February 2021 California Cattleman

Page 30

Love leads to loss Self-love inspires ranch-raised agvocate to lose big, gain bigger by Kiah Twisselman for the California Cattleman


was sitting in a hotel lobby in Louisville, Kentucky behind a table of beef industry brochures and recipe books. It was the annual state convention for registered dietitians, and I was there to advocate for beef ’s role in a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle on behalf of Kentucky’s 38,000 cattle farmers. I felt out of place. Sure, I knew the information on the table was accurate. I believed to my core that beef is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. But sitting there, weighing 285 pounds and out of breath after carrying a few boxes from the parking lot, I had to wonder, “Who’s going to believe beef is healthy when I don’t exactly look like someone who should be giving health advice? Am I doing more harm than good for the beef industry I was raised in?” Ouch, that last question stung. Beef has always been a big part of my life. I grew up on my family’s now seventh-generation cattle ranch in rural California on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo County. Some of my fondest memories as a child were gathered with family and friends around the grill, covered in dust - and Lord knows what else - after a long day of working cattle. I was a proud member of 4-H and FFA, showing cattle at my local county fair. I even used the money from my first heifer project as a down payment for my dorm room at UC Davis. In college, I became an active member of the Young Cattlemen’s Association. I took my love of beef advocacy into my first “big kid” job out of college, taking a position as the Director of Consumer Affairs for the Kentucky Beef Council. Through every stage of my life, beef has always somehow been woven into my story, personally and professionally. But, as I sat there at that dietetics conference, I felt deep shame that I was the voice speaking on its behalf. Not because I didn’t believe in the product, but because I wasn’t practicing what I preached and representing it well. ____________________________

some weight, I was eager to go back to “normal” eating, so I gained it all back and then some. That pattern continued as I yo-yo dieted off and on through high school and college, desperate to be thin and beautiful. After countless failed attempts, eventually I resigned myself to just being a victim to the poor genetic hand I was dealt, and accepted the fact there was nothing I could do about it. Until the seatbelt moment, that is. I was boarding a plane from Kentucky to Arizona for a work conference. After squeezing into my seat, I reached down to buckle my seatbelt. Crap, it didn’t fit. Before I had a chance to think about it, the stewardess offered me a seatbelt extender. The only thing I could do not to burst into tears was hide my face in the book I just so happened to buy at the airport book store, Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Wash Your Face. In so many ways, that rock-bottom moment and the off-chance that I bought that book the very same day, is what saved me. Her book was the words I needed to hear at a time I was finally ready to receive them. It was my wakeup call that I had been blaming my circumstances in my life - my job, my income, my genetics, my partner - instead of taking ownership of my choices. It was a hard pill to swallow, to realize that MY choices were the reason I was feeling unfulfilled and unhealthy. But at the same time, it was the most freeing moment of my life. Because if it was MY choices that got me here, then it was MY choices that could get me somewhere else. On Oct. 1, 2018, I decided I’d give this health thing another shot. I started with five simple daily habits as part of Rachel Hollis’ Last 90 Days Challenge.

Looking back, I don’t ever remember a time I wasn’t overweight. The earliest diet I can remember was when I was 10 years old doing Atkins with my parents. After losing

By the end of the 90 days, I had already lost 25 pounds, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like I was making a bunch of empty promises on January 1st. I regained self-

30 California Cattleman February 2021

• Get up one hour earlier and use that time for yourself. • Move your body for at least 30 minutes. • Drink half your body weight in ounces of water • Give up one food that doesn’t bless your body. • Write down 10 things you’re grateful for.

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