It takes a surprising bit of courage to admit in print that you were a Chubby Girl. The only reason that I have the nerve is probably because I changed my stripes, and because I feel its time to tell the story of how and why and what I learned. Because someone needs to hear it, even if its just me.
Indeed, its literally paralyzing to look at the old photos; when words usually pour out onto the page, I feel my voice dry up, as though what I wanted to say doesn't matter very much, and it would be better not to draw attention to myself. (Folks who know me may now go ahead and chuckle-- doesn't really sound like me at all, I guess (oh, to be a lovely, quiet girl content to sit mute and smile...sigh).) Probably best to start with how I got that way, and then get to how I changed.
Let me just preface this by saying I was never clinically obese. I know many people struggle with decades of serious, life-threatening weight problems and I certainly don't compare my journey to that; I have utmost respect for anyone who fights their way to better health no matter how strenuous or lengthy the climb. This is a Chubby Girl story; its not a tear-jerker, its not awe-inspiring, but it meant more than dropping a few dress sizes, and by jiminy, I'm telling it!
HOW DID SHE GET LIKE THAT?
I went to college WAY out of state, far from anyone I knew/loved, and that was new. After growing up in a big, loud, loving family who was always (always) around/interested/involved in (every single detail of) my life, being on my own was FREEDOM AT LAST, BABY! ...and also maybe a little intimidating because I immediately found myself a wonderful guy who had a big wonderful family and together we had a whole slew of wonderful friends and a life and in about 5 minutes we were in all the same classes, living together, utterly inseparable and... 19 years old, miserable and inextricably STUCK.
The problem with unhappiness is that its very easy to get used to. (That may be the wisest thing I know.) You can get very comfortable in a very miserable situation, and stay and stay and stay, making it worse all the while until finally somebody snaps out of it. And then WHOA LORDY you'd better hope its you who wakes up because if you aren't, somebody is going to rip you out of your dream life RIGHT QUICK and that hurts like hell.
And when this guy dragged me out of our mutual Matrix-dream in which we were the happiest of happy couples (and crushed the life out of my soul, as it happens when you're 19 and "in love" for the first time) I looked around and found myself NOT in fact, the picture of a happy, fulfilled girl, but one who had neglected all her true blue girlfriends in order to pour oceans of wasted time/energy into an unworthy relationship, and was a full 30 pounds heavier than when she left for college 3 years before. Voila, Chubby Girl. A friend said I should find out my BMI and sister, let me tell you, seeing "OVERWIEIGH" in red caps across a computer screen is enough to make you loose your bananas. Now mind you there's a bunch of research coming out now that BMI is a bunch of crap but I'll tell ya, its an inspiring bunch of crap.
SO WHAT DID SHE DO?
Right away I took off a bunch of weight because the only thing that made me feel like I wasn't just continually being run over by a MAC truck was the treadmill. That was the first time I learned that my body was made for physical work. I felt like I could breathe when my heart was racing, like I could stop crying if I was sweating, and like I was going somewhere, finally, finally MOVING FORWARD. The faster the better. Then I kept it off because I was doing 7 shows a week, dancing my face off on stage in summer stock theater. All this amazing forward momentum I put into the universe led to some exciting career stuff and I learned another amazing thing: my body is a source of great power when used to stir the pot of the universe. On the couch, you stir nothing. At the gym, in the studio, at a bar dancing to whatever silliness comes on the jukebox, the cosmos swirl around you, rejoicing in the heavenly ruckus of molecules you're stirring up, and good things happen for you.
So I had turned myself into a physical activity junkie. I swear that no matter how long you leave it, the gym only takes 7 days of torture before it just feels euphorically good from there on out. The struggle of pushing yourself becomes a pleasure, a challenge to which you can feel yourself want to rise. (Note: I don't let my brain say anything unless its reveling in the enjoyment of it all. Sometimes I have to play my music so loud I simply can't think anything. Its brilliant. And it makes you want to increase the incline.)
BUT THAT WASN'T THE MAGIC MOMENT...THIS WAS:
About a year later I moved to the Big Apple (hooray!) and a year after that I joined an acting studio that I loved and found a home in and there I met a boy who forever changed my life. Of course he was tall and handsome and painfully charming (I mean, really, it was unfair) and for the entire time I knew him I was a mess of gratitude and admiration and respect that I (of course, naively) mistook for something else, but from him I learned my most favorite thing I believe about life: every person you meet comes into your life to give you gifts, freebies which you can just have (!) simply if you are open to receive them. And here we're coming back around to the story: had I not been a Chubby Girl (albeit less so by the time I met him) enamored by a boy, I probably wouldn't have had the impetus to start what initially sounded like insanity: to live his lifestyle, the Primal Blueprint.
Mark Sisson, a long time marathoner and triathlete wrote this lifestyle guide and increased his fitness, health and happiness tenfold. It supports immune health, bone health, dental health, mental health, muscle tone, strength, fat loss, I mean you name it. He's backed up by logical anthropological facts, and more and more by medical research. Really, more than anything I think it worked because I was really ready for a huge change, and because I made decisions before I started about the concessions I was going to make so it'd be liveable (i.e. I decided to do this with a weekly cheat day. On Sundays, all bets are off and I eat whatever I want).
Here's a super simplified explanation: our bodies work best if we live like the cavemen. When it comes to food that means whatever you could hunt or forage. In other words, nothing processed; no carbs, no dairy, no sugar. I'm giving you the basic gist here so you can understand what a leap I took (I promise it sounded more insane to me than it does to you right now). Before you fall over and die, or decide I'm a crazed loon, let me tell you how this played out for me:
*In the first 3 months, I lost 24 pounds working out only 2-3 times a week.
*Within the first 4 days I already noticed changes in my body, and started to genuinely, epically FEEL better.
*After 1 week, I was sleeping like a baby: crash fast, sleep uninterrupted, wake with actual energy
*From 6-9 months and thinking I'd hit my "happy weight" I lost another 14 pounds without changing a thing.
*This April I will be 2 years Primal. And its only forward from here.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED
Health is a marathon, not a series of sprints. Good choices build on each other, but bad ones don't tear down the entire empire in one swoop. If its Tuesday and its been shitty and I have to have a mocha vanilla cupcake, I have it. Life is for living. The journey was like coming out of a long sleep and opening my eyes to a world I had only been half-living in. I committed myself to this lifestyle for my body, but found that my mind became healthier too. Fear or self-doubt are easier demons to deny. Negative influences from the outside, haters, unhappy people, folks debilitated by their own unfulfilled lives, are easier to fade out, their influence slides off my skin more easily than before. In strengthening my physical body, I found more peace for my spiritual one. And that is worth every part of the ride.
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This blog is about the things that move me as an artist, musician, human, woman, friend, sister, daughter, American, New York City resident, Primal Blueprint follower, yoga practitioner, shoe-lover, dog-lover, cupcake-lover and fascinated observer of the human condition.