I wanted to share an overview of where I came from to where I am today. I had to make a choice and have kept the determination to become the person that’s been inside all along.
Since I have such a long history of weight issues it’s difficult to narrow down the last few decades of my existence but I’ll try. I have existed but haven’t really been living. At my highest weight I was 367.5 pounds and stretched a woman’s size 30 to the max, what few items that I had found that would fit. What lead me into bad habits? I am not pointing my fingers at anyone or any situation. No one ever forced me to eat anything that I didn’t shove in my mouth willingly. The habits of sneaking foods, running through convenient drive-thrus, grabbing prepackaged foods, eating entire packs of food with numerous servings and just generally eating whatever I wanted, when I wanted to and whatever quantity I could, combined to produce the broken miserable person that I literally grew to be but never wanted to be- inside or out. Pre-children, I graduated modeling school but still my self-esteem, value and self-worth were completely diminished as I fought daily and was defeated by temptations and the weight. I was a stay-at-home mom for almost 12 years prior to returning to the land of adults and a paycheck. I had volunteered for years on the PTO, as a Girl Scout Leader and with 4-H working with children. For three years now, I have been working with 4-H program. Going to the classrooms and saying the 4-H pledge with the students made me more aware that I wasn’t the example of Health but needed to be. As a 4-H alumnus I can say that 4-H meant the world to me back then but now I feel that 4-H has literally saved my life.
No one truly knows or understands the road I’ve traveled unless they’ve been there not being physically capable to effectively accomplish daily tasks and chores, even getting to the point where personal hygiene was starting to become an issue. I felt like I needed to do the best I could to dry off after a shower and completely dunk in a tub of powder to prevent chaffing, rashes and infections. I was not living and going to do the things that “normal” people would do through life with friends, family or even my children. It was hard to get down on the floor with them as infants/toddlers and that much more difficult to rise again. It was humiliating and embarrassing to really be seen a lot of the time. Going to a restaurant or food function as an overweight person you feel as though everyone is watching what you eat, pointing at you, wondering if you’ll leave food for the rest of the people, etc. That’s not even mentioning how uncomfortable it is to sit in chairs or squeeze into a booth. I never really would look in the mirror to acknowledge that reflection. It got to be commonplace that no matter where I went I would expect to be, and usually was, the largest person wherever we would go. That made me not want to go anywhere.
I maintained my existence through the damage I continued putting my poor body through. It was a struggle trying to get pregnant due to polycystic ovaries and after multiple miscarriages to maintain both of my pregnancies to have our daughters. I had to be on medications constantly and was high risk with gestational diabetes with both. I had my gall bladder removed with emergency surgery 7 months after my first child was born, being fortunate that the doctor didn’t have to cut me open completely to remove the worst gall bladder he’d ever seen. The last pregnancy did me in leaving me with carpel tunnel, insulin resistant and with post partum preeclampsia having me under a cardiologists care for a while. I’ve had kidney stones too that were hard to break up due to the excess fat insulating my organs. Eventually I was able to get off of medicines with natural treatments. My blood pressure increased to medicinal treatment with additional weight gain after yo-yoing several times. Several years ago I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and grinding my teeth. Fortunately I never had a huge health scare. I was entirely out of control. My blood pressure on medication at my highest weight was 158/84. Currently I am not on any medications and my blood pressure runs regularly 110/70. The pressure on my CPAP has been decreased to the lowest setting but I have not been “released” per se because I don’t want to make that financial commitment towards a deductable. Occasionally I will use the CPAP still as self proclaimed “healed”. I still sleep with my splints but the carpel tunnel is greatly improved. It’s more of a habit – but not one that affects my weight.
I can’t even say that I refocused because that implies that at some point I was focused. If I had been I would not have failed countless times. I have tried so many diets, diet pills, etc. out of desperation and searching for that quick fix that would still allow me to eat poorly and magically get thin. I have been a member of TOPS, Take Off Pounds Sensibly, since 2005. I continued still to go up and down till I joined MRC, Metabolic Research Center, on February 14, 2011. I was desperate and had to learn to love myself. My measurements had ballooned up to a whopping 53” bust, 55.5” waist, 63.5” hips. Currently they are better at 42”, 35”, 43”. Obviously something has finally clicked for me to lose 170 pounds, without surgery. Not that having surgical assistance to lose weight is easy by any means, but I don’t have that “stop button” in my body, but it’s in my head with will power and determination. I made the comparison to my husband when I made this commitment to change that if it were our car that was broke we’d get it repaired – I was broke and needed to be fixed. TOPS is relatively inexpensive at a whopping $100 for a year membership, with a magazine and monthly dues for weekly meetings for accountability, support and educational information. However, MRC on the other hand provided me nutritional counseling twice a week with supplements I chose to nourish my body with has roughly cost about $100 per week.
I will admit, unfortunately, that my successful weight loss is not due to exercise. Besides not being able to physically keep up with an exercise regimen, I did not want to be seen. I did water aerobics for several years but now with my skin hanging that is completely not an option for my self-confidence. My achievement was 95% consumption of making healthy and nourishing choices for my body. At one point I told my mother that I was feeding my body. That was a huge “a-ha” moment. My nutrition consists of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables prepared by steaming, sautéing or mostly eating raw. I eat lots and lots of fowl and fins- chicken, turkey breast, albacore tuna and tilapia. A treat is some very lean red meat, pork tenderloin or salmon. I consume very minimal processed foods/carbohydrates. Perhaps that is one reason that my body has allowed the weight to vanish and why I feel better physically. It’s like I have preserved my body by eliminating the preservatives. The energy level has increased tremendously. I consciously try to stay in control of my food now and will take my pre-measured food to gatherings and functions. Eating out is stressful but I will order very specifically which is aggravating to those around me most of the time. If I’m paying for it – I want it cooked to my specifications.
I built up some very strong walls for self preservation. I didn’t know what else to do. The walls I constructed around me were super thick and tall. Was I hiding inside, preventing anyone from coming in to know me and help me or was I completely scared of reality to the point of blocking everyone out? I was in denial and had my defenses up for decades. I thought I was a nice person, always helpful, with many talents that I freely shared but now I have recently discovered through an acquaintance that I have become so self-absorbed, self-centered and arrogant about the weight loss that no one likes the “new” me. Emotionally this has been a roller coaster without any brakes and totally out of control. There are people that I thought were friends that are no longer around. Is it their choice, jealousy or did I run them off somehow? I have blogged about this passage from unhealthy to healthy and it’s titled Doing it for Me. Perhaps losing weight has taken over my life, but it is my life that I am in control of, that it’s my responsibility to take care of or suffer the consequences. I never have had this mindset but am glad that I do now because for me it’s worked. I like the new me.
I would like to think that my husband who married me at a size 24 would be supportive but that is not necessarily the case. Having been overweight for so very long people do not know who I am and it gets a lot of attention, I mean a lot of attention. He told me he had a discussion with someone, and agreed with them, that I walked into a room like I was better than everyone else. I told him, if anything, that I walk into a room with self-confidence and my head held high, proud of myself, and a confident woman, and typically NOT the largest person in the room anymore. This makes me very sad and depressed that he is not with me, not there for me through this process of changing and adapting to this new body. It’s upsetting not knowing how to respond respectfully when someone makes a comment about I bet your husband loves the new you. Previously I feel he sabotaged my efforts, or I just gave in and allowed patterns to repeat.
I have generally gone through this process alone making it as least inconvenient to my husband or daughters by preparing my food separately while still serving them whatever they want prepared. I have never asked them to change but by default of not buying a bunch of junk that I used to they do not have a lot of stuff readily available anymore. My youngest daughter has measured me by how far she can wrap her arms around me considering she never could do that till she was 9 ½. TOPS awards regionally, at the state level and internationally for success. This year I, for my weight loss last year, I was recognized for all the above. I am on their website and even in their magazine. The best recognition is the Century Medallion that I just was presented for having lost 100 pounds and keeping it off for 52 or more consecutive weeks.
I took for granted many things as I have been alive yet there are things that I never have done or been capable of doing because of size. I have an invisible pair of blinders on that are used more than not. Presently they are on a majority of the time in eating situations to avoid “eye contact” with temptation. They have been worn a lot in years past to the unreachable, unattainable gifts that I now see and appreciate. I had gotten so large that I could not wear my wedding rings but now I have actually shrunk out of them going from a size 13 to a 9. I notice the gift of veins and tendons in my hands and up my arms. I never could see them and always had dimples where knuckles were hidden. I catch myself rubbing my collar bones that I can feel now. I have been capable of not only fitting comfortably in an airplane seat but even in the airplane restroom! On a trip I was given the gift of being able to see inside of a submarine and was capable of maneuvering through hatches.
Where I was always the one behind the camera, not wanting to be seen, I now have the gift of self-importance and am proud to show my accomplishment to encourage others, NEVER, EVER, meaning to brag or boast. I am capable now of accepting praise and humbled to do so. The best gift that I have gotten is that of feeling good and capability of living a life being able to physically do and try new things with my family and friends that I am years behind in trying. In pictures with my husband and daughters the expression has changed. I have found my smile.
What will the future hold? Of course no one really knows. I appreciate every day that I get to live now. I have high hopes for the upcoming year. The sky is the limit. I said that to a friend at the beginning of this year and I still believe it. I want to be healthy and happy and live for a long time. I want to be able to help others find self-worth. It’s been there somewhere but it took me a long, long time to find it. Losing an extreme amount of weight can be done. If you are reading this and are aware of needing to make changes… what’s stopping you from starting? Will it take a health scare? Are you wanting to wait to start after an occassion, or a holiday because you don’t want to miss out on an eating opportunity? For me, at this stage, I view food as nutrition and don’t want to waste calories or nutitional value on a bite or two of something for a moment, or even a larger portion. Why not make a beginning today, right now, starting at your next meal? YOU CAN DO IT! YOU ARE WORTH IT! ONLY YOU CAN DO THIS FOR YOU!! It took me over 30 years to get to where I am now. I know that I have reached my goal by Doing it for Me and that you can too.
I’ve posted this once a while back but want you to read it again and really think about the words.
by: Heather Gum
I looked in the mirror and who did I see?
A stranger, not familiar, looking back at me.
Once large and unhealthy who struggled to get around –
In the reflection I looked but she could not be found.
The discomfort and embarrassment of years gone by
I looked at the image and tried not to cry.
The weight had to GO for a rebirth of ME
To become the person I was meant to be.
I’m sorry dear body what I put you through
Forgive me I didn’t know what to do.
Countless plans and attempts were made to lose
Exclusion diets, extremes, many “here’s what to do”s.
The “health style” I choose to feed my body now
Is lean meats, fresh fruits and veggies prepared somehow.
The energy I had was absolutely nil at the start
Now I try to move when I can, it’s so good for my heart.
This foreigner that’s been living inside of me…
She was there the whole time living in misery.
I set out on this passage to learn to love myself again
“I am important” – that’s where to begin!
You can do it, keep going, are you sure of that bite?
Self-talk and encouragement helps through the fight.
If the food didn’t help to get you where you were
It won’t help to get you to where you prefer.
There’s focus and obsession to balance between
Stay on the edge and soon results can be seen.
Ask for help from those who love you, they do.
They want you to be healthy and live longer too.
Look what has happened! In the reflection I see…
I’m finally doing it! I’m doing it for ME!