A Confession - Overcoming Obstacles
As much as I want to share my weight loss story with those that have questions or are looking for advice, I also want to share this story for it’s core lesson: the ability to overcome an obstacle. After what seemed like rock bottom for me mentally, I looked at my life and saw that I wanted to change things - more importantly, who I am. Severing ties with that which I no longer wanted to be a part of, I came to a point of realizing that it was crucial to also make some necessary changes on myself. One big thing that stood out for me, as it is also the image of something I don’t want to become, was my appearance.
My life/style saw that I was never a skinny person: I hit puberty at a young age, I struggled with depression & anxiety growing up, I ate whenever I felt like it, and I went off into the adult world with no concept of how to eat properly (or any understanding of the damage I had already been, and would continue to be, doing). While routine check-up’s with the Doctor always indicated I was overweight, the word “obese” wasn't used – and it was never discussed further, so I thought nothing of my weight. But as many would agree – there comes an age when you start to realize that your metabolism is not the same as it used to be, and that you start to feel generally unhealthy when consuming too many bad foods & drinks.
Throughout my twenties, I had my try at losing weight on many occasions. I was never athletic or involved in sports, and thanks to an old spinal injury I also don’t last long with a workout schedule – which makes things difficult and more discouraging for me. Diet plans such as low-calorie and low-carb were the easiest methods for me, but only resulted in me losing 20 – 25 lbs. over the course of months, and then not being able to lose more. Repeatedly being stuck at my plateau (I always seemed to stop losing at 150 lbs.) threw me back into a state of depression; I actually started to believe I was meant to be this size, and meant to be someone who struggled (with weight). Before long, I would drop the diet in an attempt to get my self-esteem back after feeling like a failure.
I once went to an annual check-up and weighed in at just over 180 lbs. – this was my first wake-up call that I was actually bigger than I should be. Despite still not having an idea of what weight I should be, I knew I needed to do something. Truthfully, I’m still unsure if this contributed at all to my spiritual awakening, but it definitely complimented that process.
Without reiterating too much from My Discovery: there was one morning when I woke up and as if I had a revelatory dream, I had decided I needed to change everything about my life. While (admittedly) some of these changes involved removing people from my life that were a bad influence, I saw it in myself to also take the steps necessary to ensure that I also never turn into that kind of person. For me, my weight easily registered as a major factor; a factor that I could actually change! Seeing this as one of my top obstacles in life, I knew it would be a lot of hard work.
Whatever the reasoning is for making your change, you should ultimately be doing it for yourself. While I looked to what it was I didn’t want to be as my “motivational image”, I knew I was doing it so I would be happier with myself – with how I looked and felt, and how much of a difference that makes in all aspects of life. I knew this was going to be one of the hardest things I would do (as I was aiming to get under 130 lbs.), and that it would only work if I stick with it, and change my lifestyle for good. As I maintain time and time again: determination to persevere is really where the credit is due in my achievement.
People often ask me what my secret is, or what pill I took.. and some that don't believe it think I used an extreme measure (like fasting) to do it. Most assume I’ve been taking diet supplements and was involved in some intensive regime, but it was actually a bit more simple than most realize. One of the first things I put out there is one of the fact’s that I’ve learned for myself: if you’re stressed out and not happy with your life, putting in a lot of effort (to lose weight) may only make a small difference. Sort out what you need to so that you’re in the right frame of mind; I knew that stress would cause me to rush to junk/fast food (and/or overeat) and impede the motivation required, so I eliminated as many stressors as I could beforehand. In the end, changing my lifestyle (and thus my outlook) was the real change made when I lost weight.
In addition to paying more attention to what I ate, I started on natural remedies & solutions to issues I had needed medication for. While I personally found this made a huge difference for me (no longer "controlled" by any prescriptions), I made the change knowing that I would NOT risk my health further - so please consult your doctor before making this change yourself. I did as much research as possible, including research on diet plans and the science & nutrition of food. As with any obstacle, I wanted to be fully informed and prepared before I started any plan. Doing this allowed me to create my own plan, which I’m happy to share for those looking for advice. Just keep in mind that no matter what happens, and even no matter what the obstacle, you have to continue to reinforce the thought to not give up!
My weight loss (which was a total of over 50 lbs.) took me roughly a year from beginning to end. Having said that, there is no end to the changes adapted in order to maintain this weight – having worked so hard to get to a weight I haven’t been at since I was a pre-teen, I could never allow myself to go back! Cutting out junk/fast and processed foods is just one practice I’ve learned to adopt permanently, and is something that can make a big difference on it’s own. Using an app to determine the amount of calories I need (based on weight, lifestyle, etc.), and eating balanced meals* that fit within that, was the strictest I’ve had to be on myself. In fact, the timeline of the entire transition escapes me because I purposely slacked on my "strictness" once I hit the 130 lbs. range; I simply continued on with my ways, and watched myself slowly drop to 120 lbs. in the months after.
Because I saw this whole process as more of a lifestyle change, I was able to have fun with it! I still had days along the way where I wanted to give up - namely the period when I was stuck at 150 lbs. yet again – but I reminded myself that it just takes time and persistence. While I did do workout routines and yoga classes off and on in the beginning, my one consistent was actually the neighbourhood retreat I took every morning; I would queue up some music that made me feel good, put on my headphones, and went out for a walk. This 20-30 minute stroll wasn’t even the intent of exercise, but is still better than nothing (and is very rejuvenating for the soul!). As someone that can't stand being seen at the gym or working out, this simple walk (even when just circling the same block two times) was both an easy and enjoyable exercise.
I can’t tell you that there was anything more significant to the process than what I have already shared. I kept at it and over time, I saw the results I thought to be impossible. For months I didn’t fit into any clothes and, as it made no sense to buy any while I was still losing weight, it took a year to finally get a new wardrobe. Someone whose closet used to be filled with L’s and XL’s is now filled with S’s and XS’s. I never thought I would see such a day (I would’ve been happy to be a M!), but it’s all the proof I need that I can do anything I put my mind to.
While very different from my other posts, I want to share this information in hopes of inspiring anyone else like me that has struggled with the issue. I thought it to be impossible, but came to realize that is only my mind choosing to make it fail. Like everything else in life, it takes work and commitment to cement the end results you want. No matter what it is you’re trying to achieve, know that it can be possible as long as you’re determined and willing to follow through with it!
* My meals include protein shakes (with VegeGreens, and using Almond milk), and homemade meals consisting of a lean protein (ex: skinless chicken breast) and salad / vegetables (stay green), sometimes with a small serving of long grain rice or beans. Beverages were restricted to water and green tea, while I also consumed 64 oz of cranwater (pure Cranberry and water) per day for detox.
Even with the removal of junk & fast food, I still had cheat days where dinner was whatever I wanted, but within my calorie limit. I have also (cautiously!) resumed having such foods as a treat. If ever in doubt about it, I always ensure I've taken my multi-vitamin... and I still do the above protein shake when I know I need that boost. This is essential for maintenance as you want to ensure you're still happy; especially if this is a big change for you. It's all about balance and just being aware of what you eat!
Reading ingredients on labels is a practice that can make a difference on it's own. By switching to low-salt, low-sugar, etc. options and just avoiding ingredients you don't know or understand can have a long-lasting and positive effect on both your health and your weight. Through adopting this practice, I started to make a lot more food at home and have come to appreciate (and be able to taste!) the difference fresh ingredients make. Personally, I started to move myself into the Organic aisles once I learned how a lot of foods are made/preserved/handled, and I did my research on the big-name companies -- this was not necessarily detrimental to weight loss itself, but could possibly make a difference for some with health concerns.
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