No More Excuses
NAME : Jessica
BEFORE WEIGHT : 215
AFTER WEIGHT : 170
POUNDS LOST : 45
WHEN DID YOU START DEVELOPING A WEIGHT PROBLEM?
I began gaining a significant amount of weight when I was going through puberty. Although I lived a largely active lifestyle, my eating habits weren’t the best. I was often depressed and frustrated, and I quickly became a self-diagnosed “stress eater”. Growing up, school was my life. I frequently stayed up all night to complete my homework and projects. I went above and beyond in my academics; unfortunately, I also went above and beyond in the kitchen. I realize now I had a severe problem with binge eating, but at the time, all I knew was that I was making myself feel better and less stressed. Food was my comfort — all throughout middle school, high school, and a large part of college. Food was the one thing that made me happy, the one thing that never let me down.
HOW DID YOUR WEIGHT AFFECT ANY ASPECT(S) OF YOUR LIFE?
I was unhealthy and unmotivated to lose weight, constantly comparing myself to my thin and happy peers. As a result, I became extremely unhappy with my life as a whole. I allowed my emotions to dictate my actions. Whatever I felt, that’s what I followed. I let depression, anxiety, and perfectionism rule my life. I hated myself, and jealousy was my constant companion. The only thing I looked forward to most days was eating. I was very good at hiding this from those around me, even my family. I’d come home from a stressful day of school and work, lock myself in my room, and eat my feelings away. Oftentimes I would eat until I felt so stuffed my whole body hurt. After each binge session, I would go through a period of extreme self-loathing. I was disgusted, repulsed. I hated what I had become and was not hopeful that I could fix it. Occasionally I even considered suicide. I did not think I was worth anything, and I certainly never saw myself as beautiful. Each day I was sinking lower and lower into an abyss of crippling depression, and I had no idea how to turn my life around.
WHAT WAS THE “TURNING POINT” THAT GOT YOU STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY?
I had one turning point in high school. I stepped on the scale to discover I had reached 199 pounds, when only a year before I had been in the 160s. This was a wake-up call for me, and I began working on myself. I started making healthier choices with foods, and I became extremely dedicated to working out daily. But I did regress.
In college, I maintained straight A’s while working furiously to pay my way through school. During this time, I let my health fall to the wayside. My senior year student teaching was the most difficult. I had sprained my ankle, and I was unable to work out for quite some time. While job searching and miserably completing graduation requirements, I put back on a hefty amount of weight. My second turning point occurred when I saw pictures of myself from an outdoor education camp. I had ballooned up to about 215 pounds. I felt embarrassed and humiliated because I had told myself (and others!) I would never end up here again. Yet, here I was, as fat and unhappy with myself as ever.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
After years of yo-yo-ing back and forth, I finally decided in 2015 that I needed to take a different approach. I realized what I needed more than ever was a complete LIFESTYLE change. This was difficult for me. As a lifelong perfectionist, I felt I had to follow strict programs and regimens. If I ever strayed from the planned course, in my mind I failed. I had to completely transform this attitude so I could transform myself.
First, I made gradual changes in my diet. By this I mean I tried to make one more healthy choice each day. For example, one day I decided to start eating protein (like bacon and eggs) for breakfast. Another day I ate a vegetable with my lunch. On several occasions, I tried new recipes I found on Pinterest or Google. I did NOT follow a diet; I did NOT count my calories. I merely ate smaller portions and healthier foods, making sure I particularly consumed a good amount of protein. In regard to exercise, I began strength training. My boyfriend has been a HUGE supporter in this area. Being that he has trained and coached for many years, he was able to get me started, and I fell in love with how I felt when I lifted heavy. I did strength training every other day when I started out, and I tried to do some form of cardio (even if it was only 15 minutes) each day. I had several friends I was accountable to, and I found support on social media as well.
HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DID YOU BEGIN TO SEE RESULTS OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS?
At first, the changes I felt weren’t able to be viewed in the mirror. I noticed, however, that if I had even one day where I ate well, I’d wake up the next feeling more energized, happy, and motivated. After a month of clean eating and lifting, I had dropped a good 10 pounds. My jeans started fitting looser, my shirt sleeves didn’t pinch as much. I woke up excited to go to the gym and eat healthy! It was an amazing feeling. As I became stronger, I loved seeing those quantifiable gains in the gym. I was a novice lifter, so I was PRing in almost every lift each day. This excited me even more. Each week I noticed muscles that were more defined, and I was a much happier girl. I finally felt I was in my element, and these physical and mental transformations catapulted me onward.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART?
I’ve always considered myself tough. I don’t shy away from challenges, particularly physical ones. That being said, the challenges I encountered were mostly mental. Although I was strong and tough in the gym, I often found it difficult to make healthy choices the other 22 hours of the day. Being a workaholic I’ve never slept much. Well, I found I much more easily reached for that chocolate bar instead of the salad if I only slept 2 hours the night before. I had to constantly remind myself that what I wanted in the long run was more important than what I wanted in the moment. Another challenge I encountered was balancing my life. I realized that I had to make sacrifices each day if I wanted to be successful. Many days I had to choose packed lunches, workouts, and water instead of eating out, sleeping, hanging out with friends, and drinking. These were tough choices to make — and still are — but seeing these results makes the sacrifices worth the cost.
DID YOU EVER WANT TO GIVE UP? WHAT KEPT YOU GOING?
I still have days where I want to give up. I don’t believe those will ever go away. After all, I am human and I have bad days. However, I always remind myself why I started this journey and how much I have already progressed. I like looking back at old pictures where I thought I was hideous and overweight, because those remind me how I felt when I was at that place in my life. Reflecting on those emotions always brings me back to my current state of affairs. Sure, I may be having a bad day. I may feel depressed and disgusting and fat and worthless. I may have already made terribly unhealthy choices most of the day.
One thing I always remind myself is that every second is a chance to start over. You do not have to wait until tomorrow or next week to have a “clean slate”. Your clean slate starts now, regardless of what your day has looked like.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LOSE MOST OF THE WEIGHT?
Although this mental and physical journey has taken me several years, most of my weight came off in a 10-month period.
DID YOU HAVE ANY NON-SCALE VICTORIES?
My non-scale victories mostly happened in personal records in the gym. In the last 10 months, I have built up my strength so that I can deadlift 235 pounds, squat 200, and bench press 135. These lifts were all very exciting victories for me! I have also had non-scale victories in regard to clothing. I’ve had instances where clothes that used to be too small for me almost fell off when I tried them on. Woohoo! Finally, I feel like I have non-scale victories every day when I make a healthy choice instead of an unhealthy one. These seemingly small victories should be celebrated just as much, as they are an indicator of how far one has come.
MY WEIGHT LOSS TIPS & TRICKS
- Don’t wait for Monday. If you want to make a change, make it now. You’re only inhibiting your success if you don’t. You know what you need to do, so why wait? Make the change as soon as you see the need for it, and you will achieve your goal that much faster.
- Stop making excuses. If you really want something, you’ll do anything to get it. You WILL have to make sacrifices to be successful. Just remember that once you start achieving your goals, these sacrifices will be worth it.
- There is no such thing as not having enough time. It’s all about priorities. I don’t care if you do crunches on your lunch break, walk in place at your desk, or run to get the mail. You do have time to work activity into your lifestyle; you just have to want the results badly enough.
- Don’t let one bad choice ruin your entire day, and don’t let one bad day ruin your entire week. You always have the opportunity to turn your day or week around. Be stronger than your desire to give up because you ARE worth it.
- Find what you love doing, and keep doing it! So many people have the “perfect” tips, the “best” diets, the “magic” formula. Learn from others’ knowledge and experience, yes, but remember that YOU are ultimately the expert on you. Figure out what works for your body and your happiness, and keep doing that. No one will be able to argue with your success.Follow me on Instagram @strive4strength_jbs for motivation, inspiration, and encouragement! We are all in this together.