Taking Back My Life

Coach Caitlin Reed has lost over 80 pounds in the last three years by making lifestyle changes with the help of Beachbody coaches and products.

Left, March 2012. Right, June 26, 2015.

Growing up, I was fat shamed. I routinely heard such sayings as “Okay, it’s YOUR body” (when I asked for a sugary snack), “How will you get a boyfriend when you eat like a pig?” “I’m going to put a voice recorder in your pocket on your first date to see if you burp; that’s disgusting,” and other such exciting phrases. We were made to eat our vegetables. Once, we were denied a promised trip to the movies because we ate popsicles before we finished bringing the groceries in. Food was a punishment and a reward when I was a child. It was used to control and to keep me in my place. My relationship with food was very much equated with my potential for relationships with men and how men would see me.

I was not bullied in school for my weight but I had very low self-esteem. I had learned that fat people don’t deserve love.

Fast forward to age 18 when I met my first real boyfriend. First kiss, first love, first everything. Including first husband. Despite my mother trying to tell me that there were some red flags I should pay attention to, I was hell bent on marrying the guy because I thought it was all a big mistake, a fluke, because I was fat and there was no way that someone would actually want to be with me. So we got married on June 26, 2009.

Three months later, I realized I had made a mistake. He’s not a bad person, we were just a bad match and I was nowhere near ready to be married. I didn’t know how to communicate because I had never seen a model of a healthy relationship to follow (no offense meant to my parents, but I never saw them fight… just suddenly they divorced). After 2.5 years of marriage I moved out in January 2012, armed with some newly grown self-confidence and the knowledge that I didn’t have to settle for a life that made me so unhappy.

In December 2011, I weighed 300 pounds, my highest weight in recorded history. What a reality check – I had lost all control. I needed to take it back.

Once I moved out and we got divorced, I began the work of “Finding Myself.” This included a new job, a new apartment, discovering Dave Ramsey and paying off my car, and paying all my own bills like a grown ass adult. Minimalism ensued because one of the easiest ways to make a radical change in your life is to get rid of everything you own.

Then a woman messaged me on Facebook and we began a friendship. She saw me post a question about vegan diets in a health group. And she was a Beachbody coach.

That patient, patient woman talked with me on and off for eight months before I decided to sign up and try this workout and Shakeology stuff she was telling me about. I signed up as a coach because I can’t resist a good discount. And it was great! I loved it.

For some reason, on Thanksgiving day 2013, I quit working out. Shortly thereafter I canceled my account to save money.

Patiently again, my coach kept supporting me, finally letting me know about a new program called PiYo. I wondered, “What if I actually stuck with it this time?” and I signed up as a coach again.

Guess what day the box arrived in the mail? It was June 26, 2014. An ordinary day of the year to anyone else, but to me it was a reminder of a life shed and left behind. It would have been my fifth wedding anniversary.

I tore that box open, popped in the DVD, and TOOK IT BACK.

That date is now mine. It is my anniversary to myself. It is a reminder that I am enough, I am beautiful, I am confident, and I am capable of doing anything I can dream. It is a reminder that “what if” is an amazing thing. June 26 represents everything good in the world to me, because it’s the day I took my life back for good.

The key, for me, has been practicing self-love and working on myself emotionally as well as physically. How can I expect to treat my body right if deep down I believe it’s not good enough for me, that it’s ugly or useless or horrible? You cannot make lasting changes due to hating your body; you make lasting changes when you love your body. Learning to love myself (body, mind, and spirit) has been huge for me.

It has been a year since I took it all back and I am happy to report that I did not give up in the middle of my workout. I completed PiYo. I completed 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme. I completed Combat and Pump. I am halfway through a 20 week TurboFire schedule.

I can honestly tell you that I love exercise and crave it like a drug. I can honestly tell you that my coach and my supporters in our accountability groups have changed my life. I can honestly tell you that Shakeology is worth every penny to me because of the way it makes me feel and the way it fuels my body.

Beachbody is how I took control of my life. Now I’m actively coaching and helping others take control of theirs.

Happy anniversary, Caitlin. I love you unconditionally. Finally.

THE STATS:
All time top weight: 300 lbs, December 2011
No measurements available from this time. I wish!!

6/26/14
Weight 256
Bust 48”
Chest 40.5”
Waist 44”
Hips 53”
Thighs 31” each
Calves 17” each
Right bicep 16”
Left bicep 15”
Neck 14.5”

6/26/15
Weight 213.4 (lost 42.6 lbs in a year, 86.6 since December 2011)
Bust 43” (lost 5”)
Chest 35” (lost 5.5”)
Waist 37” (lost 7”)
Hips 47” (lost 6”)
Thighs 26.5” each (lost 4.5” each)
Calves 15” right, 15.5” left (lost 3.5” total)
Right bicep 13.5” (lost 2.5”)
Left bicep 13” (lost 2”)
Neck 13.5” (lost 1”)

My advice to people who want to make a huge change in their life?
1. Never give up.
2. Love yourself.
3. Never give up on loving yourself.

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Today is Day One

BAM quote 1

If you could not fail

What would you do if you had the time, money, and energy to do it? If you knew you could not fail?

  • Learn a new skill?
  • Spend more time with your kids?
  • Take a family vacation?
  • Take a vacation by yourself or with your spouse?
  • Write a book?
  • Lose 50 pounds?
  • Cut your hair really crazy?
  • Plant a garden?
  • Start a business?
  • Find the love of your life?
  • Have a baby (see above)?
  • Follow a dream?

What the hell is stopping you? Probably some of this:

  • Work
  • Debt
  • Finances
  • Lack of support from family & friends
  • Being too busy
  • Being tired or stressed out
  • Not believing in yourself
  • The timing is wrong
  • Not knowing how

I am here to tell you that none of that matters. I have learned new skills, lost 30 pounds, started writing a book, and started a business in the past year, despite having bills to pay, little to no energy some days, working unpredictable long hours at a job, and the little voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough.

Anything that is important to you means you make the time for it in your life. Anything that isn’t a true priority means you will find an excuse to explain why you can’t do it. All those promises of “some day” and “tomorrow” are empty promises (unless you legitimately have a planned out timeline and are taking steps to achieve those goals).

Waiting for Monday

So many people start working on new goals on a Monday. Or the first of the month. Or the first of the year.

So you’re telling me that you can only start improving your life a minimum of once and a maximum of 52 times per year? No. Not good enough. Stop waiting for Monday. TODAY is day one. I don’t care if it’s a Tuesday, or the 29th of the month, or if it’s January 5th. Start working on your dream TODAY.

My fitness journey

I ordered a fitness program online in June 2014. It arrived on a Thursday. I started that day. On a Thursday! I made Thursday “Day one” of this journey. I went into it knowing that with exercise and nutrition as a daily habit, I would thank myself in three months. I made two goals with the program: finish it, and lose 15 lbs. I did finish the 60 day program and went on to complete 4 more (ranging from 21 to 90 days in length) and am working on my 5th exercise program.

This is what works for me.

Maybe your fitness journey is deciding to get a gym membership, or do free workouts on YouTube, or go jogging, or subscribe to a fitness On Demand program. The important thing to remember is that small steps create big changes over time. If losing 50 pounds is important to you, you need to make it happen. One pound at a time. One workout at a time. One glass of water, serving of vegetables, or “no thanks” to a cookie at a time.

There’s never any time

Another trap on your way to making your dreams happen is the belief that you don’t have time. Here is a secret: The most successful people in the world have the exact same 24 hours that you have. What are you doing differently?

My business journey

I started freelance writing in December 2011 and have written for the same client since then. I had long been considering looking for a full time copywriting position at a marketing company for a while when it occurred to me that I could be my own boss and write for the clients I wanted to write for. With some technical support (and a ton of encouragement) from my boyfriend, I recently launched a business as a freelancer, working exclusively with companies that make the world a better place. Companies and business owners like organic farmers, local restaurant owners, organizations that support women and children, birth and maternity care professionals like midwives, doulas, and lactation consultants, and people who create all-natural products for homes and bodies.

It made sense. I am extremely passionate about these types of organizations and small businesses, and I am extremely passionate about content marketing and writing. It was clear what I had to do. But how on Earth could I start my own business while working full time (with a 1.5 hour round trip commute each day) and balancing another part time job on the side, all while trying to actually spend time with my friends and family? Building a business while working full time is HARD.

I had to find the time. You have to find the time. If this is your stumbling block and you don’t have the time for your dream, keep a journal for one week and track your time. Here are some places you might find it again:

  • In the morning before people get up (yes, you will need to get up early, it will be worth it)
  • At night after people go to sleep (go kiss your family goodnight and then get to work)
  • On your lunch break at your full time job (if you eat in 15 minutes, that’s 45 minutes for your dream)
  • On your commute (dictate notes or listen to professional development books or podcasts)
  • On the weekends (the harder you hustle now, the sooner you will have the weekends back)
  • When everyone else is watching television (I know, Arrow is really captivating, but this is your LIFE)
  • Whenever you find yourself on Facebook or Twitter (put down the phone, go work)
  • When you would normally be attending a club, social hour, or other event that is not as important as your goal (stay in touch with friends but be firm in your priorities)

Following your dreams is not about finding time. You only have 24 hours. You know where they are. You have to decide what you put into them. Remember that sleeping is important though.

I can’t afford that

Money trouble preventing you from achieving your dreams? Get your finances under control. If you have debts, pay them off. If you think you need a business loan, reconsider and learn to do it without debt. If you can’t afford a nice vacation, find your money in the same way you found your time: pay attention to where it goes.

Go to your online banking information and pull the last month of records. Make a list of all your spending – what did you spend on groceries? Entertainment? Household purchases? Transportation? Impulse buys? Toys? Gadgets? Snacks? Bills? Debt payments?

Today is the day you get a grip on your finances and set some realistic goals. How much debt do you have? Make a plan to pay it off – aggressively. Good things come to those who hustle! You are not going to become a millionaire or afford that Cancun trip by making minimum payments. And for the love of all that is holy, stop digging the hole. Cut up your cards and make a commitment to never take on more debt. Make a written budget for your household each month and stick to it! YOU are the boss of your money, not the other way around.

Manifesting what you desire

This is where it gets a little crazy, kids. You can get whatever you desire, want, or need from the universe simply through believing it can be done. Sounds insane, right?

My sister had a couple of friends she had loaned some money to, and they never paid her back. The total was about $300. She wasn’t angry about it but she did express that she wished she had that money to save up for her moving expenses. Over the next two nights at her serving job, she made crazy tips and was within a few dollars of the amount of the loan. She put that “$300” energy into the world and let it go, and it came back to her.

My friend and mentor Shari, who quit her full time job with barely a safety net so that she could achieve her dream of opening a wine store, has been flying through her project by the seat of her pants, never knowing where the next piece of the puzzle was going to fit in but somehow managing to get it all taken care of. She asked the universe for a $5000 investment and between her partner’s contribution and a very low interest personal loan from a friend she had that $5000 to complete the project within a week. (I know, debt bad, but this is how it worked out for her). She also got her permits put through their channels with pretty unprecedented turnaround times.

I had a big mental road block to getting down to business in my new freelance career and I put my finger on it. There was no space for me to work in the house. I was working on my couch, usually with the tv on in the background. I couldn’t focus. I needed a desk. I knew I could find an awesome desk for under fifty bucks on Craigslist, so I just scrolled the postings each day and kept an eye out. Suddenly I saw it. A beautiful hand-painted PURPLE desk. PURPLE!!! It was perfect for me. It was listed at $40 but they came down to $30 to get it out of their apartment before they moved. It’s all set up in our home office now and I have been putting crazy time into the business since then, waking up early to work and also working after dinner instead of watching tv all night.

The formula for manifesting is simple and hard at the same time:

decide what you want + tell the universe – worry

Yes, you have to let it go and quit worrying about it. The universe hates being pestered. You must take action (such as checking Craigslist for the desk I wanted), but to continually say every day “I WISH I COULD FIND A DESK” would be counter-productive. I would be too focused on not having the desk that I wouldn’t be able to manifest it into my life.

Alright, enough woo-woo for today. Let me know in the comments if this topic would interest you to learn more about, I would be happy to share more!

It’s not the right time

You could be hit by a bus tomorrow. Go for it!

Seriously though, I can relate to this one especially when it comes to having a baby. It seems a small miracle to be under 30 and not have started a family, but I have a lot I want to get done first. It really isn’t the right time. When I say this to my grandbaby-crazy father, he tells me there is never a right time to have a baby.

That may be true, but there can be a less not-right time and a more not-right time… right?

It’s not the right time for us because I want to have the option to stay home with the baby which I cannot do without either my business replacing my full-time income or my partner getting a pretty awesome paying job. Also, we have too much debt right now (in my opinion). Hence the $50,000 payoff plan for 2015. If we can pay all of that off, we will be down to my big student loan and our baseline operating expenses would be well able to take the hit of mama staying home with the baby, which is a huge priority for me.

I know it’s not the right time for us right now because we are prioritizing the future payoff over the desire to have a baby sooner.

But you, right there, yeah. You. Quit makin’ excuses. I wanna see you hustle. Make today DAY ONE.

Pick a topic

I talked about a lot of topics this week, and I want to go deeper and tell you guys more. Which of these things would you like to hear about next week? Let me know and let’s talk about it.