They say every person we meet has a story but we only pick up the plot at the chapter we enter. Unintentionally, my story is primarily about weight, but depending on where you picked up my “book,” it could be about gaining it or losing it. I lost ninety-six pounds, which is roughly the equivalent of sixteen bowling balls, an average twelve year old girl, or a baby hippo. Because I wasn’t overweight growing up, and now, having essentially kept off a weight equal to semi-tractor trailer truck tire for many years, there are people who never knew I gained weight, or that I lost it.
My “aha” moment came after a receptionist at a day spa embarrassed me when I had to ask for a larger robe because the “one-size-fits-all” robe was obviously lying. It was that singular moment where I realized I no longer recognized myself, and thus began my relentless assault on the 96 lbs. that had gradually crept onto my body. It was a careful balance of weight training, cardio and really limiting starchy, white carbohydrates that finally worked for me. While my “aha” moment hit me like a pie in the face, I never envisioned that my little motivational quips of “You’re no busier than a fit person,” “Moderation is for maintenance,” or “Vodka leads to Oreos” would form a path to encouraging people around the world. I didn’t start out thinking I was going to be a “weight loss success story” or a fitness inspiration blogger, but, if you Google my name, that’s what comes up.
Now that I am on the other side of my weight loss journey, I have come to understand that the point in which people pick up my story influences how they respond to me. Whenever I’m at a restaurant now with my “no cheese, no bacon, skip the sauce, dressing on the side, can I have double veggies instead of pasta and please don’t even think of leaving the rolls on my table,” type of order, invariably, if I’m with someone who never knew I was heavy, they will say something to the effect of, “Oh, for God’s sake, look at you. You can eat whatever you want.” My reply is always, “You know why I can eat whatever I want? Because I don’t eat whatever I want.” Sometimes, I’ll go on to explain where eating whatever I want took me and, more importantly, what it took to get back! At the gym, I may be working out near a person who perhaps is just starting out and I’ll catch a sort of side-eye glance. If I could a see a bubble over their heads it would say something like, “She’s got it easy. She has no idea how frustrating this is for me.” Well, I was like them not that long ago, so I always try to offer some encouraging words and will somehow start up a short conversation about how important my workouts are and that I lost 96 pounds, and you can see how this information changes their expression. I tell people so it offers encouragement, hope, understanding that all fit-looking people didn’t have some magical fairy dust sprinkled on them.
But there’s one thing I also try to share; the “after the after” presents its own set of challenges. I think there’s a fascination with weight loss transformation stories because there’s always the hope that losing weight will transform everything and will make your life all puppies and rainbows. I think there’s also a corresponding secret fear that it won’t change anything, and that you still won’t love your new body or be any happier.
Based on the experience of my own weight-loss success, I can tell you that:
- Shopping for clothes is infinitely more enjoyable.
- My bathroom scale has become a useful tool and not my mortal enemy.
- My personal relationship with food and exercise has changed more than I thought possible. I gave up thinking of eating healthy as depriving myself. It’s not about never having a cupcake; it’s about not ALWAYS having a cupcake. In truth, even when I had 96 lbs. hanging on me for dear life, I very rarely had the cupcake.
- Amazing and fun things can happen… My story has received a great deal of publicity and got published in Good Housekeeping Magazine, Oxygen magazine, Pop Sugar, First For Women Magazine, just to name a few, and it was exciting to feel like a super model, getting fussed over and pampered for photo shoots. I’ve been able to interact through social media with some of my fitness heroes like Gilad Janklowicz and Cathe Friedrich, and I even got to meet and have my photo taken with Jillian Michaels. I also get the amazing privilege of hearing from people all over the world who tell me that something I wrote or said inspired them to start their own fitness journey.
And now, like the end of a drug commercial, here are the possible not-so-great side effects:
- Not everyone will be happy for you. You’ll be surprised how those closest to you may react, and saboteurs lurk in places you’d least suspect. Your friends and family can sometimes make discipline seem like a four letter word!
- There is no finish line and no touch down dance. Losing weight and keeping it off is a daily battle. I realize this whenever I see articles about the high rate of people who lose weight and then regain it. It makes me constantly aware of the fact that I’m only a few bad decisions away from disaster, and the way I chose to dance with temptation is ultimately my responsibility.
- Life’s other challenges and frustrations will still be there. I try to face my toughest day by telling myself that working out will give me the strength to handle whatever life throws in my path.
While I’m certainly not a fan of fat shaming, my run in with an unsympathetic receptionist at a day spa changed my life. Up until that moment, I was in a state of self-pity, self-disgust and just downright denial. I took that awful feeling to fuel my start, and then went on to use my story to encourage and inspire others. So whether you picked up my story “before the before,” during my carrying around an extra sixteen bowling ball years, or now, or as I like to call it, “after the after,” know that your own success story is all up to you and who knows where your “after the after” will take you!