Let me start by saying Iíve changed the quality of my life by making conscious decisions. Nothing about this process has been easy, but the rewards Iíve given to myself far out-weigh a life of sitting on the couch being unable to do anything. Along my journey I have been honest and open about my struggles with feeling lonely, depression, food binges and just a solid lack of a desire to exercise. So when I was asked by one of my fellow BLC25 team leaders about sharing my story as part of our Inspirational Monday stories I was a bit honored, horrified and, to be honest, I laughed. But then I thought about it. The stories that I enjoyed reading the most were the ones that were honest, real, emotional, and shared their struggles and reasons why they are still striving to move forward in the face of situations where most people would have raised their hands in surrender. So here goes my storyÖ
What was life like before you started taking an interest in your health? Before 2012 my life revolved around television and food. After work Iíd go through a drive though (because when youíre 320+ pounds you donít really want to be seen walking into a restaurant alone to pick up a bag full of food), eat half of the food on the car ride home, turn on the television once I made it home and finished eating. My social life really just consisted of hanging out and going out to eat with friends from my singles group I met through church. Food and the TV seem to have been my constant companions regardless if others were with me or not. If there were plans to go do something active I was always ready with an excuse of why I couldnít make the event. I was just too embarrassed to have anyone see me sweat and panting from just simply moving. I can also say that most night s ended with me crying myself to sleep. I wanted so much more for myself but felt that I was just too ugly and unlovable to have anything worthwhile.
What was your "light bulb moment" that made you get serious about being healthier? In March 2011 I went to the Rock and Roll Dallas Half Marathon to cheer on about 5 friends that were running in it. The last quarter of a mile was pretty much them coming through the chute to cross over the finish line. Watching them I started feeling this HUGE lump in my throat and the tears started running down my cheeks. I remember closing my eyes and thinking to myself that I wanted to know what it felt like to accomplish something so big. I swore to myself that Iíd do it. That one day Iíd do my own half marathon and Iíd know what it would feel like to run across that finish line. I didnít tell anyone about that experience because the truth was that as much as I wanted it I just didnít know how to get there.
Tell us a bit about your journey: It wasnít until November 2011 that I actually started making plans to get healthier. I was out to lunch with a friend and we started talking about our weight and we decided that weíd start going for walks together. Nothing big, but we made plans to meet up at a local park and start walking. It was slow and tiresome but I was out there. I can remember feeling as though my lungs wanted to explode in my chest. But we didnít stop. At least four times a week weíd meet up to walk. At this point I really didnít change my eating habits but because of the walking my weight went down to about 290lbs.
After a few months we decided we needed something to push ourselves. So I signed up for my first 5k for that April. That 5k was the hardest move but I did it. This was actually my second 5k. In 2009 I participated in a 5k and came in dead last and it was horrifying. But this 5k sparked something. That year I completed over fifteen 5ks.
On Thanksgiving Day 2012, over dinner, another friend and I started talking and she joined us in our walks and 5ks. Come Christmas time I knew I wanted more. I signed up for my first 10k. Crossing that finish line felt fantastic! Our first walk following that 10k I threw out the idea of competing in a half marathon. One of the girls agreed to train and walk with me in the half. In March of 2013 I crossed the line of my first half marathon. Just a few months later I crossed the finish line of my second half marathon. In fact in 2013 I also completed a number of 5ks and an additional 10k. I also walked all 60 miles in the Susan G. Komen, 3 Day, 60 Mile Breast Cancer Walk in November of 2013. This year alone Iíve already completed a few 5ks, a 5 miler, two 10ks and 2 half marathons. Iím registered for a great number of other races for the remaining of 2014.
Did you encounter any obstacles during your journey and, if so, how did you deal with them? Along the way my weight has fluctuated. My lowest since starting this journey was just this past February. I weighed in at 247.3lbs. I felt unbelievable! But hereís my struggle. I struggle with self-sabotage a lot. The moment I can start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel I fall to pieces. Thatís where Iím at currently - struggling. Since February my weight has spiked up as high as 280.0lbs.
I knew my journey would never be easy. I knew Iíd learn all sorts of lessons along the way. But to have to fight so much for something you so badly want is something I didnít think Iíd encounter. I mean my opponent is myself! Iím my worst critic and I know what to say to myself to feel defeated. Fighting my inner demons has proven to be the toughest battle and itís a constant battle.
I try not to dwell on where I was and where I should be in my journey. I try to focus on all the things I can now do that just a few years ago were only dreams. Iím so much more active now and I donít shy away from new adventures Ė unless they terrify me (you wonít catch me jumping out of a plane).
What did you find most helpful to keep you motivated? What keeps me motivated are my friends that I walk and run with as well as some of the friendships Iíve formed through SparkPeople. People that are real, those that share their struggles and arenít afraid to call me out on my crap are usually the ones I hold close to my heart. I also have a bucket list of items that Iíd love to check off and as Iím moving more and slimming down those items can easily be obtained.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning their journey? Forget about what anyone else tells you that you should be doing. You need to figure out what you enjoy. Typically what you enjoy works best for you. Once you realize what that is go with it. Also take it slow. If you rush into anything too fast and before you are completely ready you may burn out and quit. Slowly incorporate more things youíd like to do or change.
How has your life changed since improving your health? Iím not so nervous about having others see me sweat, jiggle, or breathe hard. Why? Because it means Iím out there trying to improve myself. Since I made that choice to be more active a few years ago Iíve been able to lower my dosage of high blood pressure and diabetes medication. My goal is to be able to get off of them completely.
My weight isnít where Iíd like it to be but itís not going to stop me from moving and doing the things Iíd come to love. So while I may not have the typical ďsuccess storyĒ most people have come to know, I am an inspirational story nonetheless. To all my Chubb Club members you keep going and hold your head high. Regardless of what the scale may read or what anybody that has never struggled with their weight may tell you, you keep improving your health and one day youíll get there. You may not get there on their terms, but youíll get there on your own. Thereís a lot of learning to be had along the way. DO NOT SKIMP OUT ON THE LEARNING. One of the greatest things Iíve learned so far in my journey is to love myself.