Welcome to Simply Southern!
My name is Amanda. I chose the name Simply Southern because I am just that. A simple southern girl, raising two boys by the grace of God…..because He KNOWS I sure do need it! After a year of toying with the idea of starting a blog and much encouragement from my husband, I am actually doing it! To tell you the truth, I wish I had started it in the beginning. I hope that this will be a creative outlet for me as I share my passion for all things fitness and nutrition related. I also hope that my story, my daily struggles, and my daily victories might be something of encouragement, hope, and inspiration for all of those who have ever struggled with their weight.
Weight has always been an issue
I remember going on my first diet before the age of ten after some time away with my grandparents because apparently I had put on quite a bit of weight. Disaster. That was the first time I had ever become aware that the way I Iooked was unappealing. It was also the beginning of years of failed dieting and disordered eating habits.
When I was about 14, I was pretty overweight. I am just shy of 5’3 and back then I weighed probably 145lbs. I had a bad relationship and thought if I was skinny…..well, most of us know what that means. So I went on a diet, again. Not only did I diet but I exercised, and exercised…..and exercised. Anyone remember Tammy Lee Webb? Buns of Steel? Boy I do! How about Cindy Crawford? Anyone ever have her videos? I loved them. I loved them so much I did both workouts every day. Sometimes I also would just dance around in my room. Not really dancing so much but more like jumping jacks, jumping rope, high knees, jogging in place, whatever I could think of doing from remembering what I had seen in exercise videos. My diet was horrific. No breakfast. Lunch was Ramen Noodles and a Cherry 7-up. And dinner, what dinner? My parents and I didn’t eat dinner together anymore so I was able to eat a few chicken nuggets, a spoonful of peas and be done. My goal each day was to eat as little as I possibly could. But hey, I lost about 20 pounds and felt I looked amazing for my freshman year of high school!
The first two years of high school were great. I kept the weight off, ate pretty normal, and worked out. I was fairly happy, for the most part. The last two years of high school; however, were socially and emotionally tumultuous. * Enter weight gain*insert Jaws theme*. I now can look back and see that I was severely depressed but didn’t know it at the time. By the time I graduated high school, I had put back on those 20lbs.
That’s me on the far right in each photo.
First marriage, first baby
Over the course of the next 7 years my weight gain would increase to over 50 pounds. Can you say “Emotional Eating”? By the time I got pregnant with my first son, Luke, in 2001, I was 180 lbs. I went into the delivery room weighing a whopping 203 lbs. I was miserable and could not WAIT to start dieting! After I had Luke, I quickly dropped the baby weight and started Weight Watchers. I was pretty successful with it. I lost about 20 pounds. Then I discovered Xenadrine and lost another 20 pounds! I know, you don’t need to tell me, I already know. Either way, I was feeling great. I was down to a healthy weight and actually felt pretty for the first time in a very long time. I was getting very passionate about fitness and continued with the Weight Watchers point system for quite a while. Off and on I would try different diets hoping to lose more, but ultimately I was just maintaining my weight. Unfortunately, my marriage with Luke’s dad ended and I moved to Dallas in 2003.
A new marriage and a new baby!
Here I found a new life and a new love. My boyfriend Jeremy (now husband) and I shared a love for fitness and healthy eating. I was able to lose a bit more weight. I was on top of the world!
About a year after Jeremy and I got married, we decided that we wanted to have a baby. Fully expecting it to take several months, we found ourselves pregnant a month later. To say the least we were surprised! But we always say that God knew if we had that long, we would have changed our minds!
I started my second pregnancy at a very healthy weight. So healthy that I was not the least bit apprehensive about stepping on the scale for my first visit. The scale read 137lbs. I was so proud at that moment. I had come a LONG way from the time I was told not to gain a single pound during my first pregnancy to now being told, “Good weight!” Good weight? WOW, that’s the first time I think I had ever heard that!
It didn’t take long for that bubble to burst. I gained 40 lbs with my second pregnancy. I am not sure exactly what happened or when it happened or how it happened, although I know it must have had something to do with El Chico and On the Border or quite possibly the king sized bags of peanut M&M’s I made my husband bring home to me every other night. I was thinking probably what a lot of women think. “I am pregnant. I am going to live it up while I can! I will just lose the weight when I have this baby. I know how to lose weight. Boy do I know! Easy peasy!” Little did I know that after I had that baby, my life would be turned completely upside down, shaken to the core, and hung out to dry.
That which does not kill us….
When I reflect back on the first two years of Aidan’s life, I am in awe of how Jeremy and I survived. I can’t even begin to describe how difficult those two years were. I joke now about how I don’t even really remember them, but it’s not a joke. I hardly remember them. It’s a good thing we have about a million pictures!
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 weeks before Aidan was born and began her chemotherapy treatments the week before Aidan was born. Those lasted 6 months. My sister was taking care of her.
When Aidan was born in February 2007, Jeremy had just graduated the Police Academy and was just one week into is field training working the night shift. This was no ordinary night shift either. We live about 45 minutes away from the city he works in. His actual shift was 7pm-7am. However he had to be there for briefing by 6:30pm. With the way traffic is in this big city, this meant he had to leave at 5pm in order to be sure he got to work on time and he wouldn’t return until around 8 the next morning. From 5pm-8am I was alone with my new born and 5 yr old son. Jeremy got his “sleep” between 9am and 3-pm. And imagine trying to “sleep” in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment with the three of us carrying on with our day. This lasted 3-4 days at a time and when he was off…..well, he was pretty much a zombie. My in-laws live 5 hours away, my mother was ill, and my sister was the only one able to take care of her. Jeremy and I were in COMPLETE.SURVIVAL.MODE.
When Aidan was three weeks old he had to have surgery and was hospitalized for a week.
Living this way for months took its toll on me. The combination of stress, exhaustion, and isolation was causing me to have severe panic attacks. My Dr put me on medication for a short period of time. Even though I began to feel better, I was still very depressed. I didn’t realize it back then but I was self medicating with food. Pringles and Diet Coke were my drugs of choice. To say we were broke would be a gross understatement. Our groceries were whatever was the cheapest. Totino’s Pizzas, hot dogs, fish sticks, mac&cheese, and Ramen Noodles were pretty much what we survived on. I hadn’t managed to lose the baby weight yet and the scale was slowly going up and up. I think at that point I didn’t really care. I was just trying to make it through the next hour.
As if living this way day in and day out for a year and half wasn’t hard enough, the next trial we would face made all of it seem like child’s play. On October 16th2008 my husband’s brother was shot and killed during an argument over a minor fender bender. He was 24 years old. Our family was shattered. My husband devastated. Even though it has been over 3 years since that day, it still brings tears to my eyes remembering the days and months following.
The weight gain continued over the year 2009. I ballooned to 165 pounds and I was absolutely miserable, embarrassed of what I looked like. I felt terrible that I had become this overweight and depressed woman. I was not the woman Jeremy married and I was not the mother my precious children deserved.
Me and my mother in law on Mother’s Day. I felt pretty that day but when I looked at the pictures I just wanted to delete them all.
These pictures are from Christmas of 2009. I didn’t even recognize myself in any of them. I have always heard people say when asked what made them decide to lose the weight and they say “Well, there was this one picture of me….” I have three of them.
After Christmas of 2009 I made the decision that I was no longer going to continue on this way. I was going to take responsibility of myself and do whatever it was going to take to be happy and healthy. Beginning Jan 1st2010 until sometime in April 2011, I lost 50 pounds.
Makes us stronger……
I can tell you how I did it. I did it by following Weight Watchers. But it’s not about the plan I followed. Don’t get me wrong I am a poster girl for Weight Watchers. I have done the program twice and it worked both times! I will tell you until I am blue in the face to try it. It teaches you proper portion control. It teaches you HOW to eat. It gives you boundaries and parameters to keep you on course. But what it doesn’t teach you is how to overcome WHY you are over- weight to begin with. That’s all you.
I am a firm believer that God will put you through fire in order to refine you and mold you. I think it’s safe to say that we were in a furnace for two years straight. Over the past few years I have learned so many things about who I really am. I have learned to recognize the things that trigger an emotional eating episode and I have learned to handle them in healthy ways instead of going to the Peanut M&M’s expecting them to fill the void that no THING can. I healed from a lot of emotional drama and trauma from my past. I stopped making excuses and feeling sorry for myself. I realized that I am the only one who can change me. I have realized that I deserved to be happy, but, that I am the only one responsible for that. I fell in love with fitness again and I now crave healthy foods. I read once that “you crave what you eat”. I know that’s the truth. You’ll find me going on “sugar detoxes” from time to time in order to get my cravings back under control. I have learned to fuel my body with real food. At the risk of sounding kooky, I have learned to be in tune with my body’s needs and learned to be sensitive to them, loving and honoring the gift of an able body. A body that made it through two pregnancies and through years of me treating it like garbage.
I still struggle. It is always going to be a struggle for me. Most days are easy because this is just the way I live. I have formed lasting habits. But then…..there are still days when it seems Daddy is never going to get home and that I have been breaking up fights, picking up toys, cleaning handprints off the glass table, and doing the bottomless bins of laundry since the beginning of time. Those days are the days when those little peanutty treats seem so enticing. But I know that no amount of food, of any kind really, will ever be enough. Only God can fill that void in me and it is by His grace that I make it through each and every day raising my two boys.
Jan. 25th 2013
It is a huge honor to be featured in the April 2013 issue of Women’s Health Magazine!