There is no 90 day challenge…the challenge is life.

by Andria Nichols

If I had a nickle for every quick weightloss shake, pill, plan, book, or promise I have run across, I would have spent far less money on quick weightloss shakes, pills, plans, or promises. You all know what I’m talking about, I see them daily in my Facebook news feed. The horrid before pics of “Sally,” wearing her stretchy cotton shorts, her ill fitting t-shirt, and standard long, frizzy, disheveled hair. Flash forward 2 months into Sally’s new shake, diet pill, awesome book recommended by Dr. Oz, and she is suddenly 50lbs slimmer, has gotten a grasp on fashion, and obviously a trip to the salon. How can we not be sold on Sally’s amazing transformation? How can we not be sold that purchasing this same magical product will give us the exact same results? I mean, as people, we are into instant gratification: Drop weight quickly with as little work and diet change as possible. Will these shakes, pill, and plans work? Possibly–but the minute we go back to our standard shake-less, pill-less, book-less lives, well, we quickly go back to our “before” pics…bad hair and all.

I have fallen for these amazing weight loss adventures many, MANY times over the last 14 years. I have fasted, juiced, pill popped, and choked down many protein shakes. I revel in the 2-3 months of weightloss success until reality slaps me in the face (or bank account) and I am stopped mid weight loss. I have low carbed myself straight to South Beach, rocked my 90 day Body by Vi challenge, slurped down green tea by the gallons, and in the end, failed miserably. It wasn’t until I grasped the concept of eating properly and exercising that I finally starting seeing and maintaining my results. Granted, it has taken me more than 90 days to start looking more like an after picture and my hair probably still needs work.

The truth is, there is no “quick fix” to weight loss, at least not a healthy quick fix. Of course we all want to see “Biggest Loser” numbers, but, we don’t have a Jillian Michaels chasing us around some fatty ranch. We are left to our own devices and forced to hold ourselves accountable. This brings me to joining a running group when I started losing steam at the gym. I needed others to push me to that next level and after a quick stop at Rogue Running, a local running shop, I was told I needed to “get off the ‘mill and start hitting the streets.” Twenty minutes and $35 later, I was signed up for my first Intro class. I was totally stoked and petrified on my first day of class-especially since it was combined with tall, svelte, hard-bodied runners in their super cute running gear (they were in the marathon groups). I nervously stood in a corner awaiting instruction: “Run 10 minutes out and 10 minutes back…Welcome!” Easy enough, right? Well, the problem with “the ‘mill” is the lack of curves, hills, and outdoor elements–I was used to doing an easy 30 minutes in climate controlled surroundings at the gym, but hitting that 35 degree outdoor cold and the first hill, I kinda wanted to die.

Every “quick fix” in me wanted to quit…isn’t there a magic pill that will make me faster, leaner, able to wear tight compression shorts and just a sports bra? So after my first month, I decided to sign up for the group again, then I signed up for the Basic Training group a month later. It has now been 4 months and I have gone from chubby newbie to less chubby intermediate runner. I went from “10 minutes out and 10 minutes back” to completing a 10 mile race and winning 2nd place in my age division at a recreational 5K last weekend. I have learned that there is nothing like the pride of pushing yourself through the “I can’t” to the “I just did.” There isn’t a shake, pill, or diet book in the world that will make you feel the same way. Sure, I could slurp down those damn protein shakes and probably lose some inches, but, it’s not going to get me through the half marathon I signed up for in July.

Whenever I feel discouraged I look back at old pictures. I remember my first obstacle race in November of 2012, I remember being one of the bigger girls there, I remember the bruises and tears shed as I got over each different challenge, and I remember wanting to collapse when I crossed the finish line. I did the exact same race again in March–30lbs lighter, a lot more training under my belt, and a hell of a lot more determination. The bruises were far fewer and the beer at the end was far more satisfying.

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I don’t consider my eating habits a “diet,” rather, a life change. As much as I would love to grab a burger, I know that’s my gateway drug back into crappy eating habits and stretchy pants. I love being able to walk into the Gap and NOT reaching towards the back of the rack for my size–I’m more towards the middle now. I know that hard work and determination has gotten me almost 80lbs thinner and under 200lbs for the first time in over 10 years. I know that even on my worst day, I can proudly say I have done this on my own, nothing magic has happened. I can also say, other than the cost of my running group, I haven’t had to pay hundreds of dollars to drink my meals or starve myself with diet pills. Sure, my after picture isn’t quite there, but, it’s a hell of a lot closer than it was 3 months ago.

Those of you on a similar mission, here’s my advice: keep going, you’re going to hit highs and lows, you’re going to plateau, you’re going to get pissed off, you’re going to feel discouraged, and you’re going to want to give up from time to time–don’t. Find your nitch, whether it’s yoga, zumba, running, walking, pilates, or crossfit. Learn how your body works and what it loves, stick with it…give it a month, then give it another month. Keep moving forward because you can’t give up. It’s so tempting to try the next big diet fad, I have to resist constantly (I’m only human). The rewards to this life is endless–from smaller clothes to adventures in healthy culinary experiments. I have gone from a meat loving, carb loading, cupcake eating chubster, to a veggie munching, fruit ingesting, gluten free cupcake eating fluffster. I have given up Monday nights in front of the tv and willingly traded them in to have my butt kicked in a Rogue core class. I have stashed the size 24 jeans to the back of my closet and easily zipped up a pair of size 12 rockstar capris. I started my new life in July 2012 and haven’t looked back, even when it got really really hard.

My goal with this entire blog to is to not only chronicle my voyage, but to share with others that there is hope. You can go from the brink of health despair to health success and you can do it with grace (or look like a cracked out porpoise, which I often resemble). When you cross those mini finish lines in life, they will be far more satisfying than that awful shake, trust me.

Andria trains with coach Jimmie Vaughn at Rogue Running in Cedar Park. Read more about her journey here.

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