Carolyn’s Story-Down 40lbs in 4 months
In this video we sit down with Carolyn and discuss her journey back to optimal health and weight. Carolyn is one the most committed people I’ve ever worked with. I can’t say enough good things about how well she did. She was nice enough to type up her reflections on her time doing one-on-one coaching, and we’ve shared them below.
In addition to these amazing scale-based victories he also had a bunch of non-scale victories, which I’ll let her tell you in her own words.
1.) Winter / Spring don’t always have to mean illness. For the past decade or so, I have accepted that in the winter and spring months, I will battle sinus infections, pneumonia, the flu, etc. I simply expected it, blaming the circumstance on the time of year rather than the dozens of decisions I was making. I started working with Robby in February and have yet (hope I’m not jinxing it here) to be sick with anything. This is unbelievable to me. Robby gave me permission to prioritize my health, which sounds silly, but I needed that. It was the combination of getting my sleep up from 5 hours a night to 7 1⁄2 or 8, eating clean, consistently working out and meditation which helped my immune system. I had to work a bit to find a schedule and structure that would support my health goals — for example, I couldn’t do the CrossFit workout at 7:15pm because I needed to be in bed at 8:30pm if I wanted to get up at 4am. This meant I had to leave work at a certain time to make the 5:15pm class. It was a hard boundary that I set with co-workers and the demands of my job in order to make it work. — I have been walking around with this untrue story that I have a bad immune system — and in a sense feeling defective and weak — believing that during certain times of the year I will struggle for weeks on end; yet, how freeing to rewrite the ending to that story.
2.)Food is not a punishment or reward or stress management tool. My relationship with food has shifted entirely. After a hard day at work, I would reward myself with a diet dr. pepper and a bag of chips from the gas station or a McDonald’s vanilla cone. At work, I would break into the birthday candy stash I had for my students and treat myself to a box. This would all happen without too much thought; it felt natural. I can remember going out to eat with a colleague and I ordered a diet coke and she said, “What a treat!” and I thought she was nuts. What do you mean pop is a treat? If I attended an early meeting, which happened a couple times a month, and there were donuts, of course I would get one. If I had a long day ahead of me, then I’d get that frappacino and pair with a slice of warm banana bread. I told myself I deserved and needed it. I interpreted the sugar rushes as signals of happiness. In actuality though, the sugar never helped me feel more full or satisfied and usually set me up for increased sugar cravings throughout the day. These patterns of thought and actions were very difficult for me to reverse, especially since the impulses are still there. The whole 30 rules set strong parameters however, and I told myself, “I can’t do that anymore…it’s not an option.” I quit those addictive habits cold turkey. Because I also had a set schedule, I had to leave work and head straight to the CrossFit gym; this didn’t leave time for stopping off and “treating myself.” I started packing my car with almonds or an epic bar instead. Changing these habits forced me to get more intune with the feeling of hunger versus cravings. Eating better helped me feel like I had more energy throughout the day too, mostly because I avoided those crashes that come along with the sugar.
3.) Workouts, while still very difficult, ultimately feel better. For the past few years, my mile time has been around 11:30/12:00 mark – especially for 8K or Half Marathons. My recovery time after these runs would be significant too and the runs themselves never felt good. This past May I ran a 5K in just under 30 minutes and felt strong throughout the race. It’s exciting to hit new PRs and watch my goals shift a bit. I have come to realize that I cannot workout in order to eat whatever I want…that in fact it will feel better if I eat certain foods in order to workout more effectively.
Carolyn, we’re so proud of you and we wish you all the best in the future!
Robby: Hey, it’s Robby here from Crossfit South bend. Today I’m here with Carolyn and Carolyn is going to be telling us her story. So Carolyn, thank you so much for joining us.
Carolyn: Thanks for having me.
Robby: So let me tell you a little bit about Carolyn’s progress. So Carolyn in the space of four months basically lost 40 pounds. She went from 196 pounds to 157 pounds. She lost nine inches off her waist and six inches off her hips and now your hip measurement is the same as what your waist measurement was initially, which is crazy.
Carolyn: It’s nuts.
Robby: Yeah so amazing job. You did a fantastic job. So tell us a little bit about where you were at before you started the program? Kind of what life was like, what food was like, the rest of that stuff.
Carolyn: I would say life was pretty mindless. I wasn’t really thinking about food at all, it was just something I knew I had to eat to kind of get through my day and what I learned through this process is that I have interesting rationales for some of the choices that I was making. So I was thinking like, “Oh, it’ll save time if I eat breakfast in the car, maybe stop by McDonald’s on my way to work.” That, that saves time and I should do that. So it was a lot of fast food, it was a lot of just kind of impulsive, like I said, mindless snacking in the grocery line, taking Diet Dr. Pepper on my way home from work, maybe grabbing a bag of chips for the ride. So it wasn’t very good. And I knew I needed to make a big change.
Robby: So when we initially met and I started talking about the way you were going to be eating over the next few months, what was your initial reaction, what did you initially think?
Carolyn: I had kind of knee jerk, like please don’t take these things away from me. I really liked them ’cause I had formulas in my head like, stressful day at work plus Cheetos equals happy day. So I was a little nervous about that because I just wasn’t sure how that would effect me mentally and so I was very nervous but I knew that and I trusted in the program and so I knew I had to just kind of quit cold turkey. I had to as soon as I started Whole 30, I just told myself, “That’s not for me anymore. I can’t do those things because it’s not in the rules.” So, for me, it had to be immediate and it had to be I couldn’t ween off certain things, I had to just be done and so that was difficult. And I can remember the first month feeling like having all of those impulses still there so while I told myself I couldn’t have the Diet Dr. Pepper I still wanted it every time I was in the grocery line.
And I can remember going to the movies actually for the first time and not getting any other treat but being very aware of what everybody else in the theater was eating, I was like, “Oh my gosh, I can smell the popcorn and that’s person’s having pretzels and cheese and that guy has my favorite Raisonettes.” And then telling myself, “These almonds that I packed are delicious and I’m so happy.” So that was hard but as soon as the movie starts you’re fine because your mind is going on something else so that was really powerful for me. That was big learning, my mind needed to be refocused on something else.
Robby: Yeah, absolutely and that first month can be a little bit tricky with the cravings still there and working your way up.
Robby: Tell us about month two and beyond, tell us about doing the Whole 30 and the introduction. How did you find the rest of the process?
Carolyn: Well, I didn’t know food could taste this good so I have been, my whole life, doing grilling and cooking chicken wrong so that was awesome and then roasted veggies was a life saver. So the way that the big meal that I was eating throughout the day were tasting and then filling me up, that was huge. And then it was helpful to see the results so that was extra fuel, extra motivation of this is really making a big change because I feel like before I was like, “Ah, I’ll just work out and then I get to eat whatever I want, right?” And that wasn’t going so well for me. That’s not actually how it works so I feel like with the Whole 30 month two and three focusing on all the other elements of health like getting my sleep on track, making sure that I’m buying and stocking our house with certain things, making sure that I’m meditating and just taking more time for myself. That was huge.
So it actually became something that I was really enjoying and I stopped having those dreams where I ate a whole bucket of cookies. I would have these dreams in the first month where I just gorged and I’d wake up feeling like, “Oh my gosh, did I do that? Did I just eat a whole thing of cookies?” And then I’m like, “No, you didn’t. It’s just a dream.” And that left in month two and three and it was really just kind of enjoying the new lifestyle.
Robby: Awesome. So you obviously had many, many scale victories in terms of weight loss and inches but one of the things we like to talk about from time to time is non scale victories. So things like energy and mood and cravings, how do you perform in the gym, not getting sick. So tell us about those.
Carolyn: That was really one of the most exciting things I think about this process for me is that for the last about ten years I got sick. Every Fall, well, sometimes in the Fall but usually in the Winter and Spring I would get the flu or I would get pneumonia. The last two years I’ve had pneumonia, I get sinus infections and I just sort of thought, “Well, that’s just how my immune system is, I get sick at this time of year,” and I just accepted that story and I have not been sick once. So I started in February with the Whole 30 and I didn’t get sick one time and so what that taught me is that it matters what I’m eating, it matters how much sleep I’m getting. I went from average 5, 6 hours a night to 7 and a half, closer to 8 hours a night and that probably helped immensely. And so I was really quick to just kind of accept a certain story about my health, my overall health without really thinking about the dozens of other decisions that were probably contributing factors to me getting sick.
So it was really nice to have a Winter and a Spring where I could just continue to go at full energy and more energy than I’m used to having so I woke up with a lot of energy and I’m a teacher so I know that my students appreciated energy too in the classroom.
Robby: That’s awesome. So I think you and I are both on the same page that you can’t convince someone to eat healthy, people have to come to it for themselves but at the same time imagine you ran into yourself from 4 months ago or someone who is in a similar situation to the one you’re in now, what would you say to them about kind of what you initially thought about what you’d have to go through versus what you realize now that you’ve gone through it in terms of like, “Hey, it’s not as bad as you think,” or what are your thoughts now looking back on the whole process?
Carolyn: I would say go to Whole Foods, get a level 4 pork chop and it will all be worth it.
Robby: It’s kind of true.
Carolyn: It was so good but I think I would say you’re not gonna miss the things that you thought you would as much as you would and those things don’t have to be a huge part of your kind of emotional identity. So I was very much of a reward system person like, “Oh, I got through my work day and it was tough so I’m gonna have this treat,” or, “I’m stressed, I’m gonna manage this with this food.” And so if I could go back to my previous self I would say that it can look a lot different and that food can be really, really delicious. For the majority of my life I’ve missed out on really good tasting food and so I would tell myself to be excited about what’s to come because this is definitely the way to kind of, for me, this is the way to move forward for life goals, just continue this way of eating and living and not feeling like I’m missing out. Not feeling like I can’t indulge every once in a while but being really mindful about what that indulging looks like.
Robby: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I have to say on my end, using the teacher metaphor, you’re a teacher, I used to kind of an academia and there’s certain A plus students that come along every once in a while and I would say you have definitely been probably one of the best people I’ve ever worked with in terms of the effort you’ve put in, what you’ve been able to accomplish and yeah, I’m just super proud of you and all that you’ve done.
Carolyn: Thank you.
Robby: So thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much for telling everyone your story and I wish you all the best in the future.
Carolyn: Thank you. Thanks.
Robby: All right guys, thank you so much for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.
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