The Fulfillment Series

The Fulfillment Series

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Truth About Diet, Food, and Exercise

If you've read my bio, you know I used to be a fitness trainer. More specifically, I trained runners. And I was a runner. <cue sound of record scratching> Did I just say "was a runner?" Did you read that right? Yep and yep. So, let me just put this out there. I'm not writing this blog to be all "this is what you should do" and "this is what you shouldn't do," but instead, I'd like to be open and lay out my journey in hopes it will help or inspire others.

I think I would describe my shape as an "upside down funnel." I have small shoulders and a lean torso, but man do things balloon out at the bottom. My grandmother, who is a twin, says I have "twinning hips." LOL! I played a lot of sports in my youth, particularly soccer, so I have large quadricep muscles. Basically, the bottom half of me is out of alignment (in my opinion) with the top half.
Me as a teenager with a artist who painted Gone with the Wind portraits.
Excuse the quality of my parents' old camera. LOL!

I had a very dark period in my life, and during that time, I watched what I ate and exercised a lot. I could control my food when aspects of my life were out of control. And I could exercise to relieve stress and escape. During that time, I was super fit. I began running, and soon, I began training runners as well. I took up boxing, kickboxing, and lifting for cross-training.

First place! WOOT! 
(Notice how my smiles are often forced unless I'm with friends or special family members, and sometimes even then. This is part of the dark period. BUT you'll notice a BIG change in the genuineness of my smile when Deek enters my life)

My running partner and soul sister, Dawn. She's also a Dream Team member!

Ninja mud run with my girlies!


More cross-training

Once, prior to deciding to run half marathons, I tried this diet called Primal from Mark's Daily Apple. I felt amazing eating that way. My body really responded to the higher fat, lower carb idea, and I thrived physically. But I had to stop that eating plan in order to run longer.

Super slim on the Primal eating plan

As a long distance runner, I learned bad habits. Since I'm so small, I burn my entire daily caloric intake during a 10+ mile run. I tried to do it the right way--eating healthy foods after my runs--but I just couldn't consume enough calories to make up for the deficit. I'd get sick, shake, or feel like passing out (and that's with consuming Gatorade and gels during the run). It got so bad, I even went to see a nutritionist. But nothing worked...until I discovered the secret. Post-run, I'd eat a bowl of EnviroKidz Koala Crisps (yes, I ate kids' cereal; it's good) with chocolate coconut milk. After my shower, I'd have half of a large pizza and a 24oz Coke. Only then did I not feel like passing out. Sounds great, right? The only problem was, I was eating pizza and drinking Coke! And I got used to eating that way...

Half marathon with my bestie (aka: "twin") from high school

Thankfully, the dark period came to an end, but with that came lots of new stresses. Instead of eating right, I turned to food for comfort. I stopped exercising as much, but I kept eating like someone who ran and trained a lot. Pizza, Coke, Wendy's Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers comprised way too much of my diet.

Fries... Man, do I love fries.

And I continued to eat that way for quite a while, without any repercussions because I'd been so fit beforehand. Then, Deek and I decided to start dating, and a bright, happy light shined in my life. I wanted to get back into better shape (Deek was super into fitness and very buff).

Deek at the gym with his very serious trainer! 

Soon, Deek spent half of his time on one coast and half of his time on the other, and we knew that wouldn't work for much longer. So, we decided I would move to the Pacific Northwest with him for a while and then he would move back to the South with me for a while. I ran my last half marathon in March 2014, packed up, and moved across the country to live with Deek.

Last half marathon
Everything is awesome, except running 13.1 miles in the pouring, freezing rain!

For the first time, I was truly happy. So you'd think my eating would improve, right? Well, Deek and I started doing what we call "happy eating." LOL! We ate *because* we were happy. Yes, we worked out together too, but we had trouble establishing a good workout routine because we moved, sold houses, and traveled back and forth across the country several times. Just when we'd get on a good fitness/eating roll, it would be time to take the train across the country to the South for a month. Let me tell ya, that really messes up those good habits!

Panda Express

Yep, more Wendy's


But we did some running and lifting and a lot of hiking and adventuring.

Kiss before our run

Deek ran is first official 5k race

Weight training

But despite the workouts, the pounds crept up on both of us, thanks to our bad eating habits. When we moved back to the South, we vowed to get those pounds off. After a few stutter-starts, I'm pleased to say we've FINALLY figured out an eating and workout routine that has consistently slimmed us down! We returned to that eating style which had worked so well for me in the past, Primal

Drinking my protein shake

We eat higher fat, lower carb meals. It takes some planning, but we're both committed to it. I'm so grateful that Deek's not one of those guys who thinks cooking is a "woman's job." We do it together, and we can get the meals made so much faster because of it. And we've found ways to work in some of our favorite foods!

Meatsa! Crust is made from ground chicken. Oh, so good!

The exercise program is straightforward and easy to do. We focus a lot on bodyweight training, and we sprint once a week (tabatas). Boy, do we hate tabatas, but they're great for us! And we walk...a lot.

We found a pedestrian bridge in the South. How very Pacific Northwest!

And guess what? The pounds are falling off. We're losing weight, eating in a way that works for our bodies, and getting/feeling fit. We have energy to do what we want to do and aren't limited by the extra weight. In fact, we just had an epic date weekend where we went ziplining over a waterfall. This course required a good amount of upper and lower body strength, and we completed it like a boss.

Headed out to zipline! 
(Note the genuine, big, goofy grin my handsome husband puts on my face!!)

I'm not one of those people who believes every diet is a one-size-fits-all. I've tried my fair share of ones that worked for other people but didn't work for me (NutriSystem, Weight Watchers, SlimFast, counting calories). I am hypothyroid, so the calories in/calories out methodology is pure bunk for me. I have to eat an endocrine based diet (diabetic, South Beach, paleo, primal), or I will not see any results. I also have a protein based body, meaning I run best on protein and fat instead of carbs. Carbs leave me feeling immediately hungry, shaky, and unsatisfied. 

Me after tabatas, but it's also how carbs make me feel. LOL!

And I'm done running. I no longer need to go for a long run to destress or escape. I'm insanely happy with my life. And I'm convinced that running, ironically, started me down this path which led to weight gain. I was always hungry and ate more as a result. With bodyweight training and sprints, my hunger stays in check while my heart and muscles get the necessary workout.

Chillin' on da porch with our protein shakes after a workout

And I can fit into my old clothes again.
(Deek kept taking pics of me during our date--to a primal friendly place--and telling me how beautiful he thinks I am. #LuckyGirl)

I'm thankful to have a partner who works with me on fitness and exercise goals. He's my true partner in every aspect of life, and he puts the smile on my face and the skip in my step. I adore him more than words can ever express! I'm thankful to be on this fitness journey and this life journey with such an amazing man!


  1. Very cool post! I'm so happy that you are happy and in a good place! -Yvonne

  2. Great post, Erin! So glad you found a diet/exercise plan that works for you. And so happy for how happy you are now! Love the real smiles!!!!

  3. Hi Erin, I had a similar situation without the dark period. I've worked out all my life and in my 20s (*cough* a long time ago), I got interested in bodybuilding. I loved it. A fellow bodybuilder friend of mine talked me into competing. so far, so good, except... the diet just about did me in. After the competition and when I was able to eat again, I ballooned up 20 pounds (which is A LOT on my 4'11" frame). And then, I did another competition, which meant more severe dieting, etc. This time, I was very close to developing an eating disorder. I met my husband (a total goofball too) and we started working out together and with his help - heavy weights but no pressure to compete, I lost the weight. I am able eat what I want with limited portions, and I do something active every day. Many days, we're up at 5AM to go downstairs to our gym (yeah, I have a real gym in my home) and get a decent 30 minute iron slinging work-out. I also do something cardio almost every day (it is usually recumbent bike, a walk at lunch, take the dog for a walk - low impact because.... old knees). I feel great and I am in better shape than I was in my teens. I even had a kid at 40 and was able to get back to pre-baby weight within 8 weeks because I didn't put pressure on myself.
    I won't compete again, but I want to look like I could. My workout fav these days is BodyBeast!

    What you said is true - there isn't a one size fits all approach to health / fitness / weight loss. Find what works for you and stick with it.
    So proud of you!!

    1. I hear you, girl! Just a little bit of weight shows up on a tiny frame! Good for you losing the weight and establishing a healthier lifestyle! Proud of YOU too! HUGS!

  4. You look amazing and I love seeing that bright smile! Everyone deserves to feel that happy and loved! I am so glad you have it!

  5. I'm so beyond proud of you, my Erin! You are stunning and make my heart skip a beat whenever I see you, but the pride in your eyes at your accomplishment enhances your beauty. Thank you for being such an amazing partner in all aspects of the word. I couldn't have dreamed someone as amazing as you to life.
    I love you, honey!