Confessions of a Fat Lady: My Weight Loss and Fitness Rollercoaster Ride
I stepped on my scale this morning and to my dismay, the reading was 185 pounds and body fat 41.5%. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since my size 14 jeans are getting tighter and my measurements larger. Every time I look in the mirror, I feel disgusted with myself and sometimes think “How did you allow yourself to get this fat?” Today is the last straw! I absolutely refuse go to a bigger jeans size. I firmly take a stand, and vow to get back in shape. My goal is to reduce my weight to 130 pounds and body fat to about 18%.
Just to give you a bit of background information, my weight issues started in my early twenties. As a child and throughout my teenage years, I was slender and athletically built. Then at around the age of 18, I began to have body image issues. At 5’4” tall and weighing 120 pounds, I was at my ideal weight for that time in my life. However, my first boyfriend suggested to me that I was somehow too skinny and unhealthy. Looking back now, I realize that there was nothing wrong with my appearance. In retrospect, I realize, that this man was insecure about his own body image, as he was a little overweight. At that time, I was very young, impressionable, and suffered from low self-esteem. Therefore, I looked to him for approval and validation.
Naively buying into my ex-boyfriend’s ideas, I embarked on a weight gain plan. This included eating three regular high fat meals, plus gulping down 2-3 Nutriment shakes (a high calorie, meal replacement) per day. I did almost no exercise, and instead was very sedentary. Within 8 months, my weight increased to about 140 pounds, and I was fine with this. At this point, I stopped drinking the Nutriments, but continued my high fat diet. I did this simply out of cravings for the delicious tastes and emotional attachments to the food. Every time I felt lonely or stressed, I ate more than I should have. Not surprisingly, I continued to slowly put on weight. By this time I was no longer seeing the man who convinced me that I needed to gain weight.
Whereas, before my weight gain venture, I could eat virtually anything I wanted without getting fat, I began to put on weight through eating too much fatty and starchy foods. Since I was a fulltime college student, and worked part-time, I developed the excuse to eat poorly. My major rationalization was that eating a Big Mac meal was okay, because it was quick, easy, and allowed me time to focus on studies and other things. I became a regular at fast-food drive thrus, and ate in my car most of the time. My destructive eating habits continued and before long, my weight ballooned to 160 pounds. Deep down inside, I was not happy with my appearance, but refused to acknowledge that drastic change was needed. Over the years, between the ages of 21-28, my weight fluctuated from 150-170 pounds. To make matters worse, my doctor told me that I had high cholesterol and my blood pressure was a little high. When my weight reached 170 pounds, I was at my breaking point and had enough. This was when it dawned on me that I can’t go on and that if I didn’t do something, it would only get worse.
So, in early 2000, I embarked on a weight-loss journey, and was quite serious about it. I read and researched as much as I could about weight loss the “right” way, since I did not want to become a yo-yo or fad dieter. My goal was to change my lifestyle and habits so that the extra pounds would come off and stay off. My exercise routine consisted of cardiovascular for at least 30 minutes 4-5 times per week and strength resistance training 2-3 times per week. Because I was really out of shape, I started slowly. My primary methods for cardio was a stationary bike . Some days I walked briskly at the park for 3 or 4 miles. My strength training consisted of using “The Firm” workout videos for my entire body. The first week, my muscles were sore, and I was tired. I couldn’t get through much of the workout the first week or so. Eventually, I was able to do all of the workouts and increase the weight used gradually. For the first time in my life I felt that I was in control of my body and life. Exercise became a tool for stress relief and self empowerment.
I also learned how to eat in order to reduce my body fat and build muscle. I am a firm believer that what you eat accounts for over half of the weight loss battle. Exercise is definitely an important part of the process of weight loss. However, eating high calorie, high fat foods would defeat the purpose of exercising to lose weight. The typical menu prior to my weight loss journey consisted of fast food, pastries, and sugary beverages throughout the day. My favorite “comfort” food was pound cake with a bowl of rum raisin ice cream right before bed. It is safe to say that my caloric intake was well above 3000 calories a day. After I got serious about weight loss, the typical menu consisted of lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean sources of proteins. I cut back drastically on the starchy carbohydrates and eliminated sugary snacks and beverages. My favorite foods became steamed carrots and broccoli, with broiled chicken breast. The daily calorie intake was probably around 1800 per day.
Some other helpful practices were eating my last meal at least 3 hours before retiring each night. In order to stay motivated, I meditated and visualized about the way I wanted to look and feel. Reading fitness and health related magazines and other people’s success stories were also very inspirational.
Within 6 months I attained my goal weight of 135 pounds and 18% body fat. It was an exhilarating feeling and I felt beautiful, full of energy, and at the age of 28, in the best shape of my life. I could wear sexy, form fitting, and fashionable clothing. Heads were turning, and all eyes were on me.
I was so happy, but I noticed during the journey to transforming my body, not everyone shared my joy. There were people along the way who tried to discourage me. Some secretly envied my progress and even engaged in subtle forms of sabotage. At times I felt bad that these people weren’t happy for me, especially the people that I cared the most about. However, I developed a thick skin and learned to deal with it. I knew that I was taking care of myself and doing what I needed to do.
Fast forward about six years. Things began to change in my life. Several things occurred that took a toll on me emotionally. I was the victim of crime, experienced a series of losses including employment, death in the family, and the break up of a relationship to name a few. All these things contributed greatly to increased stress. Therefore, I started to look to food for comfort again. I started feeling sorry for myself and stopped exercising and eating right. As a result, I gained 50 pounds over the course of about 2 years. That’s how I got to the point that I am at now. It’s okay though, because I am ready for a change just as I was over ten years ago.
I already know what to do, and have the motivation, tools, and momentum to do it. The motivation is that I am tired of not being able to wear the stylish clothes that I used to wear. I am tired of looking in the mirror and feeling disgusted with myself. Today is the beginning of a beautiful new chapter in my life. It marks the start of positive change. I am confident that within a few months from now I will report success.