The Red Bikini:
It all started with a red bikini. I found it during the summer of 2010. I had recently completed my freshman year of college and had inflated to 210 lbs. I bought it believing that I would wear it someday. It took me another year and an additional 15 lbs. of weight gain before I changed things around, but I eventually followed through on that belief. Throughout my fitness journey I have used it to remind myself of the person I want to be.
The Red Bikini Project is my constant striving towards being the best version of myself through health and fitness. The Red Bikini is a symbol of what I aspire towards. It represents confidence, strength and not being afraid to stand out.
The Weight Gain:
I started to struggle with my weight in high school, although I was never more than 10-15 lbs. overweight. My weight escalated much more rapidly during my first two years of college. I used food as a way to handle stress. It would make the stress go away quickly and the effects would last long enough to get whatever it was off my mind. I kept burying every negative feeling I had with food rather than actually dealing with it. While I exercised a moderate amount, it didn’t make up for taking full advantage of an all-you-can-eat dining hall, late night study snacks and weekend festivities.
The Weight Loss:
I was able to get an on-campus apartment for my junior year, making me feel like I had much more freedom and control. I had avoided weighing myself for months, but I finally decided to rip the Band-Aid off and face the facts shortly before classes started. Once I saw my weight I could not hide from it anymore. Weighing myself was an expression of accepting the situation for what it was and committing to changing it for the better. An extra push was that I majored in health sciences. I didn’t want to make a career out of health and not make healthy choices in my own life.
I exercised about 5 times a week incorporating both strength and cardio. Taking fitness classes helped with regularity since I never made excuses and skipped workouts those days. This prevented me from getting into those ruts where you skip a few workouts and suddenly you haven’t been to the gym in a month. Running was one of the few physical activities that I used to dislike, but now running outside in nice weather is one of my favorite activities.
Calories were not my focus, but keeping track of them was helpful at first to hold myself accountable and get a better understanding of what an appropriate portion was. While losing weight I ate about 1700 calories a day, but I would usually go over on the weekends. I eat a balanced diet full of healthy and natural ingredients. I don’t believe in choosing between eating for health and eating for pleasure. I love food; eating a repetitive micromanaged diet of food I don’t like is not an option for me. Every time I go grocery shopping I buy something healthy that I haven’t tried before. Healthy cooking has become a creative outlet for me. Whenever I want to eat something unhealthy, I nutritionally upgrade it in a way that still tastes great. I love experimenting with different ingredients and creating healthy concoctions.
I never let weight loss take over my life; I made sure that I still had fun. I ate small amounts of dark chocolate on a daily basis. I allowed myself to occasionally have some junk food or moderate amounts of alcohol. I did not allow weight loss to feel like a punishment. While I had a goal weight, I approached it as a lifestyle change. This approach kept things in perspective when I made mistakes or inevitably didn’t always get the results I expected. Having a positive mindset is extremely important. When you change your behaviors out of love rather than shame, it is much easier to continue making healthy changes and feel good about yourself in the process.
My current focus is to maintain my weight, continue to improve my overall fitness and stay balanced.