I want to emphasize that regardless of what your relationship is with your body and regardless of where you are in your health/nutrition/lifestyle journey, the most important thing you can give yourself is love, rest, and care.
Growing up, I was always known as the “chubby kid.” Despite that, I never thought of myself as different from those around me… until I was in 5th grade. Around that time is when I started to notice the way others stared at my body. Swimming has always been a big part of my life. It was (and still is) something that brought immense joy to my heart in more ways than one. But as I felt the reactions and judgments from those around me, I knew I couldn’t continue in the same carefree nature. It deeply impacted my self-confidence in a way I didn’t even realize— so much so that I decided it would just be “easier” to toss on a t-shirt and hide some of my physical appearances.
Covering up my body allowed me to feel a sense of safety and comfort while continuing the activities I loved. It allowed me to focus on what mattered most to me— swimming, and not what others thought of me. I didn’t know it then, but my relationship with my weight would continue to be an up and down journey till my late 20s.
The moments that changed everything:
Fast forward to my 16th birthday. At the time, I weighed over 350lbs. My mom took me to a weight loss program, and while I know she just wanted what was best for me, I struggled with unpacking the situation. I was irritated, angry, and upset. I wanted to celebrate my birthday, just like everyone else I knew— not worry about my weight. The wounds from that day were deep enough to push me away from spending any energy on my weight and lifestyle. By the time I turned 18, I was over 600lbs and well on my way to many potential health concerns. I was still actively avoiding the repercussions of my lifestyle and was occupied by all of the excitement that comes along with being a university student: from socializing to midterms.
It wasn’t until I turned 23 that I decided to go to my doctor. The thought alone was anxiety-inducing and scary to me. As much as I was used to avoiding seeing a professional, there was a mindset shift that I shouldn’t shake. I thought about what my future life would look like if I didn’t take care of my health. I thought about what would happen if I was not able to be around for my future wife and kids. The more I painted this picture in my mind, the more urgency there was to get help… and fast. This mindset shift is what got me through all of the testing, physicals and blood work that followed.
A few weeks passed and I had a follow-up appointment to go over my results, which were shocking (to say the least).
“You’re perfectly healthy.”
I couldn’t believe the words coming out of my doctor’s mouth. All I remember thinking is, “How?” Despite being shocked, I was equally relieved. And just as I felt that I was being given a permission slip to continue in the same way as before, he said something that I will never forget: “If you want to get to a healthier weight, do it now while your age is saving you. Had you come to me with the same weight 10 years from now, the chances are that I would have to put you on medication.”
How I created space to focus on my health:
My doctor’s words left a permanent impact on me. I knew there were no other options but to get serious about my health. I invested my time, energy, and money into making sure it was my top priority. I sacrificed as necessary so I could show up consistently for myself. I hired a trainer, cut out alcohol, and focused on fueling my body with nutritious foods.
But as I’m sure you can guess, it’s been far from easy. Even though I had an immense amount of support from those around me, the process was a mix of ebbs and flows: Looking at the scale. Not looking at the scale. Plateauing. Losing weight. Going back to the drawing board. Since then, I’ve been able to lose 300lbs and am still working towards being the healthiest version of myself. However, it wasn’t a linear process, and it still isn’t. In the most difficult moments, I remind myself of a mantra I created for myself: “Where you are today in life is not where you have to stay.”I continue to tell myself that every action I take now is supporting future me.
What I learned along the way:
The most important reality I had to accept was that the weight wasn’t put on overnight, so it wasn’t going to leave overnight – and that’s okay. As someone who identifies as a woman (or Hybrid, if you read my gender pronoun post here), I struggled to “CRUSH a workout” during my menstrual cycle. As a business owner, I struggled to balance all of my tasks with staying on top of my health journey. The layers to my identity added obstacles, but instead of pushing myself into a place of burnout and pain, I allowed myself to feel what I needed to feel and moved forward with intention.
If you’re also on a similar journey, I want you to know I support you, unconditionally. No two weight loss or health journeys are the same, so I’m sharing a few tips that have tremendously helped me create a healthy mindset that I hope do the same for you:
- End your day with powerful affirmations
- Incorporate mindfulness into your routine
- Allow yourself space and time to rest
- One off day, doesn’t mean the week will be off
- Consistency over Intensity
And as a reminder: the number on the scale does not determine your value as a human being.
Sending you ALL so much love!