like not put all the toppings on a chicken breast. I also brought my own food when I could so not to have any surprises. The exercises I had were mobile. Lots used my own body weight and I would bring a band. No trouble doing a workout in my room before joining the rest of the people.
You said you are now moving into a new phase in your life, what is it that you learned that will keep you going into being the best you, going into this next stage in life?
I am what I eat. If anything I will remember that. I am addicted to exercise, always have been. I don’t have to be hard core and it is not going to offset a poor diet.
What is next for you?
I need to finish what I started with this challenge. I am now walking and doing most of the exercises I did before I broke my ankle. I have learned that I do not have to settle with a big bum, hip and thighs, it’s not just my genetics that made me this way so I plan to work on getting rid of that.
To start your own journey, click here for your free assessment! – Nadine Dumas