Strong is the New Skinny

Prepare to be inspired.  I sure was.  I sure am.  Well, technically, I am on a cruise ship somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea, likely drinking by the pool and not working out much, so my inspiration has been temporarily deferred, but you get my point.  I have yet to meet a person (not just a woman) who doesn’t feel like they could be doing better or more when it comes to eating clean and working out dirty.  When you finally get into the head space that you were blessed with this human body, complete with flaws of all sorts but ripe with potential if you just follow the simple instruction manual (more out than in), it is amazing what you can accomplish.  It isn’t about being a size 0.  It isn’t about losing ten pounds for your reunion.  It is about deciding to be strong and then making healthy choices for your body and mind and being comfortable in your own skin(ny).
 
I met Lindsay when I started dating her big brother in the early 1990’s.  She was in middle school.  She was never fat, but neither was she skinny.  She was just regular.  But to a teenage girl, “regular” can easily translate into “fatso,” even for girls with the utmost confidence.  She was rarely comfortable about her body when she was younger, and it just got worse from then on.  As an adult she was anxious, frustrated, scared and apologetic.  Then, she stopped being “regular” and actually got heavy.  We watched it take a toll on her.  We saw her struggling.  She tried to make changes, but they weren’t successful.
 
Then, at the start of this year, something awesome happened.  Lindsay was at the YMCA and she started working out with a group of girls.  At first they intimidated her, but they included her and inspired her and pushed her to try harder every day.  They showed her how to be strong, not skinny, and that has made all the difference on the world.  She is working so hard every day to meet her goals, and it has been absolutely amazing to watch her transform both physically and mentally.  
 
Lindsay – you are a rock star.
 
Top photo: December 2012 Bottom photo: August 2013

Lindsay and Sheepdog                                                                                                                                               Top photo: December 2012                                                                                                                                 Bottom photo: August 2013

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Guest Post by Lindsay Dunavant

Hi y’all!   I’m Sheepdog’s little sister, Stacy’s favorite (and only) sister-in-law, and aunt to all of the wonderful children those two wild and crazy kids have made.  When Stacy asked if I would guest post, I was flattered and downright scared.  Apparently, after you receive your master’s degree diploma, you rarely write anything of any importance.  At least that was the case for me.  You see, I was an athletic trainer in my previous life.  That means I worked thousands of hours, seven days a week making pennies on the hour having a blast watching collegiate sporting events.  And if someone got hurt, I was the person who ran onto the field/court/pitch/diamond and figured out if they were safe to return to play or what needed to be done to fix them.  So, the extent of my writing came down to something called a SOAP note (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan).  That’s what they are called in the medical field.  I call it a cover you’re a$$ note.  But I digress……

Yes, that is unfortunately a ‘fanny pack’

Yes, that is unfortunately a ‘fanny pack’

Then I got married and then came the baby carriage x 2.  So I became a stay-at-home mom.  And my writing became even more refined in the manner of grocery lists and check writing.  All of this back story is leading to something.  I promise.

So, Stacy asked if I’d guest write.  Why you ask?  Well, I sort of ate my way out of postpartum depression and had reached an inexcusable girth.  And this winter I had an epiphany of sorts and have lost 75 pounds since January.  With diet and exercise.  That’s all.  No bee pollen, no surgery (although I have been asked multiple times how I managed to run so close to having surgery), just old-fashioned, sweat in my eyes, hard work.  So what gives?

I don’t really know what happened to put me in the position to eat and become the lazy, wheezing person that I had become.  I know that I have struggled with my weight since childhood.  In fact, at age 9, I was on my first diet.  Crazy right?  I remember being made fun of at school constantly (mostly by a few people) when looking back on it, I was never obese.  I would round out and then grow 3-4 inches in a summer and be back on track, but in my brain, I was and would always be the fat kid.  I have been dieting for what seems like my whole life.  Then of course I got really skinny and unhealthy during college because, really, that’s what you do in college, right?  You drink all of your calories in beer and eat saltines because that’s what you can afford.  My alma mater is (and has been) on the Princeton Review’s Top Party School list for more years than I can recall.  We had a tradition to uphold!!  Let’s Go……………Mountaineers!!!!!  I then got into a relationship with a very smart, albeit, let’s face it, OCD, crazy fellow who was obsessed with his body building.  That resulted in me losing even more weight.  He wasn’t very nice to me.  So when I finally ditched him, I was kind of a mess.  I met an awesome man and fell head over heels in love with him and felt I could finally be myself.  I was comfortable and happy. We ate, drank, and were merry!  I graduated, went to grad school, got engaged and married, all the while the pounds were kind of creeping up.  Not in a bad way, but definitely on the rise.  I started working that crazy job where finding time to eat healthy and exercise were not options.  The job was incredibly stressful and I didn’t handle it well.  We eventually moved for my husband’s job and decided to start a family and that is when I realized my weight was getting out of control.  We had fertility issues, due to my weight and I lost 40 pounds and got pregnant! Yay!  But that instantly went back on and then some.  Lost a few and got pregnant with our daughter.  That is when the real trouble started.  We had a beautiful baby girl, a healthy two year old boy, and I was absolutely miserable.  I couldn’t do anything to make it better.  So I ate.  And cried. And ate. And baked. And cried some more.  SCREW YOU TOM CRUISE!!!  To quote the fine cinematic triumph that was Austin Power’s, “I eat because I’m unhappy, and I’m unhappy because I eat. It’s a vicious cycle” Fat Bastard – Austin Power’s The Spy Who Shagged Me.  It seemed my whole world was perfect, yet I was miserable.

I started going to the local YMCA branch because they had babysitting (YAY!)  and thought , “if I exercise regularly, this weight will come right off.”  One year later, I was only 5 pounds lighter.  Feeling very discouraged, I started using an app called C25K (that’s Couch to 5K if you can’t figure it out).  After the 8 weeks, I could sort of run 30 min straight on a treadmill.  I needed to do more.  I asked for a great pair of running shoes and a heart rate monitor for Christmas (who is this girl??).  After receiving these fabulous gifts from my caring family, I headed off back to the Y the day after Christmas.  Lucky for me, a group of moms that I would always see at the gym and be in awe of their abilities, but was always too intimidated and frankly, too embarrassed to approach, happened to be there also working out the typical stressors of the holiday season.  They asked me to join them for a workout.  I laughed and said, “No way.  I can’t keep up with you.” They encouraged me to try, told me that they could modify the workout if I needed, but that it would be fun.  Burpees. Fun. Sure.  (If you don’t know what a burpee is, look it up on YouTube, try it out, and then you’ll understand) I managed 2 burpees that day.  And was ECSTATIC.

I never looked back.  I started taking a class that incorporated the same kind of high intensity interval training (HIIT) that those fabulous girls convinced me I would be able to do.  I kept running.  I’m a bit of a gadget person, so I started using the myfitnesspal app to keep track of my food intake.  I also was talked into joining a Biggest Loser competition of sorts in a private group on Facebook.  The final weigh-in was March 27.  I had lost 15.92% of my body weight and finished second  (“If you ain’t first, you’re last!”).  I went to the gym/exercised 6 days a week for about 2 hours a day.  No cheat days on my diet.  I ran my first 5k in March and finished with a time of 42:10.  I ran my second 5k in August and finished in 30:43.  To date, I have lost 75 pounds.  My first long-term goal was to lose 100 lbs, but ultimately, I think 117 is my goal.

I truly believe that I could not have gotten where I am today had it not been for that invitation on the day after Christmas.  My ‘gym girls’ have become some of my closest and most special friends on the planet.  Day after day, they listen to me complain, brag, whine, you name it.  They encourage without judging.  They never give up on me.  And they believed in me long before I ever did. Of course my family has been instrumental in encouraging me with support by watching the kids or dealing with my hunger-driven mood swings.  And many, many others who have suffered through listening to my never-ending chatter about running, mileage, splits, and food decisions.  Especially those who have no desire to ever run.  Many have been so kind as to help me rediscover the joy of shopping, especially since my brain still has me seeing a size 24 when I am now a size 12.

Awesome group of ladies.  Nativa is due any day, but ran with me up until 25 weeks to get my mileage up!!

Awesome group of ladies. Nativa is due any day, but ran with me up until 25 weeks to get my mileage up!! (I’m the other girl in blue)

The fact of the matter is, life gets you down.  But you have to be the one to make changes so that life will improve.  It was my responsibility to take care of myself so I could take care of my family.  I had to stop making excuses and move.  Postpartum depression is real and I don’t have the magic cure or timeline, I just know that it took a very, very long time for me to clear the fog.  Did the exercise help? Did the new friendships help? Was it just time? I don’t know, but I did know that it was time for me to be an active participant in my life.  I decided I wanted to lead a healthier lifestyle and be a positive influence on my children so that my kids didn’t go down the same path I had.  I want them to realize that diet and exercise are so very important, but that it’s a life choice, not a ‘diet.’ I want them to see that hard work and dedication pay off.  That, even though “mommy doesn’t win her races, she doesn’t quit.”   These lessons are already making their mark on my children.  Imagine what they will be able to accomplish!!!

This week starts my ‘official’ training schedule for my first 10K in Washington D.C. on October 27.  My awesome husband and kids will be there cheering for me, just as they have every day since January 1, 2013.  Thanks for listening.  Thanks for caring.  Can’t wait to let ya’ll know when I run my 10K in under an hour or when I hit that 117 pound mark!!!

3 responses to “Strong is the New Skinny

  1. I met Lindsay a few years ago and have watched her transformation and I have to CHEER great big for all she has accomplished!! Welcome to the “Fit Club”! You have done AWESOME and I hope more women learn that they to can become fit!!! ;-)

  2. Thanks for posting Stacy!! YOU GO LINDSAY!! I LOVE hearing inspiring stories like that! I have been a runner since the late 90’s when I ran my first marathon. I have seen many women over the years run marathons that I never thought would be able to do it when they started. They have all shown me that anything you put your mind to you can do!! All in your mind and you can do anything! I am currently training for a half marathon in November. I haven’t run more than a 10K in a couple of years so I am starting from scratch. I think of all the inspiring women like you Lindsay and know I can do this!! KEEP ON GOING!! Keep us posted on your goal of 10K in an hour!!

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