Things I’ve Learned Along the Way
Where do I start? Well as a fourth grade teacher I know that every story has a beginning, middle, and an end, usually a happy one. If you think back to your high school English literature classes you will also remember terms such as initial incident, conflict, rising action, climax and conclusion. I promise you are not getting an English lesson today but you are getting “My Story” filled with all the elements of a good story.
During my junior year of high school I picked up my first copy of Shape magazine. That was the start. I joined a gym with one of my girl friends, started step aerobics, and was learning from the magazine how to reduce fat in my diet, lean out, and live a healthier life. Or so I thought.
As my senior year came to an end I was feeling and looking great. College was right around the corner and I was excited about going away to school. Have you heard of the “Freshman 15”? (Average college freshman gains 15 lbs. her first year away from home.) I was determined not to let that happen to me. I was not going to backslide. I knew how to eat healthy and I exercised. Well I didn’t backslide. I spiraled down. Healthy options in the dining hall were limited; half rotten fruit, meat sitting in grease, pasta with cream sauce, a salad bar, and cereal. I lived on salad and cereal for my entire freshman year. Needless to say my diet was lacking protein and I was losing weight, which I now know was muscle. Freshman 15 was happening in reverse. Eventually my weight stabilized, but only because my metabolism had slowed down to preserve what was left.
Fast forward to my junior year abroad. Again, an issue that always came up when talking about the year abroad was the weight gain. I traveled to Australia determined not to gain weight. Again I did not backslide but continued to spiral down. I knew I had a problem. I did not see myself as fat but I did not want to get fat. All this time I was exercising and “eating healthy”. Well, at 5 feet 8 inches and 98 pounds I was not healthy and I knew it. Climax coming, I called my parents and told them I was not well and that I was flying home early to get help. I took a semester off school went to counseling and was doing better. It was hard but I was determined to be strong and fit like the women I saw in the various fitness magazines I read.
I returned for my senior year healthier and heavier. I continued to gain weight and was fine with it. I started dating my husband soon after graduation and he helped me appreciate my body no matter what shape it was. All this time I was doing step aerobics and figured that was a good form of exercise. As time went on I started learning about the importance of weights and slowly my percentage of time spent on weights increased and aerobics decreased. I started to gain the muscles I so much admired when I was 18 and was looking at that first copy of Shape. Oh, the things we learn.
The first thing I learned was Plan Plan Plan. Someone once said, “failing to plan is planning to fail”. This is so true. I figured out quickly that cooking a bunch of chicken, turkey, sweet potatoes, rice and vegetables up on Sunday night and packing lunches and snacks in Tupperware relieved a lot of stress during the week. I also used those pill organizers. I had one that was for supplements I took with meals and one for supplements I took on an empty stomach.
The second thing I learned was that “variety is the spice of life”. Diet food does not have to be bland and boring. I often would have 3 different marinades going Sunday night as I prepared my food. Chicken and rice with Italian flavorings one day, tuna with a mock honey mustard dressing and baked sweet potato another, turkey with a fajita marinade and sweet potato chips another, tuna and rice with salsa the next, I never felt like I ate the same food everyday. Low calorie sauces and condiments kept things interesting.
The third thing I learned was
be creative. I found that many recipes could be adapted to fit my diet regardless of which phase I was in. Well actually I never was able to do much with the grapefruit and chicken the day prior to my show, but as it was one day it didn’t really matter. Some of my favorite things like pancakes, lemon squares, brownies, and coffee coolatas could be made, with some creativity. Yes I do have a bit of a sweet tooth but I found ways to fit it in. At the end of this article I’ve included some of my favorite recipes which you can adapt to fit your current diet. I hope you enjoy them.
The fourth thing I learned was to look at the areas that posed the greatest challenges and find solutions. For me I had a hard time looking at the fax back and digesting when to take the various supplements and when I cycled my calories throughout the week what to eat on which days (low carb days and moderate card days – not the same as Monday / Thursday carb ups). I designed a template that let me see at a glance just what I was to eat when and which supplements to take. I also had a hard time keeping track and drinking all the water (1-½ gallons a day). I filled a 1-gallon jug and 2 one-liter bottles and that was my goal for the day. I make sure I drink 1 of the liters during my 40 min commute to work and another on the commute back. I drink between sets during my workout and usually get through 1-½ bottles. I have a large glass of water with each of my food meals and every time I used the
lou I immediately drink some more water. Sometimes the best planned plans fail and you’re caught without a meal. So I make sure I have a few extra pre-measured baggies of Ultra Size, Muscle Provider, oats, and canned tuna in my desk at work. I also learned to pack a back up shake when I planned to do errands during the weekends so as never to miss a meal.
And Finally I learned that the people at Beverly International are truly dedicated to what they do and go above and beyond the call of duty as far as a supplement company. Thank you Beverly International for all the support and guidance you have given me. Without you I doubt I’d be in the shape I’m in now
Lara Sloan candidly shares the lessons she’s learned pursuing the fitness lifestyle in this article