154 Pounds Lost: Sara’s Weight Loss Journey To Loving Herself
NAME : Sara
BEFORE WEIGHT : 320
AFTER WEIGHT : 166
POUNDS LOST : 154
WHEN DID YOU START DEVELOPING A WEIGHT PROBLEM?
Food and People were my first two addictions. I realized I was a food addict between the age of 8-10. I was taking my babysitting money, and having Chinese food delivered to my house.
I would eat the two or three dishes I had ordered, and then I would have my younger sister take the trash (evidence) to the woods behind our house. Shortly after, I would sit down and eat dinner with my family, without my parents knowledge of it being my second dinner. I remember asking my mom why I was fat around that time, and she reassured me that it was “baby fat”, and my body would change.
HOW DID YOUR WEIGHT AFFECT ANY ASPECT(S) OF YOUR LIFE?
I moved a lot as a kid, and always felt like I had to sweeten the deal of me. I would lie or bribe people, in hopes to win them over. I was a chameleon trying desperately to fit in, and be accepted. My deep insecurity coupled with codependency made me a really good friend for others, but not to myself. I would use comedy and humor to keep my friends laughing with me, instead of laughing at me.
I was always the friend that was helping play matchmaker for others. I did not have boys interested in me, so I would pine after friends and go from scenario relationship to unrequited scenario. Using others to determine my value, left me hurt and feeling victimized. It was easier to focus on how others, were hurting, me instead of how I was neglecting my own care and needs.
WHAT WAS THE “TURNING POINT” THAT GOT YOU STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY?
Around the same time as realizing I was a food addict, I realized my calling in life was to be a mother. When I became pregnant with my oldest child about 8 years ago, I quit smoking cigarettes and all other unhealthy behaviors cold turkey. I returned to my first addiciton, food and gained 100 pounds during her pregnancy. I developed diabetes type 2 a couple years after she was born, having unsuccessfully lost the pregnancy weight. I did not want to return to the unhealthily habits and lifestyle that had maintained my weight loss for over 10 years. I was the same weight when she was born , four years later when we conceived my son who is now 3.
My highest weight was at his birth in 2012 at over 320 pounds. Almost two years ago, I was still morbidly obese, weighing around 270 pounds. I had just been diagnosed and then eventually cured of kidney cancer. I felt unworthy of being called a cancer survivor, while I was eating myself to death. I had two small children, who are always watching. I could see them both demonstrating more and more food addict behaviors. My life revolved around food, and food thoughts dictated my life. I had attempted every diet, 12 step group, cleanse, juice, fad, eating disorder, weight watchers, fast, and book to try and gain the feeling of control and freedom with my food and weight. I was an avid TV watcher, and couch potato. I would watch all of the weight loss shows, praying for an opportunity to transform. I knew that wouldn’t be my reality, so I took everything I learned over the years, and I wrote a letter July 17, 2014.
I sent it to everyone I knew. I told them how much pain I was in, being morbidly obese. I told them I needed and wanted help, and that I wanted to create a plan for the next year. I based it off of Chris Powell’s Extreme Weight Loss show, on ABC. I planned a Day 1 party for August 1, 2014, a 90 Day party, a 6 Month party, a 9 month party, and a 1 year celebration party. I asked my friends to get active with me. I requested that they follow my journey, and be my “public”. I accidentally hit send. I was still proofreading my letter, when I received my first response. I burst into tears.
I told my partner that I had set something into motion, which I refused to fail. I was committing to myself, that my life would look and feel dramatically different from that day forward. I cried for the life that I had been living, and for all of my known evils that I was going to be surrendering. I wept for the self loathing that had been a part of me, as long as I’ve known myself. I shed tears for the chance that it was possible, and my transformation could be feasible.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
I hired a registered dietician, Marni Weinstock, and became educated on nutrition and counting calories (after all the ways I’ve tried, I had never just counted calories). I tracked my food on the free app, My Fitness Pal. I began walking and other low impact exercises. I would exercise 5-6 days a week for at least an hour a day. I tricked myself into talking nicely to myself. I was unwilling to wait until I weighed a particular number, to be nice to myself. For instance, I wasn’t going to wait to lose weight to go to a dance class, I had to begin on Day One. At my party, I stripped down in front of my friends and weighed myself. I shared the pictures, my weight, and my feelings in person and online. I would shake with shame, as I posted my photos.
I previously had not been able to look at myself. I avoided mirrors, and baths, because I loathed my reflections so much. Yet, by taking the photos and posting them, something began to change. I put an old picture of myself in the mirror, that I looked at and thought, wow~ I looked beautiful. Then, I would look everyday and see how beautiful I am. I would say self affirmations in the mirror, and bring myself to tears. I would focus on my gratitude, instead of my dissatisfaction. I became my own cheerleader in my head, instead of my biggest critic. I was always sweating, and very apologetic and insecure from profusely sweating. In the beginning of my journey, I began sweating on purpose with exercise, and taking sweaty selfies, and again posting them. Using social media to combat my lifetime low self esteem and self loathing, actually worked. Not because I’d become dependent on other people making me feel good, but because I felt better and better about who I saw in my reflection, and who I am.
HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DID YOU BEGIN TO SEE RESULTS OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS?
I am always shocked that it is so quick to feel better from exercise, and it is equally fast and easy to fall out of the habit. Six weeks after my Day One party, I traveled to Chicago for my best friend’s wedding. I had lost a little bit of weight, but felt dramatically different. I enjoyed not using a seat-belt extension on the plane, and fitting into restaurant’s booths and tables. I got a dress for the event, and felt amazing.
I also took a really hard Shred class, with my friend, that in hindsight was impressive. I saw results in my life and in my self esteem the moment my letter was sent. Each act of self care gave me a little more self love, which eventually turned into self worth.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART?
I wish my paycheck got me paycheck to paycheck, but it doesn’t. Once it comes, it is gone in about a day or two. It is then a long two weeks until that day happens again. I applied for financial aid at my local YMCA, so I could have community, affordable childcare, and incredible classes. I used my clothes that I owned and shoes that I owned. I mostly walk outside, which is free. This has been a very difficult year. My father had a medical crisis over Thanksgiving, which was one of the most stressful periods of my life. I have two small children, so figuring out how to manage my time so that I could put my own oxygen mask on, was critical. I had severe planter fasciitis in the beginning of my journey, but exercised regardless of being in pain. I use to take a pain pill everyday, for two years, my chronic back pain, and I got myself off of them. I am not longer diabetic, have high cholesterol, or hypertension. My kidney cancer prognosis is excellent, and this October will be my two year anniversary cancer free. Time is always tricky as a working mom. I am lucky that I work where I live, but I still have a lot to do. Therefore, becoming a 5 am wake up person, and 6 am exercise person was a huge adjustment, and my favorite.
DID YOU EVER WANT TO GIVE UP? WHAT KEPT YOU GOING?
I have never wanted to give up. Living, while loving and taking care of myself, every single day, is what my journey is all about. I will never give up on that. I want to be the best mother, partner, employee, friend, and family member that I can be. I use to give all of my energy and love to others, and then feel hurt and disappointed. Now I know, In order for me to show, up and give in a healthy fashion, I must take care of myself first. Otherwise, I end up being resentful and angry. I am not on a diet and, I stay far away from food, thoughts, and behaviors that feel depraving or trigger diet mentality.
DID YOU HIT ANY WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAUS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
My 8th month to my 9th month on my Public Display of Self Love journey, I lost a monthly total of one pound. Until that month I had lost almost 10 pounds a month. My 9th to 10th month I lost a monthly total of six pounds. On July 1, 2015 I will weigh myself for my 11th month total. I only get on the Non-Intelligent Box once a week, on Monday mornings. As of this last Monday, June 22, 2015 I weighed 166. I have released 88 pounds in just short of 11 months, but more importantly I gained self love.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LOSE MOST OF THE WEIGHT?
On my Day One Party-August 1, 2014
I weighed 254 pounds
66 pounds released (from my heaviest weight in 2012)
On my 90 Day Party-Nov 1, 2014
I weighed 216 pounds
38 pounds released
On my 6 Month Party-Feb 1,2015
I weighed 195 pounds
59 pounds released
On my 9 Month Party-May 1, 2015
I weighed 174
80 pounds released
On June 22, 2015
I weighed 166 pounds
88 pounds released
DID YOU HAVE ANY NON-SCALE VICTORIES?
I have NSV (non-scale victoreies) every single day. The most exciting one is, that I no longer feel fat. This isn’t because of the number that the Non-Intelligent Box says. Rather, there has been a shift. I have lost a lot of weight in the past, but the feeling of being fat or thinking I’m fat was relentless, and persistent. Yet, it’ gone now. I do not know when it left, but when I realized that it was gone, it was as shocking to me as finding out my vagina had vanished as well. I identified with me being fat, as much as my brown curly hair, Jewish religious upbringing, and sense of humor. I thought that sentiment and feeling were going to be with me forever, yet it is gone.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY DIET LOOK LIKE COMPARED TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER?
I wish I lived on a farm. I would love an apple tree, a cashew tree, a dark chocolate tree, and a lot of protein. I love flour and sugar. It made up the majority of my diet. I had found through the awesome 12 step group, Food Addicts (FA) that when I don’t eat flour or sugar, my food addicted thoughts quiet down. It is remarkable that the less flour and sugar I eat, the less I want it. I do not feel satiated when I eat flour and sugar. I feel triggered into wanting more and increasing the volume. When I eat whole foods, and high protein, high fat I feel satiated and the food thoughts are almost silent. Dark chocolate and sugar from the fruit that I eat, do not get me craving sugar like jelly beans for instance. I do not eat much dairy, because I do not love it enough to justify the caloric and fat intake. I pick the food that I really love, and I eat reasonable amounts. I would rather have avocado or mayo than cheese. I eat for nutrition and for energy. I no longer use food to celebrate, connect, entertain, or appease myself.
HOW DOES YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COMPARE TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER?
I love to exercise. The endorphins and mental clarity that come from exercise are incredible. It is the most under appreciated anti-anxiety method, and food is the most overly abused one. Taking a rest day is more challenging than exercising at this point. I have never felt athletic or fit, and I feel like an athletic fit beast these days. I walk on average over 10,000 steps a day and also take body sculpt or boot camp classes. I love exercising with friends and normally exercise with 5-10 people a week.
MY WEIGHT LOSS TIPS & TRICKS
- Think of what your goal is, and try to pick something within your power, that you can start working towards today. Choose a goal and then break it down into small, but measurable parts. Tell as many people about your goal, so you can cultivate accountability and community. We all need people. If you don’t have someone, then send your letter or pictures to me. I would love to be your “public”!
- Weigh yourself just once a week on the Non-Intelligent Box. I love Mondays, because it helps me keep my weekend nutrition tight, and it works. Using this dumb box only once a week, enables you to feel and enjoy all of the other feedback, that is not number related.
- Develop a strong vibrant gratitude practice. Gratitude and mindfulness has allowed me to sit with feelings and be mindful of them. I am then able to pick which emotions I would like to act on. This mindful observations and following action come from having a clear vision and, a strong gratitude practice.
- Drink water! The correct amount of water to drink is 1/2 of your body weight in ounces. Therefore, if you weigh 200 pounds drink 100 oz of water a day! Try to limit all other drinks, besides water. Drinking calories adds up quick.
- Progress not Perfection!!!No one is perfect, and perfection is not the goal. Don’t let good be the opposite of perfect, is something my dietician loves to say. I make great, good, and bad choices. I am able to make a choice, and then move forward with the next best choice. It is so easy, to mentally throw in the towel when we feel like we have gotten off course. If course is loving yourself, and accepting all of your choices, as the best that you can make in the moment, it is a kind loving approach. It makes you want to act kind and loving back. I was never able to shame or loath my way into a thin healthy body. I have been able to love and care for myself, and now I am beyond happy and love and accept all of myself.
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