Happy Monday! This week, we're thrilled to introduce you to one of our Body Back mammas with an incredibly inspiring story. Meet Lara! You can read her story below and be sure to share your words of encouragement in the comments!
**Tell us about yourself**
I am mom to three interesting and BUSY kids, Luke, who is 3.5-years-old, and twins Zoe and Maia who are 8-months-old. I am an attorney who practiced as a prosecutor. However, between kids and my husband's military career, I have been out of the workforce since my son was born (which has been tough on me…I'm not a natural at being a stay-at-home mom.) One of my twin girls, Zoe, was diagnosed a few days after birth with profound hearing loss. My husband and I were shocked and devastated. After a protracted fight with our insurance company, Zoe was implanted with bilateral cochlear implants last month. She is now in the thick of the sound habilitation process. Although I am in love with my little girls, this year has been as filled with as many challenges as it has with joys. I have had to learn very quickly about the world of hearing loss, so that I could be the advocate my baby girl deserves. Additionally, we are preparing for another move this summer. We will be relocating to Miami, Florida.
**What motivated you to make a change?**
Quite simply, my twin girls were my motivation to change. I have had a very up and down experience with nutrition and fitness. I have had periods during which I have religiously followed intense exercise and weight loss programs, and I have seen a great deal of success. What I haven't had a great deal of success with is sustaining the lifestyle. Balance is not something that seems to readily come to me. When I held my little girls I recognized very quickly that I wanted to give them the greatest opportunity for strong, healthy body images. I have spent a lifetime in cycles of hate and shame with my own body, and I know that a great deal of that I inherited from watching my mother struggle with her own body image. When I literally stumbled across Jennifer's advertising for Body Back, I knew that I had to give it a try. I didn't realize at that point how completely transformative this experience would be for me and my whole family.
**What are you doing to get/stay so healthy!?**
To get and stay healthy I am "simply" eating natural, whole, nutrient dense food. In many ways, the nutrition plan has been the great change in my life. I have stopped dieting, stopped calorie counting, stopped feeding myself diet food. Rather, I am focused now on fresh, clean, unadulterated actual foods. As a result, I have completely stopped eating artificial sweeteners, which, given my Diet Coke consumption in the past, is downright miraculous. I have kicked the sugar habit. I am exploring new foods, and I am enjoying food in a way that I never was able in the past. I am also consistently working out six days a week. I am no longer engaging in long, punishing workouts linked to trying to "undo" episodes of overeating. I workout happily, with variety, and in nurturing ways. I look forward to my workouts (even on those very early mornings), because I know that I will be rewarded with energy and strength that will power me through my days.
**It can be SO HARD to find “me” time when you are taking care of your family, how were you able to make these healthy changes and stick to them while still doing all of you other day to day duties?**
It is hard to make "me" time, and I am not sure that I succeed all the time. However, I know now that I need to carve out time to exercise and prepare healthy foods or I am not going to be the kind of mother that I want to be. I want my kids to know that I'm energetic, engaged, and confident. I want to lead by example, and not be weighted down by the burden of my own insecurities. If I am not healthy, my kids and my family will not be healthy. So, I wake up early and workout before everybody is awake. I never enjoy waking up early, but I have never once regretted a workout. Thankfully, I have a number of wonderful friends who are also Body Back moms who will meet up with me at 6AM for a workout. Knowing that my friends are expecting me motivates me to get up and out of bed. I also prep as much food as I can on weekends or "found" moments. I roast a ton of veggies and keep them on hand to throw together some meals. I also keep grilled or baked chicken breast or broiled salmon on hand at all times. My crockpot has also been a lifesaver. I often make some veggie, bean, and chicken chili and freeze a bunch of it. When I'm nursing the twins, I am often on my iPhone researching recipes or new ingredient ideas. I have also joined a number of Facebook groups for clean eating.
**How do you feel now? How has this changed your life?**
I feel amazing. I have so much energy, motivation, and drive. Honestly, until I made these lifestyle changes via Body Back, I did not realize how down, tired, and worn I really felt. As trite as it sounds, these lifestyle changes have given me my power. I am changed. I would NEVER have gotten through my daughter's deafness, the fight with our insurance company, my daughter's multiple surgeries, and the continual rigors of endless appointments without the power that Body Back has given me. I am inspired every single day by the moms who coach and the moms who are coached.
**What advice do you have for other moms who want to get healthy?**
My only advice to other moms is stop dieting, stop the self-shaming. Free yourself from the hate, doubt, and self-punishment and you can and will find your balance. Don't follow diet plans. Eat natural foods from the source. Seek out the assistance of other moms, as they are really the only people who fully appreciate the emotional and logistical demands of a mom's life. Also remember that persistence is much more important than perfection.