How I Stopped Yo-Yo Dieting And Finally Achieved A Healthy Balance
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Hello! Who are you and what did your transformation look like?
Hi everyone, I’m Christine Howell, a 38-year-old mom of two little girls and Certified Holistic Health Coach. Yes, I have lost a lot of weight, but I am most proud of my mental shift. I am no longer consumed or fearful of food. I can go out and celebrate with friends and family without coming home feeling guilty. I live life to its fullest while choosing foods that nourish and fuel my body.
My philosophy is simple: forget everything you have learned about dieting and good/bad foods. Food is just food. However, some foods nourish and fuel our bodies differently. Listen to YOUR body and choose real foods that make you feel your very best. We are all unique and food that works for one person may not work for the next. That’s why some diets may not work for you specifically. It’s not a lack of willpower or failure, your body is actually telling you what it needs.
What’s your backstory and why did you decide to transform yourself?
I grew up with a brother who had severe food allergies. My mom cooked everything from scratch growing up, so that meant no processed foods in our home. When I went to college I went crazy, eating anything and everything I wanted. I quickly became overweight and soon the queen of every new fad diet. I was convinced one had to work. After constant weight fluctuations, binge eating and an obsession with food, I had an “aha” moment. I reached for a 100-calorie snack pack over a banana because I knew the snack pack had fewer calories. This was a turning point in my life. I took a step back and realized that I needed to focus on nourishing my body with real foods and not empty calories.
Take us through the process of transforming yourself.
My transformation process started with unlearning everything I thought I knew about health. I started to read ingredient labels instead of counting calories and checking carb and fiber stats. If I could pronounce the ingredients and knew what they were, I put that food in my grocery cart. If I couldn’t, it stayed on the shelf. This step alone made the biggest difference because I was choosing real foods instead of processed foods. I choose full fat items instead of fat free, I was enjoying foods I avoided for years. When I did this my cravings were dramatically reduced if not eliminated and I kept going. I had more energy, no more afternoon slump and slept better. The weight I struggled to get off was being released.
I didn’t count calories and started to live by the 80/20 rule. A glass of wine with girlfriends, of course! Cake at my daughter’s birthday, absolutely. This allowed me to have joy in my life and I was no longer avoiding events due to temptations. I was eating real foods throughout the day so these “splurges” weren’t affecting my weight loss. That helped my mindset understand a true healthy balance, where I no longer thought about food or let my next meal consume me. Instead I was becoming mindful of what I ate and how it made me feel. I was eating until I was satisfied or 80% full, not stuffed. I was being present at meals and enjoying my food instead of eating mindlessly when watching TV.
At this time, I started to add back in exercise. To be honest I have tried everything, even working out twice a day. Nothing stuck, I didn’t enjoy it and it tended to be more of a chore. I found Kayla Itsines (an Australian personal trainer) who had an at-home workout program that was 28 minutes long, 3 times a week. That was less than 2 percent of my day, so I thought why not give it a shot.
Almost 6 years later, I am still doing her program! I can fit it in my schedule with no excuses and it has given me incredible results combined with my new food choices.
Since your transformation or hitting your goal, what has worked to maintain or keep making progress?
If I could give any advice on where to start:
- Start small and remember small changes add up BIG!
- Read ingredient labels. Can you pronounce it? Do you know what it is?
- Be mindful. Listen to your body-are you bloated, do you have a headache, are you tired or irritable? Listen to your hunger and satisfaction signals.
- Think 80/20. Eat healthy 80% of the time and enjoy life the rest. Life is too short to miss out.
- Move more. Find an activity you love, it can be anything! Hula hooping, hiking, jump rope, yoga etc. It doesn’t have to be something you do every day for hours at a time.
- CONSISTENCY is key!! Perfection doesn’t matter but consistency does if you want to reach your goals.
- Love yourself exactly where you are right this very second. This helps you shift to a positive mindset. Instead of being disappointed with your body and forcing yourself to lose weight, you instead love your body and want to nourish it with foods that will make you feel your best. Make healthy changes because you deserve it not as punishment.
Have you started any products, supplements, vitamins, routines or swaps that have assisted on your journey?
I do not personally take any supplements, however there is one routine change that has made such a difference in my transformation. I plan out my week! That means on the weekend I plan out what I will be making for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This practice helps when I grocery shop as it prevents me from purchasing impulse items since I have a list all written out. Preplanning my menu helps during a hectic week too, because I know exactly what I have on hand to make each night. This keeps me from stopping at a fast food restaurant on the way home or eating unhealthy because I am tired and have no food in my fridge.
I also plan my workouts. I put them in my calendar and prioritize them as I would any other meeting. If its on my calendar I have no excuse but to get it done. It sounds simple but just a little planning each week makes a word of difference helping you achieve your goals.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
What I am doing today is exactly what I will continue doing. It has become a lifestyle. I lead by example for my 2 young girls and fruits and vegetables are normal in our house. We have a beautiful garden and try our best to eat and use products (lotions, soaps, cleaning products etc) that are as close to the source as possible with very few ingredients.
Through your transformation journey, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Mistakes are AMAZING!! Yes, you read that right. Do not be upset with yourself if you stumble or make a “mistake”. Instead use that mistake as a learning tool of what does or doesn’t work for you. Remember we are all unique and our journeys will all look different. Also remember, it is a journey so you will evolve and learn more as you go.
What platform/tools/apps do you use for your transformation?
Kayla Itsines Sweat App is my favorite! You can get in a quick workout anywhere you go.
My other favorite tip is to TOSS THE SCALE. I know that sounds crazy, but our self worth isn’t measured by a number. We all work so hard and are incredible people so why do we let a tiny number on the scale dictate our moods for the day? That number doesn’t mean anything! It doesn’t reflect your efforts, the changes you have made in the kitchen, the type of person you are, etc. Instead take progress photos every few weeks/months. I took mine every 3 months and to be honest, I never would have believed the results if I didn’t take that before photo.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
My favorite gift to give clients is the book Food Rules by Michael Pollan. Its pocket size, easy to read, and has simple healthy tips.
Advice for others who want to get started or are just starting out on their transformation journey?
If you are just starting your program, keep going! You deserve to do this for yourself. I am here cheering you on.
Where can we go to learn more?
I am here to help too! If I can support you in any way, please reach out. It can be a simple question (just email or DM me) or if you need extra support and motivation check out my health coaching programs. They are all tailored specifically to where you are right now, in your life.
Related: 50 Non-Food Rewards For Weight Loss