I have never been skinny. I have always had hips. My mother used to tell me when I was a teenager that I would be grateful for those hips when it came time to have babies. I was grateful for them, indeed. I have always had giant ass calves—you know the kind where you can’t wear all those cute tall boots?

But, I was never what I would call overweight (well, except I was a chunky kid). I was always within normal range for my height—sometimes even slightly under. I weighed the least ever—like since before I was 13—when my third child was about 9 months old. I was still nursing, super active and restricted my calorie intake (in a not healthy way). I wrote down every single thing I put in my mouth, counted calories incessantly and weighed myself every day. And I know now that this had a lot to do with my obsessive-compulsive disorder: this (my weight) was my current obsession. Extreme for sure.

But then, I relaxed a bit and became a little more balanced in my approach. I played a lot of tennis—like five days a week—and worked out with a trainer two days a week. I weighed more than before, but I was fit. And I let some of the calorie-counting and constant weighing go.

And then…I opted to turn my life upside down to fulfill a lifelong dream and opened my little restaurant called Avec Moi. In a nutshell, I worked all the time and all of my extra money to pay for things like trainers and tennis was gone. I gave up working out, gave up tennis and gave up on taking care of myself—physically and emotionally, but this entry is about the physical.

Breakfast would consist of a cookie and coffee at the store. They were amazing cookies, my favorite, and I baked them B-I-G. I would start my day with two or three and usually dip in for some more by afternoon. No time to sit and eat a real meal. Lunch: usually something I ate standing up or some giant piece of cake. The irony here, folks, is that the whole point of Avec Moi was to serve healthy food to go. Yet here I was making incredibly unhealthy food choices. And I love healthy food. It’s not like I would have to learn to like Brussels sprouts, I already liked them—just was almost never choosing to eat them.

I started to gain weight; a lot of weight. It just didn’t feel like me, but I didn’t have time or the energy to do anything about it. I guess I did try a few times—joined Weight Watchers, had a “Biggest Loser” contest with some friends, started swimming or running early mornings, but none of that lasted.

And then, I got depressed. Depressed about how I felt about myself. Depressed about work, stressed about money—all the time. I had no energy. I would come home from work and all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and drink wine. When it was time for bed, I would eat two Tums to hopefully stop any reflux that had started to develop again (I had it during a pregnancy or two).

It all seemed too overwhelming. The hole seemed so deep—the me hole, the Avec Moi hole, the loss of connection with my kids hole. And then, Avec Moi closed.

And I decided I would take back control. Of everything. Control of my life, my health, my relationships, my work. But first, I spent the next three months (through January) eating whatever I wanted—and it was goo—od.

In February, I started working with a trainer again. Twice a week at the Y. I slowly started running a bit here and there or walking—or even a hike in the park with the boys. And then. I started eating better. I started telling myself I wasn’t on a diet; I just didn’t want to eat foods anymore that didn’t make me feel good. I refocused back on clean healthy eating.

And, slowly it’s paying off. I still have a ways to go here, but in the past nine months, I have lost 20 pounds and 19 inches. This has resulted in a 3.3% reduction in my body fat percentage and me seeing signs of my old self again. Included in those 19 inches I have taken off are six inches from my thighs—each thigh! SIX inches. And, 5.5 inches from my “birthing hips.”

I started tennis again and forgot how much I loved to play tennis—and play hard. I run and have cut over two minutes off my mile time. I still work out with my trainer and she is amazing. It’s getting better. And I continue to work hard. Lifestyle changes, my friends, lifestyle.

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