Project Healthy Francesca
On January 29th, of this year I hit rock bottom. On January 29th, I also found the path to a better, healthier, stronger me. Kind of like a “come to Jesus moment” but I call it my “come to ME moment.”
Last year was a terrible year. As the year began, I was still feeling the impact of the election and the inauguration of a man who I completely loathe. In January, my father went into the ICU due to complications from COPD (This followed an esophageal cancer diagnosis the year before, losing his eye to an infection after cataract surgery the year before that and losing my mother the year before that) He later went into rehab, then a nursing home (a total hell-hole) and finally into a lovely assisted living home in April. In February, I was let go from my job after fourteen years when my position was eliminated. In June I sold my father’s house. In august, my father passed away. I spent much of this year taking care of him and his affairs and feeling sorry for myself. I had little time to exercise let alone the desire. I sought out any form of fun or good time to distract from what was really going on, which usually involved lots of drinking and poor eating. My friends and family, would say “cut yourself some slack,” or “give yourself a break.” While I know they were trying to be supportive, all I heard was the justification or blessing to keep eating and drinking my misery away.
Fast forward to January 29th, 2018. I had just returned from a fun-filled get-away weekend in Nashville with my closest friends. Lots of drinking, lots of eating, loads of fun. I had been feeling pretty down on myself even before the weekend; disgusted with my body, the weight I had gained, my poor eating choices, how much I had been drinking and just feeling completely lost and really down. On the morning of January 29th, in my miserable state, I sat down to watch the Today show. In the health segment, there were these two women talking about their weight loss journey, eating healthy whole foods, supporting one another and most importantly self-love. They were talking to me, cliche as it may sound. As soon as the segment was over, I watched it again and immediately started googling these women. I stalked them on social media and read everything and anything I could find on them. Again, they were talking to me. They were part of a program called Project Healthy Body (PHB), started by Jennifer Shepherd Joffe, one of the women I had seen on the show. She created the program after her own weight loss and self-discovery journey. I learned that PHB is a five-month program, where you learn to become the best, healthiest you. While there was certainly a focus on healthy eating, what drew me in was the opportunity to get to the more emotional side of things and explore self-image, self-care, and self-love. And to do all this with constant support. And they were starting a February group! Sign me up!
As of this writing, we are in week 13 of the Project Healthy Body Spring session. I have an awesome health coach, Holly (the other woman on the Today show), who provides amazing guidance, understanding and support, because she is not only my coach but a participant as well. So she totally gets it. We have homework every week that consist of podcasts, videos, readings or reflections on particular topics. I am part of a private Facebook group made up of current and past participants and our coaches. I meet with a group of five women weekly by phone as a check-in to share our experiences, discuss our homework and to support one another. I have an accountability partner (who rocks! ) who I speak to once a week and text throughout the week. We discuss how our week is going and cheer each other on. I wear a Fitbit, in addition to my Apple watch, to participate in a healthy competition to get the most steps in each week (beyond the non-negotiable 10,000 steps to be completed each day). And so much more.
What I have learned…..
I have learned so much about food and have better understanding of what is in food that I eat and the impacts it has on my body.
I have learned how to tame that negative voice in my head. In PHB, we call it our negative roommate. Mine is named Claire and she’s one negative, judgmental bitch, constantly comparing herself to others. Keeping her at bay is a good thing. She does not rule me.
I have come to understand that though I may have been thinner in recent years, I was not healthier. I understand that previous diets were restrictive and always lead to cheat days, poor decisions and the weight always came back as did feeling miserable.
I am learning how to self-love. This goes beyond eating healthy food, exercise and taking care of myself, but truly learning to appreciate myself, being grateful and making the right decisions so that I can be the healthiest I can be.
Who I am…..
I am healthy. I have come to love and crave healthy foods. Like my morning green drink or my lunchtime salad with all the vegetables possible, or as Jennifer says, eat the rainbow. I eat balanced meals and snacks and enjoy food freedom and as of this writing have lost 18 pounds.
I am confident. This has been an eye-opening experience for me and though it has only been a few months, I have learned so much about myself. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all easy, but I know who I am and I understand that it’s about progress, not perfection.
I am learning. Hitting rock bottom and simultaneously finding PHB has opened many doors for me. I love learning as much as I possibly can and find myself reading, listening and watching anything I can get my hands on about nutrition and self-love, like Mel Robbins 5-Second Rule (which I listen to on Audible while walking) to Jen Sincero’s, You Are a Bad Ass, to the What the Health documentary. But what I have truly discovered is a passion. A passion to share all this information with others.
So, what’s next? To combine my desire to learn and passion to share with others, I have enrolled in nutrition school, starting in the fall to become a health coach. I always knew my next career for me would involve mentoring or coaching, and this is definitely it. It’s like it was waiting for me. I have never been so sure of anything, probably ever.
I am determined.
I am strong.
I am change.
I am grateful.
I am enough.