(And Kept it Off)
Throughout my life, my weight has been a really intense subject I guess you could say. I struggled with anorexia/bulimia/body dysmorphia for over a decade, misused diuretics/laxatives, abused weight-loss pills (and eventually worked up to prescription amphetamines), I tried nearly every fad diet on the internet and over worked myself physically. I eventually got down to 113lbs when I was 21, the smallest I’ve ever been as an adult. I was taking prescription pills, spending all day outside of the house or locking myself in my room (so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat) and working out twice a day. I reached a point where I started experiencing full body cramps to the point I had to leave work early one day because I couldn’t lift my arms above my waist and there was even a night I had to pull over on the side of the road and let someone else drive my car because my entire upper body could not be moved without instantly catching a cramp that rendered me pretty much immobile. We moved around a lot when I was young so, I hardly ever had friends and at the time the friends I did have were all in relationships so, no one was ever around enough to know what was going on. It was absolutely a cry for help, but no one was paying attention. All I wanted was for one person to tell me I was good enough the way I was, but no one ever did so, the habits continued well into my early 20s. I started dating my ex-husband when I was about to turn 19, but I was away at school so, we only saw each other on the weekends for the most part and he didn’t pick up on anything until later on in the relationship. Even then he really only knew about the pills, but would usually just tell me I was dumb for doing it. Our relationship was toxic. Especially mentally. I was cheated on (on multiple occasions), throwing all trust and self-esteem out the window driving me even deeper into those habits. During this relationship (while we were still dating/before we were married), we moved off to Pennsylvania together, just the two of us. It was here I went from the smallest I had ever been to gaining almost 20-30lbs in about 6 months. We both got comfortable, I lost my pill plug, we stopped going to the gym, and I started cooking from old southern cook books. Basically everything was fried or just contained a lot of fat and sodium and I was drinking even more frequently to cure my boredom. I had zero friends and the only thing we did as a couple was occasionally bowl so, I mostly just drank and read books. Not a whole lot of physical activity, but I somehow let the weight just pile on without even noticing or trying to do anything about it. Then in December of 2013, my ex proposed. I remember watching the proposal video and being instantly mortified by my size. Since I was getting married, I knew I had to lose weight and quickly. I begged for a two year engagement. I had ALWAYS said I wanted a long engagement, but everyone in the room clapped back with that being way too long, so I only got 11 months. I instantly went back to my old ways of starving and puking. After my wedding, the weight just started piling back on. I was absolutely miserable in my relationship pretty much from the moment we got married so, alcohol and food became the only things that brought me comfort. Finally when our divorce happened, I realized that when I went out with my friends, I was the girl in the corner no one was looking at. It’s how I’d always felt, but I at least knew when I was starving myself, I was slimmer. Now I just felt gross. I was unhappy, unhealthy, and alone. I think I maxed out at around 160lbs as the heaviest I weighed. Now this in no way shape or form indicates an unhealthy weight, but for someone who normally fluctuated between 118-125lbs, it was a pretty significant weight gain. Especially being petite. Weight doesn’t have as much room to spread out when you’re 5ft tall so, gaining 5lbs can easily look like 10.
So, how did I do it? How did I lose the weight for good and keep it off? Unfortunately, probably not the way you want to hear. I don’t believe in diets, supplements in pill or powder form, or strenuous weight lifting routines in the gym so, I didn’t start going back to the gym regularly, I didn’t diet, I didn’t take weight-loss pills and I didn’t starve myself. Instead of looking for a quick fix like I normally did, I made a complete and total lifestyle change. In my opinion this is the only real way to lose weight and keep it off. No MLM body wrap or weight loss shake on this planet is good for you, most supplements and vitamins are either synthetically made or your body cannot absorb them in pill/powder form (it’s best to get nutrients directly from your food source), any diet that tells you to go into caloric deficit is going to completely strip you of your energy rendering it pointless, not to mention keeping track of any kind of nutritional point system is not only mentally exhausting, but harmful in the sense that most people do not take into consideration the benefit of higher calorie, nutrient dense foods, the keto diet is based around low-carb/high-fat/low-protein consumption to send your body into an unnatural state of “ketosis” to try and lose weight, which I’m sorry, but (in my opinion of course) this is quite possibly one of the most unintelligent and artery clogging ways to tell someone to try and lose weight (because losing weight/getting small doesn’t necessarily mean you are healthy), and lastly going to the gym and solely lifting weights might build muscle, but it’s not actually making you stronger or physically fit. You might look good, but if you aren’t doing any form of calisthenics, you aren’t doing yourself any favors when it comes to your actual physical strength and ability. Having big biceps isn’t helping you much if you can’t even do a single pull up. I may not have fully gone through with my AFAA certification, but for a while I was independently studying health and kinesiology to be a personal trainer so, I have done a little bit of research over the years on physical fitness and health on top of being an athlete for half of my life. I’m just here to try and give you guys the most unbiased, but mostly factual vs opinionated advice that I can because I truly want to help. I’m not here trying to sell you anything because if you already made it to this post, then you already bought what I was selling so, no need to try and scam you into buying some products that don’t work just so I can make money from them. Thankfully, I now have morals so, you’re welcome. If you are currently treating your body in a way you know you shouldn’t be and it’s affecting you in more than one unpleasant way, these are the steps I took to changing my life for the better:
- I stopped drinking.
- Alcohol, that is. Not only did my sobriety help begin my mental healing journey, but it also cut out a ridiculous amount of sugar and empty calories I was consuming. I find there to be nothing appealing about drinking anymore and most of the people I hang out with don’t either. Drinking just turns people into loud, annoying, sloppy messes. I’ve never met a single person on this planet that I enjoyed being around more when they were drinking. I honestly can’t stand to be around drunk people anymore because they are so obnoxious and seeing that, knowing that I used to be one of those people, makes drinking an even bigger turn off for me. I mostly just still struggle with it when I get around very aromatic wine. This is something that sometimes will make me have to leave a room, but I will be 2 years alcohol-free in November so, I try to hold onto that to keep me going. I’m not saying you can’t drink, but just ask yourself whether you feel it’s worth it. If you can’t go out and enjoy yourself while having a glass of water as much as you would drinking one beer, then alcohol may not be your problem. You’re probably just bored because you’re doing the same thing over and over again every weekend with the same people. Maybe that’s enjoyable to some people, but routine gets old after a while. No matter who you are.
- I mended my relationship with food, started listening to my body, and changed my eating habits.
- Growing up I was supposed to hate food. Eat as little as possible. Just enough to keep me alive and conscious. Portion control. Doesn’t matter if my stomach felt like it was eating its own lining. I had to ignore the stomach pains because this is what the diet says to do. I can only consume meals on a certain schedule. At a certain time. And each meal can only be a certain amount of calories… You will never, ever, EVER experience optimal health doing this. Ever. Let me repeat that, Your body will never reach optimum health if your eating habits consist of depriving your body of nutrients when it needs them. Your body telling you it’s hungry is not something you are supposed to ignore. When you are hungry, it is because your body has used up everything you’ve put it in so far and you need to refuel. To maintain a healthy weight, it is then your duty to make sure you are constantly fueling your body with natural, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods like nuts, fruits and vegetables. However, that does not mean you should be completely depriving yourself of junk/processed foods. Not that you should be indulging either, but when you deprive yourself of these things, it only makes you want them more. There is almost always ice cream or cookies or candy at my house. By keeping these items regularly stocked, I can go and have one or two pieces of whatever a day and not end up completely binging a whole sleeve of Oreos after only 6 days of strict dieting. Humans don’t work well that way. We want what we can’t have so, when something is readily available to you whenever you want it, you usually don’t crave it as much. You become desensitized. As far as meals go, I don’t plan them out or meal prep, I don’t look up nutrition facts, and I don’t obsess over what I’m putting in my body, I just simply listen to it and am more conscious about what I am eating. I became a vegetarian two years ago and I can honestly say I’ve never felt better in my entire life. I have much more energy, I don’t bloat or eat fast food nearly as often, and I don’t feel guilty about eating in general anymore because I know what I’m putting in my body is (typically) good for me. I’m no saint though by any means. While I am a vegetarian, I do still remember what meat tastes like and unfortunately it is still produced everywhere you turn so, to keep myself from getting too far off track, I allow myself up to three meals a month that have meat in them. I started out giving myself one day a month, but I honestly don’t eat three real meals a day and even if I did, I wouldn’t want to go a whole month without eating meat and then have one day where every meal had meat in it. Spacing out the meals not only helps keep the cravings at bay, but it also keeps me from getting too sick. I still feel like absolute garbage (mentally and physically) after I eat meat, but I can’t act like fried chicken isn’t worth the misery every now and then. The sad truth behind meat though is that it is usually pumped full of chemicals, hormones, and some meat is even dyed (red meat) or pieced together with binders. Yeah, that’s not fat on your steak, it’s transglutaminase used to hold smaller cuts of meat together to make one big piece. If you choose to wake up and honestly think about it, meat that you did not obtain (kill) and process yourself, is disgusting. Not that slicing a dead animal in half and cutting its insides out isn’t disgusting all on its own, but at least when done this way you know the animal wasn’t tortured, it wasn’t pumped full of steroids while growing, and it won’t be full of whatever preservatives stores use to keep it on the shelves for as long as possible. Plus you are what you eat so, take into consideration the mistreatment of animals (I’m not talking about small farms here), their piss poor living conditions, and the “food” they are given to survive off of. You’re now ingesting not only everything that animal has ingested, but you’re also swallowing their trauma. If you think animals in that environment aren’t completely and totally miserable and stressed out to the max and that, that doesn’t have any affect on how they grow, you’re lying to yourself. The taste of meat should not be the reason you blow off the mistreatment of the animal before it hit your plate. If you can eat meat without feeling even the slightest bit of guilt, you should probably ask yourself why that is. Even if you don’t become a full vegetarian or vegan, with the amount of air and ocean pollution the meat, dairy, and fishing industries cause, you should at the very least, try to treat meat as a delicacy. It’s not something you should be having for every single meal every day. You can use your “lack of protein” excuse all you want, but until you’ve made the switch for yourself, you can’t speak for everyone. I can’t even speak for everyone. Just because it worked for me, doesn’t mean it will work for others. If you have an iron deficiency, being a vegetarian/vegan is much harder, but I still do not believe that we should be consuming meat at the rate we do. So, if I don’t eat meat regularly and I don’t eat 3 meals a day, but I’m not starving myself, what the hell do I eat and when do I eat it?
- Again, I am no saint. I selfishly consume meat occasionally and I definitely have a giant sweet tooth so, I do eat like garbage fairly often. I live alone and cooking for one is annoying when you also have to do all of the cleaning (I don’t have a dishwasher so, I have to wash all dishes by hand). I also don’t have a working oven (only stove top) so, my options are pretty limited on what I can cook because of how things have to be cooked. During the winter I do a lot of slow-cooker meals and during the summer I’m gone so much for festivals that I usually just have freezer meals when I’m home. Because I often choose freezer meals, they are all vegetarian or vegan and I try to make sure I’m getting the ones that aren’t as bad as others. While I ignore most nutrition labels (sodium is something I do watch), I make sure to read the ingredients and don’t just go by what the front of the box says. When it comes to food, the fewer ingredients, the better. I also try to keep my house pretty stocked with fruits and vegetables so, when I do eat something bad, instead of telling myself “okay, I don’t need to eat for the rest of the day now,” I do the opposite. If I indulge in fast food or just junk in general, I follow it up by eating more, only this time I’m eating my weight in fruits and vegetables and chugging water. By only allowing yourself so many calories a day, you’re limiting the amount of times you eat and your overall food intake. This slows down your metabolism allowing the food to just sit in your body and not really be used. Especially if you’re eating diet foods and/or junk to fill those calories. The best way to try and undo what you did without killing yourself in the gym, is to keep your metabolism up by replacing/pushing out the junk you ate. When you then give your body those nutrient dense, high energy foods, your body works harder at pushing out that junk food quicker. Losing weight or getting healthy isn’t about limiting yourself or sticking to some strict diet, it’s about keeping things moving in your body. I also hate the argument of “too much fruit will make you gain weight because of its sugar content.” You’re forgetting that these are natural sugars that your body can easily digest. Not the same as the processed, bleached cane sugar added to everything else, or worse, artificial sweeteners. Anything that has the words “artificial, sugar-free, low-fat/fat-free, low-calorie, zero calorie,” or “diet” in it should be avoided at all costs (unless you have a condition like diabetes that prohibits you from being able to consume foods with real sugar). These foods are NOT healthy alternatives and honestly shouldn’t even be considered foods. You can’t just remove these nutritional elements and be left with a finished product, you have to replace what you’ve removed. To do so, those foods go from being slightly processed to complete and total chemical shit storms that are jammed packed with fillers and ingredients your body has a hard time digesting, leaving them to just sit unmoving in your body. It’s honestly not hard to eat right, you just have to use your brain and stop being blind to what is out there and start wanting to do better for yourself. Unfortunately, it is more expensive to eat healthy and realistically, I can’t always afford groceries so, sometimes I’m stuck trying to make pizza last 3-4 days. When I have to eat junk due to convenience or lack of funds, I try to be as good as I can about it. If I order pizza, I load it with veggies and usually also get a salad with it so I’ll have one more meal for that week or I’ll go get a veggie burrito (because they come with free chips & salsa so, I can use that as a meal, then finish my burrito the next day to stretch it out) or something along those lines. It’s not easy being broke and trying to be healthy, but I also know the more I care about my health now, the less doctors visits I’ll have in the future so, investing in my health now is totally worth the struggle to me.
- I also try to only eat when I’m hungry. I’ve never been a fan of breakfast and am probably very alone on this, but I’m not fooled by the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” scheme when breakfast foods are typically loaded down with fat and sugar and eating in the morning has always made me slow, groggy, and sick to my stomach. I usually have a cup of coffee to wake up with and then typically won’t consume any actual food until about 4-6 hours after that cup of coffee. Then I typically just snack all day. Grapes and cuties are an easy go-to for snacking as well as nuts or crackers. I usually eat one big meal a day which is consumed closer to a lunch-dinner hour and then snack if/when I’m hungry afterwords. As long as I know I’m being good about what I’m putting in my body, I never feel the need to deprive it of food. Instead, I love feeding it abundantly when I can afford to do so, because I genuinely love fruits and vegetables and I know those foods will begin nourishing me from the inside out.
- I drink water.
- I know you guys are sick and tired of hearing it, but I’m going to keep mentioning it for a multitude of things that pertain to getting yourself healthy because it literally is the number one thing you can do to improve your overall health. And again, it’s not just about drinking more water, it’s about drinking ENOUGH water. I bought a 64 oz water bottle off of amazon (Click Here For Water Bottle) that helps me keep track of my water intake and some days it takes me more than 64 oz in a day to stay hydrated because of my excessive caffeine consumption and herb inhalation. I also don’t ever stock sodas in my house, but I do order Yerba Mate by the case. This is still an improvement from ordering Red Bull by the case like I used to, but the amount of caffeine I consume in a day is not healthy and I’m very aware of that, but with the amount of work I have to do and how little I get paid to do so, I’d rather have a caffeine addiction than a coke problem. I’ve also started trying to incorporate a few cups of tea every now and then when the blends hold healing properties. This also allows me to add tinctures to the tea so I can get certain extracts without having to consume supplements in pill form.
- I altered my life to become more active during day-to-day activities.
- Summer festivals whip my butt into shape big time and I’m so thankful to have a job that allows me to stay so active. I make sure I stay on my feet as much as possible and dance to every set I got to for the entirety of that set so that my body is always moving and I’m steadily drinking water. I have not worked out in a gym since March of 2018 and I am currently in the best shape of my life. Haha not to sound creepy, but I’ve honestly never touched my body or stared in the mirror as much as I do now. It just feels awesome to finally not completely and totally hate my body all of the time. I definitely still have my days, especially if I have been sitting a lot and eating poorly, but overall I’m much happier. I’m not quite where I want to be, but I know I’m steadily working towards getting there. Instead of getting angry and starving myself to make it happen sooner though, I force myself to be more active. When I’m home though, much of my work is done sitting at a desk in front of a computer so, to keep myself active, I go outside and play with my dogs, I stand on my feet and dance around for hours while I paint, I clean when I get a chance (lotta dancing there as well) and change my form when doing certain things to target different muscles in the body, and to be honest, I try to maintain a regular sex life. Now, that doesn’t mean just run around and sleep with whoever, though. Part of being a sexually active adult is being responsible. I prefer having one or two go-to partners who I have a mutual understanding with that our relationships are purely physical so, that if either of us was to ever find someone we actually thought we could see ourselves being in a relationship with, we can both walk away from the arrangement with understanding and no hard feelings. As long as we are staying on top of our regular check-ups and STD screenings when changing partners, it’s a fantastic way to not only get physical exercise, but to boost your mood and even your confidence a bit due to the fact that sex releases “feel-good” endorphins in your body. It also helps kind of keep you in check a bit because you’re frequently having to get naked. You can’t just lay there like a log though. To get a good workout in forget about the word coconut, get on top and spell out the whole alphabet, then do it again, but backwards. Or just bounce around. Whatever you and your partner like. Do what you gotta do, just get physical.
- I worked on myself, mentally and didn’t rush the process.
- This is something anyone and everyone trying to get healthy will have to work on, the traumas just may be different. There may not even be trauma, you could just be a busy or even a lazy person who has to come to terms with that and then WANT to better yourself for yourself. For me, I had a lot to combat. There was my past history with eating disorders as well as my rapid weight gain that left me straddling a line of don’t starve yourself, but also, don’t over indulge. My ex was also someone who would question me about whether or not I should be eating what I had in front of me if we were at home, but then would get mad at me every time we went out to dinner and I didn’t lick my plate clean because he didn’t like paying for me to “waste food.” Talk about mental fuckery. Then once I got out on my own, I had to find balance between sitting on my butt for work and being on my feet which was then a mental battle of “okay you might be broke, but if you don’t move around you’re going to be unhealthy, which can leave you more prone to illness so, then you’ll be sick and broke which is going to leave you even worse off financially.” This is where trying to get my house chores done comes into play. I also feel better when I’ve been on my feet all day knowing I’ve been working towards bettering something whether it be my painting, getting my house clean, or just having a dance party in my kitchen for hours on end. The easiest way of keeping myself on track though, was learning to enjoy spending time with myself and reminding myself I had nothing but time. I didn’t need to see results overnight because I knew that wasn’t going to happen and it’s not going to happen for you either so, get that out of your head now. It is going to take TIME. It took me about a year and a half to two years to get most of the weight off and I’ve not only kept it off for over a year, but I’m still steadily losing weight, especially during the summer. Last summer I couldn’t even keep weight on and I wasn’t doing anything other than working. If your job keeps you on your butt more than your feet, pick up a hobby that keeps you active. Spend more time playing with your animals or your kids. Deep clean your house or organize a closet. Redecorate. Give yourself a project, SOMETHING to get you on your feet. If you’re tired, the rest of the world probably is too. It’s your job to know when to keep pushing to increase your stamina, but you also need to be able to recognize when your body needs to rest. Overworking yourself isn’t going to help either. Weighing yourself is also something that you need to stop doing. I only know how much I weigh because I have to get weighed at the doctor every other month, but I haven’t owned a scale since I was married (so like, 2015ish). I check myself in the mirror and I also keep my rings on at all times to monitor my weight fluctuation. Obviously your hands can swell for many reasons, but thats why I keep track of what my eating and physical habits have been in the previous few days so, I can better know the origin of the swelling. There is no secret to weight loss and there probably never will be. People just want a quick fix because we are a part of a society that demands instant results and if we don’t get them, we typically do not want to put in the work it takes to achieve our goals.
- You have to ask yourself how bad you want it and you have to be willing to do it for no one other than yourself. When you stop catering your life to other people and start doing things for yourself, you’ll realize you like yourself a lot more than you think you do. You’re just so used to trying to do things for others who probably don’t even notice the things you’re doing for them, that you feel like it’s a waste because who is even going to notice? Who cares if they don’t notice? You shouldn’t be living your life for anyone else approval, but your own. Life your life for you. Get healthy for yourself. Strive to be the best version of yourself you can be for YOU. No one else. Once you do, you’ll begin attracting all of the right elements and people into your life. Losing weight should never be about trying to be “skinny,” but about improving your overall health. When you do things that solely cater to losing weight quickly, you aren’t even thinking of that potential damage you could be doing to your body. Not to mention the weight will pile right back on the second you stop doing whatever cleanse or diet you’ve chosen to go with. Stop looking for quick fixes. Remind yourself that everyday you wake up, you are one step closer to your health goal. If you have a day where you heavily indulge, don’t get angry with yourself, just keep a mental reminder that the next day you need to make the conscious decision to consume something thats going to make up for that binge. Do things the promote natural healing. Being content/happy with your life is also something that is a major motivation booster. When you’re experiencing states of depression, you tend to be more prone to excessive eating to make yourself feel better or when you’re bored. When you’re happy and feel good about your life and yourself, you usually want to make better choices because you value yourself and those good choices naturally become more appealing. I’m honestly pissed every night I have to eat fast food. I almost never want it, it’s just quick and convenient. I’d kill to have at least one healthy restaurant in my town, but I pretty much have to drive half an hour away to get anything other than McDonalds or Sonic and I can’t afford the gas to get there so, I manage. Ultimately your goal should be to just not make yourself miserable with your dietary choices and gradually it will become something you choose to do naturally.
That’s pretty much it though. Take care of yourself mentally and physically, fuel your body with the proper nutrition, drink water, move your body, and do not rush yourself. The moment you choose to stop working against yourself and work with yourself, will be the instant it begins happening without you even trying.