Losing Myself: A Body Positivity Story

You can click on many news and social media sites to see transformation photos of people who were simply tired of not being the best version of themselves.  There wasn’t an article I didn’t read and photo I didn’t click. But, it wasn’t the before and after that stirred the embers of my emotions, it was story behind the transformation. Nearly every person endured losses and setbacks in relationships, work, family and health, which triggered them into a lifestyle change. What stood out is that they lost significant amounts of weight in six months to a year—by simply changing eating habits and working out. I used each one of these stories to guide my personal weight loss journey.

In November 2013, I weighed 203 pounds. I was pre-diabetic and vitamin deficient. I suffered from edema, heart palpitations, bad acne, gastro-intestinal issues, insomnia, thyroid problems, depression, anxiety, PTSD. My breaking point was getting a call from my physician telling me to come to the hospital right away to be checked for cancer.  I was 34. After the initial shock that this was my life, I knew things had to change.

Me with my feet up at work. I had to walk on the back of my shoes because my feet wouldn’t fit in them.

I didn’t know where to begin turning my life around because my issues exceeded being overweight. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to, help came to me from the most unlikely source: Television. I’m not into watching television. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great shows on, I just have very little desire to waste my life in front of the television.  If there is a show that I want to see, I’ll usually look for an upload on Youtube and watch it on my phone. The only show that I watched, at that time, was Braxton Family Values: A reality series that documents the lives of Toni, Tamar, Trina , Traci, Towanda and Evelyn Braxton. I remember walking to the back of my building and climbing in the backseat of my car to watch an episode of BFV that would change my life.

At different stages, especially the last four years, I’ve found myself experiencing the same emotional conflicts as each one of the sisters on the show. Holding on to negative learned behaviors and destructive emotional patterns because it was my family’s way of communicating. No sense in lying, we dealt with each other harshly. I took these self-destructive behaviors and built my entire life around them. Other people’s hurt, pain, regression, and fear imprinted on my perception. Fear stops us from letting go because changing these patterns means restructuring our ENTIRE lives. And, in the words of Mrs. Tamar “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

In this particular episode, Trina was facing trials in her marriage and public humiliation. Completely broken, she cried out to her mother [Miss E] that she didn’t know what to do. Miss E said “Do whatever you need to do, to save yourself.” And that’s where my journey began.

Size 14

Unhappy and unhealthy I decided to quit my job. I tried many times over five years to save myself while holding on to the most toxic aspect of my life. I couldn’t do it anymore.

Just like my predecessors, I changed my diet and started an intensive workout regimen. I sought out a nutritionist for guidance. My body wasn’t pulling any nutrients from my food because my stomach wasn’t breaking it down properly. I damaged my metabolism and lining of my stomach with fat burners and crash diets. So, she placed me on a 45-day elimination diet and provided me with supplements to correct my gastrointestinal issues.

Months went by without me losing a pound. I cried in frustration because I was finally doing every the right way, but saw no results. Negative thoughts began to creep in urging me to give up and take the easy way out. Instead of retreating back to my former self, I pushed past my breaking point. What would giving up accomplish, besides me having to start over down the road? I definitely didn’t see results being unhealthy. Even with no visual results, at minimum, I was being active and eating healthy. My sleep pattern increased from 1-2 hours to 4-5 a night. I had more energy and focus to accomplish daily tasks. I saw no other options than to move forward.

I didn’t lose my first 10 pounds, until a year after I changed my lifestyle.  Perplexed, I wondered what was different about me? Why couldn’t I lose weight like the Youtuber’s?

Early 2015. I was 185 pounds.

Despite being on a positive path with my health, my mental and emotional health was still suffering. “Saving myself” meant sacrificing my financial stability which forced me into unstable living situations. Although I’m grateful for every open door, I was exposed to dangerous, toxic behaviors, which happens when another persons ‘normal’ is different from yours. I found myself falling back into that sunken place of depression and anxiety. Another breaking point. It literally took every ounce of mental strength I had to see past my situation. Reaching my weight loss goal became my primary focus.

I awoke everyday at 6:30a, to workout for two hours. I did intermittent fasting until 1p. I ate  one meal and a snack. Intermittent fasting worked for me because I’m not a breakfast person.

By fall 2015, I dropped to 181. I stopped looking at my overall goal of reaching 150 pounds and focused on 10 pounds at a time.

I was fortunate enough to move into my own space in November 2015. Unfortunately, I had to start my psychological healing process over again. I fasted and prayed several times in 2016. I turned my living room into a gym. Go to work. Lose weight. Blow bubbles.

Slowly but surely I began to shed those unwanted pounds. I even did the 30-day No Salt challenge, which resulted in another 10 pounds.

Before and after No Salt challenge.

I decided to go to the department store and do a clothes test. For two years, I wore yoga pants and workout gear. I had new, size 12 clothes but never wore them because I didn’t want to jinx my progress. I grabbed a size 8 and 10 pants and headed into the dressing room. The size ten fit nicely, but I still had room. The size 8 fit…perfectly. I admit was a little snug but everything zipped and buttoned up. I cried tears of joy. I started off wearing a 14 and worked my way down to a questionable 8, but an 8 nonetheless.

2017 brought more hardships but psychologically I was strong enough handle them. I continued to pursue my goal. I changed the focus of my workouts from weight loss to strength training. My body grew with the muscle gain, but I felt strong and confident.

On March 25, I embarked on a spiritual journey and fasted 21 days, which ended on Passover. I suffered a major setback in my training. All of the muscle I gained—I lost. By the end of my fast, my body was frail and weak. Face sunken in. Skin loose and saggy. I didn’t let it bother me too much because the spiritual benefits outweighed the physical ones.

I picked up and began again.

A week after my 21-day fast.

In the process of my fast, I lost my booty and breasts. My pants just sagged off my body. My wonderful family didn’t let me live it down. So, I changed my workouts again. This time, I centered them on body sculpting.  I incorporated squats, lunges, push-ups, kettlebell, and donkey kicks into my workouts.

150 pounds after almost 4 years.

What Youtuber’s fail to talk about is the in-between. The struggle. The temptation. The setbacks. Stress is damaging to the body and will prevent you from accomplishing your weight loss goals or any goals for that matter. Detoxing your internal environment is equally important as ridding your life of toxic people and situations.

I want to realistically give you hope in reaching your goal. Not everyone’s journey will be the same. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to achieve your desired results in a year or less. Maybe not. What I know for sure: if you continue to work hard, the results will come.

Live. Bless. Prosper.

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