Warning: Some foul language included 🙂
Lots of folks have asked about my weight loss. I wanted to write about it so that I could share the reality of how I am doing it and why. For those who don’t like to read…the summary is…there is no magic bullet.
I have spent the majority of my adult life overweight. Fat. Obese. For a very long time I was happy with myself. I felt good and my weight did not prevent me from doing anything that I wanted to do. I didn’t have any health problems. I coached for over 10 years. I have never NOT been able to do a cartwheel or run. I didn’t even really think that much about my weight. As long as I was able to look cute in my clothes, I was happy. The first time I became aware of how others perceived my weight came from my children. My honest and shady crumb snatchers looked a me one day and said “Mommy you look just like Rikishi.”
What? Full stop. Now, I don’t know if you guys know who Rikishi is but at the time he was a very popular wrestler at the time. Suffice it to say I was shocked hurt and embarrassed.
I began to notice that I was almost ALWAYS the fattest person in the room. I started to obsess over my weight. There would be times where I would tell myself that my weight did not matter and to be happy with who I was. But the dissatisfaction had crept in and I spent a lot of time being very self conscious. I compared myself to who I was bigger than constantly.
Several years later, I auditioned for a show on The Discovery Channel called the Body Challenge. I got the part and over a few months, I was given a personal trainer and a nutritionist. Every jiggle, grunt and mushy place on my body was captured for the world to see on national television. I learned all about counting calories and how to grocery shop and exercise and on and on. I lost weight and I was happy with it…for a moment. In due time, the pounds came back and brought friends. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I wanted to lose weight, I really did. I wanted to be attractive and shop wherever I pleased. There were times where I would be very disciplined and lose a few pounds but they always came back. I would frequently go on bouts of drinking water religiously (a gallon of day will help you lose weight). I would walk and publicize my steps so I could feel some accountability to continuing. But I would lose focus and before you knew it, I was heavy again.
By August of 2017, I weighed upwards of 242 pounds ( I stopped weighing myself , but this was my last official weight. I am sure I was heavier.) I was depressed. I loved my job but could not survive on what I was being paid. My children had for the most part left the nest but were still struggling in various areas. I was in the midst of a traumatic break up of a long term relationship. Rather than wallowing in my misery, I decided to start doing things that would make me feel better. I upped my activism. I sought out various spiritual practices. I re-engaged with old friends and met new ones. One of the new friends and I decided that we wanted to hang out and were unsure of what to do. She suggested we go to a nearby lake and walk the trails.
On the very first day, we walked for hours. We walked and we talked and the time flew by. We continued this new hobby of walking the trails and circling the lake. It gave me time to really think about what was going on in my life. I came to a conclusion. It wasn’t necessarily what I was eating. I was fat because of what was eating me. My fat represented safety. It was my own personally constructed wall against the world. My fat made me feel solid. It made me feel that I could not easily be pushed around. I had swallowed every bad thing that ever happened to me and chased it with food. I was hurting so deeply that I did not realize I was retreating further and further into the soft folds of my own flesh. My fearfulness of the world and what horrible thing was waiting next for me kept me in a place of low self esteem and poor habits.
For me, hiking became a cathartic experience. I am terrified of snakes and to just be outside in nature was an immense challenge. The combination of forcing myself to navigate that fear and assessing what was really wrong with me gave me a break through of sorts. The pounds began to fall off rapidly. I wish that I could tell you that assessment of my mental health and exercise were solely responsible for my weight loss, but that just isn’t true. I was stressed. I didn’t eat much. I took almost a month off work and plunged in the woods walking for sometimes almost 5 or 6 hours a day. Walking so much forced me to drink more water. I ate even less because quite frankly I am not fond of bathrooms at public parks.
As I went through this process, I doubled down on the decision that I wanted to change my life. I stopped hesitating and ended the relationship. I quit my job. I stopped interacting with toxic people. I moved to Atlanta alone. When I arrived in Atlanta, the magnitude of what I had changed leaped upon me like a pussy grabbing president. I found myself depressed with a side of suicidal thoughts. I had to completely adjust my finances. I was alone and in a new place. Life was dark. I was living off of red bulls and cigarettes. Due to a loving intervention from my bad ass friends, I began to come out of my depression and started to appreciate my life. I started to recognize the gifts that I had been overlooking. I started beating back the negative thoughts. I started to feel good. And of course feeling good meant I started eating a lot.
After all I had been through, I felt the cycle begin again. But this time, I was determined to break it. As soon as I noticed I was getting heavier, I told myself no. I told myself that I needed to put as much care into what I put in my body as I did selecting dog food (my dog eats awesome, grain free food because I love him).
I took the time to think when I found myself reaching for the ever available snacks and asked myself, How am I feeling in this moment? Why am I eating this? Is something else wrong? Do I want to sabotage my weight loss for this momentary sugar high?
More consistently then ever, I am able to say no. I don’t really do gyms, although I want to. So instead, I turned up as often as I could. That’s right, I party hard. I sought out activities where I could dance and when I was out I danced like it was 1992 at the Aug (Go Falcons!) or early 2000’s in the Sweat Box (Eagle Pride!) . I generally dance with anyone that asks because that’s how I exercise.
I wish I could tell you this really cool story that uncovered the magic bullet of weight loss. That isn’t my story. I lost weight because I was shedding pain. Pain that I wore for way too long. My weight loss is not what the doctor would advise and surely some of it is far from healthy. But that is what happened. I am moving to healthier ways to continue to lose. I have roughly 10-25 more pounds to shed before I will consider myself in the maintenance phase.
What I really think is that before you can lose weight, you have to figure out why it is there in the first place. For some people, it is genetic and that’s just the way it is. For others, simple lifestyle changes will do the trick. But if you are like me, you ate those hugs and affirmations that you felt were missing from the people in your life. You succumbed to hiding behind being the cheerful fat girl that cracks everyone up and is so nice to be around. I want you to know that you don’t have to hide and you don’t have to repress. I want you to know that whatever you have been through, you are still worthy and you deserve the best life has to offer. I want you to be okay knowing that you have to give those things to yourself. And once all that happens, the weight will begin to fall.
I love you bunches!