Live a Life You Love

Live a Life You Love

This post was originally planned to be a cheesy post for July 4th. Something along the lines of, “Achieving Your Fitdependence.” As catchy as that may be, I’m sacrificing it for what is likely my favorite post I’ve ever had on my site, and I didn’t even write it.

In terms of achieving true fitness independence, I had one person in mind that stood apart from the rest – my mom. Over the past two years, I’ve watched her make the type of lifestyle changes that I preach about. She has lost over 20 pounds, she eats what she wants whenever she wants, has found fun physical activities that she enjoys, and has been kicking ass at life in general.

mason woodruff's mother, robbie stewart's story

So I asked her a few questions about her methods and if she had any secrets to her success to share with my readers. What I got in return was an absolute masterpiece with some of the best advice on nutrition, fitness, behavior change, and just living I’ve ever read. Seriously, you’re going to enjoy this.

I was an athletic tomboy growing up, so an active lifestyle is kind of second nature to me.  I played softball and tennis from the time I was about 8 years old through college.  While in high school, a friend and I would ride bikes all over our small town (probably 20 miles a day), went water skiing, and we walked at least 5 miles a day. 

Everything changed the summer before I went to college.  My boyfriend broke up with me for no apparent reason in the spring right before my high school graduation.  I was devastated. I had a full-time summer job after high school graduation and also my friends started going wild.  I didn’t feel like I fit in anymore and didn’t feel very happy. I was nervous about going to college and felt all alone.  At college, I began self-medicating with food and put on the freshman 15+.  Then, I really felt horrible and alone.  My self-esteem was at an all-time low.  I started dating a guy who treated me badly and I believed he would treat me better if I lost weight.  I began making myself throw up everything I ate and in addition, I started running and taking an aerobics class. I lost weight and he started treating me better which confirmed my belief that I wasn’t lovable being overweight.  From that point forward, I struggled with my eating.  Having an active lifestyle and fitness was never really a problem to maintain, but nutrition certainly was. 

When I was in my 40’s, I found a therapist who helped change my life.  I was sick and tired of the negativity in my life as a result of my stinking thinking.  I was an emotional mess.  I had so many negative thoughts about myself that I couldn’t enjoy life.  I was emotionally immature and felt like I was never going to be well.  I isolated myself from others to protect myself from being found out.  For many years, I begged and prayed to God to heal me.  I had suicidal thoughts at times. I didn’t want to be bulimic for the rest of my life.  I hated myself.

So my wonderful therapist, Beverly, taught me that I could actually eat and not become obese.  She helped me realize how to stop and change my stinkin’ thinkin’.  She provided therapy that set me up for recovery.  It took lots and lots of work on my part.  I had to learn how to change my beliefs.  I had to learn to not use food for comfort, but to recognize and feel my feelings.  In addition to the emotional growth I had to experience, I also studied nutrition and starting learning how to make healthier food choices. I started experiencing long stretches of time where I didn’t binge and purge.  I was getting well!  It was a miracle and an answered prayer!

Two years ago, I weighed 168 pounds.  I was not about to hit 170!  I had major life struggles going on then.  My mother was dying of ALS.  The job I loved so much changed when my school was closed and I moved to another, larger school.  I had some bad experiences in that new job which added to my misery.  I was not making good food choices.  Life happens to be not so easy sometimes.  I was using food again as my drug. 

So, my motivation was to not be a 50 year old bulimic and fat to boot, but to become a healthy, happy individual who isn’t self-absorbed and can use my life experiences to help others.  I don’t hide my eating disorder from people anymore.  I see that God had a plan for me and I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t experienced all of those struggles.  Of course, I’m human and do still have bad days and feel bad about myself sometimes.  Who doesn’t, but I don’t let those bad days consume me because I know they will pass. 

My nutrition plan now is to eat as many healthy options as possible.  I love vegetables and fruit.  I replaced white bread with 100% whole wheat.  I limit red meat and stick to lean proteins as much as possible.  I use real butter and olive oil.  I don’t fry foods or eat fast food.  I keep Dove mini dark chocolates handy for something to satisfy a sweet tooth craving. A couple of those will satisfy my cravings like nothing else. I don’t drink much alcohol and use Stevia as my sweetener of choice.  I don’t buy junk foods like cookies, ice cream, Little Debbies or Cheetos.  The worst thing I do is drink diet coke or diet mountain dew. I don’t deprive myself of chips and guacamole at a Mexican restaurant.  I allow myself to eat whatever I want, within reason, and know that one bad day of eating too much isn’t going to make me fat.  I can get back to healthier options and not be derailed by it. 

My typical breakfast is a cup of coffee and a serving of steel cut oats with a teaspoon of Stevia/Raw sugar blend, about 1/4 cup Cashew milk or almond milk, a few walnuts, and some berries.  If I want a change, I’ll have a piece of toast with cashew or peanut butter and a banana, or a couple of eggs and a piece of toast. 

Lunch varies but if I’ve cooked I will usually have leftovers.  I like to have fish (baked, not fried) tacos, salads, homemade soups (cauliflower or tomato, for example), peanut butter and banana, tuna, cottage cheese, and fruit, or eggs. The same goes for dinner.  I don’t plan meals as well as I should, but I have learned to recognize my hunger and to not let myself get too hungry which can lead to bingeing.  I keep healthy protein bars in the pantry, bananas on the counter, apples in the crisper, walnuts in a jar in the fridge, skinny pop in the pantry, etc.  When I feel famished, I grab a snack which keeps me from losing it.  My husband is so good to not require me to cook all the time.  He doesn’t want to have meat and potatoes for every meal.  He can find something to eat on his own if I don’t feel like being in the kitchen.  It helps me by taking off the pressure so I don’t have to think about food so much.  That makes my life happy!

Because I have always been an active person, the exercise component to my weight loss wasn’t too difficult to do.  I started taking water aerobics last summer and I joke that it was the highlight of my summer.  I really did enjoy it and felt my body changing as a result of doing that five days a week for a couple of months. I did not want to lose what muscle strength and tone I had worked for that summer, so when my son started offering online training through Fitocracy, I signed up. I used dumbbells, kettlebells, and a mat to workout at home.  He didn’t see results in my numbers as far as inches or pounds lost, but I knew I was making progress by the way my clothes were fitting and the compliments I was getting.  He also encouraged me to use MyFitnessPal to track my food.  That is an awesome app!  I still use it and love it.  When that 12-week online class ended, I kept doing the workouts on my own in the comfort of my home.  When the weather got warmer, I bought a bike and started cycling.  My husband and I play golf regularly.  I am taking water aerobics class again this summer. I love that I am able to have an active lifestyle and am grateful to God for my health.

mason and mother, robbie
“Having a mother who’s active and healthy allows us to spend more time together in different settings, strengthening our relationship. I’m certain she has more energy and “go” than I do, so it’s also a positive influence on my physical activity.” – Mason

Everything works now because I’ve learned how to listen to my body and to feel my feelings.  Writing or journaling helps with the feelings.  I covered up my feelings for so long that I didn’t even recognize them.  I learned how to make healthier food choices, but to not deprive myself of “bad” foods on occasion.  I choose to live an active lifestyle because I enjoy being active.  I love bike riding, golfing, SUP boarding, water aerobics, or even walking. Staying motivated to exercise is easy because it’s what I love.  Staying motivated to eat healthily is easier now as well because I know how bad I feel physically and emotionally when I eat unhealthily.  I hated my 168-pound body in my too-tight size 12’s.  All I have to do is remember how I felt back then to get myself back on track if I stray off course for more than a day.  I feel so happy when I can move easily because I’m in shape or when I can feel good in my clothes.  Being fit and healthy is a choice that I make and it feels GRRRRREAAAAATTTT!!!!

If you’re wondering what Robbie is up to nowadays, she’s been participating in a free 14-day course for strength and resistance training at home. There are 30+ videos for exercise walkthroughs, nutrition and lifestyle tips, and more. It’s friendly for all ability levels, and I think you’ll enjoy it! You can join her (and go at your own pace) by enrolling on the form below or if you’d like to learn more about the course, click here.