The Frantic Fantastic
Flea Fiasco of 2018™

Then the vet tech came back into the room to administer the treatment and sitting right there on Aslan’s sneaky little fur-covered neck was a flea. “Oh, there’s one!” the vet tech exclaimed gleefully. Though I’m pretty sure the glee was just in my head.

“FUCK,” I texted Jeff. “She has fleas.”

“FUCK,” he replied.

And so it began, The Frantic Fantastic Flea Fiasco of 2018™


The Frantic Fantastic Flea Fiasco of 2018™-

I hesitated to write this post because frankly, I’m a bit embarrassed, but I find myself on the constant verge of either laughing or crying (or doing both at the same time) due to our current predicament, so I figured I’d do what I always do when I feel like my head is about to explode:


So Hi. Hello. I’m here. I’m here and currently dealing with fleas. FLEAS! Fleas on our indoor cat, Aslan, who I naively assumed couldn’t get fleas because she’s an indoor cat. WRONG.

Remember those outdoor stray cats I was so in love with a few weeks ago?  Well, the fleas likely came from them. Likely. But there’s really no way to know. They could have come from anywhere.

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Still, I find myself blaming the outdoor cats. I mean, we just had them trapped and neutered and re-released in our yard and this is how they thank us. We did a good thing! We even argued with people on the Internet about doing this good thing! And this is what happens. This is not how karma is supposed to work.

In my head, I can’t separate the two situations: on one hand, we did something good by taking care of the strays, on the other, we’re stuck with fleas now because of it. I know they are two completely different things. We are still good people for taking care of the cats, but where I used to gaze at my backyard cat crew lovingly, I now scowl in their general direction.  I mean, I know it’s not really their fault and I’m definitely not being mean to them but they’ve definitely encountered the occasional stink eye from me over the past several days.

On the bright side, we are the proud new owners of a super expensive Dyson vacuum, which I guess makes us real adults now. That’s how it works, right? Go to college, get married, buy-and actually get excited about- an expensive vacuum cleaner.

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Welcome to Adulthood!

Our house is also the cleanest it’s ever been, which is, honestly, a frickin miracle because I hate cleaning. Let me say it again:




I avoid it at all costs. But I can’t now. Facing my demons and all that, I guess.


It’s fine.

I mean, FLEAS, though. Fleas. What the heck, man?

*Deep breath*

OK. Hi. Hello. I am here.

The Frantic Fantastic Flea Fiasco of 2018™-

Let me back up for a minute and explain how this whole fiasco came to be.  If you follow me on Instagram and watch my stories, you may have seen that Aslan had a seizure a couple weeks ago. She’s OK (well, aside from the fleas) and the vet gave her the all clear, so when she started to change up her sleeping spots a week or so ago, we just assumed it was some weird side effect from that.

Meanwhile, one of our outdoor friends got super spoiled and started jumping up into our window and staring at me through the screen, as if to ask, “hey, where’s my freaking food?” Aslan didn’t like this one bit and subsequently jumped into the same window  to mark her territory.  Turns out, that territory just so happened to also be inhabited by fleas. That’s what we think, at least.

When I first noticed Aslan scratching I didn’t think much of it. A few times Jeff and I jokingly yelled at her, “you better not have fleas!” and then we laughed and laughed. She was an indoor cat, after all. No way she had fleas.  We noticed some scabs on her neck on Sunday night and decided a trip to the vet would be in order for the morning. I was still in so much denial that she could have fleas. Just last week I was cuddling her and thanking her for not being dirty and gross like the outside cats. Then the universe was just like, “Mwahaha! That’s what you think, Rebecca!”

The Frantic Fantastic Flea Fiasco of 2018™-
Aslan cuddling with me before we realized she had fleas. Ahhhhh!

The next morning I brought her to the vet and at first, they were pretty positive it was just a skin infection and definitely not fleas. The vet decided to treat her just in case, with both a steroid shot to ease her itching and a flea treatment on the back of her neck.

I texted Jeff immediately and was all, “HA HA! NO FLEAS!”

Then the vet tech came back into the room to administer the treatment and sitting right there on Aslan’s sneaky little fur-covered neck was a flea. “Oh, there’s one!” the vet tech exclaimed gleefully. Though I’m pretty sure the glee was just in my head.

“FUCK,” I texted Jeff. “She has fleas.”

“FUCK,” he replied.

And so it began, The Frantic Fantastic Flea Fiasco of 2018™

I left the vet with a flea-infested cat and a can of Knockout flea spray. The vet told me that she still didn’t think I had to worry about a house infestation and just to vacuum daily, wash my sheets in hot soapy water, and spray whatever I couldn’t clean with the other two methods.

At this point, I wasn’t too freaked out. I dropped Aslan off at home, locked her in a spare bedroom and sprayed all the area rugs, curtains, and furniture.  THERE, I thought! That should do the trick. Then I escaped to a coffee shop for the day.

When I got home later that night I released Aslan from her flea prison and let her roam the house. She immediately ran straight upstairs and jumped onto a white blanket in a laundry basket. Two seconds later, she hopped out, and right there, on top of the blanket were three or four tiny, disgusting bugs crawling around. I. Freaked. Out.

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The Aslan Flea Basket of Death

Jeff had been out all day at meetings and I immediately called him and told him to get home right away.

“THERE ARE FLEAS EVERYWHERE!”, I screamed, effectively scaring Aslan back down the stairs. I ran after her and watched her jump right up onto one of our cushioned dining room table chairs. “AHHHHHHHHH!!! NOOOOOO!!!” I screamed!

I locked Aslan in her flea prison again ran around in circles freaking out and screaming until Jeff got home. Used to my anxiety after 13 years together, Jeff calmly suggested we go get dinner and buy a new vacuum since our current one sucked (but really didn’t suck at all, which is why we needed a new, fancy adult one). We went to Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack, where I sobbed into my vegetarian chicken wrap and convinced myself that the world was ending and that we’d need to get rid of Aslan forever.

I cried all the way to Bed, Bath & Beyond where we officially became adults and handed over all of our money at the same time. We then proceeded to clean every inch of our house until 1:00 in the morning.


The Frantic Fantastic Flea Fiasco of 2018™-

The next morning I called the vet and asked if we could let Aslan walk around the house.  They said yes and assured me that any fleas that landed on her would die because of the treatment she’d received.  They also reassured me that as long as we continued vacuuming and cleaning our house daily that we wouldn’t have to worry about an infestation.

I feel it’s necessary to stop here and tell you that at this point, I hadn’t actually seen any active fleas in our house, just the dying and/or dead ones that were falling off of Aslan.  Still, my anxiety soared into overdrive.  I became obsessed with the thought that there were fleas everywhere. Anything that brushed up against my skin was a flea. My clothes were covered in them. I, myself, was in fact probably turning into a flea.

We went through the motions of excessively cleaning our house again on Tuesday night and by Wednesday morning I was overflowing with pent-up stress and anxiety. I called a pest control company and scheduled them to come out to treat our yard.

“Wait, you’re feeding the outside cats?” the man on the other side of the phone asked in a thick, southern drawl. “They’re gonna think you’re Mama. How are you going to remedy that?”

“I guess I’m going to have to stop feeding them,” I whined, feeling both embarrassed and sad at the same time.

On top of all that, the blog post I published on Wednesday about My Unhealthy Relationship With Healthy Living was unexpectedly BLOWING UP.  I became overwhelmed with both excitement at all the amazing comments and messages I received (thank you, by the way!) and consumed by the flea storm raging in my head.  Thankfully I had a therapy appointment later that morning and broke down as soon as I stepped through her office door.

“What’s wrong?” she asked as soon as I burst into tears.

“My cat has fleas,” I sobbed, feeling absolutely ridiculous for crying over such an insignificant thing.

During our appointment, my therapist calmed me down and confirmed something I had secretly suspected for years: I have OCD. Suddenly my anxious overreactions over the years made so much sense (but that’s a story for a whole other blog post). She said that anyone going through something like this would feel overwhelmed but it was especially triggering for me given my history with anxiety.  I told her my father used to obsessively check doors at work until he broke the locks, and that pretty much solidified her diagnosis. She suggested I read a book called Brain Lock and when I got home I obsessively googled the book, articles about OCD, and articles about fleas until I became completely overwhelmed and resorted to cleaning our house from top to bottom again. Then I went to bed and dreamed about fleas crawling all over me.

The Frantic Fantastic Flea Fiasco of 2018™-

On Thursday morning, Jeff texted me on my way home from the gym with my worst fear, a flea had landed on his arm in our bathroom. This was the first time either of us had seen a real, live active one that hadn’t fallen off Aslan. I was surprisingly calm about it.  I told him that it was probably one that we tracked in because the yard hadn’t been treated yet or it was a baby that had just hatched and that was to be expected. (I was suddenly a flea expert from all the obsessive research I’d done.) I went on with my day and didn’t think much about it, aside from my regular frantic thoughts that every bug that landed on me was a flea or that any bite I noticed on my skin was a flea bite. (Later, I found a mosquito in my car that explained the random itchy bites on my ankles.)

That night, as I walked down our basement stairs to do laundry during what had become our new nightly cleaning routine, I tripped and fell down a few steps onto the dirty cement floor. I immediately burst into tears and called for Jeff. My foot was throbbing, my knee was bleeding and overall I just felt so much angst over the whole situation. Problem was, Jeff couldn’t hear me call for him because he was upstairs vacuuming.  As I sat on the floor yelling Jeff’s name louder and louder, I began sobbing harder and harder. By the time he heard me, I was so far past the point of being able to calm down that I told him to just let me cry for a while so I could get it all out.

I proceeded to walk around the house sobbing and mopping the floors, alternating between feeling completely horrified by the whole situation and amused by my current state. Thoughts about my father and his OCD suddenly popped into my health and I found myself blaming his death for the fleas. If he hadn’t left me here alone I wouldn’t be in this situation, I irrationally thought and cried even more. I eventually calmed down as we concluded our Thursday night cleaning ritual.

I removed my clothes, placed everything in a large plastic garbage bag and hopped into the shower–a routine Jeff and I had followed since we first learned of the flea debacle. After, I crawled into bed and waited for Jeff to join me.

“I saw another one,” he said as he came into the bedroom after his shower. “We’re just going to have to clean more.”

Feeling exhausted and defeated, I went to bed wondering if this was just our life now. Would we ever be rid of fleas?  Would I ever be able to snuggle and pet Aslan again without feeling completely disgusted by her?  Would Aslan ever forgive me for avoiding her for days on end and scaring the crap out of her with the vacuum every night? Would I ever feel comfortable and safe in our house again?

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I woke up the next morning terrified to go downstairs, convinced that fleas had definitely taken over our whole house despite our best efforts.  I made my way down the stairs with a flashlight in hand, carefully inspecting the floor and released a sigh of relief every time I didn’t see anything move around.  Jeff and I both had 9 a.m. appointments so I sprayed the house like mad and we hightailed it out the door, but not before I accidentally misted some of the toxic spray onto my bare foot and freaked out about that on top of everything else.

Thankfully the appointment I was rushing to was with my therapist. On the way there, I called the company that makes the spray and they suggested that I rinse my skin for 15 minutes.  My therapist found me in the bathroom before our appointment frantically rubbing my foot with a wet paper towel, and because therapists are generally awesome human beings she didn’t judge me at all. In fact, she got a bowl from her office, filled it with water and let me soak my foot in it for half of the appointment. I felt completely insane.

In between soaking my foot and crying about fleas, my therapist suggested I come up with a concrete schedule for when to clean our house. She made me think about the situation logically and we formulated a plan based on that. She asked me to observe my thoughts during the time when I wasn’t cleaning and to write them down. So, here I am, writing all of this to you, completely embarrassed but also completely relieved to get it all out.  It’s true that writing is cathartic and if all I’ve succeeded in doing by writing this blog post is calming myself down, then I’m proud that I had the courage to go through with it.

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And this is where this blog post ends, with no true conclusion. We are still battling the fleas. I am still battling my mind. I will hopefully write a follow up a few weeks or months from now with a much happier ending. Until then, I am trying to constantly remind myself that this is not the end of the world.  I will not die if a flea just happens to land on me despite our obsessive efforts to prevent just that.*

We will clean our house nightly for the next several weeks and have the cleanest house on the block.  I mean, we should probably win some sort of award, right? Maybe be featured in Good Housekeeping magazine? Because, suddenly, for the first time in my life, I WANT to clean my house constantly, even if it is an obsessive compulsion.

As for Aslan, she will continue to receive flea treatment over the next few months and I’m quite positive she’ll resume her rightful position as Queen of our household soon.

Finally, I hope that, if anything, this post has given you a few laughs rather than make you feel sorry for me because, really, our situation is completely insane and ridiculous and we WILL get through it. Life will go on, with or without fleas!

Have your pets ever had fleas? How did you deal with it? Tell me in the comments!

*Update: since writing this post on Friday afternoon, two baby fleas have jumped on my foot and I’m still alive to tell the tale.

Thanks for reading!

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Confessions: My Unhealthy Relationship with Healthy Living

DISCLAIMER: I’ve been working on this blog post for what seems like three years and let me stop and let you know right here that it’s LOOONNGG and very picture heavy. What began as a fun idea to post photos from when I was 22 turned into a total self-analysis of the way my thoughts on healthy living have changed over the years.

CONTENT NOTE: I talk a lot about my guilt surrounding eating, counting calories and not being happy about my weight. If any of that is upsetting or triggering for you, I suggest skipping this post.

THANK YOU FOR READING! I hope that those of you that do read this post all the way through realize that I am not in any way commenting on anyone else’s way of living. Everyone’s story is different and this just happens to be mine. With all that said, here goes nothing.

As I was looking through old pictures for my post about my 13-year anniversary with Jeff,  I found a few of myself that really made me stop and take a second look.  It’s really interesting how we judge ourselves and our bodies at certain points in our lives and then see something completely different when we look back at photos several years later.

It’s incredibly humbling to look back at photos of myself when I thought I was in really good shape to find that I was actually alarmingly skinny.

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Similarly, to look back at photos of myself as a teen when I thought I was fat but was, in fact, a perfectly normal weight is completely eye-opening.

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Body image is something I’ve struggled with since I was a preteen. I distinctly remember sitting in the passenger seat of my parents’ car when I was in sixth or seventh grade and asking my mother if my thighs were fat. It was something that had never occurred to me before that moment but suddenly I felt incredibly insecure and worried that my legs were just a little bit larger than the other girls’ at school.

College Years

This blog began as a weight-loss journal. I was 22 years old, just a little over 5 feet tall and 143 pounds. At the time I thought I was awfully overweight, and while it was true that I probably could have stood to lose a few pounds, I definitely didn’t need to lose 30.

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Still, I became incredibly passionate about health and fitness. I never felt like exercising was a chore; I actually enjoyed it. Learning about nutrition was fascinating; I even thought about getting a second degree in it.  The truth is, and I can see it clearly now, I probably wasn’t eating enough for my activity level. I did a lot of cardio and absolutely no weight training.  Hindsight is 20/20 though, right?

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Wearing a size 2 dress at my brother’s wedding in May 2010. I had to keep pulling it up on the dance floor and relatives commented on how skinny I looked.

By the time this blog was a year old, I’d lost 30 pounds and weighed 111 pounds. I wore a size 2 dress to my brother’s wedding in May 2010 and was absolutely horrified a few months later when the scale tipped to 115, then 124 pounds. I thought I was huge.

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Outside the Today Show with a group of bloggers in August 2010. I was around 120 pounds and thought I looked so much bigger than I actually was.

I’m not going to beat myself up too much because I truly thought l was doing all the right things to live my healthiest life. I never thought of myself as having an addiction to exercise or having an eating disorder.  At the time, “healthy” was synonymous with “skinny.” I read all the popular Healthy Living blogs and tried to emulate the authors. Everyone else was talking about reaching their “happy weight” and eating oatmeal and drinking green smoothies. I wanted to be part of that club, too.

It’s really crazy to look back at pictures of myself from college. In some of them, I can clearly see my hair thinning and how frail my arms were. Some friends and family members even showed concern, and I ignored them because what did they know?  I was sure I was being ‘healthy.’

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After Graduation

Early in 2011, I started focusing more on weight-training and less on cardio. Looking back at pictures from that time I can see how much healthier my body looked. After my father passed away in 2011, however, exercise and healthy eating fell by the wayside and, boy, did I beat myself up for it.

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A few months after I began weight training.

I remember sitting at dinner with Jeff the night my father died, feeling guilty for eating a stack of banana chocolate chip pancakes. At least they’re whole wheat, I thought. Let that sink in for a second. I was so obsessed with my weight that the night my father died I was worried about eating a stack of pancakes.

The week after my father died, friends and family visited daily and always brought with them some type of baked good. I ate my weight in brownies and cookies that week, and though I was numb with grief, I still found myself thinking, I’ll get back to the gym and work this all off soon. 

I even wrote a blog post about the weight I gained after my father died. I was back to my pre-blogging weight and felt I needed to change that ASAP. Writing this blog has been so amazing in keeping me motivated and accountable but looking back now I can see how many times I apologized for not working out or eating too much, terrified that my readers would think that I wasn’t actually that healthy of a healthy living blogger after all.

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At my best friend’s wedding in October 2012, feeling like if I had just worked a little harder my arms wouldn’t have looked as fat in my bridesmaid dress.

Over the years this pattern continued where I would spontaneously decide that I was going to get back into the shape I was in college. I told myself that I had done it before and getting back to that weight would be no problem. I alternated between getting up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym and feeling my pants become looser, and completely falling off the wagon and apologizing to my readers when my pants felt tighter.

New Struggles

March 2014 began my struggle with severe health anxiety that popped up when my right leg started to bother me seemingly out of nowhere. In the seven months that followed, I went to what felt like a million doctors appointments and physical therapy sessions and underwent tons of tests to try to figure out what was wrong with me, all the while not being able to work out at all because of my ailments.

My anxiety combined with my new-found passion for the real food movement and cooking absolutely everything from scratch caused me to lose weight even without exercise, and that summer I found that I weighed 125 pounds again. I was thrilled and horrified at the same time, convinced that I had some horrible disease that was causing me to lose weight. Still, 125 pounds was less than 140 pounds and this time that felt like a win instead of a terrible failure.

That fall the doctors finally figured out what was wrong with me–I’d torn my labrum in my right hip and needed surgery. Up until that point, I’d felt like a failure. I was a healthy living blogger who had been physically active for most of my 20s and at 27 years old, I couldn’t even walk and no one knew why.  Surgery was scheduled for January 2015 followed by three months of physical therapy.  I don’t remember worrying much about my weight then. I was more focused on being able to walk without assistance. I do recall being excited about some of the PT exercises, like the leg press and hamstring curls, because I knew they’d tone my legs.  By the time I was done with PT, I was eager to get back into the gym.

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Shopping for clothing was the worst. Convinced that I’d someday soon fit back into my size 4 jeans, I told every salesperson who tried to sell me a size up that I was ‘in between sizes’ and I just needed to wait a few more weeks. Somehow I was wearing size 8 jeans and extra small tops and still thought I was huge.

Fitting Into ‘The’ Dress

Jeff and I moved to Asheville in September 2015 and got engaged not long after. Thus began my real efforts to size down. I was 140 pounds, my wedding dress was a size 12, and I told the seamstress at every fitting that the next time I’d be smaller.

I began taking spin classes 2-3 times a week and working with a trainer.  I complained to her every week that the scale wasn’t budging even though I was losing inches and gaining muscle.

By the time our wedding came around, I still hadn’t lost the all the weight I wanted to but was excited at my last fitting when they had to take the dress in even just a little bit.

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I wore a size small dress to my bachelorette party and was super self conscious about the size of my thighs.

A Healthier Community

Even though 140 pounds still felt unacceptable to me, I slowly managed to gain another five pounds in the months that followed my wedding. Then in August 2017, my friend Holly introduced me to Strength Ratio. I quit my Gold’s Gym membership and began taking their classic strength and conditioning classes three times a week. A few months later, even though I felt stronger, I was slightly horrified at a doctor’s appointment when the scale read 152 pounds–the most I’d ever weighed in my life.

Because I felt so much better and healthier training at Strength Ratio than I had at any other gym, for the first time in my life, I didn’t worry too much about what I ate.  As my clothes started to feel tighter or outright not fit anymore, I convinced myself that I was just gaining muscle. I continued getting stronger and working out three times a week at my new favorite gym and eating whatever I wanted.

Stepping Onto The Scale

At the beginning of March 2018, I wrote a post about my March workouts. I had just returned from a trip to New York and, in not so many words, I apologized for not working out and eating too much on my vacation, but assured my readers that the month would be full of so much exercise that it wouldn’t matter!  I added kickboxing and yoga classes to my regular workout routine and felt pretty good about it…that is until I stepped on the scale.

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I hadn’t weighed myself in months because I was trying not to obsess over numbers, but one day, while I was at Strength Ratio, curiosity got the best of me and I decided to just do it. When the needle on the analog scale pointed to over 170 pounds, I walked out of the bathroom and told my coach that there had to be something wrong with it. It was an old scale and, surely, it just needed to be calibrated.

There was no way I weighed over 170 pounds. I was a ‘healthy living blogger’- I couldn’t weigh 170 pounds.  But I stepped on a digital scale a few days later and, sure enough, it read 174 pounds. I was flabbergasted. How had this happened?  

Although this was the most I’d ever weighed in my life, it was also the first time I didn’t see myself as huge when I looked in the mirror. Working out at Strength Ratio had not only made me physically stronger, but it had made me more confident and emotionally stronger as well.

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Still, I was super confused and frustrated. I worked out all the time. How had I put on an extra 30 pounds?

At first, I was in a whole lot of denial that my diet might be to blame.  I’d been a vegetarian for almost nine years, a ‘healthy living’ blogger for even longer, and, in my mind, I had completely embraced the ‘everything in moderation’ philosophy.

Except I realized that ‘moderation’ for me meant cooking for myself 10% of the time and eating out 90% of the time. If you look back at my Instagram from the beginning of the year, you’ll see that I was at a different bakery or cafe practically every day of the week.

Working Toward A Healthier Goal

Once I accepted that the extra weight I’d put on might actually be my diet, after all, I met with Becca, my coach at Strength Ratio, to talk about what to do. This was the first time I’d ever consulted a professional and not a health magazine or another blogger about my nutrition.

I was extremely hesitant to count calories because, in my head, I was way past that. I hadn’t done it in years because I felt that I had a real handle on the whole healthy eating thing. Plus, I felt like counting calories was obsessive dieting behavior for people who didn’t know what they were doing.

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When I expressed these concerns to Becca, she suggested I focus on counting macros- fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.  We calculated my percentages based on a body fat analysis I had done (I’ll get to that in a second), and the only rules were that I hit those percentages daily. Even though this new eating plan did involve reducing my daily calorie intake, it felt less like restricting calories and more like a game of hitting my macros. Plus there were no rules about what I could and couldn’t eat. It essentially fit exactly into my ‘everything in moderation’ thinking,  except this time, I focused on eating healthy, homemade meals 90% of the time and indulging the other 10%.

Becca also suggested I get a body fat analysis done by her friend Reena at Get 2 Know Your Body. The test would tell me how much of my weight gain was fat and how much of it was muscle.  The results really helped us zero in on a healthy weight loss goal.

This time I felt motivated to reach a healthy weight, not what I considered a happy weight, and that healthy weight just happened to be 140 pounds.

That’s right-PLOT TWIST- the weight I had struggled with so much in the past was now my new goal. Funny how things work out like that, huh?

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Caught myself starting to judge my stomach in this photo and then gave myself a pep talk.

Fast forward to the present and I’ve slowly lost around 20 pounds since March. I’d be lying if I told you that I’ve reached a point where I feel completely secure in my body but I’m definitely trying to get there.

When I first started trying to lose weight in March, I was terrified to take vacations or go out with friends because I thought it would reverse my progress. I also stepped on the scale a little too often at first. Imagine my surprise when I returned from indulging a little more than usual on vacation in April and realized I hadn’t gained a pound. I loosened up a little bit after that.

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I realize now more than ever that healthy living is a lifestyle, not a fad diet or a particular exercise trend. That to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way, I can’t beat myself up over every time I miss going to the gym or eat an ice cream cone.  That I’d rather focus my efforts on having a strong, functional body than reaching some arbitrary ideal body weight.  I’ve done a lot of work to reduce the guilt I feel around eating too much or the ‘wrong’ thing.  I listen to my body more now than I ever have and feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin.

It’s so true that working toward any goal should be a marathon, not a sprint. I’m slowly but surely getting closer and closer to not only my goal of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight but also to my goal of accepting and loving my body at whatever shape it’s in.

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