It has been a while, but I am finally sitting down to write a new blog post! There have been quite a few changes in the past months regarding my life and my future (career) which I will dedicate another post to soon. But this post is about something else….
You know you always see those before and after ‘transformation’ posts on Instagram and Facebook? Accompanied by #weightlosstransformation or #fitnesstransformation? Well I was going through old pictures on my computer and this led to me adding to @jen_healthfitgirl a post with the title “From Partygirl to Health & Fitgirl” and these two pictures….
The caption read:
FROM PARTYGIRL TO HEALTH & FITGIRL – Swipe to see a picture of me from 3 years ago. It was right before a night out partying in Amsterdam🙈. It is such a huge difference compared to me and my life now in 2020😳.
How I went from a too hard working, highly ambitious, career driven, smoking, binge drinking and unhealthy eating party girl to where I am now is a long story. I may write a blog about it on my website because I also find it very interesting to see the huge changes I made in my life and my health over the past few years. It would be good to remind myself what I have done and most importantly why I made these changes. Because it is so easy to forget how unhealthy and unhappy I actually was….😢
I won’t say I will never party or drink again, that is also me🍾🥂! But I do know that I will never ever let myself get to that point where I was just very unhealthy and miserable. I was always running away from my own issues and insecurities hiding in more working, more drinking and more partying. That is not me anymore. And for that I am proud of myself👊🏻! Would you like to read more about my own health & #fitjourney? Let me know! 😘 Love xoxo Jen
I’ve received a lot of positive response which was so nice to read! There were two types of comments. The first one was people congratulating me on the changes and progress I have made and on my courage to share this. These comments are always so great to read and give me motivation to keep going on with my journey! I sincerely hope my honest post might help maybe even one other person to take a critical look at their own health & fitness lifestyle.
The second one was “You look so good in both pictures!”. Of course, this is always very nice and flattering to hear. And it is also understandable. Although to me the physical changes are huge (-8kg and -12% bodyfat) these pictures do not depict a massive life changing -25/50kg weight loss transformation like you see with most transformation posts.
So I understand this reaction and I really appreciate it! However to me the transformation is actually so big, so important and so characteristic of what I am going through right now and what I am building my future life and career on, that I felt the need to explain this in more detail and tell the bigger story behind this. And to hopefully inspire others as well.
First let me give you a bit of background. I am quite tall (1,74m, to Dutch people I am average but for the rest of the world I am pretty tall) and I have never been officially overweight (significantly). When I was younger, I was always very petite and really really skinny. This changed when I was around 17/18 and all through my University years and thereafter, I was always considered ‘average’.
Most people in my family are overweight and many suffer from type 2 diabetes. Ever since I was little my mother would not stop reminding me about that and about the fact that she has been on a diet from when she was 30. She told me that I was skinny just like her and then in my twenties and after I would get fat, period. Unless I did something about it like her. “It’s in your genes” she would say, and she would start with another diet. This of course in the long run never worked and it always resulted in the yoyo effect.
Always on a diet
Consequently, I have been on a “diet” or at least been very conscious about what I eat and how much I would weigh ever since I was very young. It is very sad to say that I was never really happy with my body and the way I looked. There are periods during which I was quite skinny and therefore happy with myself, but this would never last for very long.
In highschool, I was never a very athletic girl, due to the fact that I was so tiny and skinny and insecure. Starting in my late teens and twenties I did however partake in different sports, like tennis, swimming, skiing and going to the gym fairly regularly. Combined with (crazy) diets this always helped maintain my weight. Over the last 15 years there have been a few instances where I was considered (slightly) overweight, if you would look at the BMI anyway. The heaviest I have been is 77,5kg which results in a BMI of 25,6 and is therefore classified as overweight.
(Your bodyweight is considered healthy with a BMI between 18,5 and 25. However do know that BMI does not take muscle mass and body fat percentage into consideration and therefore does not always provide a correct picture of your actual health. It is better to (also) focus on your body fat percentage and keep this for women under 33%)
But even when at my heaviest I would never “look” very fat to other people. Of course, I am glad about this, however this sometimes gives the wrong impression that I am just lucky with “good genes”. I never felt lucky about my body and my weight. I have been watching my weight and figure ever since I was 12 and this has given me much stress and anxiety.
Chronic stress mode
It is only now that I actually realize how much stress I have always put my body under. The last 15 years I have been slowly killing myself. I would study and work so hard because of my huge ambition and drive. To blow off steam I would party with my friends and colleagues until the early hours of the morning. Going to bed at 8h on a Saturday morning after a 60-hour workweek followed by all night partying was not an exception. Depending on unhealthy food, alcohol, cigarettes and redbull light to keep me going. Looking back now actually makes me so sad. I always wanted to fit in, do more and become more and better and earn more money and more respect. I would always ignore my boundaries and try to keep up with the highly competitive and very toxic corporate life I was immersed in. Yes, I have done amazing things, worked on the biggest accounts, traveled the world for work, drove an audi and made enough money to buy all my “friends” champagne and vodka (grey goose only of course) and do or buy other insignificant things.
Need for change
It took me 15 years, 2 major depressions and a hernia until I finally realized that this life was not making me happy. In fact it was making me very very ill. And I could no longer go through with it. And so I quit. Which was the hardest thing to do ever but I simply could not go on any longer or it would actually kill me.
On the outside I looked okay, sometimes even pretty good. But on the inside, I was not okay. I was always numbing the pain with more work, more alcohol, less eating, more working out, more spending etcetera. Until my body literally could not take it any longer and I got my hernia, now 4,5 years ago. This took me a very long time to overcome. I was not able to work at all for 6 months and it took me 1,5 years to reintegrate back to a normal work week. I thought this was just something physical. I thought it was nothing like my depression in 2009 because I was still “happy” or so I thought. And so, I ignored the signs, and kept on going and kept on working and partying.
In the meantime, I had already changed my diet to a 98% plantbased diet. Why not 100%? Because white wine (most of the times) is not vegan and I could not possible live without white wine, right? This vegan diet already gave me a lot more energy and helped me keep my weight under control. Combined with going to the gym on a regular basis and people always thought that I looked very good and fit and healthy.
Except for the fact that I wasn’t healthy. Not at all. I used to go out to dinners, bars or parties as often as possible. I was always the first one there and the last one to go home. Followed by 2 days of being so sick and exhausted that I could not do anything at all.
My mindfulness coach at the time said: “Of course you get sick. You lead a super healthy and fit life most of the time and then in the weekend you will literally consume so much poison that your body just does not know what to do with it, resulting in you getting sick”.
Listen to your body
The thing about your body is that it always tells you how you actually feel and if you are okay. And if you will ignore the warning signs long enough it will eventually give up on you and break down. In my case that was my second depression which started in late 2018 but I did not realize until the summer of 2019.
It was enough, my body had enough, and it just would not go on any longer. And that is when – under protest mind you! – I started to make changes and slowly get to where I am now; a non-smoking, non-drinking, non-partying, 6 workouts a week, super healthy wholefoods plantbased diet eating, 8/10 hours a night sleeping health & fit girl. That still likes to relax, binge watch netflix and eats chocolate every day, don’t get me wrong!
Better version of me
To me the girl in the first picture is nothing like the girl I am now. And in other ways it still is me. Because I am still a very outgoing, extravert and social person who loves to laugh and have fun with my best friends and dance until the sun comes up. Preferable on a white sandy beach on a tropical island or – if that is not possible – on top of the bar. And that will always also be me. But in a better, healthier, less destructive kind of way.
Unfortunately, I am still struggling a lot with my mental health and I only just started with extensive specialized therapy which will take at least 2,5 more years before I will be fully “recovered”. Due to insane waitlists it has taken almost 2 years to find the right therapy and this makes me highly frustrated but there is not much I can do about it.
Passion to motivate and inspire
The thing I CAN do something about is improving my physical health. Following my own experience and my great passion for helping others find their own most healthy, fit and happy lifestyle I am now also making a career change. My future life will be far away from the toxic corporate world. My ambition is to build a business focused on health, wellness and an active and fit lifestyle. Because if I can make a change, anybody can do it! And I will be here to help, guide, motivate and inspire you!
I will tell you more about this and about the changes I made to my health and fitness in my next blog!
Thank you! Love xoxo Jen