Archive for My Story

My Fitness Journey: 9 Years of Ups and Downs Part 3

In my last post, I left off with my recovery from a bad relationship with food and my elimination of steady state cardio. It was something I knew I needed to do for a long time, but it didn’t make it easy. While it was difficult mentally, it was made a bit easier by the fact that I almost effortlessly lost 10lbs in the first 2 months of putting focus on weight training, doing very little cardio, and eating foods I wanted to eat without feeling guilt.

Slowly but surely, my goals started to change towards getting stronger and the emphasis on “losing weight” was dwindling.

Throughout the rest of 2013 and into 2014, I started to really remember why I got into this in the first place and started to remember my roots. I was taught how to lift weights first and foremost, and that was what I loved most.

I continued counting calories throughout all of these years. At some point, I switched from Sparkpeople over to My Fitness Pal, but I’m 99% sure that there isn’t a day in the last 9 years that my food isn’t tracked somewhere. Impressive? maybe. Scary? Definitely. It’s a sign that my relationship with food could still be improved.

Over the last 2 years, I’ve been really comfortable with my body and even though I’m not the lean bikini-competitor girl I once was, I’ve actually grown to love the body I do have, added body fat and all.

But still, there is a part of me that has wanted redemption. A part of me that wants to say a giant FUCK YOU to my eating disorder and to show it that I’m better than that, stronger than that, and can get lean WITHOUT losing my mind. It’s a me vs. me that I haven’t quite figured out yet, but also haven’t given up on.

I’ve tried a few times and have seen some success, but ultimately have failed. I’m actually not embarrassed to admit that, it just shows that I still have work to do when it comes to my relationship with food and my mindset.

I’ve worked with great coaches (Sohee and Erik) that have each taught me some valuable lessons, but ultimately, a coach can’t do the work for you. I’m a personal trainer and know this first-hand. I can’t make my clients take action, work hard, show up, etc. I can only guide them. The coaches I’ve had helped me as best as they could and I did see results and made progress with each of them. BUT, there has always been a fear in me that by heading down the road to fat loss, that I’ll end up in the same position I was in back in 2009. It’s, what I believe, has subconsciously held me back and made me self-sabotage my efforts.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about it over the last few months as I’ve tried to figure myself out and this is what I do know:

-I’ve been able to maintain my weight more or less for the last few years at a weight/look that I am comfortable with

-I’ve been able to lose fat, but haven’t really been able to keep it off (that’s the self-sabotage)

-I’ve gotten stronger and have continued to kick ass in the gym

-I’ve been paying entirely too much attention to what I eat

Did that last one make your head turn? Every article you read asks that you pay attention to what you eat. But this is what has really been striking me as of late. I’ve been tracking my food intake for 9 years and while that can be a great tool for some, I realize that I also have ZERO clue about what my body needs WITHOUT looking to see how much protein/carbs/fat/calories I’ve had for the day. I don’t pay attention to hunger cues very much other than when I’m hungry, I check to see how much i can eat without going over my numbers.

I’ve come to the realization that by tracking everything I put in my body, I’ve become completely obsessive. I could probably tell you how many calories are in almost any serving of food you present to me. I know HOW to eat, yet I rely on calculators. Exclusively.

I think tracking was a great thing for me for a long time, and in the future it may be a great tool for me again, but for now? I think it’s time for me to break up with My Fitness Pal.

I think I need to take a leap of faith and start learning to eat based on my hunger cues and what my body needs, as opposed to choosing to eat based on what the numbers are telling me. This may sound counterintuitive to some, but I believe it is a necessary step in my journey.

There is a good chance that in doing this, I’ll gain weight initially because I won’t really know how much I’m eating. At the same time, I do believe that over time, I’ve been doing this long enough (and know how to properly put meals together to fuel my training) that I think it will benefit me in the long run. I think it will be the key to me putting all this shit behind me FOR GOOD.

It’s a giant unknown, but is something I’ve pondered a lot in the recent months. It’s scary and that may sound silly to some, but it’s been my security blanket for 9 years. I think it’s time to pay attention to my body, and not my data.

It was a good run My Fitness Pal…and Spark People? Thank you for your help over the years, but it’s time. It’s time for me to give up the trackers for a while. Maybe I’ll be back to them, but for the next few months, they’ve gotta go.

FAREWELL TRACKERS

*I appreciate all of you that read through all 3 parts of this. It was a lot and definitely wasn’t easy to write. It’s a tough subject for me, but at the same time, if I can help even one person, it’s worth it. I believe going through that is part of what makes me a great personal trainer and coach to others. I’ve been there, I understand the struggle, and I’ve (mostly) gotten away from it. I’m not perfect, I haven’t solved everything, but I’ve been through quite a bit and have helped others in their journey as well. Please feel free to reach out to me (or someone) if you need help. You can e-mail me at fitlizzio@gmail.com or leave a comment on this post. 

My Fitness Journey: 9 Years of Ups and Downs Part 2

I left you all in part 1 with the day I competed in July 2009. I was more than ready and felt great. I looked great too. After my show, my coaches all told me how impressed they were. They said I nailed my peak week and looking incredible on stage. Mind you, this was only the 2nd NPC Bikini show, so it wasn’t a huge thing like it is today. I think there were 7 people in my height class and maybe 30-40 total competing in bikini that day. Not many people were doing this and social media wasn’t really “poppin'” at the time. I’m pretty sure i was still on myspace….

This was my myspace profile pic at the time..don’t judge me haha

And we're off!

Anyways, this is where things got bad. Up to this point, I had been fighting off my poor relationship with food. I had kept it at bay because I knew I had to compete. Once I was off the stage, I lost control. I had scheduled a photo shoot for the day after my show with Bret’s brother Joel (who is an amazing photographer). I binged right before the photo shoot and tried throwing up so that I could suck it in enough for our photos (I don’t think I succeeded by the way). I was super lean, so a lot of food actually just made my veins pop a lot, but it was the start of a very long spiral down a shitty, shitty road.

DSC_74111sm6

(a photo from the shoot)

I had planned on competing in another competition 5 weeks after my first show, but with Fitness America this time (a different federation). A lot of the ladies that I’d been posing with were doing it, so I wanted to do it with them. I had become close with many of them and it just sounded really fun.few pics. more to come

I binged 1x/week leading up to that show and couldn’t really control it. It showed on stage. I placed 5th and was told afterwards that they’d like to see me a little bit leaner for next time. I knew I didn’t look my best (although I’d argue that was the best my butt has EVER looked haha).

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 5.48.59 PM(i’m on the right)

I had qualified for Nationals at my first show and was planning on doing a national show in October or November, but from here on out, I just couldn’t get myself together. And so started what would be the most miserable couple years of my life. Battling an eating disorder.

I gained about 25-30 lbs in a short time, and felt awful. It’s a funny thing that happens. You get used to seeing yourself so lean, that only a few pounds makes you feel HUGE. The cycle becomes this: you binge, you’re REALLY bloated since you don’t normally eat like that and your body isn’t used to it, you wake up the next day 10 lbs heavier (water weight mostly) and just feel like you look awful (and let’s face it, you look like shit because you’re holding so much water). You vow to not eat all day and you mostly don’t. You perform at least an hour of cardio to “work it off” and then in just a few days, you do it again. Before you know it, the scale is TRULY going up and you’re depressed about it so then it starts again. It’s a cycle of binge, restrict, binge, restrict, and it is VERY common in the competition world. I know so many that dealt with the same issues, although at the time, I thought I was the only one and was very quiet about it. There weren’t a bunch of articles about the issues, and nobody talked about it. I was completely ashamed and watched as my friends stepped on stage. I wrote out my goals, started telling people I was “x” weeks out, and kept trying to get myself together. Eventually I started telling people I was bulking. That was a lie. I wasn’t bulking, I was just not comfortable telling people I had an eating disorder. That I couldn’t eat 1 cookie without eating the whole box. That I couldn’t enjoy any food that I didn’t know EXACTLY what was in it. It was embarrassing and I just wanted to hide from it all (even though it was very apparent something was wrong).

I remember my sister’s wedding. I looked awful. I look at those photos now and it doesn’t even look like me.

makeup(getting ready for the wedding…this is one of the “good” ones)

I remember standing in my dad’s kitchen and him asking “are you gaining weight?” I freaked out and responded “I DONT KNOW DAD” and stomped out.

The thing is, when you get in really good shape, people start telling you how much they look up to you. How they wish they could be like you. How they wish they had the determination that you have. And it feels really, really good. So when you start to unravel, you feel like you’ve not only let yourself down, but everyone else too. Everyone starts to expect that you’re the one that’s going to be eating healthy all the time, working out, and looking awesome. At least that’s what it FEELS like they expect. Whether they do or not, I’m not sure. I can tell you that I not only felt pressure from myself, but pressure from my peers that looked up to me. My family that had complimented my successes. My friends that couldn’t believe I would bring my own fish and veggies on the boat with me to the lake.

012

I moved to Los Angeles in May 2011 and the disordered eating continued. It wasn’t until late 2012 that I finally started getting a handle on it. I finally decided that I was going to be OK with who I was, no matter how i looked. This was me and I could either continue to dwell on the past, or I could start anew. I knew that I had to allow myself to eat what I wanted in order to rid myself of the “guilt” I had from eating “forbidden” foods.

At first it wasn’t pretty, but over time, the glamour of a cookie wasn’t really that glamorous anymore. I could eat 1 cookie and be fine with it. I didn’t need to eat the entire bag of chips. I could eat a subway sandwich and not feel like I was a giant loser. In the past, I had not allowed myself to eat ANY of that stuff in the presence of others. I felt like i had an image to uphold, so this was a big step for me.

Over time, I was able to create a healthier relationship with food. I found that most of the time, I actually LIKED eating healthy foods. I ate junk when I wanted it, but it actually wasn’t that often. I finally felt like a normal person again.

I followed that up with giving up cardio. That was another piece that I knew needed to go. In the past, if I didn’t stand on the elliptical or treadmill for at least 30 minutes a day, I felt off. It was useless, and yet that tiny little bit of sweat I drew up made me feel OK so that I could move on with my day. Cardio came before weight training at that point and I knew that needed to change.

Oddly enough, as my relationship with food changed for the better and my physical activity decreased, I actually started losing weight. I dropped 10 lbs in about 2 months and finally started looking like ME again….

2013-07-15 21.42.25

Part 3 is up next…

My Fitness Journey: 9 Years of Ups & Downs Part 1

Hello friends!

It’s been a while, but I believe that this blog has grown up with me, and that means it has changed quite a bit from what it was in 2008! I’ll be turning 28 in just 8 days and life is busy. Daily blogging just isn’t what I want to be doing right now in my life, and I’d rather have great content than just content. This blog houses almost 7 years of posts (on and off) and documents so much of my fitness journey. From the days of competing all the way until now with my focus mainly being hitting PRs. I’m so thankful for this outlet and hope that at some point, it’s been helpful to you as well.

I want to discuss something today that I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last few months. If you are sensitive to food-related or eating disorder topics, I suggest skipping this post.

Let’s start from the beginning: 2007

It was August 2007 when I started working out for real. I had played sports my whole life and briefly had a personal trainer when I was in high school (thanks mom!), but I was not really committed and probably only went a handful of times. I count the start of my journey as the day I walked into Bret‘s gym and worked out for the first time. Up to that point, I had eaten whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was thin most of my life and because I was so active, the plethora of junk food and fast food never really settled into my body. I did start to notice that changing a little bit when I was 19 and wasn’t active at all anymore, which is why I decided to do something about it. I didn’t start dieting then, but Bret and Jordan (my coaches at Lifts) encouraged me to start making better food choices. I vividly remember sitting in the lounge at Lifts eating turkey and grapes after my workout almost every day. (Maybe that’s where my love for grapes started).

I eventually started incorporating cardio into my life (because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do when you worked out) and then started counting calories. I was using Spark People (a food tracking website) at the time to track my food intake. I didn’t pay any attention to the types of foods I was eating other than I tried to eat healthy food most of the time and my goal was to keep my calories around 1800 each day. I ate a lot of Kashi heart to heart, fruit, frozen dinners, and other low-calorie foods on the market. I lost about 10lbs in a short time and I was skinny. I believe I was about 132 lbs at this point and didn’t have much muscle. (I’m 5’7)

I remember the summer of 2008 is when I started having some issues with food and was slightly battling the urge to binge eat. It wasn’t a huge problem at the time, but I do remember being obsessive over my weight and body. I gained back the 10 lbs I had lost over about 6 months and I remember going into Lifts and we would all joke about the fact that I was now closer to 140 lbs. “EEK” was the term we used. It didn’t really bother me that much, but over time I started to feel out of control with my eating. (side note before anyone thinks this wasn’t cool: the coaches and clients at Lift were like family to me, so we all constantly gave each other a hard time about stuff..it was all in good fun and i gave it right back)

Towards the end of 2008 I had had enough. I had been reading articles on bodybuilding.com for long enough and had started to see that they were introducing a Bikini division in the NPC (a bodybuilding federation). The first show was going to be in March and while I wanted to do that, I knew it wasn’t enough time so I decided to prepare for the next show in July 2009. A few days before 2009 began, I swore off binge eating, jumped right into clean eating, which meant nothing artificial, lots of chicken, egg whites, sweet potatoes, vegetables, fruit, oatmeal, and brown rice. For the first several months, I felt really damn good and it was actually pretty easy to follow. I didn’t follow a set meal plan, but instead made sure I had protein at each meal with a complex carb and a veggie. I included fats a few times per day and kept my calories at around 1800-2200 each day (via Sparkpeople lol). I didn’t have any urges to binge, I was just on a roll. I was working out several hours per day and was finding that I was so motivated and seeing results so quickly, that eating clean became really easy for me. It all became easy actually. I was boxing 2 hours per week, doing cardio 5-6 hours per week, and lifting weights 5-6 hours per week. I wasn’t restricting too much with food on a caloric level, but I was restricting food choices a LOT. (I wouldn’t add salt to anything, I wouldn’t eat ketchup, I wouldn’t use spray oil on my pans, etc.)

progress 5.16.09 014

Eventually, as with anything, it became harder to stick to. I was getting super lean (see above) and was planning to compete in July, but I had done so well with training and eating (and being 21 years old with a fast metabolism) that I was ready to compete by May-ish. This gave me some lee-way and I started incorporating a 1x/week cheat day. I would get up early every Saturday, go to Sprouts or Whole Foods, buy “healthy” junk food and eat about 2000-3000 calories over a 2-3 hour period. Then I wouldn’t eat for the rest of the day and I’d keep myself busy hanging by the pool or with friends. Still, at this point, things were manageable.

I competed in July 2009, placed 2nd, looked amazing, and then all hell broke loose….

Lizzy compete 21

-To be Continued…