I have struggled with being overweight pretty much my entire life. I was always the fat girl, the heaviest in my family, ate whatever food I wanted and wasn’t very active. I hated the way I looked, and I was always very unhappy with myself, but I never did anything to change it.
I was always sick or battling a cold, always very tired, sluggish and moody. I didn’t realize how poorly I was treating my own body.
During the summer of 2009, after my sophomore year of college, I had a physical and my doctor was incredibly blunt with me — weighing in at 210 pounds I was at a VERY high risk for diabetes and other health problems. He indicated that there was a good chance I was diabetic and suggested I get blood work drawn immediately to check. I was devastated. Not surprised, but terrified that I would have to change my lifestyle to accommodate managing a disease, and something that I would be doing for the rest of my life. I couldn’t sleep at all the night before my blood work — I cried and swore to myself that I was going to do something about the condition I was in, diabetes or not.
My labs came back clear: no diabetes for me. But something had to change. I didn’t want to be unhealthy and overweight anymore. So I started slowly. Spending some time in the gym after work, trying to eat healthier; however I didn’t really know what I was doing.
I spent a lot of late nights on Google, researching blogs and websites for tips, trying to figure out how on Earth I was going to become healthy.
After much reflection on myself, I started to create a plan. What I was facing was the cold hard truth that I needed to change my relationship with food. I realized that I was an emotional eater, a snacker when I was bored, and I never once looked at a label. I needed to cut the ties I had with food and start over. It was NOT easy!
I slowly but surely made the changes. I switched to whole grains, skim milk, reduced-sugar/fat products. I had to count calories and reduce them at a very delicate pace as to not shock my body. It has taken a very long time to completely overturn my nutritional life, but I managed.
I also started pretty slowly at the gym. I would walk at a moderate pace on the treadmill or use the elliptical for about 20 to 30 minutes. I didn’t do much weight training for a long time. But after awhile I was able to increase my endurance and time spent working out because it wasn’t leaving me winded as quickly, and I was seeing results and staying motivated.
Four years and 88 pounds later, I am down to 122 pounds! I went from a size 14 to a 4, and I’ve never been happier or healthier! It was a very long journey, and I had a lot of slip-ups where I gained back some of the weight, or stopped going to the gym, or binged. But the biggest part of my journey was coming to the realization that those things are okay, and I can’t punish myself for making mistakes. I decided about a year ago to stop comparing myself to other women and love the body that I was in — and work hard to make it better but not hate the skin I was in. Once I stopped comparing myself to “skinnier” girls, I started dropping weight even faster! I made small goals, reached them and then made more goals!
Today, I am in a place where I LOVE my workouts and I LOVE meal times because I’m eating right. I’m eating organic, natural, whole foods that fuel my body so that I can have the most energy to get through my day. I attend group fitness classes at my local gym with friends and still do a lot of reading/research on how I can keep improving my strength and fitness. I am still making goals and reaching them! I am even starting to see a four-pack of abs (although I’d love if those last two would make their appearance!), something I never thought could happen. I remember being overweight and trying so hard to imagine myself thin, and wishing for it to be reality so bad. I would have nights where I couldn’t fall asleep because all I would do was think about how life would be if I wasn’t overweight. Now I have to do a double-take in the mirror sometimes to assure myself that I really did accomplish my dreams.
The pictures of me above and on the left is me at my heaviest, sophomore year of college, just before my 20th birthday. Next to it is a photo of me now — from the completion of my very first 5K race on June 22! Sometimes if I show people the first picture, they don’t believe it’s me. But it’s me! —Serena-Rose