I’m asking some fellow Real Food Eaters to share their stories of how they came to eat Real Food. Each person is likely in a different spot in their Real Food Journey. My hope is that these can be an inspiration for you – and may even give you some ideas or tools to incorporate to help YOU eat more Real Foods! Each guest has been asked these questions:
What made them switch?
How did they switch?
And what have they noticed since they have shifted their eating?
Today, meet my friend Leslie and hear her amazing story of transformation and how Real Food played a role in that!
Four and a half years ago it’s hard to believe I was a completely different person. And different in so many ways. I was lonely and lost, 55+ pounds heavier, considered obese, I had a new baby, a wonderful husband and family, yet I was miserable and trying to fix myself with food. And all the wrong foods at that. Fast food, baked goods and take-out. I was eating my way through life to deal with the emotions I felt as a new stay-at-home-mom who had a bad body image, low self esteem and who liked cooking and baking way too much. Bad food was my pick-me-up. But inevitably that quick pick-me-up I received was usually met with guilt and shame afterwards. I tried Weight Watchers while nursing, but I just felt hungry. And I won’t lie, I could blow all of those daily points on a granola bar binge. It was far from healthy for me. And slowly I just went back to eating more. I hid behind big sweaters, bigger jeans, big hair and a big diaper bag. And let’s face it, I was hiding in my big car as I sped thru the drive-thru several times a week or went to the store early in the morning for donuts or ordered pizza delivery for dinner. I was letting the bad food, big clothes & my growing weight overtake my life.
But I wasn’t just hurting myself, this was starting to affect my family. It was upon the realization that my husband and I wanted to have a second baby that I freaked out. That was my wake-up call. I was 185+ pounds and there was no way I was comfortable getting pregnant at that weight on my 5’5” frame. I had been about 140lbs when I got pregnant with Audrey and the day I gave birth, at 41wks pregnant, I was 185lbs. Now I was 185+ pounds and I wasn’t even pregnant yet. I was obese, a word that I couldn’t even use at that time, but now on a mission to drop a few pounds and get healthy for a second pregnancy.
So myself and a few girlfriends set out on a little weight loss challenge. I started walking, did some yoga, took a few classes and ate less. And that worked. I lost about 10lbs that month only to find out a few days later I was pregnant!
Initially I was devastated. I should have been excited, but I knew it was not going to be easy going into a pregnancy over-weight and out-of-shape. I became determined to keep my act together all throughout my 2nd pregnancy. I walked, did prenatal yoga and lifted some weights. Nothing special, but enough to not gain any weight for the first 17wks of my pregnancy which had my doctor’s blessing. But eventually the weight started coming on. I ventured into the 190’s. Then it was seeing that scale tip past 200 that killed me. At my highest I was 205. I was 203lbs the day I gave birth, at 42wks pregnant, to our perfect new baby girl, Finley.
So those next months home, they really were a blur as I know they are for most new moms. Between nightly feedings, no sleep & 2am diaper changes I was too exhausted to do much more than sleep and eat and care for my family. But my habits were already better, I had made the decision to give up soda after Finley was born and I never looked back. I was also skipping sugar, picking healthier items and realizing that I felt better and had more energy.
Finley was about 6 months old when I decided it was time to do something more intense. I needed to add to my walking & yoga routine, it was time to get back to something I had loved during high school and college… lifting weights. But I was not ready for the commitment of heading to the gym with a new baby and hanging out by all the guys there near the free weights or taking classes with a bunch of already fit women. I was why to shy & embarrassed to do something like that. This was something I was going to start at home.
So I selected the Beachbody program ChaLEAN Extreme and got to work in my basement. And I’ll tell you guys, that January 1st, 2011 when I did that first workout I thought I was going to puke or die or both. I thought I was in better shape than this, but had no idea how far I had to go. It was time for a change and I was up for the challenge. And the best part perhaps, my husband joined me after two weeks–he was getting inspired to make some changes too.
So 90 days later my program was done and I was thrilled with my results. I was down 20lbs, 21 inches and 10% body fat. What was I going to do next? KEEP GOING! I was motivated and wanted to see more changes. But this time it was really about whipping my eating into shape. I decided to give something up… High Frustose Corn Syrup. Talking about giving up a lot of food items right there. My grocery trips and pantry slowly got a make-over. I kept on lifting and added in more cardio with TurboFire and was seeing some amazing changes. I had started my journey at a tight 12 and was now fitting in size 6’s. I had not been in that size since our wedding day six years prior.
My journey to clean eating really came full circle last fall when I decided it was time to make even more changes with our eating. We gave up a lot of packaged snacks, purchased meat from a local farm including eggs and milk and started receiving a weekly CSA share too. Our new healthy lifestyle became way more about nourishing our bodies from the inside by filling ourselves up with REAL foods! My motto slowly became, “If the ingredient list reads like a science experiment you shouldn’t be eating it!”
Now I’m not perfect. Far from it. I still love chocolate. But it’s my one favorite treat, so I buy the really good dark stuff and just have a bit. And all of those delicious baked goods and sweet treats I liked to bake so much? Well, I still eat those too, but I make them myself. The days of cookies and pancakes out of a package are long gone. I just realized it was just as easy to make my own and know that each ingredient was real & healthy for us.Pizza night? We still do pizza night, but we make it at home and make it a party with everyone picking out their own toppings and popping them into the oven.
Teach your family that real food can be fun! I think the coolest thing has been seeing my husband embrace these changes and watching my girls get excited over fruit for snacks, skipping over juice or soda at parties and picking milk instead, and that eating real foods can taste SO good! I’m proud to say we have been fast food free as a family for over a year now. At first, Audrey whined for french fries as we would pass McDonald’s, but I aways told her we could come home and make some for dinner that night. And guess what? They were just as good & delicious, but best of all… we had fun making them together!
With the obesity epidemic on the rise here in America, and this goes for adults as well as children, I think it starts with us as parents to not only set a good example but to teach our children about healthier choices. If your children can appreciate good food now it sets them up for a very healthy future. I invite anyone here today reading this blog to join one of my online challenge groups. I often run 7-Day Eat Clean groups dedicated to teaching others how to clean up their diets. And I also run monthly fitness & nutrition groups dedicated to helping other mama’s just like me get their mojo back!
You can find Leslie here: www.facebook.com/leslie.kortes or email her at Leslie.Kortes@gmail.com
A healthy mama is the start of a healthy family!!