When I first started my journey at 385 pounds, life was difficult. Like the proverbial frog in hot water, my mind made slow adaptations to accept the limitations that each successively heavier weight imposed on my life. Limitations that would be accepted as the new normal.
I was growing larger every year but somehow I still saw myself through skinny glasses. I was somehow OK with systematically retiring clothes to the dark part of my closet, OK with not being able to comfortably climb stairs, OK with the tightness I felt in my chest with every small exertion.
Somehow I found a way to cope and if I ignored it long enough, it would all go away… somehow.
But pictures, pictures don't lie.
Pictures have a way of ripping off the mask of self-deception. I never looked good in a picture so rather than deal with a "Kodak confrontation," I would simply avoid cameras or find something to cover up with when having my picture taken.
Finally, I could no longer hide from the truth, I was out of control.
Slowly, I started making changes. As the weight started coming off, each day became a gift, each package containing some ability that I had lost along the way. I was slowly getting my life back. While the scale was slow to move for the first few months, the changes were real nonetheless. Within weeks, my clothes were fitting a little better and I certainly felt better.
The first 30 pounds brought some profound changes. Day to day tasks were not so difficult.
Tying my shoes was no longer classified as an endurance event.
Stairs were becoming easier and less like mountain climbing.
I even jogged my first mile after months of wheezing my way from mailbox to mailbox.
After 50 pounds, I regained enough mobility and had built enough endurance to complete my first ever, real, live, genuine running event, a 10K. Wow, ME, a runner? Who would have thought?
Even more profound were the reports from the doctor's office. I looked forward to the smile and praise from my doctor rather than getting "the look" as she reviewed my results. In about a year, I managed to lower my cholesterol from 192 to 127 and my triglycerides dropped from 198 to 76.
It is really awesome not to feel like I am slowly committing suicide with a fork.
Beyond 50 pounds, life began to take on new meaning. I could finally walk into a restaurant and pick out the best seating available rather than settling for less because it was the only place I could fit into without causing a scene. Buying clothes was fun again rather than scavenging ugly clothes at overpriced stores simply because that was all I could find that would fit.
I found a new passion in running. With each mile gained and each pound lost, came a sense of personal empowerment that was very real. Every run is a celebration of movement, of life regained, and of strength renewed. I was driven by an internal fire to anchor myself in this new lifestyle. I found myself getting stronger every day, each new distance goal was a limit to be breached, and then push beyond.
Suddenly a half marathon (13.1 miles) didn't seem so crazy anymore. Crossing the finish line was a pivotal experience. During my half marathon training, I also crossed the finish line of another pivotal moment.
I had finally broken the 100-pound mark in my weight loss journey.
It was then I decided to go all the way with a full marathon (26.2 miles).
On September 18, 2011, after a year filled with an intense dedication to training, I crossed the finish line of my first marathon.
At 100 pounds lost, my new life is just beginning. While it would have been better to never have had this problem to start with, fighting to regain my life and sense of self has given me an appreciation for life and physical health that I never had before.
While I have 60 pounds to go, I have learned that nothing is impossible. By adopting the principles of gradual change, moderation, and consistency over perfectionism promoted at SparkPeople, my life has a sense of balance. Because I took the weight off gradually and in a sustainable fashion, I do not fear regaining it.
I simply enjoy an active lifestyle.
About the author, in his own words: I have struggled with eating and weight issues for most of my life. When it came to losing weight, I failed far more often than I succeeded and when I did succeed, I would gain it all back again shortly after I lost it.
What I was lacking was a lifestyle change. Instead of simply trying to lose weight this time, I adopted SparkPeople's method of slow and gradual changes. Since joining SparkPeople in 2009, I have lost over 100 pounds and become an running enthusiast, finishing several half marathons and a full marathon. Through it all, I have learned that consistency, not perfection, is the key to success. To sum it up, "your success depends on what you do when the WooHoo is all through."
What milestone have you passed this year?
*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.
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