Being 170+ pounds at 5'2” was undoubtedly heavy for my body type.
I carried most of my weight in my stomach and face, and couldn't even recognize myself when I saw photos of me taken by friends and family.
I gained most of my weight during a summer spent with my dad.
As you'll find out below, I grew up in a household that didn't have a variety of food often, so I was left with one extra large meal that was supposed to last for at least a couple days. One summer with my dad (parents were divorced) meant that I would have any food I wish. Sadly, that would also be the summer I gain most of my weight that I ended up losing years later.
Gaining a great deal of weight impacted me both physically and mentally.
I had trouble focusing on school work, felt lethargic throughout the day, and didn't have much motivation for anything at all. On top of that, my dad was going through chemo and I eventually saw him pass away in our living room.
It was both heartbreaking and a huge wake-up call that life is too short to be miserable.
If I were never overweight, I don't think I'd be the confident and secure person I am today. I take care of myself mentally as much as I do physically, and take pride in being healthy.
1. It's an ongoing battle with food
Being raised in an environment where a variety of food wasn't around often lead to a style of eating that would eventually lead to unhealthy habits. I was not starved in any way at all, but I grew up with one very large pot of food cooked in the morning, and that was supposed to last us for the rest of the day, and possibly days after.
When I started going to friends houses, I was surprised to see an abundance of food. I took advantage of this and snacked on whatever I could whenever something was offered to me.
I ended up eating anytime food was offered (which was often). I wasn't used to having candy, junk food, and other snacks in my house.
Eventually, I realized I had binge eating disorder and started doing research to get myself out of it. I was eating around 5,000 calories a day, was eating way past satiation, and would eat so much that I'd end up feeling extremely sick afterward. The shame I got from not being able to control my eating made my confidence spiral down even further.
I even ended up quitting my job as a personal trainer because I felt too embarrassed and fat to walk around the gym.
2. Weight loss doesn't mean happiness
When I ended up losing a bunch of weight, I thought I'd finally be happy. I went from 170+ pounds to 115 pounds, and I was just as unhappy when I was at my heaviest weight. I was facing body dysmorphia and when I looked in the mirror, I still saw a 170-pound girl. It's taken me years to become the confident, secure, and happy person that I am today.
Today, we're bombarded with before and after photos on social media.
The after photo is usually of a man or woman that appears to be happy, confident, and acts like their life has totally transformed for the better.
However, that's not always the case. I had beaten myself up so bad to the point where no matter how skinny I was, I felt defeated inside and didn't feel good enough. This transferred over to my relationships with friends and family, and even my school work.
3. The battle on the inside can be worse
What I've faced mentally has shown to be much worse than the physical work I had to put in to lose weight. I was dependent on the weight scale and thought I'd finally be satisfied and happy once I got to my goal weight.
However, that wasn't the case.
Below is a photo of me at my lowest weight. You may have already guessed what I was thinking when I took this picture in a dressing room.
I STILL thought I was fat, despite being 117 pounds and 16% body fat.
4. Food is an addiction
We often hear people say that they simply can't stop eating because they're addicted. Most people laugh, ridicule, and comment that food is not addictive like drugs, and eating is all about self-control.
Numerous studies have shown that food can trigger certain pleasure centers of the brain that are also triggered by drugs like cocaine and heroin.
It also doesn't help that the supermarket is set up in a way to make you fail.
With all of the “low-fat” and “low calorie” foods out there, we've developed a mindset that lower or lite means it's healthier for us. This isn't the case most of the time and creates an unhealthy thinking pattern. We buy foods that have “low fat” marketed on the box, thinking we're being healthier by eating less fat. Companies make up for the “low fat” by adding more sugar, which gets us even more addicted to the food.
We overeat. Then we wonder why we're never losing weight.
To get past this, I had to take a hard look at what I was eating. When I go to the supermarket, I fill up on vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, and other whole foods. I rarely buy anything that is pre-made or in a box.
What to do to create a healthy mindset toward food and exercise:
- Find out your why (ex. to be able to keep up with your kids, gain confidence, ditch the medications)
- Meditate daily using the app Headspace
- Ditch the weight scale and instead track your measurements
- Find out which exercises you enjoy (is it rock climbing, hiking, or kickboxing?)
- Create healthier versions of your favorite unhealthy meals
What you shouldn't do:
- Don't surround yourself with negative people who have unhealthy eating habits
- Rely on the weight scale for happiness
- Beat yourself up when you make mistakes (instead, learn from them)
Losing weight isn't simple. It's not just about eating healthy foods and exercising a few days a week. If it were that easy, everyone would be fit. The battle we all face mentally is why many of us are still overweight or living in a body we aren't proud of. Some days are better than others.
There are days when I still feel like the 170-pound girl who talked badly about herself and felt she wasn't enough for anyone.
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Have you faced anything similar?