I’ve hemmed and hawed over sharing this very personal story publicly online for a while now, and I decided that if it was going to help and inspire other people, than it was worth feeling completely exposed…
We all have our inner battles to fight. Call them demons, Goliath’s, trials, curses – we can’t run from them, though many people try, and many people hide them. One trick to learn for a successful happy relationship is loving yourself enough to have the courage to fight those demons day in and day out. Sometimes we conquer them on our own, sometimes we need our loved ones help. Confidence is a trait attractive to both sexes, and if you’re unhappy with yourself because of something, it’ll surface and rear its ugly head sooner or later, no matter how you try to fake it. It took me most of my adolescence to kick my demon of being overweight to the curb, and when I did, guys started asking me out not only because I was thinner, but because I was happy and confident. I started actually holding eye contact instead of ducking my head, smiling at guys when that eye contact happened, approaching guys in different situations, doing things I was too embarrassed to do before with the fat kid following me around. This is my story.
Summer 2010. The month of July. I’d broken up with my boyfriend in May; we’d been dating for a year and life had thrown me from cloud nine to rock bottom. The past two months had involved me sitting on my couch stuffing my face or lying in my bed sleeping or crying. It was my way of “coping” with finding out the person I had received confirmation of marrying had cheated on me and lied on numerous occasions about pretty much everything. They ain’t jokin’ when they say love is blind. Anyway, sob story aside, it had a bigger physical effect on my body than I could have anticipated. I started having severe stomach pain, fevers, and all sorts of other unhappy things happening to my body. I remember asking my Church leaders to come over and give me a blessing of health and comfort, and I was so sick I was shaking, sweating, jittery, clammy – a complete wreck. Even before that, in May I had hurt my back lifting my heavy laptop bag, so I saw my chiropractor every weekday for the whole month of August trying to get the pain to go away. My weight was back to where it was in high school, well over 200 pounds. I exercised, but not even close to enough to balance out or exceed the number of calories I was consuming and the extreme amounts of stress I was under.
I had slowly been gaining weight over my first tears years of teaching. Anyone who knows me from high school or before knows I’ve never been skinny. Those who know me from college know I arrived Freshmen year as a biggie, then lost 60 lbs during my sophomore year, motivated by the magazine perfection of the girls around me and the number of guys NOT paying attention to me at BYU. I ran 5 miles everyday, lifted weight three times a week, and starved because I had no money to buy food. It was great to be skinnier, but it didn’t last, and the guys that went after me were all creepers or douschebags (sorry Mom, but the word is so fitting!). I gained a bit back before my mission but it was after college that it really went back on. I didn’t handle the stress and demands of my new profession very well at all at first. Stress has always been and always will be my greatest enemy, and trying to finish the rest of my college in a year and starting as a new teacher/coach in a small town ran by parents was a stress jackpot.
Back to summer. I finally went in to see my doctor and so began the testing. Lots of blood testing, scans, gyno visits, x-rays of my liver and kidneys, everything but the ONE test I needed that my insurance company wouldn’t cover. He kept assuring me it wasn’t ulcers but after getting no results and the insurance company not budging, he finally gave me some ulcer meds and *presto*, after a week or so the pain went away. The day after I got the meds from the doctor, I went in to the dermatologist to get some more face wash and what not. It was a new dermatologist, the new PA, and he looked at my face for about five seconds and said, “I do not like the look of this.” I was a bit taken aback, but soon realized he wasn’t talking about my ugly mug, but about moles. He began poking at my neck and said, “Yeah those are gonna have to come off.” Two months later I had not only two, but five biopsy’s and two incisions resulting in nasty scars for removal and treatment of a type of skin cancer called melanoma. My body didn’t react well to the stitches or bandaging and I got infections and some big “hyrablahblahblahsomethingorother” scarring. I knew I wasn’t doing well, but ulcers and skin cancer? REALLY?? Let’s just say it wasn’t my summer.
It was then I realized that I needed to start taking care of myself and get healthy. It hadn’t been spelled out for me and the doctor’s hadn’t said a word about my weight, but for me it was clear as day. I knew it would be difficult to work out with my new incisions on my back, neck, stomach, and arms, and I also didn’t know what the best way was to go about changing my eating habits of fast food and on the go type stuff since I was too depressed and poor to buy good foods and cook. A few friends had recommended HCG to me, so I researched that for about a week and gave it a try for a month. I wasn’t too happy having to pay $300 for it on top of all my other medical bills that had raped my savings and bank accounts, but I was desperate. So for a month I ate 500 calories a day of purely organic foods and spices and put drops under my tongue. I lost 30 lbs in month, but I was HATING my life, more than I was already hating it for how I felt emotionally. People were also badmouthing me behind my back about going on such an “evil cheater” diet and against the word of wisdom and pathetic and so on didn’t help either.
Why was I so miserable? Saying that HCG is an INSANELY strict diet is an understatement. You can eat like 3 types of meat, 3 types of veggies, and 3 types of fruit n that is IT. You have to weigh out everything you eat and if you go under or over or accidentally add something that wasn’t on the list you wouldn’t lose any weight that day. It was a nightmare having to be so meticulous and spending so much time cooking every single meal and having to pack it. Going to Newport Beach on it was laughable. However, I stopped craving sugar and found I had enough energy to go about a normal day. I felt better than I had in YEARS. Yet, I knew it wasn’t a lifestyle I could maintain and that I couldn’t live like that for another month. So I started the maintenance phase then went into the dreaded calorie counting and workout regime. It was difficult to eat more than 800-1000 calories after eating so little, but a big part of HCG you have to do in order not to gain the weight back is jumping back to the normal calorie count or you end up gaining it all back. Sounds weird but it’s how HCG works – and it certainly did work.
From the end of August through October I ate about 1100 calories and day, and once my incisions had healed enough, I began extremely rigorous workouts. I’m talkin’ P90X, Biggest Loser DVD’s, running 3-6 miles a day, Jillian Michael personal trainer DVD’s, etc. If I’m not sore the next day then I know I didn’t push it enough. I combine cardio with strength/toning for the quickest results. I faithfully work out 6 days a week, anywhere from 20-90 minutes a day. The newest thing is shorter more intense interval type metabolism boosting workouts, and let me tell you, the whipped the weight off SO quick and my body shaped and toned at a crazy fast rate.
Then, sometime in October our school started a “Biggest Loser” competition, which was easy for me to transition into. I had to increase my calories some more, but I did it slowly enough to where it worked out. From October-January 4th ish I lost 30 more pounds. During that particular competition, I was required to eat a certain amount of fruit and vegetables, take a multivitamin, drink a certain amount of water, no eating 3 hours before bed, count my calories, all of those tricks anyone and everyone should do whether they are on a diet or not.
So, no matter what you battle, a lot of it is mind over matter – there’s no magical equation or quick fix. I gave you all the physical logistics, but what weight loss, finding that special someone, or having your dreams come true really comes down to is what you’re motivated by, and if that’s enough for you. You have to know yourself pretty well, have to find out what makes you tick and run with it. I’ve narrowed it down to four things that make me tick: competition, accountability, consequences, and the pursuit of perfection.
Accountability. I’m the kind of person that needs to have some sort of obligation to some sort of program, and it’s that obligation that makes me feel so guilty that I will not veer from it in any way shape or form. Being raised as a member of the LDS Church and by a father who had strict demands and extremely harsh punishments, I’m very familiar with accountability. My job is also very accountability and data too, so I’m just programmed that way. We all have different people we’re accountable to and for, whether it be your boss, your parents, your teachers, your grades, your university/school, paying the bills, society, family, friends, etc. You just have to look at dieting or whatever your demon is the same way. With HCG, it was the fear of gaining crazy amounts of weight if I cheated, and knowing I had to weight in and get measured with my dietician each week. With Biggest Loser, we had a food journal, a log to fill out everyday, and a weekly weigh in. A lot of the reason programs like Weight Watchers are successful is because of that accountability factor: weigh ins, a certain amount of points you can’t go over, meetings, etc.
Perfectionism and competition. For some people guilt, fear, or disappointment isn’t enough to motivate them, but for me it’s all that matters. I HATE feeling guilty or disappointed and I am SUPER hard on myself because my Dad was/is. The consequences of feeling that way drive me to do what I have to even if I don’t want to. So along with my dad and being a member of the Church, I was raised a perfectionist and if I don’t do perfect I hate myself. This ties in with the competition part. There was another guy at the school that would come and harass me every week and the only one close to my numbers. I’ve played sports since the time I was like 4, staring with ballet through rugby. I don’t like to lose and I’m not going to be ok with losing unless I know I gave 100%, even if it’s just a board game. It also helped there was a $100 on the line for the winner! Winning felt amazing, as did the new jeans I bought with it.
Consequences is probably the biggest thing you have to ask yourself if you really care about; it is woven with desires, motivations, happiness, etc. For me, I knew if I ate that piece of pizza, that I was going to have to work out for an hour, and not just an easy elliptical workout. Running 4 miles or a tough workout DVD type workout, on top of not being able to eat much else for the day. It came down to, “Is eating this really worth all that effort?” If weight’s not your issue, then still ask yourself, “Is it really worth it?” The gasping for air, drenched in sweat, insanely sore me says NO each time. On top of that, I HATED how I felt. The guilt, stressing about the possible weight gain, thinking I looked fatter in the mirror, having to wait even longer to buy clothes that actually fit me, etc. I wasn’t happy when I messed up – completely and utterly miserable in fact. I’m happier when I do what I’m supposed to and see the great results down the line rather than giving in to the short-term desires.
So, first secret. Find out what works for you. Some people it’s having to be in a swimsuit, wanting to impress a guy or girl, wanting to fit into an old pair of jeans, getting ready for a cruise, not being able to do things “normal” people can do, and son on. Maybe you’re going to buy yourself something nice or take a trip somewhere if you reach your goal. Whatever it is, you gotta put that as more important than all the desires of your flesh or heart. You have to want it more than you want anything else.
Two: Tell yourself you want the long-term results more than the short-term gratifications. I’ll just have one beer…I’ll just buy one more pair of shoes, it won’t hurt…I’ll start again on Monday…I’ll do it when I have the money. You have to put aside the excuses and putting it off. Yeah, I can eat that donut but then I’ll feel guilty for like a week and not lose that extra pound and be depressed about being knocked back by that. When I was in high school my Dad would drag me out of bed every morning at 5 am and make me go running with him. I already hated getting up early to be at early morning seminary at 6:30, so getting up even earlier than that as a teenage girl? Yeah. Every day, before we would start to run, my Dad would pull a Babe Ruth pose and point up the sky and say, “Out there is what you want. You have to want that more than you want the short-term results.” And then we ran all the way around town, and I was NOT allowed to stop. Back then I hated him for that. Now I see the principle he was trying to teach me and am a firm believer in it. It really works.
Three: The little things make all the difference. Baby steps are a good thing! Eliminating slowly, gradually, without getting overwhelmed. The multivitamin, all four servings of vegetables, working out 6 days instead of 4 or 5. They take time to add up and make a difference, but there is no denying the results. And you don’t have to be perfect. As long as you are doing better than the way you used to be and are slowly breaking habits, you’ll see results! (Wow, been doing too many workout DVD’s, sounding like one of those Barbie instructors!)
Four, you need support. Support from loved ones, co-workers, online, books – your environment will directly affect your success either positively or negatively! I was really lucky and am still lucky to have a roommate on the same page as me. If all else fails there’s the big Man upstairs. Believe me, I’ve been praying my guts out since May til now and will continue to do so for help with this. You cannot do it alone; support from someone is a must.
And last, but the most important, number five is simply commitment and balance. It is a huge mental, emotional, physical, psychological TIME DEMANDING commitment. You have to think about everything you do and don’t do towards your goal and you have to take the time to make it a priority. You have to be willing to give up a lot in order to get it. A lot of that time is spent learning how to balance and juggle and still have a well-rounded life where you are meeting your other priorities; it is WORK and it is NOT easy. But nothing’s ever worth it if it’s easy.
It was worth it for me. Since that summer I’ve lost 98 pounds total. Here’s a before picture at size 18, 200+ pounds:
And there’s the after. Am I done losing weight? No. I want to keep living a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been an athlete for all of my life but I want to keep stepping it up and progressing! My weight has fluctuated here and there but I’ve kept almost all of it off. I’ve accepted it as my trial in life. Is it still an everyday battle? Absolutely. Do I get discouraged that I’m still not a bikini model? Of course. But, I found a way to love myself and take care of myself, without needing a man. And when I do find “that man”, I’ll have the confidence, healthy self-esteem, and healthy lifestyle to have a happy relationship with him. But this isn’t just for those trying to lose weight. Everyone’s demons are different. If you’re single, don’t focus on the negative, find something to better yourself in. Find what you’re passionate about, what makes you happy, and then set goals and plan out how you’re going to accomplish them. Also take the time to help someone else out – service is the best medicine for a pity party. My favorite quote is, “Happiness is the design and object of our existence.” It’s also really attractive! I don’t recall anyone saying being emo is hot. =D Find something you can work on or improve on, and make it yours too!