Most of the public knows Mikkel Becker as the fit, perky, and incredibly positive resident dog and cat trainer at Vetstreet.com — she even shared her top pet fitness tips with us during Fit Bottomed Pets Week! But there was a time when her weight was up and her confidence was down, and we’re thrilled that she agreed to share her story of finding her own version of happy and healthy!
I struggled with weight pretty much all my life and always had a lot of fluctuations. I had tried crash dieting numerous times and, of course, that never lasts. I found myself gaining weight like crazy before my pregnancy (probably stress combined with hashimoto’s disease and an issue with low thyroid … which I didn’t know about at the time) and then it just piled on while I was pregnant. I felt so hopeless about losing weight at that time, because I felt that no matter what I did, I couldn’t lose weight or stay healthy. But I knew I had to — I was about to have a baby who needed me!
After I had my daughter, Reagan, I finally decided I was going to have my thyroid checked. Thank goodness I did, because it was extremely low, which explained my low energy, weakness and weight gain all in one. Of course, it wasn’t all thyroid, but that diagnosis provided the impetus I needed to embrace a healthy lifestyle that I could maintain for a lifetime (along with starting thyroid medication).
My decision post-pregnancy was not just to lose weight, but to do it this time for the right reasons — I wanted to be healthy and take care of my physical and mental health. My mom helped me come up with exercise goals that were attainable with my busy schedule. I also adopted a lot of strategies from Weight Watchers where I could eat what I wanted, but I knew healthy choices meant I could eat more and be more satisfied.
Thankfully I’ve been at a healthy weight now for over four years and I feel the best I ever have. I honestly don’t know what size I was at before, but I think it was around a 14 or a 16, and I’m now a size 2. I was probably around 185 or 190 at that time, and now am in the 125-129 range. But, for me it’s not about the numbers. It’s all about how much better and more confident I feel. It’s just a part of who I am now, so I never feel like I’m dieting! I truly eat things that I like and I feel satisfied by.
I found it really helpful to stop thinking about eating a certain way as a diet — it’s just a lifestyle choice. The more restricted I am, the worse I do, so I try to keep a positive, accepting mindset. I allow myself to have things I like (such as one dessert a day) while making most of my choices healthy. In the past, I burned out fast by setting fitness goals that were way too unrealistic, so now, I exercise three days a week (cardio and weights) and walk my Pugs a lot. It’s all about balance and feeling satisfied and happy with my choices.
Two other things were really helpful in adopting a healthy lifestyle. First I made a commitment to not look in the mirror for 40 days. I did this during Lent for my Christian commitment to God, and what this experiment made me realize was that I wasn’t a mirror looker for vanity, but rather because I felt insecure. Avoiding the mirror empowered me — it helped me break free from that insecurity and realize there was more to me (smarts, talent, love for others). Second was my mom, Teresa Becker, who is my biggest cheerleader. She has her Masters in physical education and always inspires me to eat and move and be healthy without worry placed on my size.
It’s a real blessing in many ways to have been given the gift of health and a new beginning in many ways — this was also when I made the move to leave a really emotionally abusive relationship and to do what was right for myself and my daughter. God really blessed me in so many ways, and that new beginning was positively profound — that internal change really manifested on the outside as well.
Do you have a size or weight range that you aim for, or is it all about feel for you? —Mikkel Becker