My Journey: The One Less Traveled By

One of the hardest things to do for me is to talk about my weight loss.  It is very hard to explain why.  Yes, I have been very successful with it in the last six years’ time.  Yes, I am a personal trainer now trying to help people make the same journey.  That being said there should not be any fear, shame, sadness or anxiety in that, right?  Well, that is where the assumption is wrong.  My weight loss has been an internal and external fight for freedom.  It is a very personal and dark fight that I am attempting to use for something good because if something good happens from all of this then every dark day…every struggle…every bit of pain was all worth it.

In order to really explain, I have to let you into when it all began.  I was a little chubby kid but never to a point of worry.  It was as I got older that the issues started.  My real father is a physical fitness fanatic.  Our weekends together consisted of him being at the gym and telling me that I needed to exercise because I was fat.  It was also supported by his girlfriend’s nephew who used to make comments about an elephant walking in the room with an “oh wait!  It’s just Nik”.  There was no support there.  No matter what I did or said it never stopped.  Others would join in with him because he was the older one.  He was the one the rest followed.  I found my comfort in the bottom of a full-size Doritos bag.  I would go back home and despite the fact that my mom would not keep a lot of bad foods in the house but my mentality was already shot.  I knew she thought I was beautiful but she had to.  She is my mother.  That house was a safe place until one day I found a notebook where my stepdad made a derogatory comment about how fat I was.

When high school started, I really felt out of place.  It was at this point I began watching what I was eating because I did not see myself as pretty.  At the same time, I was in full blown puberty and I sprouted 5 inches in one summer.  My body was shifting and the weight was just falling off, so I ate less because I needed it more.  Weighing myself became an addiction.  I could not stop.  I did not think that I was “normal” or even close to skinny.  The numbers needed to get lower.  Suddenly, my real father and everyone began to talk about how great I looked.  They were proud of me.  I had to keep going.  I needed to be beautiful.  It started to go too far.  I was eating 5 carrot sticks for breakfast and the same for lunch.  Chewing gum was my snack.  No one noticed what I was doing but they all noticed how I looked so I continued and started exercising too.  I fell into the horrible hole fast.  Suddenly I was starving and began to binge.  Well, you know what comes next.  It was probably only a couple weeks into the purging that I got caught by the school nurse.  She forced me to admit it all to my mom.  I’ve never gone back down that road again, but many times I need to take extra precautions to where my head is.  I do not want to let that nasty disorder take over again no matter what.  The attention is not worth the sickness.

After high school, I would gain 20 and lose 10 then gain 30 and lose 15.  I could never go back.  Not even the closest people knew the way I really saw everything.  As well as my depression caused by my weight, I found myself in a bit of financial trouble.  It was at that point that I realized I was an emotional shopper.  My waitressing could not handle my spending.  I was a twenty-one year old with a very large lump of debt.  It led to more hours, more depression and finally bankruptcy.  It was then that I began to come to term with my problems.  I was at rock bottom emotionally.  I had to overcome all the pressures or just lie down and die.  I started to be more active and watch what I ate for levels that were too much and more so too little.  Things were finally getting better.  I was growing into my own.  I had been healing from my past and working towards a future.  That’s when I met my ex-husband.

I am sure that gives you a small insight into where this story is going.  My ex-husband depended on me fully for financial support after our first year together.  It was a fairy tale turn horror story.  The money was only one of the many issues.  He was a cheater.  He would leave the house while I was lying in bed after facet injections to go and cheat on me.  He cheated physically and emotionally.  All of his words were lies except for the ones about me…while in school learning to be a Massage Therapist, I got into a bad car accident and let myself go.  My husband at the time would not accept me and would not stop the lying or the cheating.  I loved him.  I supported.  I worked overtime and had a consultant job on the side for him.  He stripped me of everything I had worked so hard on.  It took a lot for me to leave.  And when I finally left, I was in shambles and barely emotionally breathing.  I was eating myself to a size twenty (some clothing measured 22 & 24) and going to work every day was a hard task, but I still had to pay our bills until the divorce was final.  Financially, emotionally and physically…I was at my lowest of lows.

I met Adrian while in that low.  He quickly became my person.  He was my person I went to for kind and healing words.  With his help, I began to fix me.  We met months later and he’s been my person ever since.  Yes, we’ve had our ups and downs but it was our growing pains.  I left my home and my job to be with him.  In turn, he has supported me in every way.  My husband has loved me at my heaviest, my weakest and my lowest.  Adrian has given me the ability to finally close the chapter of life working on my relationships with men and finally embark on the journey people ask me to rejoice in now.

Here’s where the rest of the story begins…

I thought for the longest time while writing my blogs and all else that 243.5 lbs was my highest recorded weight until I found pre-pregnancy paperwork that put me at 265 lbs in 2007.  My pregnancy with our first child was a blessing.  I had many aversions to fast foods and other junk food items.  After his birth, I was down 30 lbs in 30 days, but then nothing else would happen despite all of my attempts.  In 2009, Adrian and I married.  By 2010, we brought our second child into the world.  I gained minimal weight with her and stopped at the same 212 lbs afterward.  As I started a sewing business, I fell back into bad eating habits again.  The stress of two kids, active duty husband, and a home business caught up with me as we entered into a permanent change of station.  My diet consisted of not eating until I was starved and then binging on lattes and chocolate to stay awake.  The pressure was too much but we made it through nonetheless while battling my anxiety.  It was in the middle of that move that we discovered another child would be joining our family.  My body did all of the same things as it had before; minimal weight gain due to morning sickness and the fact that I was already obese.  After she was born though, the weight did not come right off like it always had.  Something had to change.  Something had to take place.  It was then that orders to Jacksonville, the purchasing of a home and a cross-country trip entered our world.  Once we arrived, we began to enjoy all that was around us BUT I started to take baby steps towards changing it all.  There were three very big standout moments that pushed for this change.  One of them was this picture.

I thought of myself as a vintage curvy girl in this bathing suit until I saw the picture that was taken of me.

The second was when we were in the process of setting up our bank accounts.  I had bought a new pair of pants that were a size 18.  I thought I had finally made headway with going down in sizing BUT I was wrong and fooled by vanity sizing.  As I went to get out of our truck, my pants split.  I was mortified.  The third was in the process of purchasing our home we asked for a larger than normal sized tub so I would be able to finally take a nice relaxing bath.  When we arrived, I realized the tub still would not fit me. Who really wants to take a relaxing bubble bath with a glass of wine like in the movies anyway…?

And that was the end of not doing something about it.  The bigger question though…what do I do?  Obviously, everything in my past pointed in the wrong direction or else I would not be here.

The first steps…

  1. 8/1/2012 - A counselor to sort out all of the emotional issues that I used food for comfort with.
  2. Went to my PCM to have a checkup and blood draw (although I absolutely dreaded stepping foot in the office with BMI being the gold standard)
  3. Began listening to an emotional eating self-help audio lesson
  4. Asked friends who incorporated fitness into their life for help
  5. Began logging all of my food to ensure honesty NOT restriction
  6. Purchased a bikini, hung up jeans from high school and bought a goal date night dress
  7. Took pictures and measurements then posted them on my blog for the world to see to keep me honest
  8. Traded soda for water and cut back on sugary snacks like candy bars (for the kids too!)
  9. Began cooking regularly instead of grabbing fast food or take out
  10. Nightly small amounts of exercises like 20 crunches before bed
  11. Stalled out due to back pain…
  12. Battled with unrealistic goals…
  13. Started video game & YouTube workouts
  14. Back pain again…began to consciously walk around holding a good posture as long as I could
  15. Met with a Personal Trainer & Nutritionist who took my measurements
  16. Started walking the neighborhood for at least 10 miles a week
  17. Eased into couch to 5K training and joined a local running club
  18. Finding 30-day exercise challenges are great for short term
  19. 12/8/2012 – Ran first 5K race!
  20. Continued on to bridge to 10K training

Since that moment in December 2012, I found out I was pregnant, continued training, ran a half marathon 20 weeks pregnant, continued running until 33 weeks and delivered our fourth child around my one year running anniversary.  I did not let anything slow me down after making it through those first four months.  In fact, I continued on to run over 50 races of varying distances from a 5K all the way up to ultramarathons.  If I could say that was the pinnacle to the story, I would most definitely end it with a picture running a marathon in the Capitol but it does not.  That was the moment that I began to realize I had only completed the first chapter.  Immediately prior to that race, I decided to sign up to a gym in hopes to strengthen my body now that the weight was gone.

My strength training began and my mileage pulled back.  My recovery time lessened with each day.  I grew stronger and stronger.  Obstacles like pushups and pull-ups were things of the past.  I began to look around at my new chapter with complete joy.  Here I was still growing after all of these years.  My life was not simply about weight loss.  It was now about finding my love for life and testing the limits of my strength.  In the springtime, I went on to run 3 half marathons in 3 months’ time with consecutive personal best achievements.  The fall followed with another marathon and another ultramarathon.

In the moments that followed, I did one of the scariest things yet.  I began my certification process to be a personal trainer.  After all that had taken place…all the battles…all of the fighting…all of the tears…  I believed that I had something to give to the next person.  Whether it is peace of mind or someone to walk alongside them on their journey, I finally felt strong enough to be vulnerable and uncomfortable.  I finally felt like I was ready to take my trials and use them to be someone else’s blessing.

When people ask me what is all has been like, I have to admit that it is hard to explain.  Sometimes it felt like running face first into a brick wall over and over again hoping that eventually, I would break through.  Other times, I would take a small step back and look how far I have come.  I find solace in my journey but even more in the fact that I am still not finished!

"I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference" ~ Robert Frost