This past weekend was spent in Memphis, TN with 3 amazing support friends - Lisa, Trish, Trish (yes 2 of them!) and Jennifer. I was recognized and honored as the Division 1 1st place winner in the state of Tennessee through TOPS, Take Off Pounds Sensibly at the SRD, State Recognition Days. You can visit www.tops.org to find out more. I entered the Greatest Improvement contest where you could make a board with pictures to show before and after. I titled it “I will “YO” no more!” I included a mirror and the poem I wrote (a few posts ago) “The Reflection”. I had copies that people could take with them of the poem, cards with different pictures through the process and my blog address, magnets that said “It does not matter how long it takes, just so long as you do not stop” by Confucious. I had many people ask me questions and praise me along with taking my picture.
This is the story that I had on the board:
For over thirty years I have struggled with my weight. I was “the fat kid” in school that people would torment. It was a miserable existence finding clothes that fit or looked decent, doing anything physical, gym-ugh!, not to mention the reverberation of countless names. I tried to hold my head up. Through the unhappiness I turned to God. To look back I don’t know if any of the footsteps were mine or if I survived solely being carried in Jesus’ loving arms. I wanted to just give in but knew I couldn’t. The tribulation had just begun for decades to come.
Poetry and writing were great ways to release and express my feelings as I would hide in my room eating snuck in food – Reese’s peanut butter cups and Pringles were two of my favorite comfort foods. They were my friends. Well… now I know they really weren’t. It’s amazing to reflect on the insight I had in my youth with the truth and connections that can be relevant to today. No matter through it all, I am still me – on the inside, the outside appearance doesn’t make me the person I am.
I looked into both surgery options and decided that neither of them were for me. I didn’t want to alter my insides when I knew it was my mind that I needed to be in control of to make the right choices. In 2005 a friend convinced me to visit and join TOPS. I won’t go through the list of methods attempted to lose weight, any TOPS member is likely to have a comparable list. Yo-yo dieting seemed to be my thing, gain then lose, then gain and lose more again. I was always searching for that “magic pill” to make it all better. I knew, as bad as I wanted for it to happen that I wasn’t going to be able to wake up “normal” one day, well, not without a lot of work and control, oh yeah and time. I’ve tried so many times to lose it’s hard to be positive to try again.
Last year a friend suggested I visit Metabolic Research Center, that their program had successful happy clients that they knew. Why not? May as well try it, up to that point nothing had quite worked…one last attempt. On February 14, 2011 I made a conscious choice to change my life, to learn to love me again. That was literally and figuratively the hardest door that I ever opened. Was this the door to my future?! I had to make ME the focus. Not that my family and friends aren’t the most important people in my life yet after doing so much for everyone else I decided to make ME important too. I wasn’t going to lose weight for an event, to get in any specific clothes that I wore years ago, yuck, but to possibly ride in a plane one day and to become a healthier Heather. It’s my turn. I’m doing it for ME! No one can do it but me, for me and by me. Trying to be positive, trying.
Over the last year I have learned how to nourish my body. I actually eat to live NOT live to eat anymore! I am closer to my goal now than I have ever been before. I go to MRC twice a week and TOPS once, keeping me extremely accountable. MRC provides me with nutritional guidance and encouragement, where TOPS fills in the gaps with great people facing similar obstacles while offering support, ideas, contests and celebrating successes. Not sure exactly what number/size I’m reaching for as a goal but I’ll let my numbers and body tell me when I’m finally, after years and years of being stretched to the max, there. Less than 40 pounds away, maybe. I have found a method that is working for my body. Everyone’s body will respond differently to various diets, programs and plans. I have learned that I can be in charge of what goes into my body. I have become very regimented on preparing for meals, often journaling what I’ll eat that morning, or the night before, and often times cooking and packing for more than just one meal at a time. I carry my food into situations that I am not sure of be it parties, conferences, holiday gatherings or the general unknown. I’ve even carried my prepared meal into restaurants before to enjoy a meal with friends or family, a little awkward but why not?! I gotta eat too.
Please look through my pictures. As you can see there was a complete different look on my face. I didn’t realize that I felt as bad as I did and I despised being in pictures, perhaps you’re the same way. I guess I knew what I looked like but I was in deep denial, I mean DEEP DENIAL! If I didn’t look in the mirror I didn’t have to acknowledge the reflection of the person looking back at me. No one ever said anything to me about my weight but my doctor, but that’s their job. Now there is a strong desire and need, mentally, emotionally and physically to be healthier and fit to survive longer and enjoy each and every day free of pain and discomfort. My life is just beginning. I feel like I have been reborn and given a second chance to try it all over.
You have to do what you have to do for you. It’s not been easy by any means. I make choices to consume certain foods at specific times prepared in new tasty ways. My attitude and view towards food has changed. As long as I can keep this frame of mind I will reach my goal this time.
I will “YO” no more!
If I can do it, you can too.
I’m doing it for ME and only YOU can do it for YOU.
You too can make this the year of “You” and
“YO” no more.
Below is a short speech prepared to be read while center stage as my before and after pictures were shown on the big screen. Recognition is a humbling experience to be up on the stage and acknowledged for my weight loss accomplishments achieve in 2011. I even got a standing ovation! It was difficult not to cry.
For 3 decades I gradually expanded from being husky to overweight to morbidly obese. The mental anguish was excruciating yet I continued to get bigger, not to mention the physical toll it took on my body being over 350 pounds and a size 30 at my largest. After trying countless diets, I became a member of TOPS in 2005 losing some weight but yo-yoing again. What was I thinking? I wasn’t the ME that I wanted to be.
In February 2011 I refocused. Something clicked. I knew I needed to relearn to love ME after neglecting myself, my physical and mental well-being. The realization is that I am feeding my body. I am responsible for me and what goes into my body. There’s a fine line between focused and obsessed that I balance between daily. TOPS helps me stay accountable with weekly support, only having 2 red marks last year! I’ve come this far, too far to turn back and close enough I can “taste” it!
I will reach my goal and stand proud this year to say the KOPS Pledge. I know I can do it and if I can you can too! I am doing it for ME! Together we can all Take Off Pounds Sensibly!
It was an amzing, fun, humbling experience. I am proud of how far I’ve come but I’m still working to get to my goal. I can do it. I have to do it. I am doing it for me!
How are you doing in your efforts? Are you awaking each day with an awareness of what you are going to do today? Do you plan your meals accordingly so you are within the limits of your chosen “health-style”? Is your support system available to you if and when you have a crisis, not the person that wants to meet you for a BOGO milkshake happy hour to discuss your situation? Make wise and healthy choices now to obtain success towards small daily goals that will enable you to strive towards bigger goals, that will compile to help you reach your overall goal. It’s not as simple as it sounds but it can be done, no matter the amount of excess weight that you carry. You can lose weight when you get in the right mindset to do so. Find a method, or program that will be do-able in the long run, not a fad that will fade back into your old ways. Make new choices and healthy habits. It takes a while to break old habits, you know, the ones that didn’t help you to get you to where you are or where you didn’t want to be. Change for the better. Make healthy choices and plan as much as you can. Not planning equals fast and unwise choices. Been there! Done that! And have the 4x clothes to prove it! If any of this applies to you I hope that it sticks and that you stay focused on you, your health and your goals. This is actually some of the thoughts and lessons that I have learned that have helped me.
I’ve been on this venture now for nearing 14 months. I’ve lost 165 pounds. I’ve dropped from a size 30 to a size 14. I never expected this to actually be as “easy” as it seems like it has been overall and through it all. I’m able to go and do so much more than ever before as an adult. There’s a huge burden that’s been lifted - literally and physically. I know I should not complain, and trust me I deeply appreciate everything and everyone that has gotten me to this point, but gosh I want the rest of this GONE! Guess that’s easier said than done. The biggest hurdle that I can’t seem to jump over is the crossing of that 200 pound mark. It’s been so long since my body has weighed anything less I’m sure that it’s really confused and unsure what to do. I’ve been trying to switch it up and do things different but seriously - I’m not giving in. There’s goals to reach under that 200 number mainly being to restest to get off my CPAP, drop my serving size of protein from 6 to 4 ounces and to reward myself with a massage!!! Well, we’ll see how it goes…. I’m going to try to do something that should really shock my body - meal replacements for a week, ugh, mind-control and self-talk. I started today. Now with one “real” meal for supper, I’ve got to figure out something really good to eat each night. Hope to see a big loss by the end of this week, and even more gone by next Monday. Now to focus my thoughts on something else and off of food………
Here’s a thought to ponder on, or actually an observation as to how I view myself and how I feel others view me now. My confidence and pride have skyrocketed verses being the biggest person in the room, not capable of participating or ever wanting to. I’ve become quite outgoing and willing to try different and fun things. I even got on a couple inflatables lately. Boy, I really missed out on being physically and mentally able to play with my kids. Now we even purchased tennis rackets and are playing around. So far there’s not much aim and control but lots of running and laughter, oh, and making fun memories. What’s interesting is to be involved in conversations with people that know nothing about my “past” and don’t care. It’s awesome. I’m the closest to being “normal” than I’ve ever been in my life except as an infant! It really is like a rebirth, a new ME is here for the world to see and to get to know. It’s flattering to get attention and be involved in various activities that I didn’t feel comfortable trying or ever wanted to be watched while doing, sports, etc.. I’m really trying to get the most out of every day. We’re not guaranteed the next minute, the next day or another year. So now let’s see what else I can push myself to do? I’ve officially built a raised garden with high hopes of a plentiful harvest of scrumptious, tasty veggies. You never know what I’ll try, where I’ll go and even what I’ll do now. I’m anxious to experience what I’ve missed. I am living life. I’m doing it for me!