One of the most important truths I have come to terms with, is that real transformation happens when I spend time to reflect and ask myself what lead me to the place I am at now. Specifically, the choices that time and time again did not yield the results I desired. What biases influenced my thoughts, and my perspectives to make those choices? This was an important question I had to be willing to ask myself if I wanted to take control of my health before it was too late. Quoting the beloved Maya Angelou “When you know better, you do better.”
Reflecting on my life as child and teenager, I was never really obese but always felt heavier than my friends. I recall aunts consistently walking laps on the track across the street from our house, often with trash bags wrapped around their bodies to intensify their sweat. (These are the same two aunts I mentioned in episode 03 of my podcast titled non-negotiables). A couple of years before my grandmother passed, I recall she started to eat grapefruit, cottage cheese, and salads. She also started to work out at home more, and I could sense her self-confidence really starting to shine. Other than those memories, nutrition and self-care were not discussed at home or school, at least where I lived. Vegetables were not part of our daily nutrition, and I assumed that was normal for most households in my neighborhood.
As a young adult, I strived to maintain weight based on a number of the scale, or size of my clothes. Personally, weight and body image was something that I always struggled with. I could lose weight quickly, but knew I could also gain it twice as fast. I gained 75 pounds each pregnancy and managed to lose at least 50 pounds of it within the first couple of months after giving birth. My weight loss battles were won with hours of cardio, laxatives, diet and water pills, restricting food intake, and borderline bulimia ever since high school. I didn’t have an appreciation for how much my body did for me. That isn’t blaming anyone including myself. During those times, we didn’t have as many strong women role models in fitness and self-care.
In my early thirties, I was down to my last 25 pounds of baby weight after giving birth to my youngest child. Instead of focusing on my health, I completely threw myself into my career, and focused on achieving some educational goals. I was also tip toeing around some depression and anxiety I wasn’t ready to acknowledge. This resulted in constant turmoil around my weight, frustrated that I couldn’t get it under control no matter what I tried. Over the next four to five years, I managed to gain an additional 75 pounds. In the midst of my angst, disappointment, shame, and complete feeling of being overwhelmed there would be seasons I would make progress in my weight loss, mainly by resulting to familiar tactics.
I avoided looking in mirrors and was convinced that I had every possible medical diagnosis that was responsible for my weight gain. Daily life was painful and shameful for me. I was in a constant cycle of guilt for being someone my husband didn’t sign up to be married to, (even though he would never say it) and the personal feeling of complete and total defeat. It was the innocent questions of my then four to five-year-old son that motivated me. His pointed questions of why I couldn’t race him, or when I was going to have the baby (I wasn’t pregnant), or why I had a big stomach mortified me. My older children were able to enjoy their childhood with an active mom, and it wasn’t fair to my youngest son not to have the same experiences with me. My entire family didn’t deserve the person I was giving them each day, and that guilt in itself felt heavier than the weight.
By 2016, I had years of documented diet plans supervised by my doctor and was approved for a gastric sleeve surgery. It was a process that I had several consultations for over the prior years but always felt like it was the easy way out. It was through the support and love of my family and friends that I took the step to take control of my life and feel good about it. I realized that doing nothing about my health, giving up on myself for all of those years was the easy way out.
My “now what” moment required me to accept why I struggled with my weight without guilt. Over time, I have redefined my relationship with food and exercise, finding new and more healthy ways to deal with stress. I have taken personal responsibility to be a positive example for my children and family trying to educate them as much as possible about nutrition, and the importance of a healthy mind and body. It is now almost 2019, and I feel as I have received a second wind in every which way! I have come so far, and have no plans on stopping.
I share my story in hopes to encourage you to stay healthy and positive. If you feel like you need help getting on track, ask for it. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I thank you for taking the courage to take the first step.
Stay Inspired Friends!