My Weight Loss Story

20 November 2013

As I sit here and begin to put my weight loss journey into words, it's really hard for me to even comprehend that I have a story to share because I honestly can't believe that I let myself get to a place like that; a place where I really didn't feel like myself, a place that held me back in many ways, a place that I hope I never go back to.

First, I want you to know that I'm not trying to make this sound over the top.  I know that there are a lot of people out there struggling with their weight every single day and, in fact, you may be one of those people reading this right now.  I do want to share my experience, though, and if it does come across as sounding dramatic, it's only because that's how I feel now when I look back at that time in my life.

As I was growing up, I was always on the smaller side of the scale.  There was a history of weight gain on both sides of my family though, so for as long as I can remember, my parents tried pointing me in the right direction by cooking healthy meals and teaching me to view not so healthy foods as treats; things that should be enjoyed occasionally. I also loved playing sports, and I participated in anything and everything that my school had to offer so I was always extremely active all year round.

But then at 18, it was time to move away from home and attend University. I was now on my own and I could do pretty much whatever I wanted and, in my case, eat whatever I wanted.  If I wanted McDoanld's for lunch on Monday, I ate McDonald's for lunch.  If I wanted chips on a Tuesday night, I ate chips on a Tuesday night.  And if I wanted both the next day, well then, I ate both of them. With my love for food paired with no longer being active and sitting on a couch for sometimes ten straight hours studying (I kid you not), my weight had no where to go but up.

I remember going home for Christmas that first year and my grandfather (who I hadn't seen since September) looked at me and said, "Well, I can see you're eating good in University".  Leave it to older people to truly say what's on their minds.  I honestly don't think I'll ever forget those words that he said to me.

I'm sure by now, this sounds all too familiar to most people.  Everyone has heard of (or has probably even experienced) the common freshman 15. In my case though, it wasn't 15 but 25, and it was in just four short months.  Four!  And I wish I could say that was the turning point, the point where it stopped and the point where I decided that enough was enough.

Unfortunately, it wasn't.

Before I knew it, I had gained about 65 pounds. When I look back now, it honestly feels like the weight had just appeared overnight. But the truth was that it happened over several years, and I continued to let it happen each and every day.

There were times throughout those years that I did try to lose some of the weight.  I entered a six week weight loss challenge once at work and lost almost 15 pounds, but I ended up gaining it all back (plus more). I tried again for my sisters wedding in 2010 and, this time, I managed to lose almost 20 pounds but, once again, it went back on as quickly as it came off.

I'm trying to figure out why I wasn't successful during those times, and I guess the truth is that I couldn't have wanted it bad enough.

Was I happy during those years?  I'm not entirely sure.  I don't remember feeling unhappy, but I'm still not sure if I was truly happy.  Was I happy with the way I looked, though?  Absolutely not.

Every single time I went shopping it resulted in me almost always holding back tears in the dressing room and leaving so frustrated.  My wardrobe consisted mainly of black clothing, and it even got so bad that I would avoid clothes shopping all together.  I still loved to shop though, and still wanted to feel good when I went out, so I turned to buying shoes and purses and jewellery.  Those were things that I didn't have to try on, things that didn't focus on my size, but more importantly, things that didn't remind me of how I felt about my body.

And that was just the outside part.

My energy level had decreased probably even more than what my weight had increased.  I remember one time when I was out home visiting my mom, she spent the entire day begging me to go for a walk with her.  She begged and she begged and she begged, until I finally gave in.  Half way through our walk I was exhausted and I couldn't believe that my 50-odd year old mother was the one pushing me along.

Not only did I completely lose all of my athletic ability, I lost my desire to get out there and actually experience and enjoy life.  As cheesy as that may sound, it was true.  All I enjoyed doing was staying home watching movies (with some snacks, of course), and going for drives had become my all time favourite.

As I'm writing this and having to relive it all again, looking back I can now answer that question about me being happy, and say that no, I was not happy.  How could I have been?  How could I have been happy If I had isolated myself from so many things because it left me feeling sad or miserable?

My turning point was when I finally made myself step on a scale.  I can tell you from experience that being in denial does not change the number on a scale.  Sure, up until that point, I didn't know what my number was, but I was still that number.  I was still over 200 pounds.  I instantly knew that I had to do something.  It's hard for me to explain what happened, but something inside of me just clicked and I knew in my heart that if I didn't change right then and there, then I would never change.

And that's exactly what I did.

It was March of 2011 and at the beginning I started changing my eating habits, a lot.  I went back to the basics that my mom had taught me, so I made a promise with myself each week that if I could get through a week of eating good, then I would allow myself a treat on the weekend. After about a month or so I started occasionally walking and then after about another month I tried running. I think the first time I had to stop after one short minute but, at that point, it was still something.  And then, before I knew it, I was running around a 2 km pond, and I remember there were so many high fives being exchanged by myself and Todd at that very moment.

I eventually learned that it was okay not to exclude myself from social gatherings that revolved around food that occurred during the weekdays.  I learned that it was okay to slip outside of my normal routine every once in a while, as long as I knew to get right back to it again. It took me a while to learn this, but I honestly believe that's what made the difference this time. One bad meal doesn't change everything you've worked so hard for, just like eating one good meal doesn't immediately get you the results you want to see.

By the end of the summer I had lost the majority of the weight. And I had lost it all by myself. No counting calories, no crazy diets, no weight loss pills, no weight watchers, no personal trainers, and at that point, not even a gym.  I had lost it by consistently making good choices and my hard work and dedication had paid off. When the winter came around, I finally joined a gym and over those next few months I had lost another 15 pounds.

Now, I love trying on new clothes and will usually gravitate towards things that would have been completely out of my comfort zone before. Not only had I lost the majority of the weight I had put on, but more importantly, I had gained a new desire and appreciation for so many more things.  I fell in love with hiking and running and anything that involves being outside and being active. And now whenever we travel, all I want to do is walk around for hours and hours and take in whatever the city has to offer, which is something I would have never done before, let alone actually enjoy it.  Never. 

I think I will always struggle with my weight and my love for food.  And even though I don't think about this struggle nearly as much as what I did, I still have to make choices each and every single day.  Sunday's will probably always be my day where I make sure I have healthy groceries for the week ahead and I'm sure I will always continue to never let myself go to bed at night without making sure I have my lunches and snacks packed for work the next day. I know my tendency to quickly gain weight so if I find myself getting off track, I always make sure to kick my bad habits before it gets so much harder to overcome them.

Through all of this, I have learned just how important my health is and how it's completely and entirely up to me what I do about it.  You know, it's so true what they say, "if you don't have your health then you don't have anything". I do not want to look back one day and think that I could have taken much better care of myself, because I can guarantee you that is something that would haunt me forever.

I can honestly say that, without a doubt, I am now truly happy and it has everything to do with how I feel on both the inside and the outside. It's ironic because you always hear that what's on the outside doesn't change who you are on the inside, but I feel like in my case, it definitely did.

In one of my very first posts I talked about how proud I was for running a 16 km race this past summer.  Now you know that it wasn't just an accomplishment because of the distance I had ran, but it was an accomplishment because of how far I had come with my life.