Even from 700 miles away, I can see my oldest daughter shrinking before my very eyes. The evidence is there on the workout pics she posts on Facebook.
She gets a lot of exercise on her new job as a mental health tech at a facility for troubled kids, but there’s more to it than that. She’s really embracing this opportunity to get in shape and has changed her diet as well. The other day she called to say how things she used to enjoy – a Reese cup, or boxed mac n’ cheese, or Mountain Dew – just don’t taste good anymore.
Rowan doesn’t have a scale at her apartment in suburban Charleston, S.C., but she reports that the last time she had a chance to weigh herself she was down nearly 40 pounds. Naturally, everybody in the family is wondering how she’s doing it. Here’s what she had to say:
Mom: So you said you’re eating chicken, turkey, cheese, spinach and fruit? What made you decide to go with those foods? Did you set out to go on a diet where this was what you ate, or did it evolve into this?
Rowan: While I didn’t decide on any explicit diet plan per se, I decided to go with those foods because they’re things I can generally eat for a long period of time without getting tired of them, and I am aiming to cut out highly processed foods. However, when my current supply of cheese runs out I am not buying more — I’m cutting that out.
M: What about eggs?
R: I haven’t been eating many eggs just because I haven’t been to the store recently but in general yes they are part of my diet.
M: So what would your meals/snacks look like on a typical day? And when would you typically eat them? And how do you keep from getting bored with such a limited selection?
R: I generally eat one meal in the morning when I’m home from work (she works third shift), one meal around 2-3p, and two snacks throughout my shift at work. My meals consist of some combination of protein + plant, and as far as my snacks go, it just depends on what I can easily grab and take to work. I have been using a wide variety of seasonings to keep from getting bored — and worst case, I’m pretty content with anything smothered in hot sauce.
M: What about alcohol?
R: I very, very rarely drink these days. I’ve had maybe two drinks since I’ve moved here.
M: Good for you – assuming you’re not just telling your mother what she’d like to hear! But I believe you, especially because you couldn’t be dropping all that weight if you were drinking much. Now, what about exercise – how much of that is working out and how much is all the steps you’re getting on your job?
R: I would say it’s probably 70-30. I have never gotten less than 10,000 steps at work, and often it’s more like 17,000. On top of that, I get exercise from restraining people, pulling them off each other, etc. However, I still try to work in at least an hour of exercise in addition to that.
M: Do you typically exercise after work? How do you get yourself to do that day after day – aren’t you exhausted after your shift?
R: It just depends on how the shift went. If the patients were acting up a lot and I’m extremely tired and stressed I go to bed right away, then work out later when I’m refreshed. If the shift wasn’t too crazy and I still have some energy, I get it out of the way in the morning.
M: What about walking Loki? (Loki is Rowan’s dog, a young husky).
R: Yes, I do get exercise from walking Loki every day. We also make a point of visiting our new downstairs neighbors — they have a little girl who loves petting the “snow dog”.
M: Which came first, the diet or the exercise?
R: The exercise came first, but my diet was initially not very good and I wasn’t fueling my body enough. So I picked natural, unprocessed foods that would give me the nutrients I needed.
M: So what about this new women-only gym you said you joined? Sounds interesting!
R: It’s called Ladies Choice. There’s several in the area but I don’t know if there are any outside of South Carolina. The equipment is a little outdated, but the staff is great and the services they offer are pretty cool: Sauna, dry heat sauna, aromatherapy room, personal training, fitness assessments, and a bunch of different classes. I worked out today (Friday) and enjoyed it for the most part.
M: Some people might look at what you’ve done and say, “Yes but that’s unique to her situation — she has a job where she gets a lot of steps,” or “She’s single and doesn’t have to cook for others, so she can just buy what she wants to eat,” or whatever. So what would you say that people reading about your experience should take away as the lessons they could incorporate, regardless of their situation?
R: People could definitely say that I have a situation that easily facilitates weight loss, but it’s not really that simple. I could go home and sit on the couch all day after work. I could go to McDonald’s instead of taking time to make meals. No matter what your circumstances are, it’s up to you to make healthy choices. If you really want it — I mean, REALLY want it — you will make it work, regardless of what it takes.
M: Well, it’s really awesome what you’re doing and we’re really proud of you. Anything else you want to add?
R: Can you please post a link or mention of my Instagram because I post a lot of progress/motivational/fitness stuff there? My username is rowankiller.