150 Pounds Lost: You Aren’t That Girl Anymore
NAME : Megan
BEFORE WEIGHT : 311
AFTER WEIGHT : 161
POUNDS LOST : 150
WHEN DID YOU START DEVELOPING A WEIGHT PROBLEM?
I have struggled with obesity most of my life. I started to become “overweight” when I was in the second grade, and by the time I was in the 6th Grade I weighed over 200 lbs. It wasn’t until January of 2016 that I weighed less than 200 lbs again. That’s something close to 20 years of obesity. I was a very anxious and depressed child, and I will never know which came first the obesity or the depression, but they literally fed into each other. Being overweight had an effect on the depression, which lead to more weight gain, and food was a major source of comfort. This causes a spiral that is fatal for a lot of people. As I grew up and life got even more difficult and even more stress, anxiety, and sadness built up on me I had a constant physical reminder of it on my body. That weight I carried around was an actual physical manifestation of my poor mental well-being. Then in February of 2013, I was in my first semester of graduate school, I weight 290 lbs, I was living several hours away from home with my long term boyfriend/ high school sweetheart, and my dad suddenly died of a heart attack in his sleep. My dad was always a large man, and over the previous 20 years had gained a lot of weight in part due to poor nutrition and in part due to a alcoholism. He had already had a quadruple bypass surgery in 2009, and it probably should not have come as a shock to anyone that he would have a second heart attack when he was really not taking his care of his health. I knew that I would die similarly if I did not get my health in order, and even though I didn’t want to die young of a preventable disease because I refused to eat differently, I gained another 20 pounds over the following two years. I had not really hit my turning point yet.
HOW DID YOUR WEIGHT AFFECT ANY ASPECT(S) OF YOUR LIFE?
Besides the depression the weight affected me in many other ways as well. I was having a lot of physical problems related to the weight, such as menstrual problems and constant pain in my knees. Although all my blood work from the doctors office always came back beautifully. I also spent a lot of time worrying what people thought about my weight, mostly strangers as I knew that the people who really loved me didn’t care about the weight, and many little things like how much space I took up on the public city bus. I worried that as I was working towards my masters in Marriage, Couple, and Family therapy that my clients wouldn’t take me seriously because I was overweight. I was worried that my weight was keeping me from getting jobs. I was applying to jobs that I was more than qualified for, a bright, charismatic, eager young woman, but I didn’t get several jobs that I interviewed for and I tried not to think that they assumed I would be lazy and didn’t give me the job. I constantly feared being called lazy, as I have always been an overachiever.
WHAT WAS THE “TURNING POINT” THAT GOT YOU STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY?
Two years after my dad died, my long term boyfriend, of almost 8 years, left me for another girl that he had practically just met. I moved home, to stay with my grandma while I got back on my feet and I hit a very low point. As a mental health professional I knew that I needed to be as mentally healthy as I could be in order to be helpful to my clients. I also knew that the mind and the body were connected and that if I didn’t loose the weight the mental burden of carrying it around would prevent me from ever becoming truly mentally well. I had to drastically change my way of thinking. For years I had been focused on trying embrace and love my body despite not loving what I saw in the mirror. Now I had to decide that to truly love myself I needed a big life altering change. I could love my body at any size, but now I needed to treat it well, show it that I love it. I deserve to receive the same amount of the love and attention that I give to others. I need to take care of myself or I will not be able to take care of others. I have known that, intellectually, for a long time, but believing that it is true when you don’t feel worthy of it is very very hard.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
After moving in with my grandma I told her that I needed her help to loose weight. She lives a very healthy lifestyle and had pushed for me to loose weight for a very long time. She happily agreed to help. She paid for me to join a gym and participate in an intensive wight loss program that they offer twice a year. The weight loss challenge at Fit for You Health Club in Traverse City MI is an eight week long program that includes group personal training and a nutritional plan. When the girl who sold me the membership told me about the program I balked at the idea that people loose between 20 and 40 pounds in eight weeks. I didn’t really think that was possible, and I didn’t expect to loose great amounts. My expectations were shattered. I lost 30 pounds during those two months and everyone else in the group who stuck with it lost decent amounts as well. I also expected to hate my personal trainer, to naturally want to challenge everything he told me, and to be disappointed and let down again. I had done diets before, I done weight watchers many times, I had had personal trainers before, what on earth was this guy going to do differently that would would help me change my life? To my absolute surprise I did not hate him. He modified a lot of exercises to help me with the problem in my knees, and he was encouraging, but pushed me to work harder. He is a genuinely good man that strives to help people everyday and works really hard to understand what others are experiencing. It’s no wonder I fell in love with him.
HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DID YOU BEGIN TO SEE RESULTS OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS?
I started to see results almost immediately, but I was able to loose a lot of weight in a short amount of time. I saw it physically, especially in the way my clothes fit, but also felt it physically. I was able to do a lot more in the gym, I was able to get out of bed easier, I was able to get up the stairs faster, and my knees gradually became a lot less painful. It’s not surprising with a large weight loss that my appearance changed, but it changed in a lot of little ways that I did not expect. My feet got smaller, I can see the bones in my hands, my eyes got wider, and not just the size but the shape of all of my limbs changed. I expected things like my clothes to become too big, but I did not expect that people in my small little home town would not recognize me when I would go there to visit, but that happens all of the time now. One day I was afraid to do some exercise that my personal trainer wanted me to do, and he said to me “You aren’t that girl anymore, you can do this.” and I did. That phrase rang in my ears for weeks. “You aren’t that girl anymore.” I look back on old photos, ones where I thought I looked very pretty in before when they were taken, and I barely recognize that person. She seems more like an old friend that I haven’t talked to in a while than someone I used to be.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART?
Like everyone money and time has been a problem for me. I am in graduate school and I work on a suicide hotline, so I sleep at weird hours, and I spend a lot of time sitting and stressing out. I also have to travel a lot for school, because my classes are typically three hours away from where I live. The only way that I have been able to overcome this at all is through planning. I am definitely not a naturally organized person and I am by no means a meal prep expert, but I am constantly trying to improve in this area.
DID YOU EVER WANT TO GIVE UP? WHAT KEPT YOU GOING?
I didn’t believe it would be possible. I really doubted myself. I made myself big goals, and I never believed that it would be possible to achieve them, until I came close meeting the first one. I originally set out to loose 100 lbs in a year, and I did it in nine months. Then I set out to be under 200 lbs. I had weighed over 200 lbs for almost 15 years, and I really didn’t think that it would ever be a possibility, but I did it, in less than a year. Then I wanted to be under a 30 BMI, to no longer be considered obese. I had never dreamed that that would be a reality, but I did it in a little over a year. And now I am working towards loosing those last couple of pounds before I meet the last very big goal of loosing over half of my starting weight. I wake up everyday, and I weigh myself (yes I know that everyone tells you not to do that, you really shouldn’t need to weigh yourself more than once a week, but I do it everyday and that has worked for me, but I don’t think that would work for everyone). Every morning I get on that scale and I see a number that I never thought would have been possible, so even when it is inexplicably higher today than it was the day before and it gets frustrating, I remember that this number that I am at, wasn’t supposed to be possible and I become grateful.
DID YOU HIT ANY WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAUS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I never really hit an insurmountable plateau. I would have periods where I wouldn’t loose much or not loose at all, but they only ever lasted a couple of weeks. I find that when I am in one of these ruts it’s because I am not as motivated as I usually am, and I am not following my nutrition as closely as I should. I motivate myself, start dialing it in, and the weight starts to come off again. I think that I am fortunate in this way because I continuously shake things up. I have a routine, and I stick to it, but I add extra work outs or try a new fitness class, or try a new recipe or something anything to make sure that my body never gets comfortable doing the same thing all the time.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LOSE MOST OF THE WEIGHT?
it’s taken almost two years to loose 150 pounds. I lost the first 100 lbs in 9 months.
DID YOU HAVE ANY NON-SCALE VICTORIES?
I had thousands of non-scale victories. Everyday I don’t give in and go off of my nutrition is a non-scale victory. Every new item of clothing is a non-scale victory. Every time I notice some improvement in the gym is a non-scale victory. The most notable non-scale victories though have been when I have been able to see my physical health improvements in “the wild” so to speak. I live in Northern Michigan and hiking is a popular thing to do here. Once, about six months after I started to loose weight, I had lost around 80 pounds, a friend of mine took me on a hiking trail, that I had not been to before and I climbed the largest sand dune I had ever climbed, and it was incredibly difficult and challenging, but I did it, and it was thrilling even though I hate sand because I knew that 80 pounds before that I would not have physically been capable of doing it. The other really big successes in my mind are when people tell me that they saw my pictures on Instagram or Facebook and were inspired to start their own fitness journey. I have been really touched by the support I got from people I already knew and the people that I met a long the way, but being told that you inspired someone else to focus on their health effected me in ways that I can’t really put into words. I was asked to write an article for a local women’s magazine, and speak on a local radio show, and I have a presence online that have allowed me to reach out to other people and connect with them in ways I didn’t know I could do. What I find remarkable about this is that everything we do, effects everyone else. We can create change not just in our lives but in other peoples lives and not even be aware that it is happening, and that is a non-scale victory.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY DIET LOOK LIKE COMPARED TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER?
Before I started my weight loss journey I was a vegetarian, I over ate when I was emotional, and I mostly ate carbs and sugar. I gave up my vegetarianism gradually as I was really reluctant to eat animal products (and if I am being honest it still really bothers me). I often argued that I didn’t know how I was so overweight because I mostly ate healthy vegetarian meals and I didn’t think I was eating out of proportion. I was very wrong. I don’t know if it was completely denial that what I was doing was problematic or not, but I know that denial played a part in that thinking. The other part was that I was raised in a family of obese people who all believed that they are eating healthy when they have three or four servings of spaghetti for dinner, because spaghetti has vegetables in the sauce. Comfort food was the only food that we ever ate growing up, and every meal ended with a desert. To compound that problem I also had a serious addiction to soda and energy drinks. By the time I was in fourth grade I was drinking a 2 litter of coke every day. By the time I was in graduate school that problem had gotten much worse and involved two 2 litters of soda a day, plus energy drinks as needed. Then there is the snacking. Lots and lots of vending machine candy was consumed in the library while I studied. I would reward myself with a certain number of candies for each page I read in my text books since I had to read for hours at a time, that became a lot of candy. My long term boyfriend was also of no help with my eating problems. He is a very picky eater and will only eat carbs. He eats very little vegetables or meat and kind of lives off of pizza. I could cook my own meals, but it was easier, faster, and made more financial sense to eat what he ate at least several times a week. Let me be very clear, I am not blaming him. I choose to eat what he ate. The real problem was that at that time in my life I did not connect with or socialize with people that would have been a good influence on my eating habits, but I choose to live with people that ate like I did, probably as a way to justify it to myself and make it seem more normal, or maybe I really didn’t know to do any differently.
HOW DOES YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COMPARE TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER?
I work out close to every day now. Of course I didn’t start there, and by no means does everyone have to work out every day to be healthy. I try to get at least some cardio in everyday, and I weight train with my personal trainer several times a week. I also take a lot of fitness classes at my gym. My favorite classes as the kettle bell classes and the boxing classes. Boxing is an exceptional way to get both a cardio workout while also making you feel like a totally powerful bad ass goddess. I also try to get in the pool once or twice a week, which has helped tremendously as swimming is one of those things that is nearly perfect. You don’t have to be very fast to get a good cardio workout when you are swimming and because it is a natural resistance exercise it lends itself well to people who are trying to gain muscle as well. In addition to that swimming forces you to focus on breathing and that is very meditative for a lot of people, so it has mental health benefits as well. I am also always in search of new things to do or try. I have sought out new hobbies or experiences that might add just a little benefit to my workouts. For example, if you can take a belly dancing class. It will make you feel sexy, and appreciative of your body, your curves, the way you naturally move, and you’ll burn some calories as well.
MY WEIGHT LOSS TIPS & TRICKS
- If you can take a belly dancing class. It will make you feel sexy, and appreciative of your body, your curves, the way you naturally move, and you’ll burn some calories as well.
- Join a local gym, not a big chain, they will be way more invested in you and your goals.
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