LIFE | Fighting Against Genetics: A Fitness Journey

Sunday, October 18, 2015

If you are someone who has a genetic condition, you know how difficult it can be to control your weight. I see a lot of memes and jokes where people are making fun of those who are a little heavier because of the conditions they cannot control. I am one of those people who has a hard time controlling my weight. And those memes suck.

REALLY??? Come on.

I have posted about this before and have explained my issues with my thyroid. For those who do not want to travel back to an earlier post, I will give a brief explanation of my condition. I have Graves Disease, which is a halloween-ish sounding condition that leaves me with an overactive, overachieving thyroid. It is definitely a show off.

"Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, influencing metabolism, growth and development, and body temperature. During infancy and childhood, adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for brain development." (Thank you

 I was diagnosed a few years back and after an ER trip, I was prescribed with anti-thyroid medication to slow it down. I started to feel like my normal self again soon enough but as my thyroid slowed down, the weight crept up. It continued to do this until I was at my heaviest weight at 136 ( well, aside from pregnancy, but that doesn't count because the baby made me eat everything....) I felt so helpless. And I know that some women who are larger, even more so than me, can find confidence in their bodies, but I never could. I didn't like what I saw in the mirror and it just kept getting worse. 
(Keep in mind I am 4ft 10in, so 136 lbs for me puts me way in the overweight category.)

At my heaviest weight. I even untagged myself from this pic on Facebook.

I thought I was doing everything right, by eating healthy, but it turns out what I thought was right for me was very wrong. So while I thought I was making good life changes, I was still sabotaging myself. 

Here are some mistakes I was making and how I made the changes that have helped me to lose over 11 lbs. I still have quite a bit to go until I am at a comfortable weight/fitness level, but I'll share how I got to this point so that hopefully it can provide some insight to you.

Mistake #1: I assumed that my weight was out of my control.

After a while, I gave up. I let my condition and my mind set decide that I was powerless. While, science will show that genetics plays a pretty significant part in deciding how your body will hold onto weight, it can be SIGNIFICANTLY lowered by healthy eating and fitness habits. 

Mistake #2: I didn't realize caloric intake was dependent on the person.

I saw the information on the back of food packaging that said "Based on a 2000 Daily Calorie Diet" and I thought well, I should maybe have like 1500 calories a day since I'm smaller. Honestly, I just made an "educated" guess - clearly not so educated. After I researched, I found that for my size, weight and fitness level, I only needed to consume 1300 calories to maintain weight and 1200 to gradually lose weight. (And this can change often based on your stats and fitness levels.) So by eating 1500 calories a day, I was overeating by 200 calories a day/1400 a well and that's if I wanted to maintain my weight! 

Mistake #3: I guessed my caloric intake.

Okay, so I was guessing and keeping a running tally of my caloric intake daily. I can remember a lot of things, but I definitely cannot remember a running tally of everything I had eaten for the day. I was setting myself up for failure. So I downloaded the app called MyFitnessPal and started login EVERYTHING that I ate or drink. That was the most truly eye opening discovery. I was drinking too many of my calories and I was snacking too much and I was just making a lot of choices that were not at all helping me. By using this super user friendly app, I was able to scan any barcode and log that item in my food diary. It it also able to log exercises, as well. 

Mistake #4: I wasn't moving enough.

Okay, I wasn't moving at all. I had completely given up and given in to my condition. My thinking was this: "Well, if I'm not losing any weight and I'm eating well, then nothing I do is going to work!" See, thoughts are poisonous. Finally one day, I dusted off the treadmill I have bought for Christmas a couple years back and got my lazy butt on it. THAT was tough. I was so out of shape, but I did it. I DID IT. To help with my running I downloaded two more apps. Nike + Running, which logs activity levels and the C25K Running App, which gradually eases you into running for out of shape people like me. These apps are motivating and keep you from getting discouraged because you can see your progress easily. 

Mistake #5: Weight is not the only thing that matters.

I, like many others, wanted to see the number on the scale go down, WAY down, but the number on the scale is not the only important thing to consider. When getting in shape and getting fit, you are going to see a muscle increase. Muscle weighs more than fat, yet takes up considerably less room, which means the number on the scale may not go down, but you will be slimmer. When this number doesn't move like you like, DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED. This is so important because it is so easy to just give up, but don't. You are making progress, really, you are. 

From the MyFitnessPal App. Slow progress.

I can't go over every tip I have in one post, so as I continue on my fitness journey, I will continue to post tips that have helped me. Clearly I am not a doctor or nutritionist or person trainer or anyone who would have some real scientific information for you, but I am someone who has decided my genes were not enough to keep me down. Yes, I may have to do double the work to see the same weight loss or muscle gain as someone who does not have any health issues, but that doesn't mean I should not try. It is so important to not get into the mindless of being powerless because many of us are not. 

If you have any tips, I would definitely love to hear them! If you have any other apps that have helped you, please share those, as well!


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