The Biggest Loser Connection

Saturday, August 6, 2011

For those that know me well, they know that I used to be a fat girl. I used to live my life eating all the wrong things and not being active beyond walking to and from my car to where I was going. The worst part about it all is that I knew I was fat and unhealthy. I knew that I was doing myself no good in living my life in that way. Days, weeks, months and even years went by when I would say I was going to "diet" and drop the weight, but nothing ever really stuck. I would just put the weight right back on again. I hated who I was and would do any and everything that I could to hide behind bigger clothes and put a smile on my face. All that I was doing was grinning and bearing through life.

I was overweight for most of my life, my gain beginning probably around my middle school years. I was never skinny even before that, was merely running around enough to keep things fairly equal so to speak. Memories will always stick with me of being made fun of in school for being overweight. I felt as though others were judging me for anything I put in my mouth, no matter what it was. I even recall one time when my mom searched for a bag of chips to pack with my lunch that didn't say words like, "big" on it. Didn't want to give the mean kids any more leverage in their taunting.

In high school, I did my best to blend in for the most part. I hid behind the lens of a camera, both video and still through those awkward teenage years. I didn't even go to homecoming or prom because I couldn't see beyond that fat girl. I thought, "who wants to see me in a dress?" Besides, it wasn't as though I had a date, never got asked out, so why bother? My college years just continued the struggle with my weight and social life. Sure, I had some close girlfriends, but I always thought that they were so pretty and I was more like the ugly and fat hanger-on of the group.

Life of course had its ups and downs, some days I thought that I was alright and wasn't so bad looking. I even got the nerve to ask a guy friend out at one point (it went sour, but hey, I tried!). I thought that my weight was the center of all of my woes in life. If only I could find a way to lose the weight and look like all those "skinny and hot girls," my life would be oh so much better. Surely, that one thing, was holding me back from ultimate success in all things. Of course, that's not true, but hold on to that line of thinking, as I will come back to it, promise!

In September of 2008, my life would be forever changed. At the time, I was living in Western North Carolina and was planning on driving down to Florida to spend a few vacation days with my parents and family. One of the days that I was visiting, my dad and I went to EPCOT Center. We both spent the day enjoying the park and taking pictures with his DSLRs. My dad gave me a CD with all of the photos taken from both cameras and when I got back home to North Carolina, I popped it into my computer. As I was going through the images, I realized that my father had taken some candid photos of me as I also took photos in the theme park. I sat at my desk in stunned shock at the images that were on the screen. Was that truly me? Was I really that big? Those pictures really hit me hard with a realization I had never had before. I just didn't believe that I was that fat. But, there I was, the photos were proof. It was a real life changing moment for me. I knew at that moment that I had to change, I had to drop the weight.

Now, I was already a fan of the reality television show, The Biggest Loser. I even attended a mall event in Miami a year or so before and met Suzy Hoover and Mark Wyle. I swore back then that I was going to stop making excuses and get healthy. Ironically, the show even interviewed me on camera. But, I had yet to have that "life changing moment" that I so dearly needed. So, in September 2008, everything just clicked for me. I would not have known what to do or how to do it without The Biggest Loser. Having tried dozens of fad weight-loss drugs and so-called solutions in the past, I knew thanks to The Biggest Loser that it would take hard work to really lose the weight and keep it off.

At first, it wasn't easy, not even close. I would do well some days, and then have a day where I would buy that bag of chips and a jar of salsa like the old days and sit in front of my TV just eating. And then, it got even harder that November. I learned that I was going to be laid off from my job at the beginning of December and would no longer have a way to pay my rent or other bills. Not exactly good news for my weight loss journey. The ups and downs continued until I moved back home to Florida on December 5th. Once I was back in Florida and could breath again, those downs began to dwindle. Well, for the most part anyway. I was now an unemployed adult back home with very little money to my name. The good in that was I had plenty of time to workout. I made working out and looking for work my job until I had an actual one. I got lucky with one of The Biggest Loser workout DVDs I had bought and had a 30-day pass to 24Hour Fitness. I couldn't go there everyday since it was about a 30-minute drive, but I went 3-4 days a week of my month long membership in addition to working out on my own at home.

By early February 2009, my life was looking up. I had again joined the workforce and was succeeding in my weight loss journey. I continued my healthy eating through calorie counting and of course working out. At the end of the summer of that year, I had lost 75lbs! Those last five pounds were a struggle, but one I was not willing to give up on. In October, I went vegetarian for health reasons and then by Thanksgiving, going vegan for both health and compassionate reasons. The veg way worked though, those stubborn last pounds fairly quickly came off within a couple of months of giving up meat.

Now, here I am two years after losing and keeping off those 75lbs and I feel great. It was the best decision I have ever made in my life. No regrets in the slightest, in fact I think I will always remember the turning point, that spark that made me want to get healthy. As far as being a thinner girl solving all of my problems? Not even close. Being overweight is not why I was unhappy or why I was insecure with myself and didn't go to prom. I just didn't love myself enough. I could not look in the mirror at myself and see what an amazing human being was looking back at me.

Today, I'm still working on that girl in the mirror. I know that I am beautiful and healthy, but honestly, it's a day by day work in progress. I became fat as a result of something inside of me. I may have made others believe that I was this happy person, but in all truthfulness, I was not. Deep inside, I was hurt and broken. Losing the weight has helped me become a better person and discover how awesome I am. You have to love yourself first and foremost before someone else can love you. It sounds cliche and is often said, but it's true. I'm learning to love myself as well as seeing how much I am capable of doing when I put my mind to it. If you would had told me three years ago that I would love running, I would have laughed. But, I love it and all of my fitness activities as much as I love writing and taking pictures. I can't imagine living my life without my training sessions despite how much I may hurt later on. They make me who I am. And, I never want to go back to that girl who was unhealthy and always feeling down on herself. I wish I could climb into Doc's delorean and tell that younger me that you are so great, that she is capable of such strength and willpower. Alas, there isn't such a thing as time travel, at least not outside of the movies. All that we can do is take it one day at a time and make the best of those hours. For me, that day involves a good workout and getting my sweat on. :)


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