What Things Were Like Before My Fight to Feel Better
If you're wondering where this post is even coming from, I should set the foundation a bit and what all of this is even about! If you've followed me on social media for awhile now, you know that I've been on a health journey to change my life beyond so much more than a number on the scale. In true confessions, this post originally found itself on a lifestyle blog I started but eventually shut down. I shut it down because I am tired of trying to keep things SEPARATE in my life and business. I've come to the conclusion that if a bride and groom don't book me because I talk about my weight loss journey on my blog and other social channels, they probably aren't my ideal client anyway!
So you're going to start getting more from me here on the blog because I'm done feeling like I have to be stuck in a box with what I share. I want to share it all! I want you to know ME, the person behind the pretty pictures and website design projects. I'm a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, and sometimes I'm a rockstar at #allthethings and then sometimes I screw up along the way and want to share more of that, too. Since starting #myfighttofeelbetter in December '17 and losing 50 lbs, I've found a new identity. I took several months off to focus on ME, truly, for the first time ever. Now most days you can find me hustling, but it's a different kind of hustle. I hustle for my marriage, for my daughter, for my health, and for my business. I used to believe balance doesn't exist and I'm not sure it's ever a perfect science BUT I do believe it can exist however you need it to in order to be happy.
Someone recently emailed me and said something like this... "Do you have a starting journey post under weight loss? I see your now and everything that is current but not so much of the before with content that would personally make ME more invested. I think having some content like that would make me be able to relate to you better. Perhaps a back story... your pregnancy with Riley... not giving your body attention... just something to make me say I relate to those exact feelings right now kind of post."
She nailed it and it really got me thinking that I have been so caught up in the NOW and what I'm currently doing on #myfighttofeelbetter but I haven't truly gone into better detail about what things were like before now. Sure, I've talked about how challenging 2017 was for me as a human being and business owner in general, but not all the "stuff" before then that got me to where I am now. So this post is dedicated to answering those questions and getting raw and real about life before now and what led to my ultimate wake up call I had back in December when I stepped on that scale that read "202", the heaviest I've ever been in my entire life (not including where I was at by the end of my pregnancy... more on that below).
So here goes nothing... I'll do my best to guide you through the past few years and what those years have done to me physically and emotionally and why I'm more determined than ever to make these changes last forever because I was tired of feeling bad all the time. I was tired of looking in the mirror and feeling ashamed of the person I'd let myself become.
First, I'd like to introduce you to my family!
All seven of us, actually!
First things first... my parents! These two are the glue that hold us all together. Between the five of us kids, there's always something going on, haha! My parents are my rock, my coming home, my foundation and the people I turn to when I need anything. Love, guidance, advice, encouragement, honesty... you name it, they are there 150% for me, and my other siblings too. I give credit to these two for who I've become. They are steadfast, dependable and two of the most loving and genuine people you'll ever meet. Thanks Mom and Dad! You truly are THE BOMB.
Next, I'd love to introduce you to my siblings! From left to right:
Brendan - the oldest! B is a Journeyman Lineman who lives on a farm in Ritzville, Washington with his wife and my niece and nephew! He's one of the funniest human beings I know and always has a special way of making you laugh, even when things are serious or difficult. He also won't ever admit it, but he's a total softie and loves his family so much he'd do anything for any of us. He's that guy who will drop whatever he's doing to help a friend. He and my Husband are total BFF's... it's sometimes annoying but deep down I love it so much.
Andrea - she's my oldest sister! Andrea is unlike anyone you'll probably ever meet. She's fiercely loyal, tough, type A to the max, loving, encouraging, and someone who won't stop until she's finished what she set out to do. I appreciate so many of the qualities she possess and sometimes wish I could find that inner fire to always say what is on my mind like she can. As a mama to four beautiful children, my sister is a freaking rockstar. She is my inspiration for what it means to live a healthy lifestyle because she and her Husband have it figured out. Four kids later and she still fits in her high school jeans. Haha, I have a lot to learn from this girl but what I love most is that she LIVES HER LIFE and enjoys all the fun stuff along the way, like a hoppy IPA or glass of red wine. Andrea is also my new business partner... more on that right here!
Caitrin - the middle child! My best friend. Cait and I are thick as thieves and I could honestly write a novel about our relationship and what she means to me. She's an ICU nurse who besides my parents, is truly the glue that holds our family together. She is the giver, the doer, the healer. She's always there for everyone but has also learned how to set more boundaries for herself and her life as she's now fallen in love and married the man of her dreams, Nick. The moment she found her match, everything else just clicked for her when she discovered who she was meant to be all along. I respect her for always following her heart and for doing the right thing. She has always been my biggest fan, and toughest critic because she's the only person in the world who can tell me how it is and somehow when it comes from her, it hurts less than say coming from anyone else. If that even makes sense... basically she knows me, all of me, and isn't afraid to be real and honest with me, always. She's my Rachel to Monica... my Grace to Franke... my Tina Fey to Amy Poehler... I'd be lost without her.
Connor - the baby! But as you can see in the photo below, not so little standing at a mere 6'7" (same with my big brother Brendan!) We have height in our family. Growing up I was (and still am) so used to being around tall people that I never really thought of myself as tall until later in my life (I'm 5'9"). Connor is truly one of the most incredible human beings anyone is lucky enough to encounter and get to know. He's one of those really good people. He doesn't fake it, he doesn't force it, it's who he is. Connor is the brother I can sit around a campfire with and get down to the REAL shit. You know, the stuff that makes you really laugh out loud or ball your eyes out because he finally brought the truth out of you. He is a great listener, a quality that many do not possess. He's the guy I'll say something to like, "Gosh, I'm so MAD at how this...this...this... happened." He will be quiet for a moment, or ten, take a deep breath and say, "I get it. I feel you, but have you maybe considered X, Y, or Z?" Then I sit there dumbfounded like, "Holy shit, why didn't I think of that?" Same goes for my brother in law, Heath. These two encompass something truly life giving... they know how to look at something and somehow make you look at it completely differently, in a better light. I'm not sure if any of that makes sense but maybe you get me.
Alright, so there's my VERY IMMEDIATE family. I didn't even touch on so many of the other INCREDIBLE humans in my life and direct line.
These are my people. My true tribe. The people who have seen me at my very best, and my very worst. While they probably won't agree, I know I've let them down over the years. I haven't been my best ME and since starting this journey to change my life, I have had so many ah-ha moments of all the ways I've let the people I love the most, down the most. I haven't been the best sister or friend. My negative self image and depression has made me distant and unable to connect. My weight is so much more than a number, it's been a real part of my every day life for many years. It's influenced how my family talks to me, approaches me, or how the conversation is shifted at any given moment. For example, over the holidays (not long ago and right before my final wake up call moment to change my life), we were up in Seattle driving to a local pub for a nightcap and my Dad was praising my oldest sister on fitting into these jeans she was wearing that night from high school. It was AMAZING because she was only a few months postpartum with her FOURTH child, my niece Grace. Immediately my Dad got awkward because his thoughts automatically went to how that comment might make ME feel. He later apologized which he had NOTHING to be sorry about! My sister earned those compliments! However, my own weight struggle was lingering everywhere and even a nice compliment to my sister turned into something that my Dad thought would hurt me. The whole thing is hard to explain and frustrating to look back on because in that moment, yeah - all I could think about was how much I hate my own appearance. All I could think about were the jeans sitting in my closet that haven't fit me for over five years. I thought about the 60 lbs I gained with my pregnancy and how I let the last 20 lbs just linger for nearly three years. I suddenly felt so small and so discouraged, when I should have been celebrating in her hard work, genuinely.
Even more recently, after I'd already been about a month and a half into my workout routine, I talked to my other sister, Cait. She said something that I still think about daily. We were talking about the changes I'm making and I can't remember exactly what she said but it was something like, "It's been hard. I love you but I've had a hard time trying to figure out how to approach you about it. I wanted to help, but it wasn't something easy to bring up with you. I've struggled with the way you've treated your body and what I can see it's done to you and your personality." Wow. Talk about yet another wake up call. That moment proved to me once again that my weight struggles have negatively impacted the relationships that mean the most to me. She hasn't been able to relate to me for quite awhile. She and her husband are fit and active so when we do hang out, it's been different. I can see that now. I can't even tell you how many times we have talked about going to the rock climbing gym together when I'm home visiting and guess what? I had an excuse every time on why I couldn't go with her and her husband. I get it now. She wants to do more with me than go out to eat at a restaurant. She hasn't had anything in common with me for several years. I'm bound and determined to change this and use this to make our relationship better than ever. I'm headed home next month for a race and you better believe I'll be posting a blog about my first time to the climbing gym in Wenatchee. This might seem insignificant to you, but Cait and I used to be thick as thieves. I have felt a disconnect and couldn't really figure out why. I get it now and I'm going to fix it. Mark my words sister!
There are so many other situations that have come up over the years that have made me distant from my people, my family. Whether it was saying no to SUP on the river with my Dad, skipping a river float because I didn't want to be seen in a suit or making an excuse to not join in on a family hike. The list really does go on and on. I don't want to live like that anymore. They might not even realize these things or how all these little moments have now become so clear to me on HOW they hurt these relationships... slowly but surely over time.
The photo below was taken the summer before I met my now Husband, Shaun. I was a little wild and crazy but man I had some fun! I was lean, and more importantly I was FIT. I was exercising regularly and taking care of my body. I'm not blaming Shaun for my weight fluctuations but when we got serious, I got comfortable. I let my body get away from me
I was still pretty lean throughout my dating years with Shaun. I moved my body and enjoyed exercise. Things got away from me when we graduated Washington State University and "real life" began. I gained a lot of weight after college and over the years that weight went up and down. My once lean body was no longer lean, it was squishy. I got soft all over and when it got away from me I was the first to sign up for the next quick fix to lose weight. Sometimes I lost the weight, but always ended back where I started.
When I got pregnant with Riley, I weighed 183 pounds. A healthy weight for me is around 150-155. I wouldn't change Riley for the world but I do wish I had been in a better place physically before getting pregnant. I gained 60 lbs with Riley putting me at 243 lbs when I was 40 weeks. Horrible. I lost around 40 lbs right away which had me at 203. I stayed at 203 from then until just recently. Those last 20 lbs were a part of me I came to accept as the new me.
This is pretty personal, but I'm pressured all the time from various people to have another baby. Honestly? I'm not ready right now. I need to be at a weight I'm happy with before putting my body through it again. I need to know that I have a handle on my lifestyle and being healthy before I'll do it again. I've come to accept that Riley will just be older, and it's okay. I'm not going to go get pregnant because it's the next step... this mama needs to feel like she can have a healthy pregnancy before getting knocked up again. :)
All over social media I see women talking about loving their overweight bodies and just learning how to live with it.
That's great and all and cheers to that mindset, but I wasn't proud of the body I was living in. I was ashamed, frustrated, and felt stuck. I had gotten to a point where I truly believed I'd never be fit again because it was impossible. I was so wrong. It's never too late to get healthy, I know that now.
I believed that because I gave birth and brought life to this world it was an excuse to be overweight. Well, it's not. If you're like me, you want to be around for all the big moments of our children's lives. I was literally 1 point away on the BMI scale from obesity before I had my wake up call to change my bad habits and my life. The truth is that I had simply become the person who had an excuse for everything on WHY I couldn't exercise. You name it, I had one.
I finally had a "EMMA WAKE THE FUCK UP" moment about my weight and body image. Sorry for the language but that's where I got... It was a true WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING moment of clarity when everything fell into place for me.
Here are a few things I told myself I wanted before I even made the changes:
1. I want to feel beautiful again.
2. I want to turn my husband's head when I walk in a room. I want him to really see me.
3. I want to have more energy.
4. I want to ditch the compression clothes underneath my regular clothes.
5. I want to wear shorts again.
6. I want to not be embarrassed of my arms.
7. I want to feel good in a swimsuit.
8. I want to learn healthy eating habits.
9. I want to still live my life and enjoy some of my favorite things in moderation.
10. I want to be happier.
11. I want to learn how to love exercise.
Now I just had to figure out how to make those wants my reality (and there were many more...) I realized that I had to actually DO the work. You guessed it... there's no magic pill... there's no secret diet... there's just hard work and a desire to feel so good again that you will do what needs to be done to get on track. Once I realized that this wasn't going to happen tomorrow, or next month, or EVEN this year, I knew I'd be okay and that I would succeed. I've always gone for the quick fix but now I'm choosing to look at the big picture and embrace each and every day. I'm learning that I have to exercise and eat better if I want to see results. There's no way around it, I had to change my bad habits. You know... those habits like driving through McDonald's all the time. In the past three months I think I've gone twice. And one time was to just get Riley a happy meal. She doesn't even ask for them anymore. All my habits are slowly trickling down to her and my Husband... I wrote a post about that here if you're interested! I have found that when I'm exercising every day, I WANT to fuel my body with foods that are good for me and aide in my weight loss goals. More vegetables, less bad carbs. That's my plan. Oh, and lots of water. I also rarely consume alcohol anymore. When my journey began I cut it off completely for nine months and every now and then I'll enjoy a little bit, but it's very far and few between.
So I hope I answered the big question on what things were like before now... and that in some way you are able to relate to me and feel me through my words because this has not been easy.
I have been up and down so many times before now. Do I have fears that I'll slip back to where I started? Sure I do. But I know deep down I'm just not going to because for the first time I feel like I actually really want this and deserve this. Before now, the excuses came with everything but I just don't have any more excuses. I want to feel better and the only way for me to do that is to put in the work. It hasn't been perfect... I've had some knee trouble since I started running and as I sit to write this post I haven't done my workout videos in TWO DAYS because my daughter and I both got sick this week and I'm fighting a cold. I tried to do it but my body was screaming at me to rest, so I'm listening to that. I'm hoping to get back at it tomorrow because I am missing the workouts and how they make me feel.
There was a time in my life I felt unstoppable, carefree, and so beautiful. I'm getting back there, most definitely. I know it's not about the number or "being pretty", but when I feel good and confident, it trickles into all other areas of my life like my relationships with my family, friends, my husband and how I run my business. Shaun has seen a new light in me that's been gone for years. I'm learning new things about him every day because my eyes are suddenly opened to the world around me. I didn't realize how dark things were until I decided to change my life on #myfighttofeelbetter. I don't have all the answers and I can't promise I won't totally F up from time to time, but I do know that I deserve happiness, and I deserve all the love this world has to offer. I know that I'm going to reach my goals because I've never wanted something more in my entire life. I want to create a lifestyle that I can manage and maintain effortlessly because it just is the way it is and it's my life. It's not forced, it's not some crazy diet, it's simply being mindful of how I treat my body, every day.
If you've picked up anything by now, you probably know that I'm an open book so please don't hesitate to reach out and ask me anything! We are in this together and I hope you feel closer to my story and to me as a person. I have gone too long trying to do this alone and know now that I need support, friendships and encouragement on this journey to a better life and a better me. I want the same for you. It doesn't matter where you are right now, all that matters is that you are READY to actually do something about it. You don't have to be perfect, just be better than you were yesterday.
Thanks for being here. XX,
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: EMMA ROSE
Emma Rose is a Squarespace website designer and photographer based out of the Pacific Northwest. She helps photographers not only stand out online, but dig deep to find the why in what they do. She strives to work with like-minded entrepreneurs who want to grow an audience, start and thrive their online business and change the freakin' world. She aims to help people create not only meaningful businesses but lives. For more about Emma, click here!
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