I Almost Had A 6 Pack

       

These pictures were taken just one year ago - February 2015. I was finishing up a strict nutrition regimen for a weight loss challenge, and I had dwindled down to a scale weight of 160LBS standing at 5'10". 

YOU GUYS - I had never, EVER seen this weight in my adult life, my teenage life, and honestly, I had already surpassed 160LBS by the time I was in 5th grade at 10 years old. 

In that picture I was focused. I was SO determined. And I was so proud of my "almost a 6 pack" abs. I had come a long way from 240 LBS. 

My weight loss journey has occurred in many phases - my college phase (losing the most weight), my running marathons phase (all throughout my 20s), and then my "ah-ha, nutrition matters" phase that started at age 30. 

I was obsessed in the pics above. I awoke every single day to step onto the scale, letting the number dictate how my day would go. I pinched my belly and frowned up my rolls. I constantly looked for reassurance from my wife on my physique. While her responses were always positive, my constant questioning for validation was a tad alarming. I was at my smallest weight since elementary school, and it still wasn't enough for me. 

Once the weigh-in was over for the weight loss challenge, I found myself addicted to the strictness and structure, but my willpower was wearing thin. When I allowed myself to indulge in sweets or less than healthy snacks, I completely and embarrassingly found myself bingeing on those foods. "I deserve this!" Following a binge, guilt would take over. It was a vicious cycle that left me terrified of food. 

I started seeing my extreme leanness disappear, and some of the weight started to appear back on the scale. 

Here's what I learned:

- for ME, strict regimens do not work. Yes, they yield physical results, but the mental ramifications are far too damaging afterward.  

- I'm thankful for the experience (hindsight is 20/20 lol), but going forward I know that mindset guidance is just as important as nutritional guidance. 

- there is certainly a place and a time for fat loss, but extreme measures do not serve ME well. 

- just because my willpower wears thin with strict regimens does not mean that I am any less disciplined. 

- white knuckling my way through nutritional methods leaves me feeling less powerful of my own decisions. 

- the faster I lose it, the faster it comes back.

- today I'm 175 LBS, and I'm wearing the same pant size that I did at that weigh-in 1 year ago. 

- not only am I physically stronger, but today I am mentally stronger in all aspects. 

Listen, last year I was chasing a number on the scale. I was VERY lean in those pictures, but I was NOT HAPPY. I was hungry. I was thirsty. I was living with a measuring cup in my purse. 

This year, I might be heavier on the scale (that I rarely EVER step on by the way), but my mindset has shifted. I have learned to love the skin that I am in, and I don't let a number define me. 

I don't have washboard abs, but I have strong quads, muscular arms, and a strong core to support my movement. I have the capability to grocery shop and know that while 90% of the shopping cart items are healthy, I'm not scared to allow the other 10%. 

I could easily look at those pictures above and want to be back in that lean body. But I don't. I strive for fat loss in a sustainable way, one that allows me to live my life outside of traveling Tupperware. I eat healthy. I exercise. I lift. But I'm not afraid of a cupcake. 

Today I feel powerful in the skin that I am in. I'm stronger than ever. I'm confident in my body and all that it does for me on the daily. Our bodies work SO hard for us!

No number on a scale can take any of that power away from you. It's yours for the taking! Go get it, 6 pack or not. 

Engage. Empower. Elevate. 

- coach fowler 

PS - yes, I constantly keep chapstick on my bathroom mirror. lolol 

         

The CliffsNotes On My Body

IMG_9293.jpg The other day I had to step on the scale, and if you know me or read my blogs, you're probably surprised that I still even have a scale in my house. I let go of "the number" on the scale a very long time ago, and I stopped letting the scale dictate my mood, meaning that I very RARELY weigh myself. I used the phrase "had to step on the scale" because I was actually inputting my baseline information into a spreadsheet to submit for the Strongest You Coaching Program that I'm participating in through Girls Gone Strong. Along with our weight, we also submitted body measurements and rated our levels of stress, sleep, energy, etc...

Surprisingly, I was pretty happy with the number. Happy in the fact that I endured the holidays eating chocolate and drinking wine and eating movie popcorn and STILL kept my body at the same weight that it was a few months prior. To be 100% honest, my pants fit better today than they did a few months ago. I actually stopped paying attention to the details in the food that I was eating. I stopped letting food control me. The only thing I really allowed myself to focus on was eating to 80% full, while prioritizing proteins and veggies first and still allowing myself indulgences along the way. That's it, folks. Moderation for the win! It seems to be working for ME.

So, back to the Strongest You (SY) Coaching Program that I'm involved in.

Yes, I am a certified personal trainer.

Yes, I've already been through a 60# weight loss transformation.

Yes, I write about fitness and nutrition.

So, why do I need to be coached? Well, coaches need coaches, too! I continuously strive to put myself in places where I am encouraged to grow and learn in the field of fitness and nutrition. I opted to join in on this group to get the very best mindset, nutrition, and fitness coaching tips from the lovely Jen Comas. There's a very diverse group of ladies within this SY Coaching group. We're all very different in our backgrounds and careers and life stories, but we all have one common underlying theme -  we're trying to find the best version of ourselves through mindset, body acceptance, nutritional habits, and fitness plans.

So just when I thought I was doing pretty good with self acceptance and body image and all of that jazz, Jen assigned a mindset challenge for us. The challenge was to watch a video featuring Kathryn Budig - well renowned yogi guru - as she hands out some honest talk about body image and her own experience in social media body shaming. It was, no doubt, life changing for me. Do you have 27 minutes? If so, click HERE to watch the video. It may resonate with you, and it may not. But for the love of all things regarding body image and self acceptance, find some quiet time, plug in some ear buds, and GO WATCH IT! Please. xo

Without giving the whole video away, here were a few of my favorite takeaways -

"I'm a girl that eats healthy, but I'm not afraid of cookies."

"We need to put weight into the words that we share."

"Jealousy will never serve you."

"The way we use our words is like casting a spell - they have power."

"When we step down from a challenge because we let our insecurities get the best of us, we give others permission to do the same." - WOW.

"I love this vessel, this vessel holds my soul."

"I call my body a meat suit."   ---> that might actually be my favorite line. EVER.

I don't want to give the entire video away because I think you owe it to yourself to watch it, but here's what happened at the very, very end. Kathryn challenged individuals to grab a sticky note to write something positive or something showing gratitude to a part of the body that needs some self love, then post the sticky note on that body part and share it with the world. We were encouraged (if we felt comfortable enough) to share this within our SY Coaching group.

At first I had a VERY difficult time trying to decide where to even put the sticky note. Topping out at 240# in high school left me with some battle scars. I am very uncomfortable with my softer belly. I dislike the stretch marks on my NON-giving-birth hips, I've always hated my breasts - they're never the same after a huge weight loss transformation. My feet have their own issues - I'm forced to get a pedicure every three weeks so that my lovely nail lady can take care of an ingrown toe nail problem on my right foot. I have a single hair that grows out of my chin! I am freckly and moley. I have dense muscles and it makes me feel uber "thick."

BUT WAIT.

The stretch marks on my body tell a story about my skin. They are a reminder of where I was, and where I've come in this weight loss transformation.

My feet? I may not have the best looking feet, but those feet allowed me to run for miles and miles in several half marathons and full marathons, and they were a catalyst to my weight loss journey. They've allowed me to see the world and all of its beauty. I should love these feet.

My freckles? They tell the story of my childhood and the years I spent in the sun playing on an old ball field that would eventually allow me to earn a college softball scholarship, another huge catalyst to my weight loss.

The chin hair? WHO EFFING CARES. Pluck it, be gone.

So, the assignment. {sigh}

I posted THIS photo in our group to complete our assignment. I chose to put the sticky note on my hips, and my self love phrase said "I love my hips. They don't lie."

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Posting that to our private group was a scary thing, and it's even MORE scary posting this for all of you guys to see in my online community. It feels less safe, and it feels vulnerable. Some responses that I've articulated in my head include:

"She's too big to be posting a picture like that."

"Needs some abs before posting this."

"That stomach? Gross"

"What stomach?"

"If she were truly overweight, then I would understand the hesitancy."

"She can't even relate to being big anymore."

"She's not lean enough."

"Put your clothes on."

HERE IS WHAT I FINALLY DECIDED. What anyone says about my body is NOT MY BUSINESS. 

MY body, the way it looks, the way it feels, the way it operates, and the things it accomplishes, AND HOW I FEEL ABOUT MY BODY - THAT's my business. 

I opted for my hips and the side profile in the picture for my SY Coaching group because I was terrified to show my belly. That wasn't very authentic, and that wasn't the takeaway from the video. So, here you go.

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I'm authentically doing this to show you that self image issues among individuals do not discriminate. Damaged self image issues come in small framed bodies, big framed bodies, skinny bodies, strong bodies, obese bodies, female bodies, male bodies, and the list goes on - WE are all capable of experiencing a lack of self love which contributes to a negative self image. AND THAT is a scary reality, folks. But we - you - can change that.

I'm not posting the picture to say "hey, look at me, look at me, look at me."

Just.. NO.

I'm posting the picture to say, "My name is Stephanie, and I am guilty of shaming my own body. I did it when I was obese, and I mentally still do it now -even at the best shape in my life. Come with me. JOIN ME, and let's change the conversation together."

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That video? It changed me just a little. I cried a few times (the whole time) watching it. I needed to see it, and my guess is that if you struggle at all with self image, you might need to see it, too.

It was a POWERFUL thing for me. I honestly practice self love at my gym with my clients, and I TRULY abide by it verbally, but mentally I have given myself absolute anguish. No more, though.

Physically, mentally, and spiritually - this vessel is all that I have. It works EXTREMELY hard for me every single day, and I will now return the favor with self love.

These are all of the CliffsNotes that go on my body. They are the story of my skin, and they are the proof that I have lived, loved, and endured.

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My words have power. I will choose words carefully to empower myself.

This was a game changer. Go give your body some love. You owe it to that meat suit! xo

Video link once again - right HERE. Please, PLEASE, please go watch it.

xo

Engage. Empower. Elevate.

#eeetribe

Coach Fowler

 

That Time I Ate 2 Big Macs...

I started wearing plus-sized clothing in elementary school. At 12 years old I owned my first pair of “goal jeans”. I had always halfway joked that I was “big boned”, but at 238lbs during my senior in high school it was pretty evident that I was much more than thick. I was obese. I was hopeless. And I commonly used food as an emotional crutch. FullSizeRender

I remember the day that I ordered 2 Big Mac hamburgers and a biggie-sized fry, accompanied by a large sugary coke to wash it all down. I ate every single bite of that gargantuan meal, and afterward I had even bragged that I was capable of consuming that much.  Thinking back to a moment like that makes me so sad for my teenage self.

My eating habits were completely reckless throughout my youth. I ate senselessly a lot of the time. I would regularly order a fast food meal on-the-go and then discreetly add a biscuit to my breakfast meal or an additional burger to my lunch/dinner meal. This meant that I could gorge the extra item in private and consume the acceptable amount in front of others. I engaged in these eating rituals frequently.

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There are no horrific events that happened to me as a child that can explain why food was my emotional crutch. I like food - plain and simple.  I love food, actually. And for a long time I was completely obsessed with eating. Though my food obsession took over my obese physique, I was still super active in sports, specifically fast-pitch softball. It would eventually secure me a college scholarship that punched my one way ticket outta town. I was headed to Texas, y’all!

I was always an athlete. Physical activity never really bothered me, but once I walked onto my college campus my activity level was forever changed. I discovered monster miles, distance sprints, and other scary, scary biz. I was an overweight kid living 4 hours away from my small hometown in Oklahoma. I had previously only lifted some heavy weights with the high school football guys. I was in unfamiliar territory in fitness land. The obvious change in my everyday activity helped me drop nearly 40lbs my freshman year of college. Without a doubt, my college experience truly changed my life for the better.

I still devoured Whataburger taquitos and participated with my college softball team in pizza-eating contests at the local Cici’s Pizza (hey, the owner loved us!), but I was still losing weight. I didn’t realize it at the time, but self-confidence was making a cameo into my everyday life.

Post college I took up marathon running. I completed several half marathons and three full marathons, and I adopted the mentality of “I run so that I can eat whatever I want!” I was running 26.2 miles at 185lbs and inhaling pastas and bagels and carb-loading, oh my! From there and all throughout my twenties I hovered between the 180lb-200lb weight range. When I wasn’t training for a long run, I was in between cycles of calorie deficits to hit a “goal weight”, whatever that meant. I once remember trying to stay under 1200 calories, and if that included a small chocolate bar, then so be it. Hey, it fit within my calorie range. Right? UGH. I was so naive. I was still proud of my accomplishments. Running marathons had changed my body. I was never ripped, but running gave me a longer, more lean look.

At age 30 I had gotten down to my lowest weight at 172lbs, but I achieved this with major restriction and deprivation. Even at my skinniest to-date weight, I was still a flabby skinny.

In 2014 I joined a boot camp where box jumps, push-ups, rope slams, and chin-ups became an everyday addiction for me. I soon participated in a couple of weight loss challenges, and during those challenges I discovered that nutrition is where physique can be found.  YOU GUYS.  I was experiencing results that I had never before envisioned. I was becoming somebody that I had always wanted to be. I was wearing a single digit pant size. My current size 8 is much smaller than my 4th grade size 14 or my 12th grade size 20. I still don’t think I’ll ever escape a size large top, though.  Because BICEPS. My current weight? No idea. Seriously! I stopped stepping onto the scale when I started lifting heavy weights. Because MUSCLES. I now remain focused on the way my clothes fit my body.

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I remember coming home from a workout early one morning, and as I was making my morning coffee my emotions completely took over. I stood alone in my kitchen bawling, absolutely overcome with gratitude for where I was at that very moment in my life, both physically and mentally.

I’m a completely different person today. I wish that I could go back to the teenage me and let her know that life does get better. I wish I could tell her that she’ll one day radiate confidence that will allow her to help others along their way throughout their own fitness journey. I wish I could show her that she would one day work as a trainer motivating those around her.

If I tell you that I am resolved of my food obsession I would be lying to you. It’s something that I still cope with occasionally. Sometimes food isn’t a big deal to me, but other days I spend way too much mental energy on food. Some days I’m terrified of it. Isn't that crazy? I just never want to go back to where I was before. Do I ever order two Big Macs?  No! My lifestyle has completely changed, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t overdosed on whole almonds at some point in my recent past. Oops. I strive to make food choices consisting of proteins and lots of veggies. Do I indulge in yummies from time to time? Of course I do. But I moderate. I pay attention. I listen to my body. I now know the difference between weight loss and fat loss. Fat-be-gone!

My point here in this story? It’s never too late to start your journey. NEVAH! I own my journey, and I’m willing to put it out there to show you that anything is possible. You are worth it. You deserve to discover your very best version of yourself, and only you get to decide what that looks like.

Nothing happens instantaneously, but things happen with consistency. If I can do it, then so can you - I promise.

Let’s get to work. Let’s engage, empower, and elevate. #EEE

You ready?

xo

Coach Fowler