Janelle Brown: 1 + 2 Does Not Always Equal 3 When It Comes to Weight Loss

10/18/2013

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Janelle Brown of Sister Wives is Kody's second wife. Follow along on her journey forward to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.

I sometimes feel like a very square peg trying to fit into the proverbial round hole when it comes to my dieting.  I do everything right and still feel my body fights me, refusing to let go of the weight.  Or at best, grudgingly giving me a pound or two every month.

When I compare myself to my friends and even my sister wives, I could lose hope. One of my family members, for example, can cut her carbs, work out and her body quickly changes. I do the same and things still move along at their molasses-style pace. I think I have for many years felt like there must be something wrong with me, like I still was too lazy. But I am realizing that it may be really rare for any one diet to work well for every woman and, for some of us, no “over the counter” diet will be very effective in the long run. 

We have long embraced and cherished that each one of us individually has uniqueness and worth, so what I’m saying is that we should apply that same mindset in our nutrition planning. No, I’m not saying don’t keep trying.  What I am suggesting is to find a basic template that works for you -- for example, the Paleo approach works well for me -- but then pay attention to your body. I am convinced we know ourselves better than we think we do.

Then experiment. Pay attention to how different foods make you feel, watch for carb sensitivities but also don’t rule out food allergies. I am finding for me that food allergy doesn’t always look extreme. It isn’t always the sick stomach I get from drinking milk. In fact, some food allergies can show up as a weight stall or even a gain on the scale for me. Watch how different workouts affect or don’t affect you.  Hybridize your plan, make it fit you. You are smart -- you’ve got this!

Get updates from Janelle on Twitter @JanelleBrown117 and @TLC!

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Janelle Brown: Falling Out of Bad Habits

10/08/2013

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05-janelle-weight-loss-blogJanelle Brown of Sister Wives is Kody's second wife. Follow along on her journey forward to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.

We have such triggers for certain food experiences, don’t you think? I’ve realized for me, when fall arrives and the sunlight begins to change I automatically think about fall baking. This happens to me every year. I am beginning to wonder if it is some sort of genetically programmed instinct to provide food for the cold months distorted through a modern lens! It seems that as soon as pumpkin spice anything hits the commercial market, I struggle to keep from baking up a storm. But with my current efforts to change my lifestyle (and my family’s), baking lots of sugar- and flour-laden goodies just doesn’t fit into the program.

I am trying hard to redefine the relationship between food and events, whether it be seasons or holidays, that is established in my head. I know it’s possible because I have finally learned the value of brewing a cup of hot tea and relaxing for a minute to re-group when I am so stressed I don’t know up from down, versus throwing food mindlessly into my mouth. (I always secretly wondered about women who did this and thought they were just pretending to be sophisticated!)

With the post-summer slow-down and many of the holiday food cues starting to show up, I am even more determined to find alternate, and just as satisfying, ways to enjoy the moment – other than my traditional go-to of putting something yummy in my mouth. I’m working hard to identify and change the very deep, long-established traditions I hold surrounding food.

Are these traditions all bad? Absolutely not, but the way that I have indulged them is what I am interested in changing. I still plan on enjoying the food at holiday celebrations, but I need to find healthier alternatives to noshing my way through the fall and winter.

Get updates from Janelle on Twitter @JanelleBrown117 and @TLC!

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Janelle Brown: The Trickle-Down

09/06/2013

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Janelle Brown of Sister Wives is Kody's second wife. Follow along on her journey forward to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.

I have to confess that my cool factor has increased pretty significantly with my athletic boys since I began working out. Logan has always been dedicated to keeping himself in shape, even when not wrestling. Hunter plays so many sports he doesn’t really have to do anything extra, and Garrison is heavily involved with JROTC and all the physical conditioning that comes with that organization.

My house has an entire cupboard in the kitchen dedicated to vitamins and all other kinds of supplements common to athletes and body builders. And before the last year and a half or so, I left it alone because it was all pretty exotic and foreign sounding stuff. Really, what is a BCAA or an amino acid and what the heck are they for? But now I know the language and that makes me a pretty cool mom, I guess. I think it is especially gratifying for my older children who were really aware of how I was almost debilitated at my most unhealthiest. That in itself is a huge reward -- to have your kids be proud of you and excited that Mom can join in the talk about the latest pre-workout product.

But maybe the coolest reward ever came the other day. It was a Saturday. I was getting ready to fix a late lunch. I was taking a survey of who was ready to eat. One of our younger children said, “Mom, I’ll wait – I’m getting ready to go work out in the garage.” I realized in that moment that my home had changed. It was no longer a home where just my athletes thought about their workout. Exercise has become a culture at my house. And, honestly, I’m glad. In this day and age when we struggle to find ways to get and keep our kids active, something is working at my house. Was it my changes or was it just the fact that now I could talk the talk -- and that talk was happening at home, very often? Or maybe that now gym clothes are common attire!

Whatever sparked it, I am so grateful for this culture change that has happened so very quietly in my home. Maybe I’ve not only given myself a quality of life, but forever changed the quality of life of my children. That, in and of itself, is reason to keep hitting the gym.

Get updates from Janelle on Twitter @JanelleBrown117 and @TLC!

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Janelle Brown: Another Kind of Support

08/23/2013

Janelle Brown of Sister Wives is Kody's second wife. Follow along on her journey forward to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.

03-janelle-weight-loss-blogSo I have been debating whether or not to write about today’s subject, but after talking to a few people when I have been out and about, I’m going to just do it. I think this subject is one of the things a person never talks about -- they just deal with it. But ultimately, I started writing to discuss things that possibly weren’t being discussed. And I hope in being very honest in my weight loss journey I may help someone else.

What is the subject, you ask? Well, I’m talking about the, er, "flapping.” Even as I write that word I am cringing. When you are a bigger person you have lots of --  let’s say skin. So when you finally arrive at that awesome point that you are strong enough to be able to do higher impact activities, your body, beyond your control, makes noises. These noises are not just noticeable to those around you, but they can cause you physical discomfort, too.

My awesome fitness mentor, Sean, was such a gentleman, and would just put headphones on when it was time for me to sprint, etc. But ultimately this noise became such a mental/emotional barrier for me, I quit being willing to do anything with higher impact. I searched and searched the internet for a solution. There are lots of men talking about managing the jiggling in their chests when they run, but no woman discussing skin in such an unladylike manner. So I started my own trial and error. For two weeks, I bought all combinations of undergarments and support garments. Nothing worked well enough. Until finally, I found a solution! There are spandex shapers available at many of my favorite clothing stores. They are thin, like nylons, so they work well when being active; think of it like another piece of support clothing like a sports bra. I can now sprint, jog, do some of the more challenging CrossFit movements, all without being embarrassed.

The whole process was really an exercise in further empowering myself as a plus-size person to continue on my fitness journey. A lesson in how small adaptations can open up whole new worlds. Also, it was a reminder that being plus-size (for the time being at least!) doesn’t have to stop me from doing anything I want to do.

 Get updates from Janelle on Twitter @JanelleBrown117 and @TLC!

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Janelle Brown: My Old Hip

08/08/2013

05-janelle-weight-loss-blogJanelle Brown of Sister Wives is Kody's second wife. Follow along on her journey forward to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.

I have something to confess  -- I haven’t worked out in almost two weeks.  I really debated even telling everyone, but in the end I learned something very important.  I FEEL LIKE CRUD when I don’t work out!  Things were crazy, I had huge, big projects all burning at the three-alarm-fire stage. I woke up in the morning, sat down at the computer and just found excuses all day long. 

The first thing I noticed, besides having zero energy, was that my legs and hips were aching. They felt stiff and like they perpetually needed to be stretched. Days went by and some of my old aches and pains started to come back. I have this one hip that has never been the same since my son Gabriel was born. It used to just give out on me when I’d be standing in the kitchen, or anywhere for that matter, causing me to lose my balance. This was one of the things that quickly fixed itself when I truly became active. So it scared me the day my hip gave out on me again. I began to worry. Visions of an old woman with a hip replacement floated in the periphery of my mind. I soon got over myself and how busy I perceived I was and made the gym the priority again. It took me a week, a whole stinking week, under Sean’s guidance, to get it back to what I would consider a functional level again.

And then it dawned on me: Taking into account my age, being in my 40s, and starting to enter a different stage in my life, it is absolutely imperative that I stay active to remain active. In no way am I ready to suddenly be bound to a rocking chair in 20 years. I feel as if I am JUST beginning to get my life back after all the years of inactivity. I want to be like my grandmothers who were all active and sharp into their 90s -- one of whom square danced into her 70s.

So if I needed another motivation beyond the myriad that I have already discovered, I have it. It is now very real to me that I need to exercise to circumvent debilitation. There is no fountain of youth for sure, but I am going to do everything in my power to look for it through exercise.

Get updates from Janelle on Twitter @JanelleBrown117 and @TLC!

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Janelle Brown: It’s All About Me

07/26/2013

04-janelle-weight-loss-blogJanelle Brown of Sister Wives is Kody's second wife. Follow along on her journey forward to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.

At heart I am a pleaser. As such, I feel a natural desire to make sure everyone around me is taken care of and all is well in their world. It is such a fundamental part of my nature that I was letting this seep into my weight loss journey.

I spoke last week about “The Drift”. In analyzing what factors sidetracked me it became apparent I was starting to get very anxious about my upcoming deadline day. I was so worried that when our show came back on air that somehow I would not measure up and my entire journey would be negated.

We have been so conditioned by shows on television to expect extreme weight loss in a short period of time. And in a way I felt like since I had lost 6 sizes instead of going down 80, 90 or 100 pounds, I had failed. But in the end, I am a real woman, with real work demands, including eating meals out and traveling and then going home to make real dinner for real children. I felt like a failure because somehow I wasn’t able to just isolate myself and provide dramatic results.

As my time grew close, I’ll admit I started to get a little frantic. Think about yourself getting ready for that upcoming high school reunion or wedding day. When time is getting short you start contemplating all kinds of depravation tactics to get the weight off quick. Whatever it was, I could endure it, I reasoned. But in the end it backfired for me. I took two steps forward and then one step back, to use the old saying. I started to lose the feelings of empowerment and strength that I had when my journey was on my own terms. This just further aggravated the cycle I was in.

In the end, I finally had such a profound revelation about what I needed to do to get back on track. I rebelled against the self-imposed pressure I was feeling. I craved just getting back into my own head. I asked myself, What did I want?” I realized I wanted to go back to the slow and steady pace I started with; focusing instead on changing my lifestyle, this time for good. For a week or so, I went back to the basics and began tracking my food again, even though I loathe food diaries. It brought me back to awareness. I checked out of all the “I should be…” internal discussions I was having. I took a deep breath and no longer allowed myself to panic and bolt. I began to listen to myself and my mentor AGAIN, but mostly myself. And above all I had to once again remember to celebrate the real progress in changing my life.

Get updates from Janelle on Twitter @JanelleBrown117 and @TLC!

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Janelle Brown: Drifting

07/18/2013

05-janelle-weight-loss-blogJanelle Brown of Sister Wives is Kody's second wife. Follow along on her journey forward to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.

It’s funny how you sometimes find yourself getting caught up in life and just letting some things coast. I have to admit that this past month that has been the case with my weight loss. I wasn't gaining weight, but I wasn't losing any either. My fitness mentor Sean was still kicking my butt, but my head just wasn't in the game. I'd like to blame it on the summertime, with our insane Vegas heat draining the life out of me. Or blame it on the distractions of family events like Mariah and Aspyn's recent graduation festivities. But in reality I had just relaxed my focus and started drifting.

Once you are in it, "The Drift," as I'll call it, is really hard to escape. You begin to rationalize and procrastinate, the guilt becoming less and less each day. I am grateful for my fitness mentor who finally gave me a pretty good wakeup call, but for those of you out there identifying with my drift problem, that much-needed call-to-action can come a loved one, friend or other confidant, too.

It is a hard step to go from inaction to action especially when the goal you are pursuing isn't shiny and novel anymore. I found value in seeking out someone I could trust. It worked so well, I'd recommend it. Ask that person in your life to talk to you about where you are and what it will look like when you reach your end goal. And yes, I did say what it looks like. Not what you will physically look like, even though that is part of it, but what life looks like when you achieve your goal. For example, does it mean you can hike on your family camping trip, or does it mean you turn heads at the next family reunion? Maybe it is what life is like when you are smaller and stronger. For me it was very powerful to find some pictures and other images that really represented to me what it would be like to have the strong healthy body I was striving for. Images that had such meaning for me that I was once again empowered. Paint yourself a vision of the new reality then do some healthy visualizations and shake out of that funk!

Get updates from Janelle on Twitter @JanelleBrown117 and @TLC!

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Janelle Brown: Road Trips and Other Terrifying Events

07/03/2013

01-janelle-weight-loss-blogJanelle Brown of Sister Wives is Kody's second wife. Follow along on her journey forward to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.

Recently we had to make a quick trip out of town that necessitated throwing the kids in the car and hitting the road for four long days of driving punctuated by a couple of family gatherings.  And I need to say that road trips can be an emotional eater’s own personal hell.

Boredom, addictions and fatigue wreak havoc on your conscious attempts to gauge true hunger. And, while I have in the past packed my car with a cooler full of healthy options such as pre-cut veggies -- both for the sake of feeding the kids traveling with me without breaking the bank and to stock some healthier options for myself -- I did not have that opportunity this time.  I was soon reminded that purchasing convenience veggie-and-dip-type snacks at gas stations is very expensive.

If I had ever mastered eating sunflower seeds while driving I may have been better off.  But the acrobatics that your tongue is required to do removing that tiny seed from the fibrous hull seemed to be beyond my pay grade.  So I was left with miles and miles of the only option being chewing gum.

The miles progressed and my jaw grew tired of chewing gum.  I kept looking expectantly for hunger signals, but no activity equals no hunger.  So I resorted to at least keeping to four-hour intervals between meals.  At the end of the trip, though, as I grew more and more punchy, all of my food discipline went out the window.  Not really overeating, but definitely no longer caring about the composition of my meals.  Overall the trip probably earned me a C- for healthy eating.  Road trip food remains a huge scary wasteland for me.  I’ll definitely need a better plan the next time I have to get in the car for a long trip.

Get updates from Janelle on Twitter @JanelleBrown117 and @TLC!

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Janelle Brown: Sugar Swinging

06/14/2013

03-janelle-weight-loss-blogJanelle Brown of Sister Wives is Kody's second wife. Follow along on her journey forward to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.

I have long feared “the crash”. The brain circuits not firing, the overwhelming need to curl up and take a nap and legs feeling like they have heavy cement weights tied to them. I am talking about a blood sugar crash and at an early age I remember starting to be aware of them. I didn’t understand exactly what was wrong; I just knew that whatever it was it had to be avoided at any cost. Soon after my awareness, I discovered that by continually eating a little something all day long I could avoid the feeling – at least until evening when my fatigue was considered normal.

Back when I was a kid no one was talking about blood sugar crashes or the glycemic index, and there wasn’t much public discussion about small meals spaced through the day. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s and pregnant with my first child, Logan, that my midwife explained things to me. It was such a relief. I had suffered so many years thinking something was wrong with me. That I must be lazy to be that tired. She said not to worry, that I was just a “sugar swinger.” Periods of normal blood sugar followed by a sharp drop in blood sugar that caused the shutdown. It wasn’t even that I was eating tons of junk food, it was that I just needed to eat small meals spaced evenly apart and keep some almonds or something on hand in case I got in a bind.

I have wondered how my eating habits and my corresponding battle with weight would have potentially altered if I had understood what was going on in my body. The constant reaching for something to get my hit created a very unhealthy eating pattern for me from so early in my life, with the crashing also leading to overeating as I rushed to get food into my mouth after the fact.

I am grateful for that simple education I received almost 20 years ago and the subsequent research now available. I am also grateful for the public awareness as experts now talk about the reality of maintaining even blood sugar levels, even if you are not a diabetic. It has allowed me to educate my children, of which 50 percent have turned out to be sugar swingers like me, how to properly care for themselves. I'm also teaching them the benefit of avoiding really refined foods.

Do I perfectly do what I should each day to keep myself functioning at optimal levels? No, not every day. I still live in the real world of crazy schedules and easily accessible sugary and processed foods. It is still day-to-day management. But I am aware now of what is going on when I start to get that yucky feeling, how I can start managing it quicker and in a healthier way, and even better yet, how to avoid it all together.

Get updates from Janelle on Twitter @JanelleBrown117 and @TLC!

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Robyn Brown: Finding Hidden Talents

06/10/2013

Sister-wives-robyn-blog-04Robyn Brown of Sister Wives is Kody's fourth wife. Follow along as she shares her perspective on the intriguing world of a sister wife.

When my three oldest were little and I was a young mom, I was able to stay at home with my children. As I was growing up I watched my mother care for other people’s kids and do anything else that she could just so she could stay at home with her kids and not have to leave them to go to work.  I did whatever I could to do the same thing when I became a mother because I felt like it was important and it was all I knew. Any mom who has ever been able stay at home with her kids knows how much work it is, how much it can be underappreciated but also that it is the best job in the world. I remember more than once feeling like I wanted to pull out my hair but I was so grateful I could be at home with my children then. I loved it.

Things all changed when I became a single mother and had to go to work to support my children and myself. At first it was very hard leaving my children, but it was what I needed to do. I worked at a long-term care facility and hired family to help me with my kids. When I married Kody I continued to work to support myself and to help with the family’s needs but my kids were all in school by then so it turned out to be okay. When I got pregnant with my son, Solomon, I was so stressed out about the idea of having to leave my new baby while I worked. When he was born I was pleasantly surprised when my six-week maternity leave was up that I was excited to go back to work! 

During this last year I have taken on the big project of spearheading one of our family’s businesses. It has been an adventure. I have felt challenged and excited as I work to build our business. I am very passionate about what we are doing and I have learned so much. I didn’t realize just how passionate until a few months ago when several of my female cousins and my sisters all got together for a girls weekend. I found myself wanting to talk business and numbers instead of recipes and home life. I was so surprised at myself. It has made me realize that in the past I didn’t know what my full potential was and that I really like creating and working outside my home. I also found that I am okay being away from my kids sometimes while I pursue that work. I come back to them refreshed and ready to enjoy being a mom.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I LOVE my kids and I would love to be able to be home with them all the time, but I have also realized that I have a independent, working-woman side to myself separate from my home life and children -- and I like her!  I like being an entrepreneur. I love challenging myself with a project or a business problem and being delighted when I figure it out and accomplish it. I have realized how capable I am.  

I think as women we really give a lot to our children, our husbands and our home life and we don’t always take the time to build on the other parts to ourselves that are there inside us. We don’t always find our hidden talents or what we are passionate about outside the role as a mother, wife or keeper of the home. While I value these roles immensely, I have also come to value the other sides to myself as they bloom. It has been a very eye-opening and empowering experience for me and I am looking forward to what the future brings.

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About the Authors

Sister Wives explores the lives of Kody Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn. Join Janelle and Robyn Brown as they blog about the ins and outs of their lives as sister wives.
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