This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Evolution Fresh®. All opinions are 100% mine.
For those of you that haven’t been around since the beginning, you may not know that this little blog of mine actually started in 2010 as a healthy living and weight loss blog. And before that, I was blogging (privately) on a well-known weight loss website.
I had great feedback over there and a lot of those people pushed me to start a “real” blog. And I did, and here I am (thanks, guys)! Seven years ago, I lost quite a bit of weight (50+ pounds), but more importantly than that number, I learned how to cook and eat wholesome foods. I learned how to take care of my body through physical activity. And I learned how important it was to care for myself spiritually, mentally, and emotionally as well.
As the number on the scale crept down, I started to realize just how personal weight is, and how it’s so much less amount the number, and so much more about feeling. I soon abandoned the mostly arbitrary goal weight of 150 I had set for myself, and set out to find a weight that made me happy. A weight where my knees didn’t hurt anymore (bad knees run in my family), where I could drink beer and eat chocolate, and where I didn’t have to workout two hours a day or obsess over the scale.
There is a lot of propaganda out there that could make it easy to think you should be this size or this weight or feel this way about your body, but that’s just not the belief I subscribe to. I think there are just as many beautiful, healthy, strong, and empowered people at 330 pounds as there are at 130 pounds and 30 pounds (shout out to my 2 1/2 year old). To me, weight is not an indicator of anything other than exactly what it is—your weight.
Over the next few years, my weight fluctuated from 205 (so hard for me to maintain—basically raw kale at every meal and an hour of tabata sprints everyday) to 235 (ow, my knees again). And finally, in 2013, I realized that I had reached my happy weight without even knowing it. Somewhere between 215-220 is this magic land where my knees don’t yell at me, and I can still eat bacon. It’s where my body naturally “sits” when it comes to weight. And it feels awesome.
Around that time, I spoke with my doctor about this—specifically, if she was worried that my happy weight is a good 60-70 pounds more than what the charts say I should be—and she basically laughed and said, “Are you moving every day? Are you eating vegetables? Do you feel good about yourself? If so, I’m fine. Go be you.” It was awesome. So I did. I maintained in that 220 range for almost two years, and I felt great—emotionally and physically. And then, I went and got knocked up.
If you guys were around here in 2014, you know my pregnancy wasn’t sunshine and roses. I lost 12 pounds in my first trimester (so much morning sickness) and ended up gaining that back, plus about 60 more by the time I went into labor (turns out: eating more often is pretty much the only way to stem the tide of morning sickness). I went into labor at 295 pounds. About a month after Juniper was born, I was at 272.
In the 2 1/2 years since her birth day, I’ve gotten down to 246 thanks to full-term breastfeeding, walking more, and keeping an eye on my food. And that’s where I was when I decided to actively start losing weight again last month. Before I continue on, I should say, if you are 246 pounds (or any weight above or below that) and feel great about yourself, then as my doctor said, GO BE YOU. That’s amazing. Seriously. Please don’t take my commentary on my own body as a commentary on yours. It isn’t. You are beautiful and awesome and, most importantly, your own person.
But for me? 246 pounds is not my happy weight. My knees and hips ache all the time. I miss how I physically felt at 220. It’s crazy how much of a difference 25 pounds can make! I don’t feel bad about my body. I don’t feel ugly. I don’t feel less than. I don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed (hi, talking about it to all of you). But I just don’t feel like me. And I think that 25 pounds has a lot to do with that. So, I’ve been working on it. And let me tell you how.
I’ve been walking. All the gosh darn time. There was a time when I treated going to the gym like a job. I lifted heavy weights. I made schedules. I trained for races. I sweat like no one has ever sweated before. I spent hours a day at the gym. And that was wonderful for me at that time. Now? It’s just not my scene. I think there is a time and place for hardcore exercise like I used to do, and if that makes you feel awesome, that’s super great. But for me, I’m really preferring being gentle with my body. It works for my temperament. It works for my lifestyle. And it works for my body. So I walk, all the time.
I walk at the park. I walk around my house while I make pancakes. I walk at night while watching TV. I walk the dog more than I’ve ever walked our dog before. I purposely “forget” things in the grocery store so I can walk back and forth 20 times. I’m a walker. I consistently hit between 9,000-13,000 steps a day, which I think is pretty darn good for a gal whose job is to sit behind a keyboard and type verbose blog posts all day.
I joined my first StepBet back in October, and I’ve done three of them since then (winning each one), and it’s a HUGE motivator for me. You bet a chunk of money that you’ll hit a certain number of steps each day for six weeks (based off your historical step data), and then at the end, you split the pot with everyone who achieves their goals. It’s been a wonderful motivator to get me to consistently walk, and the extra cash doesn’t suck!
So yoga isn’t really about weight loss from a calories in/calories out perspective, but I have found that yoga is a healthy living linchpin for me. The type of yoga I do is gentle yoga. I don’t break a sweat. My muscles don’t ache the next day. And sometimes I don’t even stand up. But when I don’t do yoga, I don’t lose weight. It’s a mental thing.
When I take that time to do it every day, I treat myself better. When I don’t? Well, I don’t. Yoga is about taking a few minutes each day to refocus on myself, which I think is important for everyone, but especially important for parents and other caretakers who spend the vast majority of their day focusing on someone else. Yoga is about me proving to myself that I am the highest on my priority list, and I think that’s the first step to weight loss.
Meditation is related to yoga, but also entirely separate. I meditate often during my yoga sessions, but my “prime” meditation time is right before I fall asleep at night. I use guided meditations (often just searching YouTube for them), plug my headphones in, and use it as a way to wind down after the long day. It’s really been helpful for me to work through any issues I have or am worrying about the next day.
When I lost weight “the first time,” it felt like it was all about the physical. I was eating fast food and drinking diet soft drinks and didn’t know a barbell from a dumbbell from a kettlebell. It was all about learning the physical changes I needed to make to be healthier. This time around, I have all that knowledge—I just have to put it into practice. Weight loss this time is almost entirely mental, and daily meditation has really helped me work through that.
The Abundance Mindset
I think so many people see healthy living as about subtracting things from your life. Eating less meat. Cutting out processed foods. Reducing how much sugar you consume. And if that mindset works for you? Cool. But I’m a total brat, and as soon as someone says I can’t have something, I want it (you should have seen the fights my Dad and I had when I was a teenager…). So the reduction mindset does NOT work for me.
What does? The abundance mindset. Instead of focusing on what is going away, I focus on what kinds of foods I can eat with rampant abundance. I get to eat as many vegetables as I want. I get to load my plate up with a giant pile of roasted brussels sprouts. I get to enjoy these perfectly ripe clementines all day long. Instead of asking what I can take away from my plate, I usually ask myself what I can add. Add some hemp seeds to my yogurt. Add an apple to my snack. Add some spinach to my sandwich. By focusing my energy on all the goodness that I can eat in satisfying abundance, I naturally tone down my need for the stuff I maybe shouldn’t be eating so abundantly.
Healthy Convenience Foods
This one has been so hard for me to accept, but now that I have, I can’t figure out why I was being so darn stubborn—I’m using (and loving) healthy convenience foods this go ’round on the weight loss carousel. I used to be one of those folks that thought (wrongly so, I might add) that I was a lesser person if I didn’t make my own bread or grow my carrots or always cook from scratch. And that anything processed or packaged was evil. I am 1000% not in that camp anymore.
In another lifetime (read: before kid), cooking completely from scratch brought me joy. I got a kick out of doing things like making my own marshmallows and graham crackers to take on a camping trip. I don’t have the margin in my life to enjoy those things right now. I may again in another season of my life, but right now? Not my scene (notice a theme?).
Yes, I know there are plenty of parents out there with more kids than I who can still “do it all,” and that’s wonderful, but here is my declaration to you guys that I can’t do it all. I CAN’T DO IT ALL. And something had to go. And it was the homemade marshmallows.
Instead of mourning the fact that I’m not the same girl I was who spent her weekends baking bread and churning butter (literally), I’ve embraced it. It’s okay if healthy eating means buying pre-made green juices like Evolution Fresh or bagged salads or yogurt cups or *gasp* sandwich bread (especially with some of the really high quality options out there—convenience foods ain’t what they used to be), if that makes healthy eating easier for me. And it so does. Being able to just walk out to the fridge and grab a green juice and get back to work or toddler wrangling? That’s healthy eating made to work with the current season of my life. Ain’t no shame in my game.
Hi, my name is Cassie, and I love food. I love food so much, I eat too much of it sometimes (read: almost all of the time). I once saw some person say that the only thing you had to do to lose weight was “count chemicals, not calories” and while that’s a cute little phrase, and I do agree that cleaning up your diet is an important first step, I CALL BULL. Trust me, you can eat a mostly organic, mostly whole food, veggie and fruit packed diet, and still gain weight. You know why? Because too much good food is still too much food.
I eat a pretty darn balanced diet. But I just eat too much of it. My portion control got all out of whack during pregnancy and early breastfeeding (look at me blaming all my problems on my kid), and I never quite got it back under control. So, alas, I’m tracking my food.
For the first two weeks of tracking, I didn’t adjust anything about my eating habits, I just wanted to observe. And I observed that I was eating between 2500-2800 calories a day. They were good calories. They were calories filled with vegetables and nutrients (and sugar cookies, because it was December). But even 2800 calories of broccoli is still more than my body needs.
Based on my age, weight, activity, and the fact that I’m nursing, 2500 seems to be about the middle path for maintaining my current weight. And if I want to lose weight, 2500-2800 isn’t going to do it. So, I’m tracking. I’m trying to hit about 2200 calories a day.
And that’s it. Nothing earth-shattering. But it’s working for me. I’ve always been a big proponent of small changes adding up to a big impact, and that’s exactly what’s happening here. I’m always a little hesitant to write about weight-related things publicly, because I know there are a lot of people who look up to me as a body positive role model—and I am really honored by that—but to me, body positivity means loving your body no matter what. And gosh, do I love my body. But I also think body positivity means respecting your body and what it asks for, and my body (mine, not yours) asks for me to be about 25 pounds lighter. So I’m respecting that (or at least trying to).
I encourage you to really listen to your body. Try to tune out airbrushed pictures and beautiful movie stars and noise from anyone else (even me!), and really listen to what your own body wants. And honor that. That’s the best health advice I can give you.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Evolution Fresh premium cold-pressed juices. Evolution Fresh encourages you to take a sip in a brighter direction this new year by making small, achievable changes to be healthier! I know lots of folks are kicking off healthier lifestyles in 2017, and I’d love to hear more about what you’re doing to treat your body better in the new year! Either comment below, or share on social media using the hashtag #MySmallSip!