How I lost 90 pounds and what happened next….
I would often wonder why I couldn’t stick to a diet? It seemed simple, “eat this and don’t eat that”. But somehow, every few days, I would end up eating loads of junk food, and the diet was over. Being overweight is a horrible way to live. I was in a constant cycle of beating myself up emotionally and feeling like a loser. Being big, and out of control with our eating is the one problem everyone else can see, and many people judge us on appearance before they even meet us!
I used to dream of being “thin”. I didn’t like myself very much. I had no respect for what I saw in the mirror. Other people would stare at me because I was so big. I felt ignored, un-important, not good enough, and ashamed of myself for the way I looked. I used to think if I was “thin” my problems would disappear. I obsessed over “getting thin” so my life would somehow be perfect. I surrounded myself with other people who were also big, all my friends were overweight. Being around other fat people eased the pain I guess, we understood each other, and while I was around my friends I felt normal.
Being big stopped me from doing so many things I wanted to do. It stopped me from meeting new people and trying new adventures. I always felt awkward in social situations. It stopped me from living the life I really wanted to live. My confidence was at rock bottom. I felt unworthy, and I was very good at ignoring my own feelings! The way I dealt with those feelings was with food. My main entertainment was eating. No matter what the occasion, food was involved. Actually, even if there was no occasion, food was involved. Food was my drug, my comfort to escape the way I felt about myself.
The First Step To Lasting Weight Loss...
I don’t know how I reached a size 22-24, well that’s not true, I know now! But I didn’t know back then. I got that big because I was an emotional eater, and that’s a nice way to put it. In reality, I had an eating disorder, I was a binge eater. At the time though, I didn’t know this, and so I spent ten long years going around in circles starting a diet every week, and then failing. I spent my twenties “on a diet”, and getting fatter! I wasted the best decade of my life hating myself because I was overweight.
My only entertainment was junk food in front of the television. I would find something interesting to watch on TV, and binge my way through it until I couldn’t eat anymore. I mean, I literally couldn’t eat anymore. My stomach would’ve burst!
‘Being thin’ was my only real goal in life. It was the one thing I wished I could change. I hardly ever looked in the mirror because I hated what I saw. I avoided it at all costs. I dreamt of being able to touch my toes without getting past my belly first. I wanted to be able to drive without the steering wheel rubbing on my big belly. I wanted to be able to shop for clothes I liked, and look nice. But instead, I was shopping for something that fit! I wanted to be able to take a bath without worrying about fitting in the tub. Mostly though, I wanted to like what I saw in the mirror. I just wanted to feel good about myself. I wanted to be respected and treated like a normal person, without being ignored or treated differently. I wanted to feel sexy and beautiful. I wanted to have a summer without chafe under my boobs! I wanted my legs to stop rubbing together. I wanted to wear nice underwear and feel attractive! And I wanted my partner to tell me I was beautiful. I just wanted to feel good.
How did I totally transform my life? Little by little….
I decided it was time I got an education, so I enrolled in a nutrition course. I figured, I may as well try to lose weight while I get a qualification. When I enrolled, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I thought I was stupid. When I went to my first class, I felt ridiculous! I was the only fat person sitting in a class of nutrition students. I was embarrassed, and if I hadn’t been so determined I probably wouldn’t have gone back. But I pushed through my shame, and started learning.
Designing My Own Weight Loss Program
Little by little I started to apply small changes to my life. But it wasn’t enough to have any great effect. I was eating healthier, but I didn’t realize ‘eating healthy’, wasn’t enough. Then I had tragic experience. I ended up in hospital, feeling completely alone, and at rock bottom! It was then that I decided once and for all, enough was enough. I had never felt so miserable. In that hospital, it was a decision to start over and change my life, or possibly end it all. I was in a dark place. I had nothing left emotionally. I was a mess! While I was thinking about how I could pick up the pieces of my broken life, I knew my weight was the only thing I had complete control over. And it was the one place I could start right away.
I decided while sitting in the hospital, all the crazy diets of the past weren’t working. I thought about all the things I’d tried, and realized no one else could design a plan for me, because they weren’t me! They didn’t know what I needed. Only I, could help myself. I was scared of getting serious, and scared of failing again. I was terrified to give up eating! No more bullshit plans that were too hard to stick too.
I decided I would start studying weight loss, while learning nutrition. I enrolled in extra subjects like sports nutrition, so I could understand how the body could burn off the extra fat. I studied metabolism and applied it specifically to weight loss. I did extra study on hormones and their role in appetite control and energy balance. My degree quickly became a course in weight loss rather than general nutrition. Over time it payed off. I developed a plan that is not only effective, but natural and simple to follow. On my plan, If I wanted junk food, I had to be able to fit it into my day somehow, while losing weight. Because I knew, if I couldn’t eat the stuff I craved, I would fail again! I needed a plan that wouldn’t leave me hungry. I didn’t want to feel like I was suffering. I didn’t want to feel deprived, or different. I’d been there, and it never worked! I didn’t want to count the days until I was thin, while I was losing weight. Instead I decided to try something totally different! I was aiming high, I wanted a diet that I could not only live with, but enjoy! I didn’t know if it was possible to have all this, but at the time it was the only thing that made sense.
I wanted to ‘like my life’ as soon as possible! I understood that some things would have to change. I knew I couldn’t keep doing what I’d been doing, and lose weight. I had all the resources I needed. I just had to find a way to put it all into practice. I had found it impossible to stick to any plan long enough to see results in the past! My goal was to enjoy the process long enough to reached my happy size. With this in mind, I made some ground rules.
I wanted something that fit easily into my life. Not a diet that I had to fit with. I had to enjoy everything that went in my mouth! If I was hungry, I had to eat. No starvation!
I would be allowed “treats” and not beat myself up. I hated vegetables, but if I was going to lose weight, I had to find a way to get vegetables into my diet. I had to figure out how to have junk food meals like pizza or pancakes, and still lose weight. Because I knew if I couldn’t, it wouldn’t last!
I had to design an exercise routine which didn’t leave me exhausted and sore. Or feeling like a loser! I designed myself a plan which is optimised for weight loss, rather than general health.
And for the first time ever, I decided to stop thinking about how long it would take. I told myself, "it will take as long as it takes", and I’ll do it until I reach my goal.
I aimed for a kilogram (2.2 pounds) each week. I wanted to get the weight off as quickly as possible, but while I was dreaming about losing 20 pounds a week, I wasn’t succeeding. This time, I was going to be realistic and give it time.
In the past, I dreamt about being thin, while I binged on crap! In those days, I would reassure myself “I’ll start tomorrow”. I was in denial. ‘Starting tomorrow’ was how I’d soothe myself from the fact that I wasn’t sticking to whatever diet I was on at the time. It had to stop! There was no tomorrow. I was doing it NOW.
Using my own ground rules, I designed my plan. I still had a lot to learn. And as I studied nutrition, I implemented different things into the plan. I started losing about a kilogram (2.2 pounds) each week. Each time I noticed anything holding me back, or making it harder to stay on track, I would reassess and modify the plan. It was little things like how to choose food when I was out that wouldn’t interfere with my plan. In the first couple of months I was in disbelief that I could stick with it, but the more the weight fell off, the more determined I became. It also got easier because I had learnt how to balance my hormones through diet and exercise, so I wasn’t as hungry. The old cravings had almost stopped. As a result, my mind was changing. I wasn’t obsessed with food all the time. I had stopped bingeing, and started replacing old bad habits with new activates. I was looking for new ways to feel happiness. My life was changing slowly but surely!
Sticking To The Plan
I had to put a major emphasis on staying motivated at the beginning of my journey. I developed some simple techniques to keep me motivated along the way. I actually found them by accident. But the more I used my motivation tools, the easier it got. This was the ‘make or break’ of my plan! In the first couple of months, there were days when I would still feel unmotivated, or have urges to fall back into old habits of bingeing. Learning how to be a ‘motivated person’ was a challenge at first, but I used my new ‘motivation tools’ to make it possible. With time and practice, I became very good at motivating myself to keep going. People would comment, “I don’t know how you do it”! I started to think of these tools as magic because from where I started psychologically, these tools felt like magic. It became almost effortless to stay in control.
When I first started, I thought it was all about food, but I soon realized it wasn’t about the food at all! I was eating for so many reasons! I wasn’t really hungry for food, and I didn’t need to eat as much as I thought I did. As time went on, I started to understand my real problem was ‘emotional eating’. I was hungry for life, a new life.
One of the biggest lessons I learnt throughout my journey was, ‘thin people’ (people who have never struggled with a lot of weight to lose) have no idea about weight loss! They can’t wrap their head around what it takes psychologically. They don’t understand how someone can get so big. They don’t understand what drives us to eat, and they don’t have the answers to change it. I was surrounded by upcoming fellow nutritionists, all with an opinion on why I was overweight, and how I could lose weight. As I listened to their ideas I realized, these are people who have never had an eating disorder, never had a bingeing problem, and never had to lose weight. And it was clear they couldn’t help me! After realizing this, I vowed I would take what I’d learnt from my own experience, and my degree, and put it to good use. Towards the end of my course, I decided to specialize in weight loss coaching so I could help others who struggled to find the answers like I did.
It took me eleven months to totally transform my body. I went from a size 22-24, to a very slim size 8-10 (Australian Sizes). Eventually I settled in a size 12, that’s where I feel my best, and it’s not hard to maintain. In that year, I had some amazing experiences. The journey is never what we expect it to be! By the time I’d reached my goal, it wasn’t enough to be thin. I wanted to change my life! Losing weight was the kick start to changing every other area of my life. Over the following years, I built myself a career as a weight loss coach helping others design a plan of their own.
I also had the opportunity to work in many other sectors of the nutrition industry, like food manufacturing etc. I made a point to try new things, I started going out and socializing more. I started traveling and exploring the world, trying crazy adventures I never thought I’d do! I traveled through Thailand for a month which included trekking through the jungles of the golden triangle! My partner and I ended our relationship, but it wasn’t a sad ending, we’re still very good friends. Some friendships which weren’t good for me faded out, while new relationships began.
Throughout my journey, I transformed my mind, my body and my entire life. And it all started with wanting to ‘be thin’…
A New Life After Weight Loss
When I was getting close to my goal weight, I decided I would slowly give myself a makeover. It was a lot of fun! Expensive, but fun. I went to the hair dresser and got my hair colored blonde. I went to the orthodontist and had braces put on my teeth (something I’ll never do again!), I started preparing for surgery, even before I knew if I’d need it! I would list all the clothes I wanted to buy, and get pictures of pretty jewellery I would wear. I experimented with fake tans and nail colors, I started to wax my eyebrows and shave my legs. It was like finding a whole new world to explore. I had stopped hating my body so much, and instead started to think about how I wanted to express myself.
A thought dawned on me, I can present myself any way I want! I can choose the clothes, I can choose if I want to be tanned, have long hair or short, tattoos and piercings. Ultimately, I had a canvas (my body) that I could design to look however I chose. I would see how other young women were dressing and wonder if I could wear clothes like them? Did I want ‘that look’ to be my style? I’d get ideas from everywhere…
As I said, I never really looked at myself in the mirror when I was big, not even while I was losing weight. One day, towards the end of my weight loss, I was walking through the shopping center and I saw a person who looked just like my sister through the crowds. My sister has always been slim and we never looked alike because I was so big. As I took a closer look for her I realized, that wasn’t my sister! I was seeing my own reflection in a store window! I’ll never forget that moment when I realized I was looking at myself. I was completely shocked, and very happy with myself. I didn’t realize how small I’d become! That was the first time I saw myself as the rest of the world now saw me. It was a surreal experience.
I took a trip to see my cousin who lived interstate. Her and her husband were both coming to get me from the airport. When they arrived, they couldn’t find me, because they were looking for the ‘old me’. When she saw me, she was in disbelief at my transformation, she couldn’t look at me. She kept saying “oh my god, it’s not you”! “You look so different”! She was literally turning her head away, while talking to me. She explained when she wasn’t looking at me, she could believe it was me because I sounded the same, but when she looked at me, it was too weird. Her husband was standing in front of me in shock, his mouth open, head tilted and a confused look on his face.
On another occasion, I met up with a friend in the city. We lived on opposite sides of the city, so we spoke on the phone quite a bit, but didn’t see each other often. By now, I’d had enough experiences to know, I should warn her about the weight I’d lost before we met up. Even though I warned her, she still didn’t recognize me. When I first approached her, she gasped out loud in shock! She said she saw my partner and wondered who he was with.
When I was overweight, I never payed much attention to my body. I didn’t look at it, or take care of it. I mean, I was so bad, I didn’t shave my legs until they looked like man’s legs! One morning while in the shower, I looked down and noticed I could see past my belly easily, and see my lady parts! It wasn’t until that moment, I realized I hadn’t been able to see that part of my body for a very long time! I was so happy about it, I called one of my friends (who would understand) to tell her. That’s probably the most random phone call I’ve ever made. “Hey guess what I saw this morning”?
Then of course there are comments which aren’t as nice, but I found a way to take those comments as a compliment. I was with family having dinner and excused myself to go to the bathroom after I’d finished eating. When I got back, one of my family members (who was also very big, and has never lost her weight), asked if I had just gone to throw up? I said “What”? “Why would I do that”? She then explained that she couldn’t understand how I could stay so thin after eating what I just ate? Of course now I understand, her comments are just a reflection of the way she feels about her own situation. She couldn’t understand why she couldn’t lose her weight. She would always ask me, “how did you do it”? I tried to help her, but every time I suggested changes she could make, she’d respond with “yeah but” answers. I learnt quickly while working in clinic, people who make “yeah but” statements aren’t ready to change!
Clothes shopping became a dream come true! I wasn’t quite finished losing weight when I had to go and get new pants. Up until this point, I had been wearing a belt to keep my pants up. I saw some plain black pants hanging on a rack which were on sale. So, I figured because they were so cheap, I’d try them. I took a size 16 and 14 into the change room, not really knowing what size I was. The 16 were way too big, they were falling around my legs. I tried the 14, and to my amazement they were also miles to big! I stood in the change room for the longest time, looking at myself, wondering if there was something wrong with the pants? Maybe they’re defective I wondered? So, I ended up getting a size 12 that day. Suddenly, I could buy whatever I wanted, and the clothes were so cheap! In that first year after losing the weight, I spent a lot of time in the shops trying on clothes! Surprisingly though, I never bothered with nice underwear until a couple of years later.
Towards the end of my journey, I decided that I wanted excitement and adventure. I booked a trip for my partner and I to New Zealand. It was my first overseas trip. Because I was obsessed with making up for lost time, and trying new adventures, I made my partner come on a parasailing tour with me. When we were getting strapped into the parasail, the guide said “whoever is the heaviest must sit on the right”. For a moment, I had those old feelings of shame and embarrassment come up, until my partner said, “that’s me”. This moment impacted me more than anything else, because it was the first time it really hit home, I was truly ashamed of myself. And I’d felt that way for a very long time! So long, I forgot what it felt like to be ‘OK with myself’. In that moment, I wanted to cry for the time I’d wasted hating myself for so many years. I was so used to feeling not good enough, it had become my way of being. That was a part of myself I really wanted to work on!
When I had finally lost all the weight, I’d turned 29. I had been in a relationship since I was sixteen, and because of that, and being so overweight, I’d never gone out ‘clubbing’ like other girls in there 20’s. Since everything else had changed, I decided it was time I started to act like a young person! I went clubbing with a girlfriend I’d met while studying. She was beautiful to look at, I mean really attractive! We were standing together waiting for my partner to come back with drinks, when a very very good looking guy approached us. I assumed he wanted to talk to her because she was so pretty. But he was coming to talk to me! I almost fell over with shock! I wasn’t used to this sort of attention at all, and it scared me a little. I said something stupid to him, and he laughed at me. Then I explained that my boyfriend was coming back, and he left. As I started going out more, this sort of thing kept happening. And I eventually started to ‘get it’, I wasn’t ugly anymore. My dream had come true, I wasn’t the fat ugly friend! I won’t lie though, this sort of attention took a lot of getting used too! Emotionally and psychologically I wasn’t expecting attention like that, and I had to learn how to deal with it.
A couple of years after all the weight loss was done, I decided I would have a breast lift. It was the only part of my body I still didn’t like. I didn’t have implants, just a lift to get rid of the excess skin. Surprisingly, it’s not a painful operation, and I healed up quickly. I was back at work after a week. It’s the single best thing I’ve done for my body image after weight loss! Only a woman who has felt very unattractive in the past could understand how uplifting this could be. (pardon the pun)
To be honest though, the biggest improvement from losing the weight has nothing to do with being able to touch my toes, or fit into the bath tub. It is the way I feel about myself now. Going through this journey has taught me that I am a determined person, and I am in control of my life. It’s taught me that if I make the effort, I can make my dreams come true. It’s showed me that I’m capable of achieving whatever I want to achieve. I no longer feel worthless, I don’t disrespect myself anymore. I don’t allow other people to speak down to me now. I put the effort into myself, and my life, and I surround myself with people who respect and appreciate me. The truth is, these days I see ‘my weight problem’ as a blessing in disguise. If it weren’t for the journey I went on, I have no idea where I would be? But I do know this, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. Losing weight has been the beginning of so much more, it has been a path to find myself! There is nothing sweeter than that!
Years After Weight Loss
Life is a whole lot better when you like yourself. Once you know you can set a goal and reach it, life becomes so much fun. I’m not battling with myself like I used too. Even if I put on a couple of kilos, I know I can take it off again. I’m in control of the life I have. And now I know, I can have any sort of life I want. That’s the real magic that comes with losing weight and changing your life!
So now, thirteen years after I lost all that weight, a lot has changed! My weight was stable without dieting, or giving it much thought at all, until I met the man who would become my husband! He’s a handsome, funny, thoughtful and romantic gentleman. He’s also a tall 6’2 mountain of a man, who happens to love the good life of restaurants, parties and traveling! So, as our lives merged, I began to gain a little weight. It wasn’t much at a time, but over a couple of years I really started to notice it. Suddenly, I wasn’t a size twelve anymore! I was approaching a size 16! I started to question what was going on? Then I realized, I had stopped following my own plan! So, I had to take off a little weight. Taking weight off this time, was very different to the first journey I had. I wasn’t battling with the fear of failing, or the shame and low self-esteem. This time I knew exactly what I needed to do, and how to do it. And the irony of all this, my husband kept telling me he didn’t want me to lose weight! He doesn’t like ‘skinny women’. Oh boy, how things have changed!
These days it’s not about ‘being thin’. These days it’s about living a Life I Love. It’s about finding joy in every area of my life. Waking up and feeling excited about a new day. I want to experience as much as I can while I’m here on earth. I remember while in New Zealand on that first trip, I saw a sign saying, “I’ll slide into the grave sideways screaming what a ride, lets go again”. This life philosophy sounded so great to me, it’s been my goal ever since I read that sign.
Weight loss is about Living Your Dreams! Just as I set out to do all those years ago, I can say “I’m free”, and if you start now, and don’t waste another day, pretty soon you’ll be saying the same.