As most of you know, this blog is mainly focused on my photography, both personal and for my business. But, over the years, I’ve seen that what is actually at the core of my passion for photography is the story. The people I capture aren’t just “subjects” to photograph; they have successes, failures, moments of joy and moments of sadness. The most intriguing thing about photography, to me, is that everyone hopes to capture their “best” selves. But the secret no one ever shares is that…our best “selves” have nothing to do with how we look, or how we smile in a photo, our what outfits we wear. It has EVERYTHING to do with what is on the inside.
I have a point here, I promise, so stay with me. Those of you that know me pretty well know that I DO NOT like to step in FRONT of the camera. I like to stay in my safe place, BEHIND the lens. There is a very specific reason for that and it has nothing to do with having a bad hair day or that I’m in a t-shirt and sweats (although those things certainly contribute to it, ha ha). It has everything to do with how I have always perceived myself. I’ve never found myself all that pretty. I have a bad habit of comparing myself to everyone around me. I’ve struggled with confidence my entire life, and I’ve never really felt attractive. This has been specifically more so since having my girls. I love them so much, but my after-pregnancy body has just never been the same. There, I said it. I shared my big insecurity. But I’m not posting this to be negative or whine about my self-esteem. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’d like to share a little bit of MY journey over the last 8 months in hopes that I inspire anyone reading this and help you realize how important you are and how much you deserve to be the best version of yourself.
In November 2015, my husband and I packed up our life in Georgia and moved back to Ohio. It was for a few reasons, which I won’t go into here. All you need to know is it has been a very rough 8 months. Re-modeling much of our starter home we moved back into, putting it on the market, staging the home (which meant removing my desk and for someone that works from home, that sure makes it much tougher to be productive), and having to be ready at anytime really, to leave the house for a showing, has been A LOT to balance.
Somewhere in all this chaos I just stopped thinking about my health or even caring. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Note: I am a foodie, so that’s usually about the norm, but, in this transition, somehow it just got out of control. I would reward myself with food after a long workday. I would tell myself it’s OK to get pizza again because we got home so late. I would convince myself that grabbing a cinnamon roll with my coffee was fine because I worked so hard all week. And, because I didn’t really “love” the body I was in, I really just stopped thinking about it.
Then, one day, I saw a photo of myself and realized it was time to start caring again. We’re heading to the beach at the end of September and all I want is to feel more comfortable in my skin, and what I saw and how I felt was the opposite of that. Just as I decided it was time for a change, I found a program through my friend Kristin reaching out, that I felt might work for me. On July 11th, I kicked off the three week program that challenged me to exercise everyday for 30 minutes, limit my portions and focus on only clean eating. This meant whole grains, fruits, veggies, proteins and some limited healthy fats. No sugar, no sweets, limited carbs and a focus on starting a journey to find the BEST version of myself. I figured I had nothing to lose (except inches and pounds ha ha) and jumped in.
I have now completed the 21 days. I am NOT finished with my goal. But, over the past 3 weeks I learned what normal portions should be, how it feels to not have headaches and fatigue everyday, and to actually start to not hate looking in the mirror. I did it. I have worked out 21 days in a row, have had only water and coffee to drink for 21 days, haven’t given into numerous temptations at cookouts, birthdays, get-to-gethers and events. This was all about a jump start to a healthier lifestyle and somehow I did it! I didn’t share what I’ve been up to out of fear of failure, but I’m proud to say I DID IT!
This was not a diet. It was a kick start to a full lifestyle change. Yes, I will still enjoy my favorite foods on occasion, yes I will still go to Bill’s Donuts every now and then, and yep, I’ll add a little flavored creamer in my coffee from time to time. But I’ll do it realizing my health is all about balance. Enjoying these treats in moderation and in combination with a consistent exercise and healthy eating lifestyle is key. Below are my 21 “sweatie selfies” I shared with my accountability group…the amazing ladies that kept me going and reminded me that no one is perfect but we all get right back up and keep going.
This was not easy. I didn’t think I could work out this many days in a row. I didn’t think I could do all the exercises. By the end, however, I noticed a change in my endurance and strength and am amazed at what I was able to do. As you can see, some days I had helpers, some days I had to jump right back into work on a conference call immediately after finishing and some days I was really pushing through to make it due to lack of sleep or a rough morning, but I just kept going.
I am not sharing any before/after photos because honestly that doesn’t matter (and honestly I’m not that brave yet!). I did make some progress on the scale and in measurements, but that’s not what this is about. I’m healthier, feel so much better, and can’t wait to continue on this journey. Once I’m at a point of feeling a lot more confident and closer to my ultimate “goal” I MIGHT share some before/afters, but until then, just know that I have seen changes and if I can do it, you can too. :) I’m a food-loving, sweet-flavored coffee loving, chocolate-loving, bread-loving gal that has been able to be make a huge change in just 21 days. You can do this too.
Above and beyond anyone else, my rock through all this has been my sweet husband, Travis. He has personally lost about 35 pounds over the last few months and was a huge support system for me. I am so proud of him and his hard work motivated me. He ate the same foods I did, encouraged me, helped me prep food, and told me how proud he is of me. I couldn’t have done this without him.
I not only made these changes for myself, but for my girls. During these past 3 weeks I started cooking a lot more again, which I missed. Abigail cooked healthy meals with me and told me she loved doing it, Mackenzie started snacking on fruit a lot more and both girls had fun “exercising” with me. Abigail especially loves her “weights” (mini water bottles) and her favorite thing to do is the “tree pose” in Yoga.
Thank you to my family, friends, my coach Kristin and my accountability group that helped me make it through this first round. I’m now equipped with the knowledge and strength to move forward to reach my goal!
I’m still working on the confidence and accepting myself but this is a huge step in the right direction. I’m a work in progress and I’m trying every day to build the very best version of me.