WHEN FITNESS BECOMES A LIFESTYLE
We all know or have known a friend, family member or co-worker whose weight fluctuates. They look different every time you see them. They were heavy as a child; however at various times in their life; they would trim down for short periods of time, only to regain that weight again.
What we rarely are privy to is what is going on inside that person.
I had an opportunity to sit down with Ashley Buneta. This amazing woman is a wife, mother, business owner and fitness buff. Looking at her, you would think she has it all, and you would be right, she does. However, what many of you may not know is that Ashley has worked hard every step of the way for the life she has now.
Ashley had been overweight since the fourth grade and being an overweight teenager brought about additional challenges. In high school she tried to lose the weight by working with a personal trainer, joining weight watchers, and running. When those didn’t work for her, she became a binge eater and a bulimic.
As she explains, bulimia was her “magic pill” and was easy to hide. She could eat anything she wanted and no one guessed she was throwing it all back up. She became so good at it, that she could literally move her body in a specific way and the food would come back up without any outward signs that she had just made herself sick. No one even questioned her weight loss, as her family and friends knew she was just running and dieting.
Looking back, she says she was an unhealthy skinny person. It wasn’t until she was a sophomore in college that her parents discovered what she was doing and immediately put her into an intensive treatment program. While the program provided insights to her food issues, she continued to struggle with bulimia until she became pregnant with her daughter.
Things change when you become responsible for someone else. And the mind can play dirty tricks on you. Add in hormones and the responsibility for a new baby and Ashley had some decisions to make. She explains “When you are heavy and dieting, all you think about is food,” further stating “every holiday and social event is surrounded by food.” There was no escape and all she wanted was to feel full. Her husband says that when food was placed on the table, it was “game on.” For so long, food was much more to Ashley than fuel for her body.
Ashley became pregnant again and weighed in at 297 lbs when she checked into the hospital to give birth to her son. After his birth, Ashley began looking into the lap band procedure. She had come into contact with a former customer who had the procedure and Ashley was impressed with her transformation.
To receive the surgery, you must be 30 pounds overweight with a body mass index of 40 or above. Ashley met the weight requirement and had a BMI of 38%. Another requirement is a demonstrated history of unsuccessful dieting and commitment to making significant changes in your lifestyle. Ashley was ready. (The specifics for the lap band procedure are outlined at www.lapband.com).
She did her research and selected a physician. She took the mandated six classes prior to scheduling her surgery. For two weeks prior to her procedure, she fueled her body with protein shakes. As Ashley explained, “It was a mental game to not chew food.” The protein shakes also prepared her liver and stomach for the lap band. On June 16th, 2014, Ashley underwent the procedure.
Following the surgery was a four week liquid diet. This was tough and she remembers times when she “just wanted a cracker.” She was not prepared for how difficult this part of the recovery would be, and even though she knew she was healing physically; emotionally, this was a struggle for her and her family.
One month after her procedure she asked the doctor if she could start running. He gave her his approval and she started training for her first half marathon. She was soon clocking 20 miles per week and dropped 53 pounds on her own (she found out her lap band hadn’t been working correctly at the time). Unfortunately, an injury prohibited her ability to run her first half marathon; however, she definitely benefited from running again.
According to Ashley, the procedure took the stress of eating away. She knew that she could only eat a certain amount of foods and some foods were totally prohibited. Many foods and carbonated drinks literally made her nauseated. She also had to avoid pasta, bread, and cake.
Post procedure her diet consists largely of proteins. Lunchmeat, nuts, cottage cheese and chicken breasts are staples for her. She carefully portions out all of the food in her home to make it easy to grab something on the go as she doesn’t have the “luxury” of stopping at a fast food joint or gas station for a quick pick me up. When she leaves for work in the mornings, she takes her daily fuel intake with her.
Ashley and her husband Andy are making lifestyle changes that truly impact their whole family. Ashley gets up at 5:45 so she can work out before she goes to work, while Andy gets their kids up and drops them off at daycare. They both work in their business throughout the day and then switch roles as Ashley picks up the kids from daycare so Andy can work out in the evening.
Ashley and Andy began working out at IThinkFit Gym and today, she weighs in at 178 lbs and proudly claims that 76 of that is muscle. She has a BMI of 22 percent and recently lost four inches off her waist. Andy is down 27 lbs as of this writing.
Today, Ashley is healthy and her happiest. She has become the person she always wanted to be. Food no longer controls her life. She loves to go clothes shopping, now agrees to let people take her picture, and she truly makes her own wellness a priority.