I grew up in a family where struggles with weight gain were a part of life. I grew up on Weight Watchers food and Richard's Simmons videos. My father struggled with his weight, my brother struggled with his weight, and I struggled with mine. Being fat seemed inevitable. I finally started really gaining my senior year of high school, and gained about 30 pounds in a year due to stress, overeating, and depression.
My family watched me, helpless as I outgrew my clothes. I felt so ashamed. I was becoming the thing I dreaded the most. I was becoming "the fat girl." Ironically enough, I had hoped no one had noticed. Then one night, I walked past my parents' room and heard them talking about how my grandma was worried about me. I asked them, "Why is she worried about me?" My mom hesitated and said, "because you've gained so much weight." I nodded, and went in my room and cried. Of course my grandmother had noticed! How could anyone have missed it? Once I had to face that everyone else knew, it had become real.
I started talking to mom about it, finally, but I was still very private with my struggles. I started riding my bike, the one activity that I still felt like I could do. I worked at a summer camp that summer, and started walking every day. I lost 15lbs that summer, which was like a miracle. Then when I started college in the fall, I lost another 15. I was back at 160, a comfortable range for me back then. I felt so relieved and even a little cute. But I didn't really set out to change my life until my sophomore year of college. I was creeping back up to 162, 163, 165... I knew where this was headed and that if I didn't radically change my life, I would be back where I started, probably even worse. But I knew that trying all at once wouldn't work. I gave myself time to create a plan. So I hoped for the best and cut my caloric intake and started working out three or four times a week. My goal was to get to 145 by the beginning of my junior year, when I was going off to study abroad in England. Not only did I reach my goal, I got to my goal early and lost another seven pounds, getting me down to 138. I had no idea I could ever be a size 6! It was amazing. And I've never regretted it. It's been six wonderful years!
My biggest challenge in the past has been lack of motivation. I have always wanted to accept myself and be accepted by others at any weight, so I think I sabotaged myself in some sense to prove my own worth. It was also shame. I was ashamed of myself and didn't want to admit that I had become the "fat girl." Now the biggest challenge is time! I'm tired most of the time due to working full time, having a husband, and working with a youth group at church. I have to wake up early to go to gym, and that took me a long time to commit to. It also took me a long time to admit that I couldn't eat whatever I wanted even though I was going to the gym consistently. And every weekend I seem to forget that I am watching my weight!
The person who got me involved in SparkPeople in the first place is my twin sister, Sandy (SandraHughes). She has also struggled with weight loss, but dieted in a much more moderate, mature style and gradually lost weight. She told me about this site and how much it helped her. I logged on, and she has helped me keep going the whole time. Now we run the twin team together and her continual commitment to fitness keeps me going.
One of my favorite quotes is from "So Dear to My Heart," a Disney movie about a black sheep. One of the characters sings a song that goes, "You've got to do with what you've got, never mind how much you've got." Everybody is coming from a different place with different strengths and weaknesses. So don't worry about how much you've got in comparison to that other person. Do the best you can't with what you've got, and you may surprise yourself with how much you can actually accomplish. I know I sure surprised myself!
Knowing I'm capable of more keeps me from quitting. A few weeks ago, I was dressed for the gym and was actually about to take my shoes back off and crawl back in bed. I actually had a really good day at the gym that morning. I don't let myself off the hook very much unless I have a good reason.
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