REAL PEOPLE, REAL STORIES: HEAVY’s Stacia Kingston
Every Monday for the past six weeks, we have been watching the stories of twelve individuals and their journeys to a healthier life on A&E’s series, HEAVY. You might have even had the opportunity to meet them in person during their six month stay here at Hilton Head Health. As many of you know, once you have been to H3, you become a part of our family. And I think I can vouch for each saying that not only did they become our family – we became theirs. Keeping in touch with each of them has been a real treat – watching them overcome the barriers of transitioning their lifestyle, conquering fitness goals and setting the bar even higher for their future. Today, you will have the chance to learn more about the accomplishments and challenges HEAVY participant, Stacia Kingston, has experienced in the months after returning home.
What has your life been like after returning home? What things have changed? What challenges have you faced?
While I was at H3 filming, my [job] position was eliminated. Fortunately, there was a position available for me when I returned to work, and that I am very grateful for! However, it has been quite an adjustment. I had no choice in my current position, but I have been readjusting and learning the new job, and it’s given me the opportunity to meet and work with new people. My schedule has changed somewhat, and that has been very challenging as well. I had made my exercise and meal schedule around my old job, so obviously adjustments had to be made. This is where the “evaluating the implementation” step from Adam’s Goal Setting lecture came in! At first, I was trying to stick to my original plans that I had made prior to leaving H3…and it just wasn’t working. Had I continued on that path, I would have been destined to get off track. I cannot stress enough the importance of this step in goal setting!
You mention that work has allowed you to meet new people, yet limit your time for socializing. How have your relationships changed since returning home? Were you able to build a support system?
The most obvious change in my relationships since I’ve returned home is that my husband and I have separated. As I mentioned during the filming of the show, we really enabled each other when it came to food. While I had made so many healthy changes during my time at H3, he had not. In theory, he was on board with all of my lifestyle changes and supportive, but he was still eating and living the same way as before. I began to see my new good habits start to shift toward the negative ones again, and I knew that in this environment, I would go right back to where I had been…and it scared me to death. It was at that moment that I made the most difficult and painful decision of my life, to move out. I had to create my own safe environment, and take care of me.
Relationships with friends have changed as well. My social calendar is not as full as it used to be! In many of my friendships, the bonding was always over food, mostly eating out. I’ve tried to change the dynamic of my friendships by suggesting activities not centered around food, but on exercise or more active type gatherings. My friend Andrea, who used to be my go-to when I was craving Mexican food, has now become my partner in crime in regards to fitness. We trained together and recently completed our first sprint triathlon at Parris Island! Does that mean that we never eat together? Of course not! We still occasionally go out for dinner, but it’s not the focus of our friendship. I feel like our friendship has gotten even stronger. And that is true of the friendships where I’ve been able to shift the focus from food…I feel much more connected and engaged as a friend. There are also the friends that I just can’t be around as much, not because I don’t love and care about them, but because their habits don’t support my lifestyle any longer.
There is no question that the lifestyle of one at H3 is not realistic for the everyday world. What is your diet and fitness routine like now that you are back at home?
My diet is very simple compared to the gourmet meals that we had at H3. While I love to cook, I’m a creature of habit, and I like to keep meals and meal planning as straightforward and uncomplicated as possible. I will say that after trying so many different types of foods at H3, the variety of foods that I prepare is much bigger. Additionally, I have transitioned to a much more vegetarian lifestyle. I still do eat animal proteins, but I eat at least 2-3 vegetarian dinners a week, whereas before I would have had none. I am eating right around 1600 calories a day, which is satisfying while also allowing me to continue to lose weight, albeit at a slower pace. In terms of eating out at restaurants, I try to limit it to 2-3 times a week, and never more than once in the same day. Furthermore, I try to plan the occurrences of eating out in advance, so I don’t decide to use it “on the fly” as a coping mechanism for a bad day.
My time spent exercising has most certainly decreased since coming home. It’s just not realistic to exercise four to five hours a day! Even the training schedule I was sticking to while training for my sprint triathlon was almost too challenging to stick to in the “real world.” While training for that I was exercising about two and half hours a day, and since I exercise in the morning before work…well, let’s just say it was awfully early when that alarm clock went off every day! Now that I’m back to a more basic fitness routine, I aim for 30-45 minutes of cardio 5-6 days a week. I strength train each muscle group (alternating days) 2-3 days a week. This brings my workout in at an hour and half every day. I also started a walking group at work, and every day at 11am and 3pm we walk around the academic quad for 15 minutes. I’m fortunate to work on a college campus, so I have lots of opportunities to walk to other buildings on campus. On the weekends (especially since it’s getting to be warmer weather) I try to do something fun…something I want to do, anything to get out of the gym and the mentality that I “have” to do it. Last Saturday, I climbed to the top of Stone Mountain for the first time, and this weekend I’m planning on taking a long bike ride on the Silver Comet Trail. I never want exercise to become a chore to me, and with these “fun days,” it keeps me excited about staying active!
Thanks for sharing Stacia – you are truly an inspiration! Check back to H3 DAILY this weekend for PART TWO of our interview – focusing on motivation and support.