Cassie Shepherd

July 5, 2012

Extreme Health Makeover: MC Edition

Has anyone else discovered how easy it is to gain weight once you enter the third decade of your life and get married? Before we got hitched I always heard people say they started gaining weight the day after they tied the knot. I never thought I would be one of those people. EVER! Especially because I was in the best shape of my life when Mitch and I were dating. I weighed 105 lbs (and had for like three years) and could run for what seemed like hours.

Three months later I gained 10 pounds. By March of 2010 (nine months after we got married) I weighed close to 130 pounds and finally admitted that I had succombed to joining the post-marriage weight gain folks. I got off birth control in August of 2010 and, no, not because we were trying to have children, but because I felt crazy emotional while I was on it. After I dropped the pill I instantly lost five pounds and have teetered between 120-125 for the last two years.

I have jumped between two different mentalities. Once you are in your mid-twenties, I was told you just gain weight. That is what happens, so live with it. Everyone told me it was because my body was preparing to bare children. Yes, this is what happens, but, no, I have come to realize that I don't have to live with unwanted fat around my belly. My second mentality was that I told myself that since I was not overweight, I should not be trying to loose weight. If I ever once let it slip that I was "trying to watch what I ate" I felt like people would pound me because I was already skinny enough. Essentially, I was afraid of what people would think of me for trying to be healthy.

Over the last few months, Mitch and I have been greatly trying to reduce our stress levels. Remember "De-stress Mode" last May? One of the areas I knew I needed to improve on was my health. There were too many nights I was eating a bag of chips for dinner, typing a research paper with one hand, and calculating statistics with the other. I cooked some awesome freezer meals, but I didn't have time to cook enough and we quickly got sick of the same few meals every week. These habits surmounted and admittedly caused more stress because I was so low on energy.

And then the alignment came. It always comes. I didn't realize it at the time, but it came right when I needed it and I can see that now.

Mitch started his rotation surgery May 14. I started my new nanny job May 14. His surgery rotation motived him to make a change. My nanny job led us to that change. May 14 was a monumental day.

Mitch's rotation was brutal. Sometimes he had 48 hour shifts. We didn't talk a whole lot during this time, but when we did I heard a lot about his operations on obese patients that were loosing their lives because they were unhealthy. After reading over hundreds of medical charts and working with patients who had type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and multiple heart diseases I saw a new side of Mitch that said "I am not going to let this happen to me." He would come home after a 14 hour shift and go running at 11:00 at night. I even saw him go mountain biking for the first time.

Meanwhile, on top of working, I was doing 48 hour shifts of homework. One of my intense courses focused on behavioral change models. Or, how to effectively help people make change in their lives. I studied multiple cognitive change theories and practiced implementing them on complicated scenarios for my exams. (Not to brag or anything, but I got nearly 100% in the course). I liked it. So much that I began thinking that I should do graduate work in family therapy.

My nanny job was and is going awesome. I have no intention or desire to leave it. The woman I work for (I always feel weird saying "my boss") is a regional director for health coaches and just about the best "boss" you could have. In De-stress Mode I referenced my gratitude for her and her family. They made a sacrifice to work around my busy school schedule and have continued to be very considerate of two poor college students.

Whenever Mitch shared his sad work stories, I too felt like we needed to make a change in our lives. So, what better person to go to then my boss - the ultimate health coach? Naturally it was so easy for us to talk about establishing healthy habits and she helped get me excited about changing some of our behaviors. She helped me conquer the fear of what others would think of me being too skinny. She told me this program is about being healthy, loosing weight might be a side benefit, but it is more about establishing long-term health habits that stick. And, then it hit me like a ton of bricks. You can be skinny and still be unhealthy.

As I told Mitch about the program, he was genuinely interested. When we started to go over the details, Mitch could almost finish the sentences because they aligned so perfectly with the health habits he had been taught in his health and medical courses. If you know Mitch, he can get really enthusiastic. Needless to say, he was VERY enthusiastic about starting the program. And, what can I say, his enthusiasm is contagious.

In the last week, I have lost nearly 5 pounds. Mitch only started changing his habits on Saturday and is already down 4 pounds too! I have been sleeping better and have more energy through out the day. I am almost dumbfounded how eating healthier can make such a big difference on your metabolism and play a major part in helping you look and feel better. I know I have heard this before, but now I am wondering why didn't I just try it? I think it would have saved me (and Mitch) a lot of trouble.

I am also so grateful that my boss has inspired me to help coach others as well. Over the last few weeks I have immersed myself in training and am thoroughly enjoying being surrounded by a bunch of health fanatics. It is so much fun!

The night before I started my health makeover I put motivational quotes all over my house. My favorite is "Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future." Can you guess where I put that? My fridge. :)

Remember when I said we were suddenly inspired to move back to Utah unexpectedly? Shortly after I quit the best job in the world (aka my nanny job in Savannah) I found out the Kearney's were moving to Oklahoma. They moved last week. And, I would have been without a job. I was ready to make a career out of working with their children. But, the Lord told us to do otherwise, and I am so thankful we listened. He led us here and I think we are just now beginning to see why.


  1. Being healthy is a worthwhile goal. Jeremy has seen the exact same things, and he has been motivated to get healthy as well. That's really what it comes down to. Health as opposed to "skinniness." Way to make some positive changes in your life!

  2. Thank you so much for the great meal (and visit) yesterday. The food was delicious, and it was a fun way for us to spend the 4th.

    Your new health program sounds great for you. Megs certainly has found it successful. Dad simply has no need (or desire) to lose weight, nor should he. He tries to eat healthy and we watch our calories closely.

    I'm glad you found a reason to return to Utah. I've felt that all along. It's nice to have you home!

  3. I actually lost quite a bit of weight after I got married, but gained it with my first pregnancy and wasn't happy with my weight for a long time. I have several health coaches in my ward so lots of the ward is on board with their program (could be the same as yours, but maybe not). My dad is suffering serious health problems right now because of years of being overweight and then not taking care of himself after his diabetes diagnosis. My family has heart disease and diabetes history and I don't want to make the same mistakes. So I've been trying to balance my sweet tooth with good food and exercise so I don't have to go through the same consequences. Best of luck to you in your program. :) (Glad you actually found a recipe healthy enough on my blog. That doesn't happen often. hehe)