So here’s my story…
I should begin by confessing that I tend to be really hard on my past self. I refer to her as fat, lazy, buttface, etc. Honestly, I do it to be self-deprecating and to avoid the fact that I was truly unhappy when I was overweight. But I’m not an elitist that thinks that every single person in the world should be tiny. On the contrary, I think people that are happy with their bodies should keep doing what they’re doing because that’s something I struggle with even now. I do, however, think that anybody who does want to change their body should do it, and they should do it the right way.
I started off at 198 pounds and I was really bloody uncomfortable with it. Yes, I was heavy and yes, my face looked like it had recently been stung by a bee and swollen to twice the size of a normal human’s, but the main issue wasn’t the way I looked, it was how I felt. I would get migraines that would last for days (sometimes as often as three times a month), I had horrible heartburn, and I would have terrible bouts of anxiety. Let’s just say it was not the ideal situation for a 20-year-old girl.
So the day finally came where I changed everything. I can’t really tell you what made me get to the point where I didn’t want anything more than I wanted to lose weight anymore. Something just clicked and I was able to stick with it, unlike all those other times that I’d promised myself that I’d be better tomorrow. I suddenly understood what I needed to do and how I needed to do it. I developed a workout routine that worked for me. It was fun and challenging, but still manageable for someone just starting out. I stopped mindlessly eating in front of the TV and started to portion out my food and at some point began to love the feeling of accomplishment I got from living that way.
Now, it’s hard to say whether or not it was difficult for me to change. The answer really depended on the day. Sure, there were times when I missed eating the things I used to eat, but the fact still remained that I wanted nothing more than to feel better about myself. Once I had decided that, losing weight was the easiest thing in the world. It still took a lot of discipline, but that became easier with time.
I lost fifty pounds in that first six months and became a new person. Health wise, I’d never felt better. My anxiety was gone and since my blood sugar wasn’t cycling faster than a bipolar teenager’s moods, so were the headaches. Life was more fun. I could stand shopping now that I liked the way I looked in the mirror. No longer was I the friend who was huffing and puffing on uphill hikes; I could run for miles without getting tired.
And there I was at 5’9” and 145 pounds that Fall and was pretty much the happiest I could ever remember being. I got a new apartment, a new job, started new classes. I felt like I’d really taken control of my happiness.
But as work and school and life got harder, the easier it was to backslide into my old habits. I was busy! I was working full time every week and going to school! I missed workouts. I started justifying over eating again by telling myself I’d been so good up until then, I deserved to take it easy for all of my hard work. It was like I was a dog, rewarding myself with food for good behavior. Unfortunately, it took me about two years and almost twenty pounds before I noticed that I how badly I’d screwed the pooch.
Twenty pounds! All of that work only to backslide! I was discouraged and upset with myself and, once again, it took a long time to get myself back into the mindset I needed to lose weight.
After months of feeling angry at myself, I finally pulled it together. Last July, I started tracking my calories again. I found harder, more challenging workouts that would really make me work for my meals. I became more active in general, watching less TV and spending more time outdoors (I can’t tell you how much I love hiking now). I focused more on the balance of nutrients in foods than simply on lower calorie content when realized that I had to find a way to make healthy eating something I could stand to do for the rest of my life. For the most part, I truly feel like I’ve changed my life. I can’t say I don’t miss the stress relief you get from not having to scrutinize what you’re going to eat, but the trade off is worth it. I’ve gotten down to 127 pounds and have never felt as proud of myself as I do now. I’ve done something incredible, something that I dreamed of doing all of my young adult life and never really believed I would.
Here’s the thing… I’m happy. Happier than I’ve ever been because I did this for myself.
And that’s what they never tell you growing up. You can’t just sit around waiting for someone or something to bring you happiness. True, sunshine-vomiting joy comes from kicking ass and taking care of what needs to be done.
So get it done.