I used to weigh 289 pounds. During my battle with my autoimmune disease I was put on such a high dosage of steroids that my appetite was ridiculous. I was ashamed to eat out in public because I could easily consume two full meals at a restaurant and still feel hungry. When I came to the realization that being sedentary on top of eating so many calories in a day was easily going to tip me into the 300s and beyond, I decided to start making changes.
I wanted to start a healthy lifestyle for many reasons. One of those reasons was with all the health issues I had going on I didn’t want to get anything else from being overweight. I wanted to take charge and have control over my health as much as I could. And for another, I had learned to love myself. Truly and completely, just as I was.
I would at first stare in anger at myself, hating what I had become. But I read somewhere in a book (I can’t remember which one) but it said to practice telling yourself that you love yourself and that you are beautiful in the mirror every day for 30 days. It took me beyond 30 days to feel like I wasn’t crazy but I actually did love myself. Even with the “moon face” from the steroids, even though my teeth aren’t perfect, even though I was overweight, even though I had scars and discolorations that would never go away, I was beautiful.
By loving myself, I also realized that I had to take care of myself. Recklessly consuming junk food and chocolate (tons and tons of it!) were not making my appetite situation any better. My steroid dosage had been lowered and I decided to start where I was. I knew next to nothing about exercising and losing weight, but I knew what my doctor had told me countless times. Eat right, exercise, drink water. There’s really no magic formula.
I liked to dance, so I started off with a game called Dance Dance Revolution. There was a dance pad on the floor and you had to step on the arrows in time to the music. There was different difficulty settings on the game and I started off on about easy to medium depending on the song, I did 30 minutes a day. I didn’t do anything to my eating immediately, and because of that, there were many comments made about how it was counterproductive that I still ate whatever I wanted. I felt disheartened, but I knew the weight hadn’t just jumped on me one day and it wasn’t going to come off in one day either.
I cut pop out of my diet first, I knew I was drinking most of my calories. Next I cut back on sweets, but I didn’t give them up completely at this point. I was just trying to focus on exercising every single day and making it a part of my routine, even when I was sore or in pain, I would go to great lengths to try to get in some kind of exercise.
The progress did not happen overnight, and though I lost weight quickly at the beginning from making small changes it has been a long road ever since then. Going through many health issues and new medications through it all slowed me up a lot. I fell off the wagon time and time again, I binged on chocolates when I was depressed. I’d stop exercising for months and then pick myself back up again.
One of my art teachers once told me:
“Inspiration and motivation will only carry you so far, but if you keep up your determination, you can do absolutely anything you put your mind to.”
He told me this because I really sucked at making pottery, but I would go to that classroom every day. Before class, after class. I would take my clay home with me and work at it until I got better. He told me that was the kind of determination I needed to use on whatever I wanted to do in life and I applied it to my health journey.
Even when I fell, I got back up. I didn’t look at the scale because it depressed me. But I was shocked when I went to the doctor’s office and noticed how fast the weight was falling off of me. I had to keep getting smaller clothing and eventually other people began to notice too.
I ended up losing 100 pounds, against all odds. Even suffering from hypothyroidism, I just got the needed medications and kept pressing on. Every battle with health issues pushed me back some, and yeah it’s happened again. But I keep picking myself back up, the best way to make a change in your life is to never give up. I still haven’t reached my goal healthy weight yet, but that’s okay. I’m well on my way, and I’m determined to make it. I won’t let anything stop me or hold me back.
If you’ve struggled with being overweight, or just want to make healthy changes in your lifestyle, I say do it! Don’t over-think it, don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t do it. You can do absolutely anything that you put your mind to. Take small steps, take it one day at a time, but also keep in mind the future you that you’re working for. It won’t be fast or easy, but it is well worth it.