24 Day Challenge Results

So here we are on June 25th. I officially have completed Advocare's 24 Day Challenge. I want to share my results with you in an honest, transparent, and practical way. So here we go...
My "start" photo from the first week of the 24 DC

Background:

I've tried SO many "diets". The summer before 9th grade, my mom became a member of Weight Watchers. Obviously, I didn't join, but sometimes I'd go to the meetings with her just to listen, and she definitely changed the way she cooked for my dad, my sisters, and me. As a result, I lost about 15 lbs. Before you get all freaked out about a 14 year old losing that much weight, I promise, I had it to lose. For the first, and maybe only time in my life, I felt skinny.

Later in high school, as my body continued to change, I gained some weight. In college, I was up and down and all over the place. I tried diet after diet looking for a "quick fix". I had a problem and I wanted someone to give me a solution.

This, paired with the fact that I'm insulin resistant, means that I've been on a very frustrating, and at times gruesome uphill battle for about 10 years. I'm the product of someone who is constantly worried about the way I look, how my clothes fit, and as I've said before on my blog, I always make sure that I mentioned my weight first (usually as some sort of joke) to make sure that people know I realize my own size.

What they don't know is how aware of it I am. It haunts me. And it has haunted me for years and years and years. But in May, on my 24th birthday, I realized that I was heaviest, most out of shape, and largest I'd ever been.

So, when I saw a friend posting stuff about the Advocare 24 Day Challenge on Instragram, we began talking about it. After talking to Jason, we came up with a plan to pay for it, and I began the challenge. Day 1 for me was June 1st, so it was pretty easy to keep track of where I was in the process according to the date.

My Expectations:

When I began the 24DC, I was still in "quick fix" mode. I saw how the weight fell off of my friend and I wanted to see the same results. After the cleanse phase, I'd lost about 4lbs. I promised myself that I would not measure until I completed the challenge because I was afraid of getting discouraged and giving up. So I celebrated my 4lb. loss and decided to keep going. And I did.

My Reality:

Before I give you my results, I want to point out a few things. If anyone reading this is walking through a weight loss journey, I want to be clear that most important thing to focus on is not the number on a scale or the notch on a tape measure - the most important thing is being honest with yourself about your reality.

So here's mine:
  • I'm 5 feet tall. 5 lbs. on me (either gained or lost) looks a lot different that 5 lbs. on someone who is even 4 or 5 inches taller than me.
  • I'm insulin resistant. I have to work twice four times harder than the average person to lose any weight at all because my body literally has a physiological irregularity. I'm not just an average person trying to lose weight.
  • I have a lot of encouragement and many partners in this. I already mentioned my friend who told me about the 24DC. She was so encouraging along the way and I know she will continue to be. We're shaped similarly, and it's been nice to have honest conversations about things we struggled with in college that we never really talked about. If I had to guess, we both just kind of stuck our head in the sand about our weight and pretended we were okay with the way things were.
    I also have Jason. He's been on his own journey with weight loss and just overall general health. Going from the "single guy" lifestyle of lots of meals out, fast food, and cooking easy and convenient things, to married life with a wife who is obsessed with trying to eat healthier, has kind of prompted him to find what foods are best for him. He's also allergic to milk, so he's been testing his limits and realized that his limit is much smaller than he previously thought.
    Last, I have my mom. A few weeks into the 24DC she texted me and said that she wanted to walk through this journey together. She joined myfitnesspal.com and we've been holding each other accountable to eat the right amount of calories, eat the right kind of food, and exercise. I cannot describe in words (without crying at my computer) how much it has meant to me, in this stage of life, to have my mom come alongside me in this.
  • I have a sedentary lifestyle. As much as I hate to admit it, I do. I work at a desk for 8 hours a day. I get up and walk around some here and there, but not enough compared to how much I used to walk around campus in college or activities that kept me moving in high school. I cannot change the fact that I have a desk job, but I need to be honest with myself about what that means for me and how vital it is for me to intentionally exercise each day in some way!
  • I REALLY love sweets. Like, it's bad. I will eat something that I don't even like that much just for the sheer fact that it's sweet and it satisfies my sweet tooth craving. That's something that I'll ALWAYS battle. I will never look at a cookie and say, "Eh, I'll pass. That just really doesn't look good." It can be the grossed looking cookie ever, and the only way that I'll restrain myself is if I am aware of my craving and talk myself out of it by making a healthier choice that will satisfy my hunger. 
  • I'm 24 years old. My body has changed over the years just in the ways it's shaped. I don't need to worry about fitting into clothes from high school or even early college. Those days are gone...and really...what 24 year old woman really wants the body of a teenager?

My Results:

I want to break my results into two parts. I know some of you may be thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is the longest post ever and there aren't any pictures. I don't care that much about your life Jessica!" I don't really blame you. This is long. But for someone who might struggle with the same things, it's important for me to write everything that I need to communicate.

For me, weight loss is WAY more mental and emotional than it is physical. I know, that's crazy and probably impossible. Some people say that it's all math. If you burn more calories than you eat. then you lose weight. Simple if/than statement, right? WRONG. For me, there is nothing simple about losing weight. My mind and my emotions get in the way and make everything way more complicated. I believe it's important to celebrate, pay attention to, and acknowledge the emotional side of this thing just as much, if not more, than the physical.

Physical Results:

I lost right at 6 pounds and 5 inches. Basically what that means is that my "big clothes" are fitting better. I'm not slipping into my "skinny jeans" - in fact I haven't even tried. The those that are the size that I was when I started the 24DC are looser, but they're not falling off. As I said before, I was hoping for a quick fix and I thought that at the end of this, I'd slip on my jeans and they would fall right off. Not the case, but hey, it's only been 24 days.

As far as my physical results in terms of how in shape I am, that's improved a lot. This morning I walked the fastest 5K that I've ever walked. My overall health is improving, and that's a win in my book!

Mental/Emotional Results:

Until last night, I didn't even think that I was going to write about my results because I was ashamed that I didn't lose more weight or shrink any more inches. As I was talking to Jason, he said, "So if you lose 6 lbs. every month, over the course of a year, that's 72 lbs. Wait, you don't need to lose that much...please don't do that!" It hit me that 6 lbs. is GOOD. That's about 2 lbs. a week. If I lost more than that in a week, I probably wouldn't be doing something that is maintainable.

Saturday night as I was getting ready for dinner I realized something; I felt more confident. I slipped into a little red sleeveless sundress that I bought back in May. I accessorized with some cute jewelry and a new headband I got from Target. I was the only one home, and I sat down for a minute and starred at my closet. I wear a cardigan of some sort with 100% of my sleeveless dress/tops. I stood up, and looked in my full length mirror. For the first time in a LONG time, I just looked at myself and thought, "I look really cute." (Usually, my response is more of, "Cute outfit, but oh my gosh my arms and my calves are hideous!") Then, I grabbed my purse and headed out the door  - WITHOUT a cardigan.

After that, I went to The Summit to pick Jason up from work. When I got there, I parked, and while I was waiting for him, I texted my mom and said, "When I eat healthy and exercise, I'm automatically more confident in the way I look. I know I'm not at my goal, or even close to it, but I know that there's nothing more that I could be doing. I'm living as healthy as possible, and that makes me feel good about myself." 

To me, that's a bigger victory than losing a pound a day or an inch a day. That text that I sent my mom is a more truthful result than any scale or tape measure can give me.

What Now?

The challenge is over, so what do I do now? Nothing.

I'm going to keep eating the exact same way. I've still got my booklet and I'm going to follow all of the food directions that come in it. I'm not going to do the intensive supplements and stuff because they're only made to do for 24 days every few months, but that doesn't mean that I change the way I'm eating. In fact, I love the way I'm eating now. It's basically my spin on clean eating - and it keeps me full, it keeps me satisfied, and I'm pretty sure it's helped my metabolism.

I'm going to give myself milestones along the way. Will I eat cake on Jason's birthday? Heck yeah! Will I eat dessert once a week because I'm really just craving something sweet? Nope. I've learned that it helps me to plan ahead. I can say no to a boxed cookie every day for a month knowing that in July, I will celebrate my husband's birthday with him and eat some delicious cake. I've chosen to be picky about my sweets. Quality must trump quantity when it comes to all foods. 

As far as exercising...I'm a walker now. I've fallen in love with it. I love a nice long walk in the morning or evening. One great thing about it is that it just gets me moving without having to think about it. Especially in the evenings when nothing is on TV, Jason and I can go walk for any distance or any length of time and have the same conversation we'd have inside sitting on the couch. I'm a horrible runner. It hurts, and not the good kind of hurt. It hurts my bones and my joints. If I wake up in the morning at 5:00 a.m. and know that I've got to go run, I'm going to press snooze until 6:30 every single time. If I wake up at 5:00 a.m. and know that I get to go listen to a podcast, wake up outside, and watch the sun come up over Birmingham while walking, I'm about 99% more likely to not press snooze.

I also love Zumba. I've come to realize that over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, my gym only offers it on Tuesday nights and Saturdays, but I plan on making those classes as much as possible. It's really fun and it releases a lot of nervous energy that I have pent up for working at a desk all day. It really just takes my mind off of anything stressful for about 55 minutes. Really, what more can you ask for?

Looking Forward:

My goal is to do this for a year. I began the 24DC on June 1st, and I want to make eating healthy and exercising my focus and priority for the next 11 months. My hope is that by June 1, 2014, I'll be at a weight and size that I'm happy with and that I can maintain. This is long a long term goal and there's nothing about it that can be a "quick fix". I don't need fixing, I just need to be healthy. 


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