I have been a fan of you guys for quite some time now on Facebook. Initially I was drawn to you guys because I have always had a big butt and legs (haha!), so seeing a page called “Fit Bottomed Girls” stuck out to me. Then I completely fell in love because I believe SO much in what you guys stand for. Just like you guys, my belief with successful weight-loss and health is learning a healthy balance. Enjoying your workouts and creating fun ways to do them, and not holding your nose to down your food because you can’t stand the taste. I can’t live like that. It’s not practical or sustainable for long-term success. Plus, who the heck can go through life without humor?!
I noticed that you guys actually feature some of your readers stories so I wanted to share mine with you since it is a little different than some …
My Weight-Loss Story
I have been overweight most of my life. Growing up I was very active, but as active as I was, I was never given restrictions with food or taught about proper nutrition. I grew up in the country, so my days were spent on the four-wheeling trail in my backyard, jumping on the trampoline, riding my bike and exploring the woods. I loved to eat though — especially junk food. I would consume cake, ice cream, chips and candy. I ate it all, and I ate it a lot. All of this combined was not good for my health, image and self-esteem. Up until I was around 12 years old, I never cared about how I looked. My hair was almost always thrown in a ponytail, I wore baggy sweatpants and sweaters, and I wore huge glasses. I was teased periodically for my looks, but it was not until I was a sophomore in high school that it became worse.
Being Bullied in High School for My Weight
In high school there was a commons area that everyone walked through to get to their classes. People would stand out in this area for a few minutes before going to their next class. That is when the teasing began. I would walk through the commons area to go to my next class, and this one particular group of people would yell at me and call me names. The group that tormented me the most were the “jocks” of the school — heavily involved in sports, attractive and popular. I was called almost every derogatory name you could imagine from being called ugly to a “fat you-know-what.” This happened every single day and throughout the day. The group of people would write fake love notes to me and say they were from other people — one time I was trying to walk into the school building and they huddled around the doors so I could not walk in.
When I was cheerleading, if they were not playing the particular sport I was cheering for, they would sit on the bleachers and mock me when I was cheering. They would make grossed out faces, laugh and point. Another time after school I had to run a mile for P.E. class on the outside track. I was making up time that I missed. The football team was running stairs on the stadium steps right beside the track for practice. As I would run past them, I would hear the guys yell “run fat girl, run,” “too bad running will not make you pretty,” “you need to run 100 miles, not one.”
I won an award in 2004 for an outstanding academic performance and as I was walking across the stage to receive my certificate, the group of people who often teased me started booing and laughing at me. My geometry teacher was married to the baseball coach. She told him what I was going through and the coach made the captain of the baseball team write a letter of apology to me for all of the bullying he and his team were putting me through. That just made it worse.
These types of instances were situations I dealt with for years on a daily basis. Over time my mother grew sick of me coming home crying every day, so she talked to my principal and student resource officer. They pulled up the footage on the video cameras and, after that, I was escorted to class to help avoid any teasing. It helped calm things down, but it never stopped.
Every day during the ride to school, my stomach was always in knots because I never knew what particular torment that day would bring. I wore baggy clothes sometimes, in hopes that no one would notice me or my body. That never worked. When I received my driver’s license, I would skip class just so I would not have to walk through the commons area. I would go in the bathroom in between classes and cry. I would take sleeping pills when I came home in the afternoon just so I would not eat. I never wanted to go out with my friends because I thought everyone else was so much prettier and better than me. I showered with the lights off, so I would not have to look at my own reflection naked. At one time, the depression was becoming so bad with the teasing at school and the abuse from a family member that I remember praying to God and asking to die. I would be kneeling at the foot of my bed, on my bedroom, hunched over, crying, begging to die. Food was my main source of comfort, because it seemed like the adults and mentors around me had no idea how to fix my situation. Though I was always active with sports, I never monitored my eating habits. I was emotional eating and binged a lot.
After High School
I graduated high school early (January 2007), began college and worked part-time. That is when I was quickly becoming my heaviest. Now I did not have the time to be as active as I once was, and my eating habits stayed the same. All of these factors combined resulted in a huge weight gain. When I graduated in early 2007, I was 180 pounds. By September of 2008, I was up to 276 pounds. I still had a lot of muscle, but I put on so much fat over top of that.
I was 19 years old and sitting in my doctor’s office for depression on a Tuesday afternoon in September of 2008 when I decided I wanted to make a change. I wanted to know what it was like to buy clothes and not cry in the dressing room because nothing would fit. I wanted to know what it was like to look at my own reflection and not cringe.
Making a Change
That was when I started researching everything I could on health and fitness. I could not afford a personal trainer to help me five to six days a week, nor did I want to rely on one. I started teaching myself different workouts, about the various types of cardiovascular activities, the proper way to lift weights, the benefits of exercise, recipes, the importance of different nutrients for my body — there was not one subject in the health and fitness field that I did not read and teach myself about. I have tons of notepads filled with notes, research and different exercises I created. I wanted to learn it all.
During the time period of September of 2008 to 2012, I lost more than 100 pounds and added more than 20 pounds of muscle and maintained my health. Then at 22 and 23 years old, I started encountering real-life, adult problems that forever changed my life. I hit rock bottom.
Hitting Rock Bottom
In October of 2012, I started a down destructive path with my weight. I was in an extremely bad relationship. To couple with that, my employer was consistently losing business and I was enduring my third “down size” with them in two years. To handle all of that at 23 years old was not easy. Food became my refuge. Since I had already lost so much weight, I would justify eating my feelings. I would say to myself “I have had a bad day. I do not feel like working out, so I am going to get a pizza and go home. I have lost a lot of weight so it will be okay.” A person can only tell themselves that for so long before the weight starts to slowly creep on. One of my biggest afflictions in life is that food provides an emotional fill for me. It always has. I have to fight 18 years of eating habits every. single. day.
For months, I ate really badly. I would make healthy choices occasionally because I was accustomed to it; and I still went to the gym, but everything was slacking. I was eating bad foods and large quantities of it, my gym schedule became less structured, my workouts become shorter, and I did not push myself as hard. Due to the hardships I was enduring, I let my health suffer. On March 12, 2013, I was getting out of my car at work, returning from my lunch break, and the next thing I knew, I was in a pool of my own blood. I was rushed to urgent care a couple of blocks down from my office and from there they realized I was losing too much blood and needed a hospital. They called an EMS to rush me there. That is where I fainted and almost died. I was hemorrhaging. I had to have emergency surgery and a transfusion.
By April of 2013, my body healed and my life began to go back to “normal.” Normal as in my relationship was okay, my job was still declining, and I was supposed to continue on with life as if nothing happened. Physically, I was normal. However, emotionally and mentally? Not in the least. I was really depressed after all of that. Over the course of the next few months, I would try to get back on my weight-loss 100 percent, but it never worked. My passion was gone. My poor eating habits and slacking workouts continued for the next six months.
A New Start
Finally on November 1, I obtained a new job. Starting that job gave me the ability to believe in myself again. It lit a fire of motivation and hope inside of my soul that I had been void of for more than a year. I left my bad relationship, moved and decided that if I want to be healthy again, it was up to me to do it. I have done it before and I can do it again.
On Monday, November 25, 2013 I started a brand new journey. As of Monday, June 2, 2014, my weight loss is 55 pounds! I am currently at 189 pounds with a goal of 165 pounds.
People have asked me: “How do you do it? I have no idea how to start.” I do it by making one healthy choice at time. That is all you have to do to start. I started drinking water instead of soda. I made fresh food instead of going through the drive-thru. I ensure I get plenty of rest. I plan my meals weekly, write my grocery list and designate Sunday afternoons to prep all of my clean food for the week. I plan my workouts, pack my gym bag every single evening, and place it by the door so I never forget it when I leave for work in the morning. Organization goes a long way on a weight-loss journey.
I constantly coach myself and tell myself “I can do this.” I savor the feelings of a hard workout so when motivation is low one day, I push myself to go. I learned how to stop eating until I am sick. I know the feeling of being “satisfied” instead of being “sickly full.” That has been very beneficial to learn because now after I eat, I have a lot of energy — I am not in a food coma, craving a nap. I surround myself with positive people who have their health as a top priority and also to know I am not alone. I read and educate myself on exercising and proper nutrition all of the time because knowledge is power. I also started to write. Writing is my way to release my struggles, pain and, best of all, triumphs and successes! Through losing weight and getting healthy again, I developed a passion to help other men and women who struggle with weight-loss and self-love like I did. Most of all, I have learned that I am solely responsible for the success of journey. If I want to be healthy and fit, I am the only one who can make it happen.
My Weight-Loss Stats
Body Fat: 47%
Body Fat: 35%
My biggest struggle throughout my journey has been emotional eating and food addiction. Because when I was growing up, food was easily handed out as a reward, a treat, a celebration and rarely were restrictions issued and healthy choices presented to me. I could have cake and ice cream for breakfast, and I did, many times, and I could eat six slices of pizza at dinner, and I did, many times. When I would get bullied at school, my junk food was there for me. When a former family member would call me worthless and told me the only thing I would ever be good for is sex, and that I would never make anything out of myself, junk food was there for me. When I was sad, junk food was there. When I was happy, junk food was there. When I was bored, junk food was there.
Over the past six months, I have finally started to come back to the woman I know I am. It felt like a fresh start for me. I got to work. I knew this time losing weight that I wanted to face my addiction to food head on. I wanted to fight it. I wanted to change the way my mind thought about and saw food. I knew this time that I had a problem with food that needed to be addressed and dealt with. If you have an addiction to something, do not let the problem define you. Do not become a victim seeking pity. Let your fight define you. Let how you overcome the problem define you.
For the first time in my life, I am really implementing changes. I coach myself every single day. And I cannot believe I can finally say I am really, really proud of the strength and control I now exude when it comes my nutrition. I believe that more people have emotional issues with food than they realize. By sharing my story, I hope to help at least one person. If just one person feels like they can fight and overcome their battle, then my openness is worth it.
When someone asks me how I have overcome this addiction and/or lost weight, the answer is always simple. I have done this simply because I accept that it is up to me to do so. I do this by coaching myself. I do this by educating myself and by making my mind and heart stronger. Motivation is the no. 1 thing a person needs to lose weight and/or transform their life from any problems they are encountering. However, here is the stipulation about motivation: it cannot be bought. It cannot be surgically implanted. It cannot be taken every morning with a glass of water. Motivation has to come from a person being mentally stronger than they have ever been. It comes from one being able to push through the “hard.”
I share my story because this does happen. A person can dismantle all of their hard work and gain a lot of the weight back. I thought because I had lost so much weight, that was the end, but it isn’t. Weight-loss and health is a journey that will always keep going. Being fit is a way of life and requires consistency … which is a very rewarding feeling. You will encounter a lot of ups and downs, weight gains, weight losses, and everything in between — you just simply have to keep going. It is never too late to start either. I messed up … and I messed up so bad that I had to start over again. I thought I was too far gone but I wasn’t. If you wake up in the morning, that is a brand new chance. I took that chance, even though I was at the bottom again, and I pushed on. I push on by taking it one day and one healthy choice at time.
Throughout the crazy, ever-evolving journey I have endured with weight-loss, self-love and self-esteem, a passion inside of me to help other men and women has been born. I started a blog a year ago called Fitness Blondie. On that blog, I document my journey. I document the good, the bad, the great and the really ugly. Every week I share my exercise and nutrition regimen, plus I am constantly creating healthy alternative recipes to people’s already favorite foods. I feel my purpose in life is to share my story and help other people become the healthiest and happiest they can be. My approach is real, raw, and solely due to hard work. I am just an ordinary girl from a small Southern farm town with an extraordinary story and passion to share.
If I can do it, so can you. —Liz Taylor