The Early Days
I was always thin as a kid and in my teens. I remember in my early twenties before becoming pregnant, I had a 22.5” inch waist and could wear size 0 jeans. I’m only 4’ 11” tall and have a very small bone structure.
From infancy, I had chronic, severe asthma that made it nearly impossible at times to be physically active. I was constantly sick and it seemed there were some school years that I was out of school sick than I was in school. And I was always excused from PE, so I didn’t get as much physical activity as most other kids did.
My family lived in Florida, perfect for lots of outdoor activities. When I had the energy and lung power, I enjoyed riding my bike and running around with my sisters, brother, cousins and the neighborhood kids. I never learned how to swim properly, though. Every time I got signed up for swimming lessons, I would end up with a sinus infection or ear infection after the first class or two and straight to my lungs the illness would go. My favorite sports event to watch on TV was triathlons. I loved watching the Tour de France, dreaming of being an athlete like that one day. But I knew that with my asthma, that day would never come.
During my pregnancy, I gained about 50 pounds, I was able to get back to a size 4 by the time my daughter was 3. But my metabolism had definitely changed. I could no longer eat bags full of chips and bags of candy like I did before.
I ended up in a relationship/marriage where I was severely mentally and emotionally abused by my ex-husband. Over our 15 year relationship, I gained an enormous amount of weight out of depression. I had lost my sense of self and I had no self esteem. I literally nearly ate myself to death in attempts to soothe my soul and find comfort.
Sugar Was My Crack
I had developed a really bad sugar addiction along the way. Sugar was my crack. I used to wake up and have candy for breakfast some mornings. My ex-husband had a thing for sweets and kept the house stocked with Entenmann’s donuts and tubs of ice cream. We used to sit in bed and eat half gallons of ice cream and a box of donuts while watching TV. On top of that, I would always find an excuse to go out to the stores or run some kind of errand so that I could stop for a milkshake at the closest fast food joint. And every single time I was at the store, I would buy a candy bar in the checkout line. I remember one time while out shopping, I got a box of snack cakes and cookies. I started eating them in the store. And I ate them on the way home. But I knew it was unhealthy to do it, so I threw the empty containers in the dumpster on the way in to the complex where we lived so that nobody would know. It was sick. I also remember finishing off tubs of ice cream and then going to the store, buying a new tub of ice cream of the same flavor and eating it down to where the one was that I had just finished so that no one would know that I had eaten any of it. It was pathetic.
I did diet during these years after putting on weight. I tried every diet under the sun; Atkins, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, South Beach, Slim Fast, vegan, Weight Watchers, calorie restriction, low fat. You name it, I did it. I lost weight with most of them. But then when I would stop the diet, the weight would come back and then some. I was constantly yo-yoing up and down in size.
Not only did I become morbidly obese, my health declined horribly. I had chronic pain in my knees and hips and was told I needed knee surgery on both knees. I was getting severe bronchitis several times a year and had a couple of bouts of pneumonia after which the doctor said I had permanent lung damage and that I should apply for disability between that and my other health problems. I couldn’t walk more than a few minutes at time. I had to use a motored cart at the stores. I was breathless half way up the flight of stairs to my bedroom. Some of the other health problems included sleep apnea that required me to use a CPAP machine to breathe at night, and chronic migraines. I also had clinical depression and anxiety disorder that stemmed from the low self esteem and misery I felt from the emotional and mental abuse. It got so bad that at one point I wanted to end my life.
How I Lost Half My Body Weight
The Turning Point
One day, I decided to step on the scale. I hadn’t weighed myself for a long time, since the last diet I had been on. The scale registered 253 lbs. Remember; I am only 4’ 11” tall. I realized that I was closer to 300 lbs than I was to 200 lbs. That was the turning point for me. I was in shock and mortified. I hit rock bottom. I knew that if I didn’t change my life, I would die before I hit the 300 lb mark. And at the rate I was going and the lifestyle I was living it was only a matter of months. I’ll mention here that I wore a size 22/24 Women’s and XX-XXXL clothes at that time.
I knew I didn’t want to try yet another diet. My doctor suggested gastric bypass surgery. I knew people that had the surgery and lost weight then eventually gained the weight back. I also knew people that had major complications from the surgery and had to have multiple other surgeries as a result. And I knew there were people that had died from the surgery. So, I decided against it. I knew that a lifestyle change was needed if I were to succeed. The first thing I did was I cut sugar out of my diet. Temporarily, and because I didn’t know any better, I switched to sugar free products that included aspartame and sucrulose. So I was drinking sugar free soda and soft drinks and eating sugar free cookies, candy, cakes, ice cream, etc. Then I found out how poisonous artificial sweeteners are so I gave up the soda and the goodies and started using stevia in my coffee and tea. And I started drinking plain water with a little lemon or lime juice for flavor. My ex-husband continued to eat the donuts and ice cream in bed with me, and I just used pure will power and abstained. It was extremely hard. But I was determined.
I Could Only Walk 5 Minutes at First
Since I couldn’t breathe enough to go to any fitness classes, I just started walking. At first, I could only walk about five minutes. I increased the amount of time I walked each day, even if it was only a few seconds more. My ex-husband wasn’t supportive and wouldn’t walk with me, so I asked a friend to walk with me for support. If it was bad weather outside, I would just walk in place while watching TV. Between the walking and cutting out the sugary drinks and sweets, my weight started to drop.
Shortly after starting this journey, my daughter announced that she was pregnant. This news only fueled my fire to change my life around. I wanted to be able to play with and enjoy time with my grandchild. It was a perfect motivator.
The next step I took was switching to whole grains, eating more lean protein, vegetables and fruits. I didn’t count calories, fat or carb grams, or Points. I did make sure that I had a lean protein at every meal. I still avoided the sweets altogether. It was too soon to risk cheat meals that included desserts. I didn’t want to take the risk of my sugar addiction taking over again.
I continued walking farther and farther each day. It eventually came to the point I could take more than one walk a day. The stairs became easier to manage over time as well. And the weight continued coming off.
I kept at the walking and eating healthier and began to gain a sense of accomplishment and started regaining my self confidence. I enrolled in some college courses and then got my CNA license. I had lost enough weight and become mobile enough that I was able to work as a CNA. I regained my sense of self to the point that I was able to finally break away from my ex-husband and get a divorce.
I hit a plateau in weight loss for quite a while but I continued eating healthy and walking. Then in April 2010, I started working for a company that gave me free access to their gym. I continued walking and I also started working out with weights in the gym and using the elliptical and treadmill. The first time I got on the elliptical, I could only do it for about 3 minutes. As with the walking, I just added a few more seconds on at a time until I was able to work up to 50 minutes. I started to lose weight again but eventually hit another plateau.
In February 2012, I joined a 90 day P90X Challenge Group and started drinking Shakeology every day. I also signed up to be a Team Beachbody Coach when I bought the Challenge Pack. I had better results with P90X and Shakeology in 90 days than I had the year and half I was working out at the gym. I lost three to four dress sizes and had to buy all new clothes after just 90 days. It was awesome!
I No Longer Needed Prescription Medication and Ran My First 5K
I felt fantastic and was in the best health of my life. I was no longer on any prescription medication at all, all signs of asthma were gone, I no longer needed to use the CPAP machine to breathe at night, and I had more energy and vitality than I ever had before. It’s still that way today and keeps getting better and better.
I am still losing weight, with only about 20 more pounds to go. To date, I have lost 130 lbs. It’s been over a year and I still drink Shakeology every day and exercise 5-6 days a week. In addition to P90X, I do workouts from our Insanity, Body Gospel, Body Beast, and Hip Hop Abs programs. As a Team Beachbody Coach, I get to pay it forward and help other people lead healthier and happier lives.
Last August I ran my first 5K and I am planning on entering my first Sprint Triathlon this coming August. My childhood dreams of being an athlete are coming true. I have two grandchildren now, ages 2 & 4 and I have enough energy and stamina to play and enjoy spending time with them. They even exercise with me. I love being able to be a healthy example for them. I remember feeling bad for my daughter being seen with her fat mother when she was a teenager. She never put me down for it, but she would encourage me to lose weight and that kept me going. Now she says that she is proud of me for how I have changed my life around. This alone makes it all worth the sweat and effort.
I am glad to say that I will now be a regular Health and Fitness Contributor on About a Mom. Feel free to connect with my on my Facebook Page.