Almost 2 years ago, you set across on a journey. A journey, unaware of the challenges you would face and the accomplishments you would achieve, and not truly understanding what would be gained with this loss. You sat there on the scale for the first time, frightened by the future: would you hit 300 lbs.? The thoughts running through your head about how your mother and father were overweight, how their diabetes was affecting their lives, and how your self-confidence and esteem was lower than it had ever been. Part of of you was absolutely astonished and broken spirited and another part of you sparked. You ran that first mile benchmark in 13:00 minutes, struggling, sweating, and realizing what little you could do, but you did it anyways.
You went back to gym, again and again, and even though the dots of healthy eating were not connected, and you didn’t find your way there very often outside of your scheduled appointments, it was a start. You sweat little puddles on the ground, not realizing that each drop would represent a feat few people successfully come to in their lives, at least for the obese. You would come to realize, after months of hard work and sacrifice, that you were not making the progress you wanted. Despite being down 30 pounds in almost a year, you knew, as you have been pushing yourself, that you could do better.
So, you came home, you threw the soda and the chips away, and you made some changes. They weren’t all that big at first, water, low-calorie snacks, etc., but you made sure to keep track of what you were putting into your body by calorie counting. For the next month, you would hit the gym (HARD), 6 x’s a week, increasing intensity and duration: “Calories in, calories out” was your mantra. You started watching The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition to inspire you to eat healthy while watching TV. Their stories inspired you, and as you ran at the gym, you would think to yourself, “Man, if they can do it, with greater obstacles than myself, I need to just push through and get things done”. After that month, you lost 10 entire lbs. setting a new record, and starting the fire of the entire next year of your life.
This journey has been full of adventures. You started running, from your first day last March where you could barely run 3 telephone poles, to your first 5k, 10k, and half-marathon. Your best mile time is no longer 13:00, but 6:49. You hit 200 miles ran, in 7 months, ran 13 races. You found CrossFit, where you would do many things you had never done before: snatches, handstands (and even win a handstand hold competition in class), and thrusters just to name a few. You would feel encouraged and supported by the strangers in this class, the ones who did not know the old you, ones who didn’t see an obese person, struggling to lose weight, but one who came with other weaknesses, looking to be stronger, more confident, and looking to try something new. They may not know how if they had met you 1 year ago, you would look different, express yourself differently, or not be able to do the workouts like you do now; maybe not because of your ability, but because of how you viewed the world. You gained new skills from CrossFit, and before this journey through the weight loss program at the gym where you found a good trainer and eventual friend who helped push you and helped train you for those races. You feel as if you owe lot to the people who have helped you along the way, and regret and feel sad for the people who pushed you away. The journey of weight loss can be a lonely process, one of which you felt for a long time. Sharing the experience can be difficult, but luckily you had some key support along the way. A few friends who were encouraging, and some who were just there to listen. The value of these friendships and support is something you will not forget anytime soon.
You used to wear a size XL, and today, you wear a small. You’ve gone from a 44 waist to a 32 waist, and even though it is not all about the looks, you feel better looking than you have in your entire life, and you know it to be true. Your health is a reflection of your physical and mental strides, and you are no longer fear being labeled as the ‘fat kid’, one who has a hard time fitting in the airplane seats, or the one who finds it difficult to go up 1 flight of stairs without hyperventilating, or the one who wears extra baggy clothes to hide their bodies from the world. No, you do not fear that anymore because you are not the fat kid.
Today, you hit 100 lbs. lost. You have been trying to reach this goal for months now, just shy of the mark. After you joined CrossFit, you weren’t sure you would hit the benchmark because you were gaining muscle, even though you were obviously losing fat. Part of this milestone can be attributed to eating paleo, even if it has only been 6 days. You’ve always hated vegetables your entire life and in the last week you’ve tried squashes, avacado, eggplant, and other new things like scallops, plantains, and other fruit. You see the world differently now, truly reborn. I am proud of you, that you have stopped letting your old ways of thinking get in the way of living a healthy life. For so long, the fear of falling back into a lifestyle of fat, self-depreciation, and health concern plagued you, but not today. Today, you know with fitness, a better diet, good support, and a wider knowledge-base of health and fitness, that you have the tools to push ahead, despite the statistics of falling back into old habits. You’ve been the statistics before, you’ve defied the odds, through your hard work and perseverance, and you WILL NOT let this be an exception, your life is at stake.
You’re not done though. You decided months ago that the scale was not your litmus test for how you define yourself. Although it was a goal to hit 100 pounds because it just feels great to say 100 instead of 97, your goals have far stretched beyond a controlling number, one that takes the motivation and dedication of many people who try this journey. No, you want to go beyond. There are still residual artifacts of your being, some engrained from such a young age, that you look to overcome. You want to go shirtless at the beach, something you have never done in your life, and hoping that you will do this coming summer. With the resources currently at your disposal, you are pretty sure that the next 6 months are going to be even greater than the last year. You also want to use your experience to help others. The world of health and fitness is large, and you may not have a degree is science or any certifications (although it may be a future goal of yours), talking with others, sharing your experience, and being a support is a few ways you know you can help some people out. You are going to start weight training soon, so you can define and tone the muscles that are still braised under some loose skin and fat, holding on, but not for long. You have a great coach lined up for the job, one you trust and you know will push you hard. You may even try skydiving, even though it scares the shit right out of you, but after losing 100 lbs., is anything as much mental work?
So, who were you 100 lbs. ago? You were the person you always were. You were someone who was dedicated to following your dreams. You achieved a lot 100 lbs. ago, academically, socially, economically. You bypassed a life of alcoholism that you were predestined for, you left the small piece of earth in which you were raised, the one that felt like quicksand in, you found a home of your own and made your own place. You came a long way 100 lbs. ago, and then you started the clock on renewing your life and health, starting fresh, starting from the beginning, and, in some ways, rewinding 26 years of unhealthy decisions. Along the way to finding success, you may not have always made the healthiest decisions in regard to how you ate or how viewed your body. Even though you wish you could go back in time, save yourself the struggle, and start out your regular life, healthy, sometimes, as you realize, you have to be in the right time and the right place for change to occur. You have learned more from this experience and from adopting a new way of living than almost all of the other experiences in your life.There aren’t a lot of words, despite the amount of words in this post, that you can use to describe what it means to give yourself life, but the greatest lesson you know is not to take these gifts for granted. Life is short and you know that you can make the best of it, now, with a clear mind, a healthy mind.
Who you were 100 lbs. ago is not the person you are today because today, you are more than just your weight loss, you are transformed, inside and out.