You're Half the Photographer You Used To Be: How A Busy Entrepreneur Can Lose 60+ Pounds

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Nothing like a blog post to force you to find before and after photos. Yikes. I've never seen pics side by side before!! So a little bit of backstory:

SWEATING FOR THE WEDDING

Like many brides,  I was determined to lose weight for my wedding. At my heaviest, which was also a bit before my wedding, I was 273 pounds. I had a gym membership and was often seen on the elliptical punishing myself and my bad food choices, but I only ended up dropping 6 pounds for the wedding. My husband is truly an incredible, genuinely loving person to want to marry me for who I am and not what I looked like. In my first year of marriage, I pulled back the reigns on my photo business, taking a "sabbatical" of sorts to make sure I dedicated time to be present with my husband. That intentionality also birthed a huge part of our marriage: meal planning. I am a type A, planner kind of person. I obsess over details. That's why I wanted to make sure I got this food thing right, so I turned to my trusty to-do list. Over the years I've perfected my 2-week menu planning and shopping method, and I actually included a download below that you can use to get your grocery lists and meals under control, too. (Where do I find my recipes you might wonder? Pinterest, duh! Follow my board for Health and UNboring meal ideas)

LOSING WEIGHT STARTS IN THE KITCHEN

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I started off with the Weight Watchers app, which was a really great way to make me understand that FOOD COSTS SOMETHING. Sure, you can eat 4 donuts in a day and still stay within your calorie limit, but do you WANT to be starving all day? I learned that losing weight starts in the kitchen, and by cooking all of my meals and learning how to swap out ingredients for healthier ones (check out this cookbook!), I could not only be full but SERVE my husband well as any new wife wants to do! Perhaps the biggest help, though, was the MyFitness Pal app, which you can see a screen shot of here. It's an amazing food and calorie tracker that incorporates lots of convenient features like recipe building, barcode scanning, and an online support community. Add me: jstiffler1013

DO I REALLY HAVE TO EXERCISE?

Exercise was really daunting and discouraging to me. Obviously the elliptical didn't work pre-wedding, and I was never the kind of person that loved sports or jogging. But I was committed. It was a lifestyle change and not a diet, so I was determined to fit things in that I enjoyed and that I had time for IN REAL LIFE, not just a 30 days or a season. It started off with just walking my dog, then I got into TurboJam (Beach Body, anyone?), then T25, then kettle bells, then.... The trend being, that ITS OKAY to switch up your routine. Your body prefers it, in fact (and you'll have more fun too!) 

Being the kid that "forgot their clothes" in gym class when we ran the mile, I never ran unless something was chasing me. My senior year of high school, I was in a bad car crash and broke my femur, so with those two qualities combined I never thought I was destined to be the proud owner of jogging shoes. When I heard of the Couch to 5K program (app!), I thought I'd give it a shot. The idea is that you take several weeks to gradually build up stamina by alternating jogging and walking for a half an hour. I had a blast with it! Not only was it a NEW kind of exercise, but I overcame that big "I can't" hurdle and the sense of accomplishment was worth everything. Here's me and my friend Nancy at my first 5K!!

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TIME BLOCKING

So where does the "how do I find time for this because I'm too busy" part come in? Glad you proverbially asked. I think that when you set your mind to make a change, to really commit to something, it starts with your schedule. What do you do on a regular day, and how do you fit this new habit in? Can you get up an hour earlier? Go for a walk on your lunch break? Do you have an hour after your get home from work, before dinner, that you usually sit and watch tv? That was my block. I found a loyal workout buddy that was knocking at my door everyday at 4:30, and we filled that block with sweat and laughter. 

It took me 3 years, lots of meal prep, 5+ exercise programs, seeking out accountability, and learning to love myself. But I never, ever want to go back, and I think I owe that to my clients, my husband, and most of all, myself.

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