I sit down today so excited I could practically burst. To blog about food and health, sharing my experiences and learning from others, has been a dream for several years now and I’m grateful to be making it a reality. Here I’d like to introduce myself and tell the short version of my story, but I should probably warn you of what my parents always said: “Felicia doesn’t know a short story.” Don’t say I never told you.
There is just over three years’ time between the two photos above. I lost about 100 pounds in eighteen months, and the last 60 pounds came off more slowly. I have just recently seen some of the smaller changes that I had only dreamed of for a long time,and that’s exciting.
To all my friends, family, Facebook and Instagram crew who ever said, “You should start a blog,” this is for you. To those of you who I don’t yet know, but are perhaps desperate for a manageable healthy life, or maybe just looking for what to make for dinner tonight, this is for you too with my whole heart. Unhealthy bodies and the damaging cycles that come along with them are clearly an epidemic in our age, and instead of railing against that or critiquing everyone’s every move, I’d simply like to be part of the solution and offer what I have learned so far and am still learning.
I am Felicia, I am 34 years old, and I am homeschool mom and fitness instructor living in Dayton, Ohio with my amazing husband of fourteen years, Stephen, and our son Isaac who is thirteen. I am not a doctor, nutritionist, trainer, certified anything or even that good at doing my own hair, so keep in mind that what I offer is for informational purposes only. Check with your doctor if you think you need to before eating cheesy mashed cauliflower, blah blah blah.
As a child, I struggled mildly with my weight. My family jokes about the “fat gene” but it is no joke. So if you are from a family where everyone is overweight or say that attaining a healthy weight is hard(or you believe impossible) for you because of a slow metabolism, I’m your girl. My lineage gains five pounds simply contemplating a donut. I hope to show you that health is not impossible for anybody. I am not an expert, but in future posts I will both point you to excellent resources and share what I’ve learned about healing the metabolism, as well as raising our children to have healthy metabolisms.
As I entered my teen years, I was very active but still slightly chubby and had to work hard at diet and exercise to stay trim. I remember vividly ruthless kids at school mocking me for my barely-there chubs. I struggled off and on with body image and confidence. Later in high school, after injuries had ended my varsity sports career, I joined a gym and fell in love with group fitness spinning and kickboxing as well as weight lifting. I found my stride in fitness and went off to college in good shape. I was following principles I had learned with my mom in Weight Watchers and reading Cooking Light Magazine, and while I am thankful for what I learned(like eat your veggies), today I’m extra thankful to have moved beyond that into what is for me a far more sustainable (and delicious) lifestyle.
After getting married and giving birth to my son at the end of a pregnancy fraught with complications, I continued to struggle with recurring kidney stones and kidney infections. In spite of that, when I could I was working on healthy habits, exercising several times a week and had lost most of the baby weight. Then in late 2008 I went to the doctor for a backache and found out I had advanced isthmic spondylolisthesis resulting in stress fractures on both sides of my L5 vertebra. The bone became increasingly unstable and by the time I had surgery in March 2009 I was unable to walk because of pressure on the nerves.
The surgery was quite successful, but I struggled terribly with ongoing pain. I was referred on to pain management doctors who gave me a lot of medications, and for several years I was on high doses of narcotics and barely functional. Of course, when healing from a broken back one of the only fun things to do is eat, and pain meds exacerbate cravings and appetite problems for some including yours truly, so I continued to gain weight. At my highest I was somewhere just north of 275 pounds.
Around that time, we moved to Washington for my husband to do his master’s degree. He was desperate for any info that might help me and we had some friends eating paleo or similar diets with good success. When my husband first approached me and said I should look into it, I Googled paleo and told him he must be smoking something. Eat plenty of fat??? We’ll all die of heart attacks!! It was enough to make any 90’s-trained low-fat dieter clutch her sugar-free yogurt and 100-calorie snack packs for dear life.
Then I read some articles about insulin and leptin resistance, and it sounded a little like the guy had been to my house and written about me. I was even waking up in the middle of the night and making pasta because my growling stomach would rouse my from a dead sleep, and nothing but carby carbs with carb sauce would do. My broken body knew what she wanted, and the scale kept climbing. So finally I thought this might be worth a try- I mean, at least there’s yummy fat to eat, right?
I would like to stop right here and say I will probably offend purists in every camp and I’m okay with that because I am just sharing what has worked for me. We started out with paleo resources and I ended up with the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle as my forever nutritional home, so that is my main focus here.
What I hope will resonate is this: I am a regular dude with a regular budget, and with the tools available to me I lost more than 29 pounds in my first month of changing my diet. It is totally possible. So if you were going to email me about how you can’t afford to be healthy, save it. If you live in my area I will take you to the store for meat and veggies instead of frozen pizzas, just see if I don’t.
Over the last couple of years I had a few more health challenges including jaw surgery that basically rearranges your face Picasso-style(my chin is now on my forehead) and experienced some regain, but now I have been on a steady upward trend with health and weight for about 18 months.
At the time of an update in March 2021, I have lost 160 pounds, gone off all pain medications, and am generally the fittest I have been since I was 19. Except I don’t listen to the Backstreet Boys(much) anymore so I like to think I’ve grown. I am now dealing with autoimmune disease(probable mold toxicity, secondary lupus as well as confirmed endometriosis and Raynaud’s disease), and I am more hopeful than ever that a healthy lifestyle will be an important tool in healing. I tried the elimination phase of AIP so you will see recipes friendly to that, but if you’re not eliminating just don’t sweat it and enjoy the yummy food. As of another edit, I am thankful done with AIP and back to THM my way!
I have once again found a love for exercise and moving my body, falling particularly in love with Zumba and hip hop dance as well as lifting heavy stuff. My current squat max is over 200 pounds and trust me, I never thought I’d be that strong! My dream of teaching group fitness has become a reality and I have been teaching Zumba and other group classes for more than a year and a half now. The joy and community I’ve found in my classes is priceless.
I know what it is to struggle deeply with your weight and health, feeling bad all the time, not being able to stand pictures of yourself or trying to play with your kids at the park. I am so incredibly grateful to have found a system that works for me, and since I decide what works for me, that means my system includes a slice of GF pie on Thanksgiving or a heavier dessert every other Tuesday. Yours probably should too. I look forward to sharing ideas and getting to know folks with lots of great ideas and stories to tell too! Say hi and introduce yourself 🙂 Let’s be friends and encourage one another. Or you can criticize my music choices too, I don’t mind a lively discussion. Hope you’ll stick around and keep reading as I start rolling out the recipes.