- Posted August 8, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments
The Real Deal
At age 27, I found myself morbidly obese, unhealthy and definitely unhappy. My weight peaked at 290 pounds on my 5′ 8″ frame. I had convinced myself that it wasn’t that bad. I was living in the Midwest: capital of fried foods, ranch dressing and TV marathons.
No one really mentioned my weight. No family member pulled me aside and told me how worried they were for my health. No one called me fat to my face although I’m sure they did behind my back. Everyone acted like my weight wasn’t a big deal except for my doctor.
My husband and I were hoping to start a family soon but I knew I probably couldn’t conceive. My doctor already diagnosed me with polycystic ovary disease and thyroid disease. PCOS makes it very difficult to get pregnant, if you’re able to at all. My doctor warned me that if I lost the weight, it would probably go away. Still, I thought that wasn’t a big enough reason to get healthy and drop the weight.
I found lots of excuses for my weight. I thought I didn’t have the time or energy to think about calories and running. I am a full time teacher and think about very little other than school from August to June. I thought losing weight would distract me from my job and marriage. What I didn’t know is how it would nurture my relationship and how much better of a teacher I could be when I was healthy.
While I desperately tried to convince myself that my weight didn't matter, there were things about it I couldn't ignore. It bothered me that I weighed more than my six foot tall husband. It bothered me if people gave me weird looks in a health food store or normal size clothing store. It bothered me that if I did get pregnant, no one would even be able to tell. It bothered me to push the table away in a restaurant so I could fit. Life is hard for overweight people but I felt like getting healthy would be even harder.
In the summer of 2012, my husband and I made the decision to move to Denver, Colorado. After moving, we were exposed to a much different way of life. Colorado is home to some the healthiest and most active people in the country. I found that there was a long list of things I couldn’t do and enjoy about our new home because of my obesity.
My ‘aha’ moment came when my best friend got pregnant. She is healthy weight and a natural healthy eater. She was worried about all the statistics and ‘what ifs’ of carrying a child. While I held the ultrasound picture of what would become her beautiful baby boy, I knew I had to make changes. I wanted so much for my future children. If I couldn’t give them a healthy environment for the first 9 months, what could I provide after that? The more I thought about it, the more my obesity felt selfish. I was choosing to die early, develop countless diseases and leave my husband and future children behind to eat cheeseburgers and nachos.
I decided it was time for a change. I had tried dieting in the past without many results. I always struggled with the restrictions of fad diets and never could figure out how to transition back to a regular diet. I knew if I was going to do it, I had to do it eating real foods in the real world and that’s exactly what I did.
I did not follow any fad diet rules, have surgery, use pills, hire a personal trainer or develop an eating disorder during my journey. My start date was May 1, 2013. At first I made small changes like grilled instead of fried and diet pop for regular. As a full time teacher, finding time for dieting and fitness was difficult at first. I found a few friends that were willing to get healthy with me. We supported each other by bringing lunches for each other and discussing issues we were having. I was the ringleader and led several others to start getting healthy as well.
When you are eating so poorly, small changes can make a big difference and the weight started to melt off. I felt like I was becoming the person I always saw myself as on the inside. As my collarbones and leg muscles started to expose, so did my confidence and happiness in all areas of my life, not just my appearance. I found it was actually easier to excel at my job and give my marriage the attention that it needed.
After the initial weight dropped off easily, I had to get more serious. I now eat a low calorie and low sugar diet and feel I’ve recalibrated my entire body. Instead of craving melted cheese, chocolate and chips, now I crave green apples, hummus and protein shakes. I eat as many natural foods as I can and skip processed and high calorie foods. I still eat nachos, pizza and cupcakes but I’ve discovered the perfect portions for my body and healthier versions of the foods I couldn’t go without
I also added fitness to my routine. I started with tons of walking and then running. In January 2014, I joined a local gym. Its owner expects his members to be strong athletes. I’ve never considered myself an athlete before now, but the truth is there was an athlete inside under all that fat. I attend the gym as much as I can now, usually 4-5 times a week, and push my body to its limits just to see what it can do.
I have now lost 125 pounds putting my weight in the healthy range for the first time in my adult life. My husband and I are hoping to start trying to have a baby soon followed by much needed skin surgery in the future. I’ve done it and anyone can do it. You do not have to follow a fad diet plan and deprive yourself of every food you’ve ever loved in exchange for cardboard and rice cakes. There is a natural, healthy and safe way to do it.
When I look back at my journey, it was definitely hard but being overweight was just as hard. When you’re overweight your whole adult life, you don’t even realize the things you have to do that others don’t. I didn’t know that normal weight people don’t have to worry about where they are seated in a restaurant. They can ride roller coasters and buckle seat belts. They don’t worry about how far away the car is from the store or get tired walking up and down stairs. I didn’t know that normal people didn’t do these things, never having been one myself.
I don’t even recognize the person I used to be anymore but then other days I don’t recognize the person I see in the mirror. I’m happier than I ever have been and not just as a result of weight loss. I have done a lot of emotional work to get where I am, not just counting calories and cardio minutes. When people see me now, they always ask how I did it. Simple: eating right, exercise and getting to know your true self. There’s no secret. Anybody could do what I did with the right information and will power.
Thank you for this avenue for me to pay it forward. I have been looking for ways to share my story and inspire others. I have started my own blog: www.yogapantsdiary.com where subscribers can find quick tips and stories of my own journey.