I was over 200 pounds…
…which for me, was a bit heavy.
The funny thing was that while I had felt so uncomfortable in my own body – and knew something had to be done about it once and for all, I still couldn’t seem to grasp the significance of the number on the scale, nor the size of the clothes I was forced to wear.
I think it’s safe to say that for many of us when we look in the mirror, we see what we want to see, not necessarily what is.
I mean, if I turned to the side, I certainly looked thinner. And if I wore something that had a “slimming effect”, I felt a little better about myself.
But in reality, I knew I was in bad shape. It wasn’t so much the number on the scale, nor the fact that I was wearing size 16-18 clothes either.
It was the knowing that not only was I abusing my body, but I was literally hand delivering people a reason to be harsh, insulting and condescending toward me about my appearance that made the situation intolerable.
I mean, what would people say if I took their one and only reason for being so shallow, judgmental and arrogant away from them?
I had decided it was time to find out. I had my why…and with this, I literally bumped into my “how”.
How it All Began
To give you a little bit of background info, I should probably let you know that I had always battled with my weight, especially because of my poor body image.
I also had eating disorders. I went from one extreme behavior to another…starting off by severely restricting calories through different means and methods – to eventually overindulging on anything and everything.
I didn’t understand the concept of balance because I never gave it any thought.
I felt disgusted with myself.
I knew I didn’t want to live this way…
Something was going to have to give.
Luckily, one day, help arrived.
I came across someone who would end up being the catalyst for the initial phase of my weight loss.
And yes, I did say phase. I didn’t lose all of my weight at once. I did it in stages.
The first phase had to do with meeting a personal trainer at the vitamin shop I used to visit frequently since it was located right next to the salon where I had worked at the time.
The owner was a super cool, sharp and witty elderly man. He had a passion for health – and people used to visit his store not only for the supplements but for his interesting personality.
One day, I happened to walk in and inadvertently strike up a conversation with a friendly guy who was hanging out there at the same time.
I learned he was a personal trainer. After I admitted that I wanted to lose weight, he said he could help me.
However, I was skeptical.
The reason is because I had hired personal trainers in the past. While I found the idea of working with this guy intriguing because he seemed so mellow and respectful (and I was SOOOOO ready to do something about this weight already)…I never had a positive experience with any of the trainers I had worked with before for various reasons.
I guess he sensed I was hesitant because he offered to train me at a price I could afford – and to work with my current level of fitness (beginner).
I decided to give it a shot.
And to this day, I’m happy I did.
I lost my first 30 pounds working with Chris. He showed up on time for every appointment, kept my program safe and structured and made me feel as though I was doing the best job possible during my workouts.
But mind you…I gave the entire process my all, even on my own time.
I respected his time and efforts, and wanted to make the best out of our sessions by following a “diet” that was based on healthy living – and not “cheating” on it…thinking I would get away with it when he wasn’t looking.
Eventually, I couldn’t afford to continue to work with him any longer, but the initial weight was lost.
I was relieved, but the rest was up to me.
Over the next two years, my weight loss efforts stalled. While I didn’t regain the weight I had lost (for the most part), my life took on a turn that left me feeling somewhat indifferent about my appearance. My passion for my health and fitness program was replaced by boredom with my current routine – and I couldn’t reconnect to that level of motivation that once was.
I still had my desire to drop the rest of my weight, but not enough to motivate me to do anything about it.
I needed something to reignite that “eye of the tiger” level of determination that I knew would be the key to getting what I wanted.
It eventually showed up in the form of meeting someone who later on became my husband. I was so enamored with him…and while this may sound shallow, I wanted to feel good about myself when I was around him.
I was also living in South Beach, Fl, surrounded by seemingly perfect looking women everywhere. While I knew deep down that being physically attractive only garnered but so much importance, I still felt that I paled in comparison to the magazine perfect looking humans who shared space with me in this particular city.
I found myself exercising again, this time working (hard) on my own, and sometimes joined by a friend or two.
My eating habits supported my efforts in the gym, and I before I knew it, I lost an additional 45 pounds.
The weight was gone. I had reached my goal…
…and then I moved away.
Once separated from the environment where I had become accustomed to a regular routine (and a badass gym to use as well), I fell back into some old patterns.
I regained 30 pounds. I was not happy.
I also couldn’t force myself to take it off again either.
I had realized that keeping weight off should be easier than taking weight off…but I didn’t seem to behave in accordance to that wisdom.
Life went on. And then things got interesting…
I found myself in need of a career change.
I ended up taking a part-time job at a small women’s gym where I was able to use the equipment during work hours – as it kept the members motivated and allowed me to directly interact with them.
I realized how much I enjoyed being in the fitness industry – and after having been told that I would need to keep my involvement in the member’s workouts to a minimum due to not having any experience or insurance…
…and following a VERY BAD DAY at the salon I worked at…
I decided to enroll in personal training school.
As a bonus, my husband decided to enroll with me.
We went through the curriculum together, learning more than we could have ever expected in regard to exercise, nutrition and the human body.
I was now completely immersed in the industry – both as a student, and an employee. When I wasn’t at work or school, I was studying – and working out.
My motivation skyrocketed – and I became unstoppable again.
I (somehow) found Sparkpeople.com and signed up to use their free tools to help me stay on track with my weight loss activities.
Health and fitness became my primary focus, and I lost the weight I had regained several years back.
This is what I looked like at over 200 pounds (obviously on the left – with my dog Dino)…and then years later at my Fitness Institute graduation.
Where Am I Now?
It would be right of me to inform you that the picture on the right – the “after” was taken in 2009.
Six years ago from now.
Do I still look like this?
Or did I go back to my old ways and regain the weight?
Well…I’ll be honest.
I’m not as tiny as I was in that photo because I don’t work out nearly as hard as I did when I was in weight loss mode. In fact, most people don’t.
However, I’m still slim. I have kept most of the weight off.
Perhaps you have noticed throughout my story that my weight was always dependent on whether I was in “all or nothing” mode.
My exercise program was heavy and intense. My nutrition habits were based on dieting (even if implemented correctly) for weight loss.
Now – from the stories I have been told by others, many individuals seem to fall into an all or nothing category in regard to their weight as well.
I think it’s unhealthy and unnecessary to go back and forth like this. It creates a feeling of disempowerment – and makes one feel as though they need some form of inspiration outside of themselves (such as a set of external circumstances, or the desire to escape emotional pain) to motivate them to do what is necessary to get what they want.
I personally grew tired of this level of polarity in regard to my own weight, and since I have become fascinated with the human condition over the last few years, I have literally experienced a shift in perception that no longer enables me to see health and fitness the same way as I did – even after graduating from personal training school.
See, I knew, based on relevant past behavior, that the time would come when I might not feel as dedicated to such an intense fitness program. I also knew that I had never demonstrated consistent eating habits.
I was either eating right for weight loss…or not. During the “not” phase, the mindset that had always governed my actions in the past would creep back into my life…and I would regain the weight.
It’s important to take a good, hard look at oneself in an effort to predict patterns – and see if they may return to direct future events.
This time, I had no desire to swing the pendulum back in the other direction and revisit the “nothing” mode, and I decided it wasn’t necessary.
While I happen to enjoy exercise for the sake of being active, and I do feel pretty damn good after a workout, I personally don’t always have a deep desire to exercise at the high level of intensity that I did several years ago when my motivation was different.
And you know what?
To keep my weight down, I don’t have to.
I now practice balance.
As you know from my mentioning it earlier, I had suffered from multiple eating disorders in my past. Again, I went from one extreme to another.
And I also discussed being either “in or out” of a fitness program. More extreme thinking.
I got sick of it…and when this happened, my inner-voice led me to seek a happy medium.
Now instead of living one way or the other, I consciously walk in both worlds using discernment and critical thinking.
I enjoy a lifestyle that focuses on simple healthy living – without needing to be on a diet or become involved in extreme exercise programs to undo damage from being in the “nothing” mode.
This is the first time in my life that I have not only maintained my weight, but felt completely free of my old self-sabotaging behaviors…
…and the reason for this is because I think differently than I used to.
The body always follows the instruction and guidance of the Mind and Spirit.
In every single one of my articles on Formulated Fitness, I discuss the value of living a life based on a desire for overall well-being.
I also harp on the importance of self-awareness.
So when I write about how these are the keys to healthy weight loss and consistent weight management – it’s because I know it to be true.
I live it.
I don’t need to look like a magazine model. Most of them don’t look like themselves in real life anyway.
My self-worth isn’t based on it. This is because I am aware of the image of health and fitness in contrast to simply being healthy and well.
You mature and realize that character will always far outweigh the importance of what the scale says. But this doesn’t mean one shouldn’t care about themselves either.
Always – balance.
I found joy and creativity in the process of healthy living.
Before well-being became the ultimate goal…I lost and regained weight frequently. After focusing on well-being, I maintained and didn’t reignite the insane yo-yo effect that I lived with through most of my life – and that so many others complain about.
I invite you to check out my other articles on the formulated fitness website…where I get into more specific detail about how to use exercise and healthy nutrition in the ways that have kept me connected to the process of healthy living.
I also share some creative and inspired ideas on how to keep this whole thing an enjoyable experience.
This is how I have kept my weight off. 🙂
Originally published on Formulatedfitness.com