I have been working on this post for a while and now am finally taking a deep breath and hitting publish. I have never really shared my complete story with people before in this detail (and complete with all the pictures). I feel that I am now in a place where I am more comfortable discussing my journey publicly. I am hoping that you will be kind. Here it goes.
Growing up I was always a heavy kid. I was always the tallest and the heaviest in school and in my family. I am now 6’1 and remember I would justify my weight as saying I was ‘big boned’. My family was a very active one. We would spend weekends skiing, hiking, and exploring the outdoors. Physical activity was not the sole problem, food was. My portions of food was totally off the chart and I would eat excessive amounts of junk foods. My diet did have healthy food in it but the portions were just crazy. I would have a large salad that would have tons of croutons, nuts, and dressing on it. Totally defeated the purpose of having a salad. A bowl of cereal would be 3-4 times the suggested box serving size. I would eat a bunch of cookies with non fat milk. I remember the days of ordering a medium pizza and eating slice after slice. I consider myself lucky in that other than being morbidly obese I did not have any other medical problems associated with my weight. I had no blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, etc. I hate to admit this but I don’t remember what actually sparked me to make a change. As my clothes would get tighter I would simply go to the store and buy the next size up. I didn’t have that ‘wakeup call’ that some people have. What I do remember was it was early in 2010. I think that something ‘clicked’ and made me think I should make some changes to my life. As a nurse I knew all of the ‘right’ things to do to lose weight. I was at my heaviest now. I do remember thinking what would I have to lose. I went through my kitchen and got rid of all of the junk food and processed food. For me I knew that if I was going to give this a try that having the cookies, chips, etc around wasn’t going to help. I know that some people can have it around while losing weight but for me I knew it would be too easy to eat 6 cookies instead of 1 or 2. I made easy and simple changes. I used to never eat breakfast. I also used to eat a lot in the evenings. I would come home at 11pm from work and eat leftovers in the fridge or pick up fast food after already eating dinner and snacks at work all evening. Snacks at work…..they were a huge source of my daily calories. I would graze constantly at work when there was food (99% of it was not healthy food) as well as eat the food that I had brought to work to eat. I was eating crazy amounts of calories. I knew I had to cut out the grazing at work if I was going to have any hope of success at this change. I was also a diet soda drinker. I was drinking tons of diet soda…no calories no problem right? It too would need to be eliminated. I replaced it with Crystal Light and after a period of time I phased that out as well.
I started to eat breakfast as soon as I woke up. I would make oatmeal with raisins, walnuts, and a glass of milk. It became my go to meal. I started paying attention more to serving sizes of foods and just started eating smaller servings at other meals. I focused on eating whole foods and eliminated processed foods For the first month I just tried to make these changes. Sometimes I succeed and there were meals that I still reverted back to my old ways. I remember ordering a thin crust veggie pizza one evening and eating slice after slice (justifying it was healthier than the variety I would have eaten before). After the first month or so I signed up for a membership at the gym. I started to walk on treadmill and did some light weight lifting. I tracked my weight on an app on my phone. I didn’t really use the apps from a calorie count perspective but did find it useful to keep track of my progress with the weight. Through the spring I continued with these changes. I was seeing results. I was losing weight and people were starting to notice. I felt like the changes and hard work was working which made me continue with the lifestyle changes.
I had always liked the idea of being a runner but told myself that was something that I could never do. In my mind I was way too heavy to be a runner. You needed to be short and light to be a runner right?!? One day on the treadmill I decided to try running. I ran for 15 seconds. I was out of breath and tired but I had never felt prouder of myself. I ran and not only did I survive the 15 seconds I actually liked it. I slowly increased the time I would run. 15 seconds every few minutes to 30 seconds every few minutes until one day I ran a whole mile. It was not a fast mile by any means but it was a whole mile. The day I ran that mile was the greatest day of my life. I felt so proud of myself and remember driving home from the gym with tears in my eyes and just feeling amazed that I had accomplished that goal. I was seeing success on the scale and now at the gym. I was getting stronger day by day. By 2011 I had lost 100 lbs and was now settling into this new lifestyle. I was making time to go to the gym around my crazy work schedule. I was continuing to eat whole foods and even enjoying buying clothes for the first time in my life. I was continuing a run/walk routine at the gym and decided I would like to enter a local 6k race. It was a nighttime race and my first race ever. I finished the race in 49:34. I had to take a lot of walk breaks but was ecstatic with my accomplishment. I was hooked on running and races now. I decided to look for races and enter one every few months. I figured it would help me stay motivated to continue eating well and going to the gym. In June I did a local 8k race with a time of 1:10:50. I again felt a huge sense of accomplishment with completing the race. It didn’t matter that I took a lot of walk breaks and was by no means fast, what mattered to me was that I completed it. It was something that I could have never completed if I hadn’t made this change.
In the summer of 2011 I remember reading a magazine article about someone who had run a half marathon. I didn’t give it much thought at the time but a few months later decided that perhaps I could give it a try. I went searching online for a good flat beginner half marathon. I found the Surf City Half in Huntington Beach California. It was on Feb 5, 2012. I thought it would be great and it would give me the chance to visit Los Angeles for the first time. I had a great time. I loved the experience and the environment of the race. Running along beside the ocean was great. I finished the race in 3:27:10 but it didn’t matter. To me what mattered was that I finished. I remember thinking in the last few miles how tired I was and questioning whether or not I could finish. I had lost over 150 lbs at this point and was in the final stages of completing a freaking half marathon. I just kept telling myself that and the tiredness dissipated and I felt so proud of myself. I still remember the last mile of the race vividly. I remember having tears in my eyes and feeling so proud of myself for completing this race and for all the changes I had made in my life. I will never forget that race and how I felt. I have run other races including another half marathon (Portland Oregon in May 2013) but Surf City was definitely the best. I am now at a healthy weight for my body. I have lost over 250 lbs and have never gained back any of the weight I have lost over this 4 year period. When I look back at pictures of me in 2010 I find it hard to recognize that person. I thought my life was complete but I am so much happier than I was back then. There was one thing holding me back from fulling enjoying this new life of mine…loose excess skin. After being as heavy as I was and after losing the weight I had a lot of excess skin. I always found it frustrating looking at magazine pictures or tv interviews of people who had lost massive amounts of weight and not seeing any loose skin. Was I the only one? I learned after that many winners of TV shows have the surgery done, many hide it in clothes, and there are some lucky folks who don’t have the excess skin. I was able to hide mine in clothes but when I would look in the mirror I would feel like I was fit strong person in a deflated fat suit. I spoke to numerous physicians and was told that due to the amount of skin I had remaining that surgery was my only option. I thought about it for a long time and finally decided to proceed with surgery to remove the excess skin on my two worst areas…my stomach and arms. I had the surgery in June 2014 and plan to talk more about it in another post but wanted to briefly mention it here as it is part of my journey. Although I know that I will never gain the weight back and will never revert back to the ‘old’ me living in a post dieting world is harder than I thought. I have definitely had some moments where I realize I am verging on disordered eating thinking. Ironically loosing all the weight involved a lot less worrying about food as compared to life at time now in a post diet world. It will always be something that I will have to work at I believe. Some days more than others. It has been one of the hardest things I have ever done but I am so thankful that I started this journey and proud of the changes I have made along the way.
Thanks for reading this extremely long post. Do you have a weight loss story?