One year ago, I went to lunch with a co-worker. When the waitress came over to take our drink order, I ordered a Diet Coke. The woman looked me up and down, snorted, then asked, "Diet?" in a very snotty voice. I just sat very still and said, yes. My co-worker kept his gaze down and pretended it didn't happen. I made a face, but then thought that maybe the slight was in my head. Maybe I'm being overly sensitive. Maybe she wasn't making a comment on my weight. When she came back with my soda and my co-worker's iced tea, she also brought a glass of water. As she placed my soda down onto the table she said, "Now drink your water. There's 'no refills' on soda." Throughout the meal she came by and refilled my co-worker's iced tea and gave me dirty looks. It was completely and totally humiliating. I didn't finish my meal or the soda. I wanted to. I was hungry. I just couldn't let her win.|
Of course, by acting differently than I normally would have, I had already let her win. She wanted to make me feel bad, and she succeeded. I should've said something. I should've drank my soda and told her I'd pay for another. I should've asked to speak with her supervisor. Something. But I didn't do any of that. I just let her walk all over me.
You might think that was the moment I turned my life around, but no. The next couple of days came and went. I felt miserable about myself and stuffed my face with cookies, which made me feel even more miserable. I knew I needed to get control of the situation, but I had no idea how. My whole family is obese and I have been for most of my life. I didn't grow up eating well-balanced meals at home. We ordered out all of the time, sometimes more than once a day. Nutrition labels meant nothing to me. The only ways I thought of trying to lose weight were drastic. I had briefly tried Medifast, but I was so calorically deprived that I felt weak all of the time and was extremely moody. I had tried restricting what I ate on my own, but experienced similar results. In both cases, my diet would last a couple of weeks and end by bingeing when I just couldn't take it anymore. I hated myself for it. I figured that losing weight was something I was just never going to be able to achieve. I was always going to be fat—someone to be made fun of at restaurants.
The following week, I got an email from a good friend of mine. She was really excited about some website. I was still feeling lousy, but when she told me it was a weight loss website, I felt even worse. I thought about my friend, already skinny and perfect in my eyes, trying to lose weight. I mean, if she's overweight, then what does that make me? She told me all about SparkPeople and how awesome it was. She told me about getting SparkPoints for inviting people and continued talking long enough that I finally just said, "Fine. OK. You can send me an invite if you want." I had no intention of joining. What good would it do anyway?
It wound up being quite a serendipitous situation.
Out of curiosity, I did join when I got the invite. I started poking around on the website. I decided to give the Nutrition Tracker a try. I was shocked to see exactly how awful the foods I ate really were. I mean, I knew it was bad, but not that bad. I had always heard that food journaling was a key to weight loss, but I never really believed it until I tried it here on SparkPeople. Seeing everything that I was eating detailed in front of my eyes really helped me gain some perspective. From that point on, everything just fell into place.
A few days later I joined a Curves gym. My plan was simply to go to Curves three times a week and stick to the calorie range SparkPeople gave me (1,200-1,550 calorie per day) six days a week. I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted on Fridays, regardless of caloric content. Other than that, all I did was read the articles on the website to learn about nutrition, fitness and general health. I continued this same way for about four months, at which time I decided to join the YMCA for my fitness plan. From then on it was strength training and cardio at the "Y," though all other aspects of my routine remained the same.
As of today I've been active on the SparkPeople website for 365 days. Many things in my life have changed in the past year. It's actually crazy for me to even think about how differently I feel right now compared to just one year ago. Now, one year into this lifestyle change, I am happy to report that I've lost a total of 70 pounds and gone from a size 20/22 to a size 10/12. Is that crazy or what?
What I've found is that weight loss can be both the easiest thing and the most difficult thing all at the same time. On one hand, as soon as I understood how nutrition and fitness work, I was able to implement that knowledge and the weight started to come off. Eating the right things is not that difficult, nor is exercising a few times a week. I mean, if I had known it was all just a formula that anyone could master, I would've lost the weight years ago.
On the other hand, the weight loss journey can be really frustrating and miserable. It was so hard to be at the beginning of the process, with the finish line so far off in the distance. It felt like I'd never get to where I wanted to be. I hated how the first 30 pounds of weight loss weren't even noticeable to those around me. And then on the flip side, I hated when it became noticeable, as it became all anyone wanted to talk to me about. It was an emotional roller coaster. Even now I still feel some of that.
I still have about 25-30 pounds left to lose, and since I've gotten closer to a healthy weight (only 8 more to go before I hit a healthy BMI!), the pounds just don't come off like they used to. The process is worth the frustration though. There will always be highs and lows, but if you're willing to stay committed, it really does work.
If anyone who reads this happens to be having a hard day, just remember that anything that comes too easy isn't worth having. Don't stress if you ate McDonald's three times yesterday, if you ate a whole pack of Oreos just now or if you just ate your weight in Ben & Jerry's last week. Tomorrow really is a new day. That's not just a saying. Life isn't all or nothing. And neither is the weight loss process. You don't have to give up anything that you don't want to. You don't have to starve yourself. You don't have to hate yourself. You just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep on going.
Editor's Note: SparkPeople would like to thank Alexa (SIMPLYTHAT) for sharing her inspirational story with our members! You can follow along with Alexa's progress by visiting her SparkPage or subscribing to her blog.