I hated flying! Not because of some innate fear of airplanes or the thought of plunging to my death in a plane crash. Not because I suffered from extreme claustrophobia or was an incurable germaphobe. I hated flying because I was too fat to fly! I hated having to suppress the anxiety attack that would threaten to overtake me because I knew my hips would not fit in the airplane seat. I knew that the seat belt would not buckle across my waist and I knew that I would have to endure the humiliation of having to ask for a seat belt extension from the flight attendant. You don’t want to know the onslaught of thoughts that bombarded me for allowing myself to get so big. While I was never “thin”, at 338lbs and wearing a size 26W pant; I was at my heaviest. I knew I had gained a massive amount of weight over the years but nothing was more confirming than sitting in an airplane seat and struggling to buckle the seat belt. It made me so self-conscious wondering if the person next to me noticed how tightly I was stuffed in my seat. Flight after flight I would be depressed and promise myself that next time it would be different; only to forget about it until I had to take another trip.
Riding on an airplane was just the tip of the iceberg of challenges I faced. I was obese and my body reminded me of it daily. From the very moment my eyes opened in the morning, my bones would groan under the pressure of the weight on my frame. I literally had to set my alarm clock 1hr in advance just to give myself time to perform my routine of getting out of the bed and into the shower with as little pain to my lower back as possible. My knees were shot and ached for days at a time with no relief. The slightest physical exertion would result in me panting and gasping for breath. I was miserable!
Even more painful and damaging was the affect the pain and the shame were having on my self-esteem. I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror. I never really struggled with loving who I was (my personality, my ideals…the real me), but I found myself struggling more and more with loving the package I was in. Eventually, the strong, outgoing, intelligent, funny, confident woman that I knew myself to be was slowly being smothered and overshadowed by the inadequacies of my body. I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror anymore and my disdain for my body clouded my thoughts. Despite the raging emotions I was experiencing and the pain shooting through my body, I painted on a mask to the world because I couldn’t afford to let anyone see that I was a wreck.
This cycle of pain and sadness and anxiety went on for some time. In December of 2013, I was at a company event and someone took a candid photograph of me. Usually, I never take a second look at any pictures of myself. This time though, it was different. Something inside compelled me to take a long look at this picture. And what I saw broke my heart. I didn’t recognize the woman I was looking at. I couldn’t see me. My smile no longer reached my eyes and I saw the deep sadness that resided there. Obesity was winning the battle for my life and I wasn’t even putting up a fight. I knew then that I HAD to make a change and I HAD to make a change quickly. I was sick and tired of being uncomfortable, in pain and struggling with my self-image. I was sick and tired of the back problems, the 26W pants, the miserable feeling I constantly had, and the many tears I cried wishing to be healthier and thinner. I was sick of being too fat to fly!
That day, I made a decision that I would take control of my life. On January 26th, 2014, I started on a journey that has been the most challenging thing I have ever done but thus far the most rewarding. I started on a journey back to me. The first thing I did was to get on my knees and pray. I prayed for wisdom, patience, help, discipline and grace to fight the battle for my body. I knew that changing my lifestyle would require me getting help from someone that knew what I needed to do. So I sought out a trainer and a nutritionist and together we mapped out a plan that would lead me to success. I made the decision that I would not have weight loss surgery, try diet pills or any of the crash diets out there. My goal wasn’t to lose weight; my goal was to change my life. And change it I did. I changed my eating habits, I committed to working out daily and I dedicated time every week to spend with myself getting to know me again and asking myself some tough questions that I had to answer and deal with. One year later I have lost a total of 70lbs, my back no longer hurts, my confidence is being restored, I’ve had tremendous strides in my fitness level, I am healthier than I have ever been and I am committed to living a healthy lifestyle.
Most exciting of all probably was my first experience flying and not needing to ask for a seat belt extension. At first I was nervous, anxious and expecting more of the same. But I pulled the belt across and it snapped. I even had a little room between my thigh and the arm rest! Tears poured down my cheeks (good thing the seat beside me was not occupied) and I had a solo praise party for this victory! I couldn’t believe I was no longer too fat to fly! This small success made it all the more worth it.
Please do not be fooled. There is no magic in changing your lifestyle. The temptation to quit is great. The evidence of change is slow but I am a witness that sticking with it and seeing your hard work payoff is worth every battle you fight. Changing your body without changing your mind is like spraying air freshener in a room with rotting trash. It may mask the odor for a while but eventually it will return. Such is the case when we focus solely on changing our bodies and refusing to deal with our inner selves. I had to change the way I thought about food, exercise, and ME. I had to challenge thoughts of depression and the urge to quit. I had to face myself and learn to disassociate my body image from my self-worth. I had to learn to appreciate every roll, every stretch mark, and every imperfection. I had to own them and accept them as mine. I had to change my perception about beauty and about me. Using confessions, journaling, prayer, and sharing my fears and issues with a friend I could trust, I eventually saw my mind begin to change and return to the woman I knew myself to be. I fought through the painful and achy muscles, the desire to sleep instead of work out and I’m learning how to tackle cravings. It takes hard work, discipline, tears, mistakes, friends and daily re-commitments to my goals. I have a long way to go but I am excited and eager to get there.
One thing I’ve learned in life, is that success and triumph means nothing if you can’t share it with others. Beloved, I want to invite you to jump in on this journey with me. Whether it’s a large amount of weight like me, that stubborn 5lbs or just to acquire a healthier life style, I invite you to join me and let’s be thin it to win it. Now is the time to change your life! You can do it- one decision at a time, one day at a time. This is not about perfection; this is about consistent progress towards our goal. If you are willing to join in, please contact me (see the contact box below). Let’s create a community of support, cheerleaders, and friends as we overcome obesity one pound at a time!
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