Hi everyone -
I'm not much of a forum regular here, I only found the site a few months ago after the bulk of my weight loss had already happened. I came back to this forum again as I've hit a plateau with my weight loss - struggling with toning and loose skin, and I'm also having trouble with a bad knee so it's getting harder and harder to run every day. I thought I would come here to see if there was any exercises I could do that would have the same results but be lower impact on my bad knee, and I will be implementing some of the ones I found in the exercise section soon. Anyway, since I had come here for help I thought I would post my photos in here to hopefully inspire some people out there. You CAN do it, and it does entirely change your life. I am truly a totally different person than I was when I started, and I am so much happier and stronger because of it.
I am currently 24, and I have been overweight as far back as I can remember. When I was 13 I was a size 13, and by 18 I was a size 18 and 220lbs (last time I weighed myself until last month). I think I gained another 20 lbs after that because at my heaviest I was a size 22 (I took out the pants the other day and it is almost time for 2-legs-in-1-leg).
When I was about 21 (and still a virgin) I started dieting and exercising but in a very negative way - telling myself I was worthless, ugly, hating myself and my body and basically pushing myself with negative energy towards working out, telling myself no one would love me if I did not. I got to a size 18 this way, and around then I got a boyfriend. He was from the UK, we met online, and he flew out here to be with me for 3 weeks. He did not mind the weight, he said his main attraction was to a woman's face (or so he said before we met, but he never once told me I was beautiful or complimented my appearance after he met me in person). He was very ambivalent towards clothing and aesthetics in general (ie he did not care for lingerie or make up, it was irrelevant to him) so I let myself go. I stopped exercising, and was glad to stop hating myself and putting negative energy into myself. Eventually we broke up, but I had stopped exercising or trying at all and continued to gain for 6 months until I was back up to a size 20.
Around this point I had a number of factors all compound to get me back into weight loss, although I do not remember a specific incident. I had about 5-6 bad rejections from boys all in a row about the period before I started, although I didn't set out to do this for male attention, I wanted my life, the life I am meant to have. I wanted to be who I was on the inside. I got back on the wagon, and a few months later my mom and I bought tickets to a festival in the UK which was a year later. We had been dreaming of going to the UK for years, and it was really important to me to not be fat when I got there. But this time it was going to be different - my mom and I did it together and we made a lot of changes, to our minds and attitudes. I did not do it out of self loathing, but self respect. I did not tell myself I was worthless or ugly, but just that I needed to do this for me, that it was not for any boy, it was for me, for everything I wanted out of my life. We chose to never deny ourselves anything, nothing was not allowed. But the more committed we became, the less we wanted it. When you weigh all that effort of running and all the energy put into making that vegetable dinner and the willpower it took to not overeat, when you weigh all that work against the taste of that chocolate bar, it starts to not look so yummy.
We started with baby steps, not buying soda pop for at home, only having it when we went to restaurants (I don't drink it at all now, and in fact I hate it!), adding more vegetables to our diet, and constantly striving to make every meal more and more healthy. I began running for 5 minutes everyday (although I started out power-walking, but it became running, now I may have to go back because of my knee), followed by about 30-60 sit ups. Later on I added a second walk in the evening, about half an hour and normal pace, and a batch of stretches and sit ups - although I rarely managed to accomplish my entire exercise regime everyday. I live in the countryside so there are no gyms and I do not have any dumbells or anything. My mom did a half hour every day of walking followed by dancing. She went from a size 15 to a size 4. It was such a help to have each other for encouragement.
It is a constant struggle, and continues to be. Although when I think of what I feel guilt over "pigging out" now (6 dried apricots AND 6 dried prunes) compared to what a normal day was for me before (do you know those little ice cream bites called 'Dibs'? I would have 30 on an average day! We went through a pint of ice cream in 2 days between us), it boggles the mind.
By the time we went to the UK last July I had made a massive transformation and slimmed down to about a size 12. It was a huge accomplishment and I am still so proud to have done it, in fact I cannot believe I ever was the size I was! I have always felt like a skinny person on the inside, and still do. I have always loved clothes and fashion, and it has been such a joy for me - I think I have replaced an addiction to food with an addiction to clothes shopping! It is so amazing to me to now go into vintage stores where there used to be about 10 items in the whole store which would fit me (if I was lucky!) to going in now and about 3/4 of the items in the store are TOO BIG! It's such an amazing feeling, I cannot even tell you.
As of now, I am a size 8, a 6 on top and a 10 in the hips (I have always had a small waist and big hips), and wear a size 8 dress. But, that is with a body-shaper for the middle and thick spandex leggings. I wouldn't exactly say I have fallen off the wagon, but I have definitely been in a lot more of a maintaining mode since I returned from the UK, rather than the same kind of drive I had before. I do not have a scale, since when I did I drove myself crazy with it, but I hopped on one in a thrift shop last month and was about 160. I usually go by how I look, how my clothing fits me, and what size my clothing is. I don't have a 'goal weight', more an idea of how I would like to look, and I am not there yet. Especially because I want to look good without body shapers and in less clothing. At the moment, although my style choice has been to be modest and covered up (I always felt the need to show my breasts off before since that was all I felt I had to boost my confidence and make men interested, now I definitely don't want that kind of attention!), I have also felt I have no choice because of my highly unattractive loose skin. I wear long sleeves and leggings all the time, and cannot bear the sight of my upper arms or stomach. I have loose skin on my belly, arms, legs, thighs and most distressing of all - my breasts. I went from a D and moving up to a C cup but I know it is partially cause of the loose skin. I am 24 but my girls hang like I'm 50! I am now working on doing more strength training type of exercises - I am hoping that since I was only a median level of overweight and I am young perhaps I can tighten this loose skin up. I have heard a lot of conflicting stories about it, but I simply refuse to lose hope that I will get it fixed! I would not consider surgery, so I just have to keep hoping for the natural way. If it doesn't get fixed, well, I will just live with it and consider it my cross to bear and know that my life is still a billion times better than it ever was before.
Overall my weight loss experience has been immensely positive and wonderful, and oddly, not as hard as I thought. I think the hardest part for me was to change my mind - which was quite hard indeed, and is still a daily process. But ultimately, I think it comes down to really wanting it, really putting your happiness above anything else. You have to desire it strongly and have drive or it is not going to happen. You have to constantly overcome yourself and your own mental blocks, which are thrown at you every single day. And forgive yourself when you slip up too! It's a marathon not a dash. I feel very confident that if nothing else I can maintain this current weight, (although I hope to keep going!) and will never be that girl again!
Here is a photo-montage I made for my Grandpa recently of my progress thus far...