108: Andrea Matthes on Belief, Consistency, and Habits

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Andrea was once the “funny, chubby girl” whose life revolved around food and who felt exercise was impossible.

From gastric bypass to Crossfit coach, Andrea shares tips from her Imperfect Life.

“Momentum goes both ways. Use it to your advantage.”

Weight Gain Background and Contributing Factors

It was around age 7 that Andrea first realized she was heavier than other kids her age. A lot of the weight gain was simply from learned habits from her family, and from:

“…too much good food too often.”

Although she was active (musical theatre, volleyball) her weight kept creeping up as an adolescent, and by the time she graduated from high school, she was over 200 pounds at 5’1” tall.

How Being Overweight Impacted Andrea’s Life

As an adolescent, Andrea would have described herself as “funny and chubby.” She was very social and enjoyed a strong social support network through musical theatre, and shares that the only time her weight really bothered her at this point was a lack of interest from boys.

Andrea discusses that, in the past, she thinks she “tried everything except for the cabbage soup diet.” She tried it all—groups, prepackaged foods, various programs—but thinks she wasn’t mentally ready yet for success. For example, Andrea shares that while low carb eating didn’t work for her in the past, it is working for her now. Now looking back Andrea feels that:

“There are a lot of things that work but you have to: A) believe that they will work, B) be consistent, and C) make them work for you.”

Andrea shares that she used her weight as part of her stage identity, so it wasn’t a constant issue for her, nor did she – fortunately – have any additional health problems at the time.

Looking back, Andrea says that being ready is key to success.

“I wasn’t ready to make the sacrifices necessary…I wasn’t ready to fully understand what was necessary…I wasn’t ready to want it bad enough. I wasn’t ready to believe that it would work.”

Andrea reached a peak weight of 328 pounds. (149.1 kg)

The Turning Point

Andrea opens up about what she began to notice when she turned 30. She describes feeling trapped inside her body and experiencing joint pain and discomfort all the time. However, she didn’t blame any of these issues on her weight.

By age 33, Andrea realized she had become sedentary and had been battling infertility and PCOS for over 10 years, and that food was the only thing she could find joy in. At 328 pounds, Andrea says “my body was so miserably uncomfortable,” and she made the decision to have a gastric bypass surgery.

Surgery and Weight Loss

Andrea went into the surgery feeling very optimistic, and the procedure and recovery have gone well for her. However, given the chance to do it again, she wouldn’t.

“If I had known then what I know now, I would not have done it.”

Following the surgery, Andrea still had plateaus, weight fluctuations and the like, and it took 2 years after the surgery to get to her goal weight. 10 months post-op she started Crossfit. Andrea’s website has an article she wrote entitled “The 10+ Reasons I Love My Ugly Body,” (http://www.imperfectlife.net/ilovemyuglybody/) in which she openly discusses her body image and the disparity between her strength and level of commitment and what she sees in the mirror. Regarding weight loss, Andrea says:

“The measurable progress is far more motivating than what you think you are going to accomplish by depriving yourself of a food group.”

While the procedure worked for her, Andrea is not an advocate of the surgery.

Staying Motivated

Andrea is now a Crossfit coach, a certified personal trainer and blogger, but she says:

“I’m not cured of my fatness. Every day is a choice.”

Learning new habits and constant vigilance is required to maintain the new lifestyle. Staying on track and getting back “on the wagon” right away after indulgences or missed exercise is key for her. It’s all about the momentum, and she always works to have that move in the right direction. Moving forward builds and builds, but bad momentum can build just as easily.

“Every failure is a learning experience.”

Practical Tips

Andrea’s #1 rule is to forgive herself. For example, with working out, if she doesn’t want to go to the gym, she makes herself go for 10 minutes and just see if she can change her own mind. Eliminating stress and guilt about food choices and exercise are important facets of that forgiveness.

For Andrea, her normal life is fairly structured with exercise and food–clean low carb diet, going to Crossfit several times each week. So on vacation, she goes out for a meal and enjoys it and that allows her for a less stressful vacation, not having to worry about what food will be on offer, etc.

Andrea dislikes diets in general, and as an industry insider she feels that the all or nothing approach published by most books just essentially sets people up for failure.

“You’ve got to find what works for you.”

“The hard work pays off. Consistency is absolutely necessary. Stop looking for answers and just do the work. Learn and educate yourself.”

Andrea’s Advice For Your Journey

Take baby steps. Find one small thing you can change. Use the snowball effect and get it going in the right direction. “Don’t get caught up in the big picture.” Instead, Andrea encourages folks to find goals that are direct results of foods they put in their body.

“Whatever you choose to do, believe that it’s going to work.”

Resources Discussed In This Podcast

On Andrea’s Workout Playlist

Contacting Andrea

Andrea stays busy with her coaching, workouts, and online business. Visit her profiles below and say Hello!

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