Today, I’m 100 pounds lighter than I was when I started my weight loss journey.
My story is not one of overnight success. I didn’t take a magic pill. My results were not from a fad diet or a product from an infomercial. My journey has been more like a roller coaster ride of trials, many errors, and a collection of small milestones along the way, eventually leading to more than I ever expected to gain.
I was an unhappy girl with no self-esteem, trapped beneath baggy t-shirt and stretchy jeans and desperate to lose weight to just be normal. I had no idea that it would turn into a journey of self-discovery, freedom, and finding joy.
Oh yeah, and 100-pound weight loss.
Growing Up Gaining (and gaining…and gaining…)
I was a cute kid. A really, really cute kid (that’s me being cute in between my two older sisters)….until 1st grade. That’s when I started to become the chubby kid.
And then the fat kid (that’s me on the bottom right in the huge blue poncho). I don’t really know why I started overeating in the first place.
Maybe because I was a daddy’s girl and I wanted to keep up with his portions to be just like him. Maybe because I was stubborn and knew my mother wanted to eat healthily, so I rebelled by sneaking junk food. Maybe I just really loved food.
Whatever the reason, I started overeating and just couldn’t stop.
I remember my grandmother making a comment once about how shocked she was that I could eat so many slices of pizza. And I remember feeling proud of being able to do so.
I loved junk food and would sneak into the kitchen late at night and find the unhealthiest food my mom had hiding in the kitchen…and I’d eat it all in one sitting, whether it was a box of Nutty Bars, a bag of chips, or some really delicious leftovers, I’d devour them.
Food (more specifically, junk food) was a precious commodity to me. When it was there, I felt like it was a resource that could run out at any given time, so I had to eat it all as fast as possible before someone else dared to try it themselves and leave less for me. I was pretty much like Joey from Friends. “Becky does not share food!“
Confession – sometimes I still feel like that.
It’s not like I was ever deprived. My mother was (and still is) a fantastic cook. She always made a ton of flavorful, healthy, homemade meals, but I never appreciated them. I was always begging for processed foods, prepackaged foods, and fast food. I would have taken a Lunchable over a sandwich any day and wished I could live off of donuts, tater tots, and cupcakes. I vividly remember wishing someone would replace all water fountains with Kool-Aid fountains (fun fact – I didn’t start liking plain water until I was 27).
In middle school, I was teased. I was called fat in the hallways. I was called fat by random strangers who saw me helping my best friend deliver her paper route. I was called fat by so-called friends not-so behind my back. It hurt. A lot. And I retreated inside myself even more, thinking if I was quiet and just flew under the radar, then I wouldn’t draw attention to myself and nobody would notice that I was fat. I ate in secret. Then I beat myself up for overeating, which drove me to eating even more. It’s really a vicious cycle that keeps you spiraling downward.
I was never able to wear any of the same clothes that my friends wore, because I couldn’t fit into girls’, or even teen, clothing. I remember wearing a 24W as a 14-year-old. So, I dressed in the ever-so-fashionable stretchy jeans and super baggy t-shirt, believing that all of that excess fabric would hide all of my rolls.
Exercise=The Bane of My Existence
In middle school, I played volleyball, which helped to keep my weight in check at least a little bit. I loved the actual game and even made the A team, but I hated the running. I was always the slowest, I always finished last, huffing and puffing, needing tons of walk breaks, even just during the warm-up laps. I could block, bump, and spike like nobody’s business, but I remember always feeling second best, because I was the girl who had to take the highest number of uniform, because the numbers correlated to the size. High number = big uniform.
It was like my weight was being announced to everyone (not that they couldn’t see it when they looked at me anyways).
I played tennis from my freshman through junior year of high school and, again, really enjoyed the sport, but abhorred the running. Our coach was a middle-aged guy who could run circles around me. The entire team would have finished their laps around the field, while I was still stumbling along next to the (also middle-aged) assistant coach, who I’m quite sure they sent in as an attempt to get me to run faster. Ineffective. But because of the regular exercise, I did start losing some weight.
The Dreaded Yo-Yo Dieting
In high school, the teasing had pretty much stopped, but I still felt as big as ever. It seemed like everyone around me was dating and I was convinced that if I just lost the weight, then guys would start to notice me. So, I was constantly trying to diet. Emphasis on the trying. I’d skip breakfast (always the brilliant way to lose weight – NOT), I’d make sure everyone could see that I was only eating bell pepper strips or half of a Slim Fast for lunch instead of the pizza offered at Key Club meetings, and I’d applaud myself when my stomach was rumbling in hunger, because, obviously, starvation=weight loss (face-palm). But, those efforts were quite temporary, and the next day, I’d be with my friends at the food court eating a massive burrito for lunch (and sneaking cookies into my bedroom at night).
The Freshman 15 In Reverse
When I went off to college in 2004, I was actually able to reverse the freshman 15. Because the rec center was just across a field from my dorm, there was a time that I was going over there twice a day to swim or lift weights or hop on the elliptical and I was taking full advantage of the salad bar in the cafeteria. I probably could have dropped a lot more weight, but I was still ordering late night pizza with my dorm-mates and keeping our room’s mini fridge stocked with cookie dough and soda.
When I moved out of the dorms and off campus (away from the rec center) the next year, I slowly started gaining weight back. I’d exercise occasionally and kind of try to watch what I ate, but I didn’t really know how to cook, so I mostly stuck with boxed options. Macaroni and cheese and Hamburger Helper are not the ideal meals for weight loss and after I’d re-gained those pounds, they stayed. And stayed. Until late 2007.
The Opposite Extreme
That year, I fell in love. We dated, we got engaged, and then he was deployed, and I lived in a constant state of stress.
I drifted to the other extreme of unhealthy weight loss. I was miserable. I thought worrying was the only thing I could offer at that point and since I couldn’t control what was going on overseas, I decided to control my eating. I was living alone and, for most that year, I probably ate between 500-800 calories a day. I was hungry a lot, not exercising at all, had no energy, and my stomach was constantly in knots, but I lost 40 pounds, bringing me down to 160. That was the lightest I’d been since I could remember (literally. I obviously had to have been 160 pounds at some point in my life as I was gaining the weight, but I have no idea when that was).
I thought skinny meant healthy, but even though I was finally a normal weight, I was FAR from healthy at that point.
I started buying smaller clothes and noticing that things fit me so much better, but it was short lived.
Unhealthy Relationship, Unhealthy Body
The deployment ended, he came home, and we got married. I was ready for a blissful honeymoon stage, but it was not a happy or a healthy marriage.
We a lot of fast food, rarely exercised because we were glued to out TV and computer screens, and the stress of the constant conflict between us was nearly unbearable (especially for this people-pleasing, peace-loving girl!), so I started gaining the weight back quickly.
And then I kept gaining.
Until January 2012. I was 194 pounds and was terrified of creeping back up into the 200’s.
I’ll Exercise…In Secret.
So, I joined a gym. I was really only comfortable using the elliptical. I was too scared to try any of the classes offered and the weight machines were just intimidating. Gym people always seem to know what they’re doing and I just…didn’t. I didn’t felt like I fit anywhere and I especially didn’t want people to see my gym inadequacy, so I spent a lot of time in the cardio movie room, where all of the lights are dimmed and they projected movies onto a screen in front of the cardio equipment.
I tried a personal trainer for awhile and hated it. A person watching me exercise was. the. worst. Mostly because I was so weak that I struggled with a lot of the exercises she gave me and as sweet as this girl was, she continuously expressed how surprised she was at how little I could lift/push/squat/whatever else. Even though I was still 55 pounds less than my heaviest, I felt completely inadequate and just wanted to hide.
So, ditched the gym and the trainer for workouts that I could do myself at home. That’s when I decided to start running. Yes, running. You know, that thing I told you I hated with a passion? The bane of my existence? The killer of my self-esteem? That. I looked it in the metaphorical face and embraced it (sticking to side streets with few spectators, mind you).
One step at a time. One gasping breath at a time. In June 2012, I ran my first 5k (even though my mother beat me. Totally embarrassing.).
The Year Everything Changed
After a rough start to the year with a devastating divorce, 2014 became one of the most influential years of my life.
That was the year that all of the pieces of healthy habits that I had been building over the years finally fell into place.
Running had started to give me confidence. I didn’t feel like hiding anymore. I still didn’t want all of the attention drawn to me, but I dabbled in a variety of exercises that year and was always working on something to keep myself healthy. I tried Zumba and cardio kickboxing classes, which majorly pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I enjoyed immensely! An instructor talked to me after class and asked me my story and recommended I look into teaching fitness. I was so flattered, but just put that into the back of my mind.
I did some yoga, some pilates, and some Jillian Michaels videos. I used my Fitbit all year, which really motivated me to move more throughout the day. I took Boots for more walks, I parked farther away from stores, I walked the long way around whenever I could – anything to get up to my 10,000 steps! I ran off and on when I felt like it (and sometimes when I didn’t) and ended up running six 5ks.
Outside of exercise my confidence was building, too. Instead of just helping out with slides in our church services, I joined the worship team and started singing in front of our congregation every week. I dated. I left my teeny tiny comfort zone and went on adventures. I started striking up conversations with neighbors and people in the grocery store. I was officially done hiding from people, and I was finally, after 27 years, starting to believe my worth as a child of God.
Oh, How I Love Food (Apparently Healthy Food, Too! Who Knew?)
The other thing that happened in 2014 is that my tastes started to change. I have always been a lover of all things fried and junk food-like. As a single person, I had the freedom to stock my cabinets and fridge with whatever foods I wanted.
I started the year buying all of the chocolate and chips and frozen prepared foods that I love and I quickly found that those weren’t the foods I wanted anymore. I still kept wide variety of chocolate in the house, but ate it sparingly. I wanted spaghetti squash, Greek yogurt, zucchini, baby spinach, quinoa, and fish. I’ve slowly warmed up to fish over the past 5ish years, but last year, I craved it and ate it often! And, unless I was meeting friends, I didn’t eat out.
I used to dream about Big Macs and Sonic’s tater tots and Freddy’s french fries and then when I had the freedom to go to those places whenever I wanted to, it turned out I really didn’t want to. I still eat Life Saver Gummies, chocolate, and french fries when I want to, but now, instead of a box of Nutty Bars (oh, how I love them!) disappearing in one night, they were lasting me a month or more.
Nothing was off limits to me and that actually was the key for me to eat everything in moderation.
As a result of all of those small changes in my healthy eating and exercise, I dropped 30 pounds that year.
And I’ve kept it off ever since. No more dieting. No more forcing myself to go through the motions. Now, those healthy habits are just my normal, a normal I happen to absolutely love living. I eat what I love, I have energy and stamina to do the things I enjoy, and I just feel good.
Even Though It’s About The Weight, It’s Not Really About The Weight
It’s really not even about my goal weight anymore. It’s about freedom. I’m doing things I never thought I was capable of. It’s about being healthy and active and taking care of myself so that I can build the life I want to live. It’s about chasing my niece and nephew and running 5ks with my friends.
It’s about seizing the day, instead of trying to hide, hoping no one will notice me. It’s about being confident in who I’ve become and embracing both my strengths and my weaknesses. Instead of being scared to try new things, I’m eager to take advantage of new experiences. It’s about making good choices most of the time when it comes to both movement and nutrition, but not being a slave to counting calories or forbidding foods from my diet.
I would never have believed it if you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be the girl choosing salmon and barley over a burger and french fries, but I did just that the other night.
I ran my first half marathon in 2015, and that was when I decided that I wanted to somehow share the tools and lessons (and many, many mistakes) that I have learned through my own journey, so I earned my personal trainer’s certification and my health coaching certification. I now offer programs (along with my partner Sara from The Holy Mess who has also lost 100 pounds!) to women stuck in their own weight loss journey, in that cycle of yo-yo dieting and emotional eating, find freedom in Christ by building a healthy lifestyle, one small change at a time.
My weight loss journey has been so much bigger than 100 pounds. It gave me freedom and such a deep joy. It improved my relationships. It boosted my confidence. It changed my life into one that I am madly in love with living.
And now, I want to pass that on to others. I want you to know that, no matter what your starting place is, you can find that freedom, too.
As a follower of Christ, you have the power of God on your side, so no matter how impossible or hopeless your situation seems, I can assure you there is a world of hope and possibility waiting for you.
Sometimes you just need someone to believe in you and help you take the first step.
You can lose the weight and live a healthier life, no matter how far away you feel from that goal right now. One step, one small change at a time, transform your life. You can do this! Start right now.