If you noticed that my name is awfully similar to my blog title, you get a gold star! As I began sifting through the (many and many) potential blog titles I thought, ‘You know what? This is my blog, and my fitness journey, I’m just going to call it Alli’s Fitness and be done with it!’ Obviously I couldn’t enter the apostrophe in the url, and as I viewed the name run together into one long string of letters it jumped out at me: All is Fitness. It felt serendipitous and magical; and seriously appropriate, considering my penchant to throw myself into things at 110%. I believe that being successful requires focusing your energy on all of the little things that will bring you closer to your goals – at least it does for me.
A (not-so) little bit about me:
I’m a 23 year old UCLA alum who has a long history with weight loss, fitness, and health. I’m sure there was a time in my life before I worried about my weight, or more specifically how to get rid of it, but I’m fairly certain I looked something like this:
That’s right, that’s me as a baby! Wasn’t I cute? I’m pretty sure I’m rocking some of the final remnants of my first self hair cut.
All joking aside, I usually say that I started having body image issues around the age of 12 or 13, because that’s when I started my first diet. Though, if I’m going to be 100% honest with myself (and by extension, you guys) it goes back much further than that…
As a kid I matured fast. I was pretty much always taller (and bigger) than most of my peers, and I definitely hit puberty earlier than most of the kids I interacted with. Which fostered a lot of insecurity about my body from a young age… Of course, it also doesn’t help that with two working parents and a plethora of after-school-activities that started around the age of 5, finding time to really build healthy eating habits was hard. My favorite food when I was a toddler was apples. By the time I was 6 it was mac ‘n cheese. By the time I was 9, I’d discovered that I could ask to add bacon to my mac ‘n cheese, get steak fries on the side, and combine all of it with some ketchup.
Which is why in middle school I went on my first diet. I was miserable about my body image and my mom wanted to help me – so we started doing things like juice fasts and an ultra-regulated carb-free “4 Day Wonder Diet”. And they worked! At least, I lost weight. But I’d always gain it back and then some because, despite being active, I wasn’t making sustainable dietary changes.
In high school my family and I went on NutriSystem together, and that had little to no lasting effect, because as convenient as it was, the meal choices were limited and got tedious. It became too difficult to excuse one exception after another until finally we just kind of stopped. I bounced around from a size 9 to a size 13, and felt enormous next to my size 00 to size 5 friends. We were a fairly active bunch, foregoing partying for weekly 6-mile bike rides and roller blading by the beach, and summer-long marching band rehearsals. Being on colorguard meant that when marching band season was over, we didn’t migrate indoors for seated band rehearsals, we stayed outside learning and practicing for winter guard competitions!
But I still wasn’t thrilled with my appearance and was struggling with some serious self-worth problems because of it; so my parents generously offered to hook me up with a personal trainer in order to get the results that I wanted. We’d work out three or so times a week, and I definitely toned up, but I wasn’t achieving the thin, lean look that I so desperately wanted. I wanted to feel thin so badly that I didn’t care how strong I was – despite the fact that working with free weights and the weight machines were hands-down my favorite part of training sessions. (That and the bonus therapy I would get from venting to my trainers about how frustrated I was with my appearance.) I was also so fixated on my problem area (my legs) that I never let myself notice how awesome the rest of my body was. The fact that I’d always had a flat stomach, strong arms, and a curvy figure mattered little to none to me.
When I went off to college I made a few good friends, but when they got invited to join a sorority and I didn’t, I ended up doing quite a bit more by myself or with one of my other friends. She was naturally thin, which meant congregating around food regularly was little to no problem for her. Couple that with the fact that I had an overly comprehensive meal plan and plenty of time to eat on my own without anyone to keep myself accountable in front of, and I put on roughly 30-40 pounds my freshman year!
After this, I got back on with a new trainer, and lost 30 pounds. I stayed active, and got invited to join that sorority, which kept me social and accountable for the things that went in my mouth. But when there were a few issues and I ultimately wasn’t accepted, piled on with my long-distance relationship, I fell off the wagon and ate my feelings, gaining all of that weight back and then some. I’d been 180 pounds at the end of my freshman year, dropped down to 150, and then bounced back up to 210 by the end of my sophomore year. The summer after, I started working with a Risk Factor Obesity clinic on-campus, where we cut my calorie intake to 800 calories of powdered shakes and bars per day, and I had a weekly check up with a doctor, a bi-weekly blood analysis, vitamin supplements, and a monthly EKG. I lost another 45 pounds this way, dropping into the 170s by the end of my junior year, and finally conquering enough of my personal issues to get into that sorority.
However, that was immediately followed by a rough break up, and a summer full of letting myself off of the hook; and it wasn’t long until – over the course of my senior year – I’d managed to my way right back up into the 200s… Despite trying Weight Watchers, where I was about as dishonest with myself as I could be and still get away with doing well for the first few weeks. After my poor diet started to show up at weigh-ins, I dropped Weight Watchers like a bad habit; determined not to give up the one thing that made me feel better in the moment: junk food.
After graduation, I struggled to find a job, and was finally diagnosed with depression. I – once again – self-treated with food, and managed to eat my way all the way up to 268 pounds!
This was when I realized I couldn’t live like this anymore. I couldn’t keep hating my body. I started my weightloss tumblr, TheRoadtoBeauty – where I mostly reblog inspiration and occasionally talk a little bit about myself. I got my final trainer and together we worked on my exercise regimen – as I’d become completely sedentary from the unemployment. She tried to help me with my food choices, and again, it worked for a while, but I continued to fall in and out of the bad habits. I tried to compromise with myself rather than holding myself accountable 100% of the time, and as a result I’d bargain my way into a daily calorie surplus, rather than deficit. I was losing weight, but not nearly at the rate I wanted to be.
I finally found one of my acquaintances that I’d met through college on Instagram, and I saw that he’d lost somewhere in the vicinity of 160 pounds in the last year by eating Paleo. At this point I was skeptical of “fad diets” (which it isn’t) and anything that had an easy name made me nervous, but I decided to look into it. One of the first articles I came across was The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet on Nerd Fitness (if you don’t know much about Paleo, I highly recommend it, it’s a good read!) It made sense to me, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I asked for a few fundamentals books for Christmas and resolved to start eating this way in the new year.
It worked wonderfully! I felt amazing. Aches and pains that I’d just grown accustomed to fell away, and I found myself wondering how I’d even lived like I had. My dyspepsia cleared up, I was no longer tired all the time, and there was even a point where I felt like I could see and process everything so much clearer, like a fog had been lifted from my mind.
Another thing I took up in the New Year was running. I made a resolution to run one 5K a month, each month, for all of 2013; starting with the LA Color Run in February. (I did two in Feb, to make up for using January as my training month.) I’m coming up on my 4th 5K of the year, and am thinking about adding a 10K later this month! I’d always hated running, because I never felt like I was good enough at it. I was a natural sprinter, but having to endure anything longer than a few yards left me winded and nauseous, but with some practice and allowing myself to intermittently walk, I’m slowly becoming a runner. Who would have ever guessed?!
It was through Paleo that I discovered CrossFit. I took an intro class, cried from frustration at myself for not being able to do the workout, and immediately went home and gifted myself an On-Ramp beginner’s class as an early Christmas gift. It turns out Olympic-style weightlifting is one of my favorite things to do. Being shy was hard, and being someone who gets easily frustrated with myself made it hard to save face, but all I ever wanted to do was come back and keep improving. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to attend regularly because of some family health crises and traveling, but I fully intend to re-intergrate it asap. (If you’ve never heard of CrossFit, read more about it here.)
All of these changes have been for the better. And despite some on again off again issues with everything that’s been going on lately, I’m determined to throw myself back into getting and staying fit for the rest of my life. After all, All is Fitness!