Thursday, June 21, 2012
When I was 23 years old, I weighed 289 lbs. Aside from the stigma that comes along with being overweight, I was generally happy. At 23, I accepted that I was one of those people who were just meant to be fat. I accepted that I would always shop the biggest sizes at Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart, and that I’d always show Plus sizes at any store that carried them. But I’d always secretly wanted to be an athlete and that was a dream that I refused to let go of. So I decided that I would be as athletic as my chubby body would allow me to be. I committed to accepting myself in my current state and holding fast to a small dream that wouldn’t go away. I began with using the elliptical machine 3 days a week for 30 minutes at my company’s gym. It was difficult. It hurt. It was not enjoyable. But I had already accepted that it was my destiny to be overweight. I accepted that I could not let my goal of being athletic die. So I accepted that exercise would forever be a tortuous part of my life. The 23 year old, 289 lb athlete!
I befriended a seemingly healthy couple that had recently committed to working out 3 days a week, as well. They invited me to join them for weight training. At first, I declined, watching them work out on various weight machines while a toiled through my grueling elliptical session. I eventually joined them. I figured that a 23 year old, 289 lb athlete had to get used to being around athletes with normal body weights at some point. The first workout was humiliating. While they cranked out rep after rep and set after set, I could barely do 10 reps of each exercise. The second workout was even worse. That’s when I grew tired of being the weakest link of our 3 person workout squad. Someone had to step up for all of the 23 year old, 289 lb athletes. I secretly began working out 5 days a week so that I could build up my strength and endurance for my group sessions. Before long, I was able to perform the same exercises as them without feeling exhausted! The Chunky Athletes were prevailing!!! I had hardly noticed that after a few months, I was down nearly 40 lbs. I was still eating fast food. I still hated all fruits, except apples and pickles. I still wasn’t big on vegetables. But I refused to let go on my inner athlete.
Shortly after, a small group in our building put together a private Biggest Loser challenge. I overheard and asked if I could join. The leader reluctantly allowed me to participate. I added my $30 to the pot and got started. I wasn’t sure what would happen, but the now 24 year old, 250 lb athlete in me was up for the challenge. I told God that if He helped me to win, I would give the money to my church. He was listening! I lost another 36 lbs over those next 3 months and won the contest! As agreed, I gave all of the $300+ of my winnings as a special offering to my church. I couldn’t believe what God was doing in my life!
With the help of my gym buddies, I continued to push myself. Somehow, the 289 lb athlete became a 146 lb athlete. At 25, I was running half marathons without even training! I was getting more attention than I was used to. And although my weight loss was extremely slow to me (it took about 16 months), some family members and even people at my church were making up stories about how I lost weight (“You know she had surgery.”) and why I lost weight (“She was after some guy!”) I was crushed! It put in hours at the gym and became a very disciplined eater, just to have people discredit my accomplishment. I was used to being the chunky girl who was super funny and nice, but no one really noticed. Not the girl that every guy wanted to date and that was gossiped about from envy.
26-29 was a very hazy phase of dating all of the wrong guys, my weight going up and down, feeling unfulfilled and just outright out of control. My confidence had been demolished! But thank God for Grace! I joined Sparkpeople when I was 27, but never really committed to it. It is now 2 years later and I don’t think I’ve accomplished any of the goals I set back then. I was going to start a new Sparkpeople account for that fresh start feeling, but decided on a different route. With the help of the Lord, I’m going to fix what is broken! I have a proven track record of success! I know what I can do! My Chunky Athlete is back! The person that refused to let go of a dream. Who accepted her present state in life as her present state in life. She’s the voice that kept pushing me to go for the impossible. Who realized that achieving her goal would be extremely uncomfortable. And who kept moving forward in spite of it.
After all, life does begin at the end of your comfort zone! Let’s live!!!