My Health and Wellness Journey: Part Two

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Hi friends!!! 
Happy Wednesday!!

How is your week going so far??

So...last week, I shared about the first part of my health and wellness journey. You can read about it HERE.

Here we go with Part Two of my journey!!

I moved to Austin, TX in August 2006, after living with my parents for 2 months, after I had moved out of my apartment and finished my job in Chicago in June 2006.

The couple months I lived with my parents was SO great. We had a ton of fun and we actually had a little "Biggest Loser" challenge between the three of us. I slowly started losing a little weight, just by being more conscious of my food choices, NOT over-eating and keeping up with exercising. I would power walk with my mom daily and also go running with my dad during his lunch break (he worked from home).

So when I moved to Austin, I was already in a much healthier place than I was just a few months prior. As I settled into my new life and job, I continued to lose weight- again- not by doing anything HARDCORE- I was just happier!! I was getting out, biking and running, meeting new friends, enjoying my new job and just really loving life!

And then on September 11, 2006- I got a phone call from a guy named Aaron, whom I had "met" on and my life was forever changed :) Aaron and I went on our first date on September 14 and the rest is history!! 

Meeting Aaron and falling in love with him was a PIVOTAL part of my health and wellness journey.  Prior to meeting Aaron, I had only really dated 2 other guys and those relationships were definitely nothing to write home about. You know what I mean??! I could do a separate blog series on that topic. HA!
Anyway...Aaron was different. And his love and commitment to me was life changing. 
Now please, don't misconstrue my words and think that I needed a man to affirm my worth. Because that's not at all how it was. I KNOW God put Aaron in my life as tangible evidence of His love for me. Aaron's love gave me the confidence to truly figure out who I was...and he loved me no matter what. just to summarize...I moved from Chicago to Austin in the summer of 2006, with a short stay with my parents. I was at my heaviest weight when I left Chicago. I very gradually started to lose weight AND became so much mentally happier over the course of the summer and by the time I met Aaron in September of 2006, I had lost about 30 pounds, just by eating less, moving more and becoming so much more aware of my distorted relationship with food. Things were so much better for me...but I was definitely still a MAJOR work-in-progress!!

Aaron and I just had SO much darn fun while we were dating. It was a whirlwind relationship and we were engaged 8 months after we met. While we were dating, I felt SO happy and content. BUT- I definitely was focused on continuing to lose weight, learning more about how I could manage my control or more like LACK of control when it came to having episodes of over-eating and in general, just becoming the healthiest version of myself! 
I had been trapped in a body that didn't feel like mine for so long due to poor choices/habits as well as not being totally honest with myself about my "dysfunctional (for lack of a better word- HA!) relationship with food. I was very focused on working towards being the woman I knew I was meant to be. 

Fortunately, Aaron was/is a SUPER active person, so we worked out together every day and for the FIRST time in my entire life, I was able to be completely transparent with someone about my struggles with my weight, my struggles with food and I even told him how much I weighed (GASP!). It might seem melodramatic for me to say this- but the freedom I found in having Aaron as someone I could confide in about this "dark" side of me was truly a God given gift. 
Aaron was amazing and LOVED me for who I was at the weight I was. He loved me when I ate too much and he was honest with me when I needed to be motivated and challenged me when I needed to change certain habits. He has always been exactly what I needed and I will be eternally grateful for his confidence in me and the love and support he showed me in the early stages of us being together. 

Okay...getting back on topic :) A couple months before Aaron and I got engaged, I decided to join Weight Watchers. I knew I had hit a plateau in my weight loss and was definitely still struggling with my relationship with food (I am totally an EMOTIONAL over-eater). I joined in March 2007 (I think?!) and immediately started having success on the program. I LOVED the idea of not having to count calories or restrict any foods from my diet. Weight Watchers just really clicked with me!! By the time we got married in March 2008, I had lost 18 pounds and felt SO good!! 
And then about a month after our wedding, I was feeling funny and wouldn't you know it...I was PREGNANT. HA!
Best wedding present EVER ;)

So...I had a great pregnancy with Charlotte and gained the normal amount of weight. I think maybe 28 pounds? And I used Weight Watchers (informally) to lose the baby weight after I had her. Then I got pregnant with Cora Maye, had another great pregnancy and gained normal weight again. And you guessed it. I used Weight Watchers to lose the pregnancy weight, along with exercise, to lose the baby weight. Then I got pregnant with Celine, SO blessed with another healthy pregnancy and average weight gain. I used Weight Watchers yet again to lose my baby weight, but this time around, I was ready to challenge myself. I had just had 3 back to back pregnancies and I was really wanting to feel IN CHARGE of my body again. I started to really focus on my nutrition and change up my workouts to not only include running, but I also started swimming laps and lifting weights. Aaron was in medical school at the time and the YMCA was our home away from home :) The girls and I would go every day and I would work out for an hour, then get showered and dressed. They would play in the amazing childcare center and I got to do my thing. It was amazing. Especially when Aaron did 4 separate month-long rotations in different cities/states and I was a single mom! 
By the time Celine turned one, I had lost all of the weight I had gained during my pregnancy with her plus another 5-7 pounds. After having 3 babies, I was in the best shape of my life and I tell you what- that felt EMPOWERING. I was mentally, spiritually and physically the strongest I had ever been and I was just so grateful.

Then...I got pregnant with James! I had another healthy pregnancy (SO thankful) and for the 4th time, utilized Weight Watchers to lose my baby weight and got back to the ideal weight I had reached after I had Celine.

A major turning point in my health journey happened when James was about 9 months old and while I had lost all of my pregnancy weight, I still looked "bloated" and was having some major digestive issues. (Sidenote- I had always had GI "issues" but I just chalked it up to that being how my body was wired.) Anyway..while my diet was pretty "clean," I started researching any and all reasons I could be feeling the way I was- and it all came down to cutting out dairy. And wouldn't you know it- the second I cut out all dairy products and products with lactose in them, out of my diet- my symptoms were GONE. The digestive/stomach issues I had been dealing with my whole life were literally OBSOLETE. It was insane. I tried a couple of times to eat a little dairy to see if I really was intolerant and my body made it clear when I did that- dairy was NOT welcome. HA!

I never pursued any formal medical testing to see if I was/am dairy intolerant or allergic to dairy- because to me- it doesn't matter. I know how my body feels when I did eat dairy and I know how it AMAZING it feels when I don't. So- in April 2015- I started following a dairy/lactose free diet and I have NEVER looked back!

Okay...soooo...I was back to my "happy" weight after having James, I started following a dairy-free diet and then.....became pregnant with Marshall in August 2015:)

I was so very fortunate to have a fifth, healthy, uneventful pregnancy!
Things got pretty interesting with Marshall's birth story though. And that's where I will pick up next week with my 3rd and final installment of my healthy and wellness journey- if you are still reading along. HA!

Seriously- thank you for taking the time to listen to me ramble about my past. It's been quite a journey and I am thankful for every part of it- the good, the bad and everything in between :)
Also- PLEASE feel free to email me or comment with any questions you might have!! I am an open book!!!

Hope you have the BEST day and I will see you back here on Friday for some FAVORITES from this past week!

Linking up with my wonderful friend Whitney today!


  1. I am so thankful you are sharing your story with us. You are such an inspiration to me!!
    Feeling amazing in your own body is such an empowering feeling! I’m getting there.

  2. Love your story! I like when you say Aaron gave you the confidence to figure out who you were. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I was so excited to see Part 2 up on your blog today!! I loved reading about your life from moving to Austin to having Marshall. Can't wait for Part 3. I don't seem to have time to open up a real book these days, but give me your life story and I'm happy to read :) Thanks for sharing your ups and downs and what has worked for you. It was so fun to read about you journey to a healthier you and how Aaron cheered you on through all of it. You two make a great team. I'm so glad you found good options for childcare that have allowed you to keep working out while having little kids. I'm still searching for that. We have a Y here, but it's kind of... sad. So my current workout plan is walk/run while pushing a stroller. I was also intrigued about your dairy/lactose issues. I keep telling my husband that he might try to eliminate things from his diet to see if his stomach feels better, but he can't be bothered with high maintenance things like that. Ha!

  4. Oh Justine, I am getting caught up on your blog tonight and LOVED reading this post. I agree with you whole heartedly about the gift that God gave you in a husband, I feel the same about my hubby. This post was so great, thank you so much for sharing!


I love hearing from you! Let's keep it nice though...ain't nobody got time for anything else!