Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Work it Out Wednesday: Sharing a Success Story!

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Hi gang!

I have a treat for you today!

Colva, a friend of mine from grad school, shared her wellness story with me and I am so excited for all of you to read it! She is such an inspiration. Enjoy!

Take it away, Colva!
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When Mary asked me to write about my health and weight-loss journey for her weekly Work it Out Wednesday post I set about asking myself what I’ve learned from this experience and what I think is important to share.

I began the adventure I’m on now in February, 2014. It started after a visit to the doctor. In the moments before I got on that digital scale, I knew I was fat, really fat. I’ve been fat my whole life, I’ve dieted off and on since my teens, and sometimes I’d lose weight and sometimes I wouldn’t (I was a bad dieter, lacking the misery to make self-punishing starvation really viable). However, I’d learned to accept my body despite its flaws, and was grateful for how good of a fat body it was (well proportioned, pretty strong, pretty for a fat girl). 

I weighed in at over 400lbs that day. 



Despite being in, what appeared to be, surprisingly good health, I went home that evening and resolved to change my life and to lose weight, permanently, safely, the right way – no starving myself, no pills, no hating myself because of my body. 403lbs, to be precise, is a lot of weight, and even though on a 6 foot frame I didn’t feel like it was dragging me down, I knew, and had always known, it could eventually be a problem. I figured at 28 it was better to do it now than later. I resolved that day that this would be a part of my own long-term, self-love journey. I’m not doing this because I hate being fat (I don’t), or because my fat is killing me (it’s not). It’s because I like challenges, I like reaching my potential, and I care about myself and my body enough to do whatever it takes to let it be the best body it can be. Far from trying to squeeze my fat body into a social norm, or desirable category, it had, and has, nothing to do what what people think, this is about what I think. 

Four days later I joined a gym. It was terrifying. I felt exposed and vulnerable – previously I didn’t wear sneakers in public and I wasn’t seen out without make-up. After a lifetime of being a funny, smart, fat girl meant I wasn’t someone who played sports or worked out; that stuff was for other people. It wasn’t for me. But I did it anyway. I started personal training. Like all of the activity I was suddenly doing, it was hard and it hurt. The first week after my first training session was an epic wake up call – I could barely walk or sit down, and I realized that 30 minutes of moving my own body around had hurt me. I resolved then and there to stick with it. I changed my diet: I started counting calories, 2,300 calories a day in the beginning, which now seems excessive. I ate vegetables and less processed food. I got a cheat day each week (I invariably used it to eat pizza). I started to work out every day, and twice on Thursdays. 8 hours a week. I started losing weight fast. I made spreadsheets and kept track of every calorie, every meal, every step, every mile, every weight I picked up, and every pound and inch I lost.

Turns out the process of making endless spreadsheets appealed to me. It made me feel like I could control something that was so hard for me, and had controlled my life for so long. I celebrated my little milestones, 10, 25, 50 lbs enthusiastically. Weeks turned to months, the need for spreadsheets declined, my calorie requirements plummeted (I eat 1,550 calories a day now), struggles became habits, the workouts hurt less and helped more. Working out eventually became a way to clear my head, a personal time to think about my life and my goals. I learned to love the rush of beating myself, and value the rush of endorphins to manage stress. 

I’ve been doing this for over a year, I’ve lost over 100lbs, and I am much faster, stronger, lighter, and smaller than I’ve ever been. There are still struggles and I plan my whole life around my workouts and eating. I’m sure people think this is a drag. I stopped drinking alcohol, which makes me feel a bit spare in social situations. I don’t get to sleep in on Saturdays; instead I go to a grueling boot camp class. My body does weird things, fat redistributes itself, and some weeks I don’t lose weight, some weeks are great and some bad, but I keep doing it because this is what I do now. I get angry when I’m hungry because I’m at the point where I need very precise nutrition to be able to work out as much as I do (now about 10 hours a week). It’s not all flowers and rainbows and clothes that are too big, and bones I didn’t know I had (I can’t count the times I’ve laid in bed poking my body and wondering if it was always so bumpy under the fat, a whole physical architecture I didn’t know I had.)

At the end of the day, even after losing 100lbs, I am fat. I am still 300lbs, I still wear plus size clothes. I still have miles and miles to go. I am happy about that. I’ve learned to accept this huge body and respect its abilities. I like feeling strong, and seeing even incremental demonstrations of progress; climbing stairs at work, being less stressed, more focused.

I’ve learned that a weight loss adventure is not about finishing. It’s not about being “done.” Life isn’t about being “done,” done with your workout, done with your calories for a day, done with your weight loss, it’s about process. Even a bad day is a good day when it’s part of a process. Every day is a part of a bigger picture now, and even as my body changes and is sometimes unfamiliar, and I am conscious of it in ways I’ve never been, I know my body and self better than I ever have, and have never felt more capable. 

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WOW, right?!?! I am so proud to know someone so strong and determined. Colva is such an inspiration and I love following along on her self-love journey. Her story is so powerful. She defines beauty, both inside and out.

Please share your support for Colva and I will pass your kind words along to her!

Have a good one!

6 comments:

Rachel said...

This was wonderful! I think the best thing is that Colva made lifestyle changes! That's when you know you're going to be successful. What a great start to my Wednesday!

Bibi Lobo said...

Go Colva! you've made me cry! Your journey and your understanding of the process is something so many of us never get. You are amazing and an inspiration.
And getting strong and feeling better is the best thing ever. You are an incredible role model.
To love yourself and accept yourself and still try to improve is the best.
Love to you and Mary

Mae @ Endlessly Ever After said...

Wow! What a great accomplishment. Thank you for sharing her story. Keep up the good work lady!!!

Megan @ Chicago Girl said...

Incredible! The journey is a tough one. Thanks for sharing!!!

Macy said...

Wow!! This is an incredible change!! I also love with the changes of weight comes a feeling of more self love...and that new beautiful tattoo :)

Lindsey Galabeas said...

Ok, so very encouraged right now! Love it, Colva! I love that you still looked good no matter the size! And hey, I'm a plus size girl and there's nothing wrong with it, but I'm all for being more healthy, and am so proud of you for putting in the work. That's what I'm trying to do! It's so hard, but I've been encouraged by your story! You look good, girl!