I was born weighing over 10 pounds and have always been the fat kid. It never really bothered me because even though I ate bad and was a lot bigger than most kids my age, I was always super active and played sports. I was rarely, if ever, bullied for being overweight and never felt the sincere need to get smaller and “fit in”. My Momma participated in lots of local races so I would often go with her to either watch or sometimes even participate. This is where I was introduced to racing.
My senior year of high school I hit 252 pounds and decided to try and lose a small bit of weight for my senior formal. The plan worked for the most part and I basically still ate bad food I only did so in smaller portions. I was able to successfully drop around 30 pounds. Then came college. An unlimited meal plan opened the door for lots of big portion eating at all hours of the day. For a class project I participated in a few local 5ks and jumped the gun and “completed” my very first half marathon that spring. I wore a cotton shirt and no spandex shorts. I crossed the finish line with tears, sweat, and lots of blood from various chafe marks. I enjoyed getting a medal but I vowed to never do it again. I went through a rough period my freshman year of college and put on some weight but only gained about 10 pounds of the 30 I had originally lost.
Sophomore year of college I did a few more half marathons just for the sole purpose of saying that I did them. In my mind, half marathons meant being fit. Looking back I think I did them to hide my weight insecurities. Trying to fool myself into thinking that by completing half marathons somehow made me a superfit and skinny person really wasn’t the best idea. That fall, I applied for the Biggest Winner Weight Loss Challenge which is a partnership of the Knoxville Marathon (my first half) and sort of like Biggest Loser but not. The lucky team members were awarded a free gym membership, training from a former Olympian and local Knoxville celebrity Missy Kane, two personal trainers (one of which was a trainer on the MTV show “I Used To Be Fat”), a dietitian, sports physiologist, and unlimited amount of support. That November it was announced that I had made the team!
After starting the program with my team, I quickly set the goal of winning. The winner got an awesome prize pack and got dubbed the very first Biggest Winner title. I weighed in at 232 on the first weigh-in and was determined to break 200 pounds by the end of the program. I was at the gym almost every day, sometimes up to four hours a day. I took almost every fitness class offered and met with a trainer twice a week. On Saturdays I would meet with the team for our weekly runs and would cover at least six miles followed by going to the gym for another workout. My eating was very restrictive during this time. I was working out insane amounts and not upping my calorie intake to make up for it. There came a time when my personal trainer would carry apple juice in his pocket during our sessions because I would come close to passing out every time. I did not “cheat” one single time during the program and the results showed. My lowest weigh in was 195 and by the day of the half marathon and last day of the program, I was a solid 197, meaning I had lost 37 pounds in three months. I was ecstatic. Oh, and I won the title of Biggest Winner.
Looking back, I am so thankful to have been a part of Biggest Winner and thankful for all the knowledge that I learned, but I didn’t adequately apply the learned info. I remember sitting in my trainer’s office crying because he was practically begging me to eat more calories. I truly thought I was in a healthier place with food and exercise but I had been too restrictive. The day after the winner was announced I took a trip to Nashville for a conference and had probably one of my biggest binges to date. And from there it was a negative downhill spiral into my old habits and ways of life.
I gained my weight back. I was depressed. I gave away on my “fat clothes” and now only had a few garments that fit me. I was very disappointed in myself but just didn’t know how to pick myself back up. I would go through spells of healthy eating and solid exercise only to fail and hate myself again. It was a horrible cycle.
Fast forward to spring of my junior year of college and I tried out for and made the Rowing team. Two-a-day workouts and a solid healthy eating plan did wonders for my body. I was running faster and farther than I ever had. I was eating more than I ever had (nutrition wise). I actually think I was physically smaller while rowing than I was on the Biggest Winner even though the scale didn’t agree with that. I was happier than ever. Then rowing ended and so did the solid nutrition and exercise routine. I maintained throughout the summer and into the fall and start of my senior year. Then I met my boyfriend and lots of dinner dates and feeling comfortable with my body turned into weight gain and lack of exercise. The cycle began again and continued almost all of my senior year of college. That spring I walked a half marathon with my Momma and good friend and cursed the whole way. I hated exercise. The only purpose to it was to lose weight. That was a horrible place.
And here I am now, in graduate school and feeling good. After making a final vow to completely make a lifestyle change, I gave up the scale this past summer and haven’t turned back. I may not be where I want to be, but I’m far from where I used to be. No more vicious cycles of do good then do bad. No more heartfelt blog posts on how much I hate myself and how I’m going to do better. Yes, I’m trying to lose weight but I’m trying to do it at a comfortable and maintainable pace. No more trying to lose 5 pounds a week. Heck, even one pound a week would be a blessing. No more restrictive calories. I can eat healthy and occasionally treat myself to lunch with a friend or a nice meal on date night. But all day every day? No. If I want a donut then by gosh I will eat a donut. Just not the entire box.
If you go back and read through my blog from the beginning it is all sorts of up and downs. I was all over the place. Now I exercise because I genuinely love it. I’m glad it aids in weight loss efforts but the main thing is that is is enjoyable and it makes me feel good. I have goals I would like to accomplish and some are weight related and some are purely fitness related. I have learned that the scale does not measure success no matter how much I would like it to. Would I love to be under 200 pounds again one day (soon)? Of course I would. But I would rather wake up everyday and look in the mirror and be proud of who I am than see a 199 on a scale. One of my favorite things about being smaller was when I would look at photos of me and my friends and not see a fat person. I would look at them and basically see two normal sized people.
For now, I am happy with my weight loss efforts and am constantly trying to find things that “work for me”. Weight loss is a lifetime commitment and hitting your goal weight does not necessarily mean you can maintain it. I’ll be taking my sweet time to achieve my ultimate goals so that I can do so in a safe, healthy, and maintainable way that I can sustain for a lifetime.