#TransformationTuesday

March 14, 2017

The question that I am asked the most is, "HOW THE SWEET HOLY FRESH HELL DID YOU LOSE SO MUCH WEIGHT?"
Typically, as I answer this question, I can see a person's eyes start to glaze over...or I'm met with a response that makes it clear that the person asking thinks I'm trying to keep some super secret weight loss trick from them.
Trust me, if I had found some trick to easy weight loss, by now I would have found some way to market it, made my millions, and I would be on a beach sipping cocktails while Tom Hardy massages sunscreen into my pasty, ghost-like flesh.





Growing up, I had always been bit on the slightly thick side, but it never really bothered me that much. I was moderately healthy, happy, and had ginormous boobs. Really, what was there to complain about? Nada, I was fab. Then 2 things happened: 1. A boy I liked told someone that I was too fat to 'date publicly' (but fooling around in private was perfectly fine with him), and 2. I got laid off, and was unable to find a job for quite a while. I sank into a deep, dark hole of depression where all I did was stay up all night eating and playing World of Warcraft. Sometimes, I would actually get up and go to class (college). 

One day, I woke up out of the fog and realized that I had gained almost 100lbs. I'm 5'3 y'all. 5'3 and 220lbs is hard on my everything. Walking across campus from one class to another, with only 15 minutes to spare, became impossible. My back constantly hurt, walking more than a few minutes at a time left me struggling to breathe, and my blood pressure and blood sugar were through the roof! I knew something needed to change...but I would go on for a few more years like this. I tried every quick fix pill I could find, even contemplated ordering horse tranquilizers from Bulgaria after reading an article about how they helped a pop star drop a lot of weight in a month. I was desperate...desperate to try anything except changing my diet and starting to exercise. 

People are not going to change until they are ready to change. The day I graduated from college was the day for me. May 7, 2011.  I had worked so long and hard to graduate that there was nothing that could have possibly kept me from walking at the graduation ceremony. However, after spending all morning winded and hurting all over just from standing in line...after being so embarrassed that I was struggling with my pantyhose because the pair that I had just bought was now too small...and the horror I felt looking at myself in all of my graduation pictures, I had had enough. My health was declining. I was probably already diabetic (I'd lost my health insurance right after being diagnosed as 'pre-diabetic', and gained 50lbs after that). And, yes, I hated the way I looked. I didn't feel attractive. That's when I said 'enough is enough', and finally made the decision to do the one thing that has led to long term weight loss. 

The only secret to losing weight, and keeping it off is DIET AND EXERCISE.



Diet: I am an emotional eater...and I goddamn just love food. I get pissed off, I want to eat. I'm sad, I want to eat. I'm happy, I want to celebrate by eating. I'm bored, I want to eat. You see the problem here, right? I was constantly using food as a source of comfort or reward. Binge eating was my coping mechanism. Some boy may not love me, but this entire pizza sure as hell does! My idea of what was healthy was shaped completely by growing up in a 'poor' household by two people who had grown up in 'poor' households. Basically, what the fuck is the point of a vegetable other than dipping it heavily in Ranch dressing? 

While at my heaviest, I wrote my senior research paper on Socioeconomic Status and Obesity. People in a lower SES don't have access to as many healthy choices as those in a higher SES do. It's a fact. I'm not going to regurgitate it here, because I got my A for my research. Go do your own. My parents grew up poor, and for most of my childhood we were dirt poor. You eat what you can afford. There was a lot of cube steak and gravy, and very little in the way of vegetables that weren't coated in cheese. My family was lucky enough to move on up the ladder of socioeconomic 'success', however, we still ate the exact same way as before. 

I had to relearn how to relate to food. I had to teach myself not to sit and eat an entire pizza (followed by half a cake, a 2 liter Mt Dew, and a bowl of spaghetti noodles covered in Ranch dressing) whenever something upset me. Instead, I had to learn to process my emotions in a more constructive way. Now, look y'all. I'm no saint, and I still have trouble with this. Case in point, while dating my ex I gained 30lbs back because I was on that constant emotional roller coaster through hell. I would come home upset and unfulfilled, and binge eat until I was painfully stuffed. 
The important part is, if you lapse, just get up the next day and try to do better. 

Another thing I had to learn was how to eat healthier. I started by counting calories. Yes, I can hear some of you groaning about how much time and effort that takes. Do you realize how you lose weight? You burn more calories than you consume. How do you know if you're over consuming if you don't keep track of how many calories are going in your mouth? Please, if there is an easier way, let me in on the secret. Until then, you gotta do the work and put in some effort. Next, I discovered that vegetables are pretty tasty. I began teaching myself how to cook things with such exotic fare as eggplant (so wow!) and zucchini (much excite!)...and it was yummy. Now, you can bet your sweet ass I didn't give up my favorite foods. No way. No how. Moderation is the key. I could have one cupcake, not the whole dozen, and only if I had the calories available to cover it. Basically, I'd ask myself 'Okay yes, you can eat that cupcake, but what are you giving up for it...and is it worth it?'. There wasn't a food I couldn't have. I could have anything, in moderation, as long as I had the available calories...and was willing to give up something else if I had to. My key was moderation and compromise...not restriction and deprivation. 
Again, some days are easier than others, and if you have a bad day...just try to do better tomorrow. 

Now, I'm not going to tell you what to eat. I'm a vegetarian transitioning to vegan, and while I would love for everyone to adopt that way of eating, I'm not preachy about it...and I am not going to tell you what you should do. It did help with my weight loss, and has helped me maintain, but that is not why I chose to make that change. Here, however, is a snapshot of what I ate one day...pizza for dinner not pictured (because I was too busy making it, then devouring it).

Top: Assorted Mixed Veggies + Veggie Spring Roll, my after workout shake of  Amazing Green Superfood  + Toasted Coconut, Coconut Almond Milk.
Bottom: Morning drink of  Apple Cider Vinegar, lemon juice, water and cayenne pepper. So Delicious Coconut Yogurt with Vegan granola and strawberries. Ben & Jerry's Non-Dairy Caramel Almond Brittle.
Not Pictured: All the pizza for Dinner

Exercise: I hated the idea of exercising. To me, exercising meant huffing and puffing away on the manual treadmill in our basement. I absolutely fucking hated every single second, and I never seemed to make any progress. 5 minutes on that son-of-a-bitch-self-propelled-agent-of-Satan-machine, and I was done. That treadmill made me loathe exercise. It may be the bee's knees for some of you, but for me it was an implement of torture straight out of the Spanish Inquisition. Enter Wii-Fit's Free Run program. It's basically jogging in place, but I'd secure the Wiimote snugly between my boobs (that were shoved into 3 sports bras because NASA doesn't build the bra I need to jog) and jog along to the game. It was fun! Halle-FREAKIN'-lujah exercising was fun. That was the key for me, finding something that made exercising something I looked forward to.

Starting off small, I eventually worked up to doing 30 minutes of this a day. Pounds started coming off! It was a miracle! Eventually, the Wii-Fit Free Run morphed into what would lead me to really LOVE to exercise, and helped me shed the vast majority of my weight: Awkwardly dancing around my room. Yes. Awkwardly. Dancing. Around. My. Room. For thirty minutes to an hour, I would put my headphones on, turn my music up, and move my entire body without stopping. Kind of like Zumba for those of us who are clumsy, and hate people watching us exercise. Not only was this great for my weight loss, but it was amazing for my stress levels as well. After a difficult day, I'd come home and dance it off.

Over the course of three years, by counting my calories and dancing my booty off, I was able to lose 120lbs. My health problems disappeared! I could walk through the grocery store without feeling like I was going to have a heart attack! I had so much energy and felt fantastic! Mission accomplished! Here's the thing most people don't understand though, once you lose the weight, you don't get to go back to your old habits. If you want to keep that weight off, you have to continue to eat right and exercise. You have to not think of it as a diet. You have to literally change your eating habits and your activity level to create a lifestyle change that you can stick with forever. For almost a year, I slipped up, didn't exercise regularly, and routinely overate (that roller coaster through hell that I mentioned earlier). It only took a few months to pack back on 30lbs. Luckily, it's never too late to get back on track.

Everyone's weight loss is different. What works for me might not work for you, and some people do require the help of a doctor or nutritionist due to many different reasons. Diet and exercise is a good foundation for any plan though. My friends who have had any type of weight loss surgery will tell you that they too have to change their diet and add exercise (once they are cleared to do so by their physician). 

Let me end this by saying that weight loss is not a magic doorway to happiness. You will see a lot of changes in your health (I had fun watching my cholesterol numbers go down), and energy. You will (sadly...in that it should not be this way) have a wider range of clothing options to choose from.  You may even develop some confidence that you didn't have before. The biggest obstacle many of us experience when losing a lot of weight is our own self-image. I still struggle with this.  It's very important that you learn to love yourself at every shape and size. This is something I still struggle with. No one is 'one size fits all'. Your healthy weight may look vastly different than someone else's healthy weight. You don't have to be a certain size to be amazingly beautiful and healthy! What matters is where you're comfortable and happy.  How you see yourself, not how others see you, will always be more important than the number on the scale or the size on your clothing labels. 


L: 2008  R: 2017


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