About Me – My Story
Before you dive into the nitty-gritty details and tips that will help you lose that weight around your belly, I think it’s important to give you a little background about myself, so that you understand what inspired me to start this website, and what helped to keep me motivated throughout the process.
I was born in a picturesque small town in Northern Michigan in the intense humid heat of July. As I grew up, I spent my years being alternately terrorized and protected by my two older brothers (they’re twins-my poor parents), spoiled by my grandparents (who lived down the street!), and spending every possible moment outdoors. I was beyond lucky to have an amazing group of friends that originated in elementary school and stayed close through middle school and high school. Of all those friends, not only did I have my best girlfriends, but a (boy) friend, James, who would later become my husband!
I played soccer in high school, but more for fun than any actual aspirations to play professionally in the future. I loved to volunteer in our local animal shelter, and in general found myself interested in the studies of science and nature while in school.
This eventually led me down the path to attending college, with dreams of studying biology and secondary education. I wanted to be a teacher-I had loved tutoring other people while in school, and with my previously mentioned interest in science, I felt like I could make a very happy career for myself. James went to my same college, where he studied to become a social worker. We graduated, and we were ready to take on the world!
After college, we moved to Grand Rapids, a city in Michigan further south from where both my husband and I had been born and raised.
We settled comfortably into our lives there-he found work professionally as a social worker (he decided to focus on working with children), while I became a biology teacher for 8th graders.
We had a small house, but one complete with gorgeous bay windows and a wraparound porch. We found our favorite local coffee shop to laze around in on the weekends, started an herb garden in the backyard, and adopted a middle-age German shepherd we named Lunch. We were happy, we were in love, and we were ready to start a family.
Fast-forward several years from those honeymoon years when we first started out, and things weren’t going as well as I would have hoped. James and I were fine—we had always had a rock solid foundation and that hadn’t changed, but we struggled with issues of infertility—while my husband checked out as ‘normal’ (is that even really the right word?), it seemed that I had a few issues that kept us from successfully becoming (or staying) pregnant.
After being evaluated at a fertility clinic within the area, I was started on fertility drugs. Oh god—those drugs were beyond awful. I can’t describe it to you—not only how much I hated the drugs for what the side effects did to my body, but more so the fact that I had to take them, and that my body felt ‘broken.’
I eventually got used to having to place the injections in my stomach, but the drugs made my emotions feel as if I were on a roller coaster, and the combination of the stress of going through treatments (in addition to the actual side effects of the drugs) resulted in me gaining weight rather quickly.
In addition, while undergoing treatment, I constantly had to go in for ultrasounds and blood draws as they checked my hormones, and the constant appointments with the doctors were exhausting me.
While I admit to stress eating (a pint of cookie dough ice cream soothed my nerves faster than any anti-anxiety medication), it wasn’t enough to explain the changes in my body-it was the combination of the drugs, the stress eating, and the overall stress that led me to quickly put on weight until I reached a size that I had never been before. Soon I became doubly stressed-I wasn’t happy with what I saw in the mirror externally, and I felt broken for my body’s ‘insufficiencies’ internally.
Then, after 3 years of trying, our miracle happened: my little girl, Sarah, named after my mother and for the intense elation we felt from knowing our baby was finally here, real and in our arms, no longer a figment of our imaginations or a distant dream of our hearts. Born after what felt like hundreds of rounds of infertility treatments, she was the perfect addition to make James and me into the family we are now.
I can’t describe the happiness I felt holding her in my arms for the first time, after so many failed attempts and miscarriages and stress and heartbreak. She was (and is!) a perfect little cherub—blond hair, blue eyes, and the clearest, most beautiful skin I have ever seen.
She didn’t seem real! I should probably stop gushing about her—I know that every parent talks and feels this way about their children, and I’m no different. Sigh.
Anyway, while our lives felt complete with the addition of Sarah, I admit that I fell into that New- Mom slump. I was so focused on the baby at all times and then eventually returning back to work and balancing all the new aspects of my life that I lost sight of myself. I stopped taking care of me.
The weight that I had gained during my fertility treatments had then snowballed into pregnancy weight, which then kept escalating into new-mom-grabbing-a-snack-whenever-she-can-because-she’s-exhausted-and-she- needs-to-grade-ten-more-papers-tonight-or-else weight. My clothes didn’t fit (my biggest problem area was my belly), I hated how I felt, and I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore.
My ‘a-ha!’ moment, or the moment where I realized I had to make a change to both my life and myself came one weekend at a family barbecue. James and I had decided to attend our friends’ barbecue-they had wanted to celebrate the beautiful weather, my belated birthday, and everyone’s general happiness over a beautiful summer vacation. Between the delicious food and the cute backyard decorations surrounding the pool, it promised to be a perfect evening.
For the first time in a while, I didn’t have any outfit anxiety-I already had a dress and bathing suit (purchased the summer before) that would be perfect for the occasion. The dress was a beautiful ivory color, and it had a sweetheart neckline with cap sleeves.
The bodice had a fitted waist, and it then hung down past my knees. With a cute pair of sandals and my hair down, it would be the perfect dress to flutter in the breeze and feel beautiful as my friends toasted my birthday. The bathing suit was a one-piece, black and strappy with enough Spandex to hold in a bloated elephant, but.
To the barbecue I wore denim shorts and a t-shirt, Sarah on my hip and a basket of desserts in the other. I gave Sarah to James once we arrived, and went into the bathroom to change in my bathing suit. I pulled on the bathing suit; or at least, I tried to. I could barely get the straps up onto my shoulders: the fabric strained around my belly, preventing the bathing suit from coming up comfortably to cover my chest and shoulders.
I felt a hot flare of nausea in my stomach, and my eyes welled up with tears.
How could this bathing suit not fit? How could it not fit after only a year after buying it? I was ashamed, and couldn’t bring myself to leave the bathroom. James started to knock on the door, Sarah was fussing, and he was wondering where I was. I couldn’t even open my mouth to answer him. I then tried to pull on the dress, just to make sure it would fit-but I found that I was unable to zip it. It wasn’t just that the zipper had difficulty sliding up the track-it wouldn’t budge. The fabric strained to even meet halfway across my back.
The problem was my stomach-It pulled at the fitted waist enough that the dress couldn’t come even close to zippering. I felt my face flush again, and my stomach felt hotter and hotter with each passing second. I felt ashamed and sad, and my eyes blurred with tears.
I know that having such an intense reaction to a dress and bathing suit sounds ridiculous, but I had been so excited to wear the dress, and had often imagined how great it would look at this party. It was my go-to dress, and that bathing suit had already felt like such a compromise to me-I couldn’t believe that it didn’t fit.
My belly stood in my way. I rehung the dress on the hanger, stuffed the bathing suit into my bag, and quickly brushed my tears away. I opened the door and quickly took Sarah from James, avoiding his questions and his concerned gaze.
That day where my clothes didn’t fit wasn’t my only moment where I didn’t feel good about myself, but it was the strongest moment that drove me to make a change in my lifestyle. I had noticed that I had been having a harder time keeping up with Sarah, and I felt so exhausted at the end of each day, but I chalked a lot of that up to just being a mom.
Overall, I hated feeling self-conscious about my stomach, and I knew that I had to do something. I was tired of watching the sizes of my pants and shirts increase, and not feeling like myself, and not seeing my toes, and being out of breath, and feeling like I had lost myself.
I made the choices that I did because I didn’t feel like I was able to commit myself to a full life change all at once. I was working, and raising my little girl, and trying to be a good wife, and balance my life. Therefore, I made my changes slowly and surely. I started this blog to help share the little tips that worked for me, and to let others know that while becoming healthy IS a choice that takes effort and commitment, there are things you can do to help strip off the weight without so much work!
Where I Am TODAY…
I am still teaching biology, and I absolutely love it. I’ve taken on both 7th and 8th grade levels, and I additionally started an after school tutoring program as well. I love watching the kids’ faces as they make connections with the material-watching them reminds me of why I wanted to become a teacher in the first place, while also reinforcing to me how much beauty there is in the world. The hours can be long, but I’ve learned how to find balance.
Things are going well with me and James – we definitely have our ups and downs, especially after so many years together, but what marriage doesn’t? We are there for each other at the end of the day, and we never go to bed angry. We have plans to renew our vows at the end of next year, and we are hoping to travel abroad (to Greece!!) as well!
Most importantly, my Sarah. God, she is so grown up! She’s almost a preteen, and she’s very into horseback riding and painting. She’s so smart, and the apple of my and James’ eyes. She is so vivacious, and sweet, and generous.
My heart bubbles over every time I look at her-I could not feel more lucky or blessed to have had her. I think she will be our only miracle – James and I tried to undergo some of the fertility treatments again, but were unsuccessful.
We decided a little while ago to take a break from the treatments, secondary to financial and emotional strain, and never really got back on the horse. We feel relieved knowing we tried again, even though it didn’t work out.
And now the question I’m sure you guys are wondering most about – have I kept the weight off? I’m happy to report – YES! It hasn’t always been easy, and I definitely have had moments of failure, but I’ve managed to lose 20 inches in total from my waistline, and keep off that belly fat!!
AND YOU CAN TOO!
Now go read the numerous blog posts I have written…