My journey with food, like many people, has been exactly that – a journey!
Ever since I can remember I have loved creamy pastas and chocolate bars. I can remember from a very young age asking my mom to make me my favourite “Pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese“. I would eat that dish whenever I could and always requested it when we would go out to eat! As I got older this love of food started to take a toll on my health as I gained weight and lived an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle.
I started dieting when I was 12. Little did I know this would lead me into a diet-binge cycle that never left me feeling good. Like many people I would lose weight through dieting and then quickly gain it all back when the diet ended.
I finally got close to my goal weight in 2011. I was extremely focused on the numbers and being a certain size. As I approached my goal weight, like many people, my mindset changed. I felt thin (which I equated, like so many people do, with being healthy and happy) so I stopped “watching” what I was eating and the weight slowly crept back on as I indulged in all of my cravings I had deprived myself of.
|2011 – at my “goal” weight|
Ohhhhh, France !
Let’s just say there was no hope left for the “diet” as I went to live in France for a year. Ohhhhhh, France! The land of everything delicious – Cheese, cream, butter, wine, charcuterie, and more cheese! During this time I also met my amazing boyfriend and fell head over heals in love! We indulged together in the delicious chocolate and heavy beers of the North of France. By the end of my exchange I had gained almost all of my weight back. Also, I also was not active at all. I remember trying to go for a run once in France with my boyfriend (my only workout in the entire 9 months I think!). I was out of breath after a couple minutes and could not keep up with him – let’s just say I had to walk back as he ran. Being out of shape bothered me but I was hopelessly in love, happy and well, a little bit rounder let’s say !
|Towards the end of my exchange, laughing with my boyfriend!|
|In Vienna with great friends! After months of indulging in French cooking!|
Before and After?
I hesitated to put before and after photos of myself up because I do not like the fact that thinness is often equated with happiness and representing the pinnacle of health whereas fatness is also equated with depression, laziness and everything that is bad.
My journey with food, my weight and health have always revolved around trying to fit into this thin ideal. Every time I dieted I focused all my efforts on eating as little as I could to get the numbers on the scale down and then once I would approach my “goal”, I would start eating all the foods I deprived myself of for months and would quickly gain it all back! This is because dieting is deprivation, dieting is no way to live a healthy and happy life. Hardly eating, living off of cabbage soup and grapefruits is no way to live in my opinion!
|Christmas 2012, celebrating with some close friends!|
|Around Christmas of 2012 in France – before I started making healthy changes!|
The Change of Heart
In January 2013 this all changed for me, I started to make healthy changes in my life that did not include deprivation or dieting. I did not want to live my entire life caught in this diet-binge cycle that was causing a big toll on my health. I will be perfectly candid, I did want to lose weight and I was disappointed with myself that after all my hard work I was back to where I started. But I sought change now not just on the scale but from the inside-out. I wanted to become healthier, have more energy and be more active as well!
This does not mean that I did not change my diet as in my way of eating. I 100% changed my diet. I joined Weight Watchers as a support system and guidance in healthy eating. I liked WW because they focus on making healthy choices that make you feel good. I liked that their program was based off of eating nutritious and filling foods! I LOVED that I could eat as many fruits and veggies that I wanted! I mean, could I really ever “go hungry” if I could eat all the yummy veggies and fruit I like?
This program was the beginning of my changed approach to food. I no longer reached for the pasta over the broccoli. I started experimenting with cooking and baking – two things that have always been a true passion of mine I started to make meals that were tasty, filling and left me feeling great (not bloated and heavy!) I no longer depended on cream and butter when cooking but rather fragrant herbs and other delicious add-ins that bring out the lovely tastes in food!
|At the beginning of summer 2013 – after making healthy changes in my life!|
Bring on the Activity!
In addition to this, I started practicing yoga and meditation. I started becoming more active in my day to day life. It all happened in baby steps. For example, when the weather started to warm up I would quickly walk to class over taking the bus. I ensured that I was active a little bit everyday. In the spring, I started running and have never seen so many changes in myself and my body. I started achieving feats that I never thought were possible (Read more about that here!)
|In Belgium, after completing my first 8k race!|
I now continue to seek foods that are good for my health and give me lots of energy! Living a wholesome, healthy lifestyle took on a total new meaning for me that was nowhere near my past sentiments towards dieting! This past summer I started experimenting with plant-based meals and vegetarian cooking. Since making this change, losing 65 pounds, and growing a heck of a lot stronger, I have never had so much energy and felt so great about how I feel!
According to society, I have reached my “after” but my “after” has led me into a whole new chapter where I seek to continue to make healthy choices and changes in my life that help me to become more attuned with myself and the world around me!
|Summer 2013 in Turkey – feeling healthy and fit!|
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Linda Davis says
I just wanted to post a response to your “My story/journey”page on your food blog. Believe it or not, I’ve never come across a story like yours when looking at recipes on a food blog. I just realized I’m not the only one who feels this struggle with food. I only lost 20 pounds, but, since I’m older, I can tell you the consequences of not enough exercise and unhealthy or overly indulgent eating can be really scary. I was highly motivated to lose weight once my doctor told me I needed 7 medications and my younger brother suddenly died from a rare cancer. I invite you to check out my blog and “my story” to see how familiar it sounds and how I figured out how to make changes to my diet…that didn’t include dieting. I did have a lot of support from my husband, Karl, who works as a Physician Assistant, so that made it easier. Congratulations on having more energy, getting to a healthier weight, and falling in love in Paris! What could be more romantic! My website is: http://www.MySweetCaliforniaLife.com
cool story. thx.
I really liked reading your story, you seem such a strong person. I immediatly feel motivated after seeing those last pictures. When I was about 13 I dealt with anorexia nervosa, it was really hard for me because I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone. Now I’m concentrating on eating healthy and you’re a real inspiration to me! 🙂
<3 Sending love your way, Melanie! Thank you for sharing you story with me! I am so happy that this blog is an inspiration to you! The "Eat Happy, Live Happy" mantra of my blog came to me due to my past struggles with food as well! Wishing you all the best, xo!
Erin @ Miss Scrambled Egg says
Ceara – After being a part of the blogging community, I have realized that my struggle with body image is so much similar to other young women. I was always tall for my age and bigger than other kids despite my mom cooking fairly healthy meals. We love desserts and snacks in my house though. Breaking habits is not an easy task.
When I went to college, one of my dorm mates was sitting at our dinner table. I was eating a salad, and he made a comment trying to be funny saying that I was the biggest one at the table. I was completely embarrassed at that moment and promised myself that I would restrict and excessively workout. By March of 2010, I had lost almost 60 pounds which looked sickly to me. I grew depressed and even though I was skinny, I wasn’t happy.
Since that time, almost 5 years ago, I’ve become stronger and healthier. I still have my demons and negative thoughts occasionally, but have worked hard to find inner peace. Running has become a huge component of my happiness. I don’t judge myself on a number on a scale anymore, but on the way I feel each morning. I’ve cut back on snacks, but still love some sweetness every day.
<3 I can relate SO much to everything you've said, Erin!! Breaking habits and getting into new healthy + happy routines is not ever easy and is something I am constantly working on in my day to day life as well! I have a HUGE sweet tooth as well (if you couldn't already tell by all the super sweet recipes on the blog LOL!). I am glad that you are on the path of finding peace and are becoming stronger and healthier! All the best to you! <3
Debra Myers says
Thank you for sharing your story, many women have gone through the yo-yo dieting their entire lives. It’s true, dieting doesn’t work — the only way to achieve lasting weight loss is by permanent lifestyle changes. It’s important to balance the sensual love of food with feeling vibrant and healthy. You’ve found the key, and I wish you much happiness , health, & success. You are a beautiful, inspiring young woman
I’m on a weight loss/lifestyle change myself right now. I love vegetables and fruit, as well as cream, cheese & chocolate. I’m curious about your diet right now; are you 100% vegan or just incorporating it into your diet. I flirted with the vegan diet a few years ago, but felt weak and rundown after about 4 months. I would love to hear about your experiences and exactly how you are eating now.
Thank you so much for the kind words, Debra. They honestly touched my heart. It was hard for me to post such a personal post about my weight, something I’ve struggled with my entire life, but reading comments like yours makes me happy I decided to do so <3
I can totally relate to you on your weight loss journey and lifestyle change. Mine is an ongoing journey that I take day by day! Some days are easier and some days are harder than others but I still try to fill myself up on as many delicious plant-based foods as possible which seems to leave me feeling my best (and less likely to eat too many cookies later in the evening lol!). I'm no longer on weight watchers but having the group support really did help me while I was losing weight. I'm also like you and attracted to rich foods like chocolate and creamy foods!
To answer your question, when I wrote this, I was eating mainly a vegetarian diet but have since switched (over time) to a mostly vegan diet. I say mostly because, even though I cook and bake exclusively vegan at home, when I am out visiting friends and they take the time to prepare a special vegetarian meal for me I would never turn it down even if it is not 100% vegan. So when I'm home I'm vegan and when I'm out I'm a mostly vegan-vegetarian. At first, I felt as if I was somehow "cheating" on my veganism by sometimes having the odd non-vegan treat but this way of living makes me feel much happier. So I'm about a 97% vegan if that makes sense.
Also, when I first switched to a vegetarian diet I felt amazing and then, like you, did feel run down after a couple months and it turns out it was because I have a tendency toward anemia (that runs in my family among vegetarians and non-vegetarians). My iron was ridiculously low and I was not focusing on eating enough "iron-rich" foods. I think that this is an issue that is not talked about nearly enough (and I think I will probably write about it one of these days) but when switching over to a vegan (or vegetarian) diet it is important to make sure that you are eating enough iron rich foods combined with vitamin C rich foods. I now eat a lot of lentils, kale, beans and other foods super rich in iron! I was wondering if this might have been the reason you felt run down? Once I started incorporating more of these foods into my life I immediately felt much better! Also, under my "motivate" section on the blog you can see more of what I tend to eat on my "What I ate Wednesdays” posts I’ve done in the past where I document everything I eat during the day!
I wish you all the best on your journey and thanks again for leaving me such a heart-warming comment <3
This is so inspiring! Lately I feel like I’ve been active and making pretty dern healthy choices but still gained a pound or two over the last few weeks.. ugh, very frustrating, and don’t know what’s going on! But anyway, I was planning a run today and wasn’t super motivated, but I am now reading this! Way to go, you!
Your story is very similar to mine and I’m at the point now where I really want to make the change as I’ve realized once and for all that dieting/starving yourself isn’t a way to live. It’s making me miserable, I’ve lost my sense of humour and never want to go out etc.
Anyway, I was wondering, weight watchers is a diet (or at least in my opinion) so how did you lose weight on it? Were you counting the points and everything or were you just trying to eat more intuitively? Basically I want to change but like you I also don’t want to balloon!
I’m very happy for you and the great way you have come to make these lifestyle changes. I remember the struggles you always had and they way you felt. You have come so far and are an inspiration to us all!
carol copps says
I am so proud of you and it has been wonderful watching your journey thus far! You are inspirational. By the way, can you return that bracelet you are wearing in the first picture? Keep sharing your journey!
I had no idea of the struggle you faced through the years and of your love affair with food! I must say, this post is fantastic! Well written and quite insightful.
I will definitely be looking up your other posts and trying out some of your recipes!
I’m horrible in the kitchen, but will give it my best shot!
Gary Edwards says
I’m so proud of you Ceara. One area of change you didn’t speak much of was your running. I believe it’s super healthy, and you’re really good at it!! It’s really a form of meditation too!