Never say never … but not in this case

“I’m not losing weight. I’m getting rid of it. I have no intention of finding it again.”
 

This quote is one that I’ve grown to love over the years. Why? Because I don’t have any intention of finding the 194+ pounds I have shed over the past 3 1/2 years ever again. I’m in it to win it and I’m doing it all for myself.
I’ve always struggled with my weight. In the past, I have lost weight for other people (primarily for family). My weight was unhealthy for a person my age (from 5-years old and on) and approaching someone to tell them you believe they need to lose weight is a hard and sensitive subject. I’ve heard it being said from a lot of people all throughout my life. But the thing is if the person you’re approaching isn’t in the right mindset it can do one of two things 1) go in one ear and out the other or 2) it can backfire and cause a confrontation OR send the person you’re confronting into a proverbial tailspin. In some cases that intervention may be the talk that sets the lightbulb off in a persons head, but for me it never was because I knew I was fat, I knew the world knew I was fat so you weren’t laying a big secret on me, your concern was only making me uncomfortable. My family would try to approach the topic but I didn’t want to hear it and I’d eventually turn to food for comfort, which only ballooned my waistline even further. Then after a while I’d give in, lose some weight and eventually gain it back because I wasn’t doing it for me, I was doing it for others. Back then, these attempts at health were done with a diet mentality. I personally didn’t want to change, but I was going to do it just because … and when times got tough I threw my hands in the air and ate myself silly.
There was a time where I joined Weight Watchers with my mother. My mom was joining and she asked if I’d like to join, so I hopped on board. I enjoyed seeing the scale move. I was following the program and it was working. But since the choice to join wasn’t ultimately one that I came up with when my mother stopped attending meetings, I stopped attending meetings. I left the program and the tools I learned at the wayside and ultimately gained all the weight I had lost back.
The difference between the journey I’m currently on and any attempt at weight loss in the past is that I’m doing it for me this time around. I joined Weight Watchers on my own. No one suggested I join, no one hinted I should join, I made the choice and kept that choice to myself because I didn’t want anybody to try and suggest it to me because that would’ve made me quit before I had the chance to try. What can I say? I have a very hard head at times. I’m stubborn. I don’t like being told what to do whether it’s for the best or not.
After joining Weight Watchers and shedding pounds week by week, I started to feel better about myself. My dad came to me and told me he was proud of me for taking the initiative to get healthy for myself. It was a very touching moment for me and it’s one I’ll always remember because it solidified the fact that yes, I was doing this for myself and those closest to me saw that.
 
Three and a half years later I am the healthiest and smallest I have been since grade school. I don’t ever recall a time when I was the weight I currently am (I can’t say size because I was not 5’6 in 4th or 5th grade when I was more than likely the weight I currently am now – which back then was obese for someone my age). Physical changes aside, my life is so vastly different compared to how it used to be. Four years ago, I was a human hermit crab. I never left my shell (home or my humble abode AKA my bedroom) and if I did it was briefly and only to do whatever I had to do (work, school, picking up food, etc.). I lived behind my computer playing games and RPG’s to pass the time and to take the focus off my life.
 

These days life is vastly different – life is enjoyable. I’m not ashamed of myself and do not mind going out. I still am a bit shy, but I’m working on coming out of my shell more and more. I don’t live behind a computer playing games to mask my miserable life. These days I use my computer as a tool to connect with others, to share my journey and to keep in touch with friends and family. But it’s merely a tool — it’s not my one and only. I enjoy life now and I most importantly know what happiness is. I know that I deserve the best and I will get it as long as I put my best foot forward. I have a bright outlook on life and feel I am utterly unstoppable. I can do anything I want as long as I set my mind to it. Positivity fuels me instead of negativity clouding my judgment.
I know the saying goes “never say never” BUT I refuse to allow any shadow of doubt regarding my weight loss and my eventual maintenance. I realize life happens and there will always inevitably be minor bumps in the road but I need to learn to cope with those instances, learn from them and as always keep it moving. It’s my life after all and I’m going to make the best of it.


Positive thinking brings positive results


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One thing I learned early on into my weight loss journey as that as the old saying goes Positive thinking brings positive results!  As cliché as it might sound, it’s so very true.  The moment you can change your thinking, you can change your life. This saying has become such a staple in my life that I actually have a mini dry erase board behind my bedroom door with it written on it – so I see it daily as a gentle reminder.
At the beginning of my journey, the first 2-3 weeks were the hardest. It was a new routine; I had to be conscious of what I was eating.  Grocery shopping became a 1+ hour ordeal, instead of a quick dash and grab routine.  I actually had to give thought about what I wanted to eat, and then I had to figure out what the points were for those items that I wanted to eat.  It can seem a little overbearing and stressful but if you remember why you originally started this journey it makes all those things not so bad.
As I progressed in my journey, I found whenever I thought negatively (which was all the time – I was VERY negative) everything was harder. Nothing was easy, I’d get frustrated easily – but the one thing I can say is I never gave up.  The first 2-weeks were the hardest … declining temptations (like all you can eat cookies, cakes and snacks in the kitchenette at work), sticking with what I brought to work for lunch instead of ordering out on Friday (or in my pre-Weight Watchers day 2-3 times a work week), and eating portion sizes of foods instead of my normal “all you can eat” mentality.
After losing my first roughly 80 pounds, I felt more comfortable in my skin.  I had more energy and I felt comfortable enough to go to the gym.  I admit when I first walked into the gym to walk on the treadmill (I had been an active gym member years prior but as I packed on more weight I simply stopped going) I felt like everyone was looking at me thinking look at that one….  In reality, nobody was looking at me, but in my self conscious mind I turned my step into getting healthier into a negative experience.  It took me until my third trip to the gym to realize that no one was looking at me; everyone was too busy doing their own thing to care.  There was no WWE announcer announcing, “And here’s Shannon, 300 pounds, entered the gym, on her stalk to the treadmill. Let’s get ready to rummmbbbllleeeeee!!!!”
The gym is a common place – people go there to get healthy (whether that be lose weight, build muscle, train for an event, or attend a class they enjoy).  Once I changed my attitude towards the gym, it made going to the gym so much easier.  Eventually I got a bit bored with the treadmill and decided to step WAY out of my comfort zone and I went to my first zumba class.  I stood in the back mind you because I was the new kid in town and had no idea what I was doing. After dancing like a fool (I was legitimately born with two left dancing feet) I found I was really enjoying myself and I was sweating up a storm.  Even though I was very uncoordinated in the beginning and was off doing my own little versions of the steps, I learned I wasn’t concerned others were looking at me, because no one was. Sure there are mirrors on the walls, but no one can focus on the instructor bouncing around, focus on themselves bouncing around AND focus on me bouncing around.
In all reality, the instructor was the only one who paid me any attention.  They’re there to help you get a good workout but they also don’t want you to hurt yourself. I may have felt a little self conscious the first time the instructor came near me to show me the correct foot work (because it all starts at your feet), but she followed that up with a “great job” and I felt better about the experience.  The more I went to the classes, the more I picked up the routine and it eventually got to the point that I felt like a superstar and like I could help lead the class (in my mind – haha).  I taught myself, by training my brain, that the gym was a safe place and it was a place I didn’t have to be shy or make daunting.
I won’t say changing the way you think is a simple task, nor will I say it is something that you can change overnight.  It takes time, it takes work, but if you want it bad enough you’ll work towards that goal.  I find it was especially rewarding for me because once I began changing my attitude towards things and towards life, good things started happening.  The more my thoughts changed to a positive perspective, the happier I became (funny how that happens).
As my thinking began to change to a positive frame of mind, I began to pick up and recognize on the behavior of those around me. I quickly learned that if I was around someone who was genuinely negative I started to become negative.  Negativity is a vicious cycle, a leech, and it will latch onto anyone standing within arms reach.  Not liking the experiences I was becoming part of, I realized that perhaps it was best to remove myself from those situations.  That meant removing people from my life, distancing myself from certain people and remaining with those that were simply positive.  It is a difficult thing to do, but in the end, it had to be done.  At the end of the day, my happiness matters more than being around someone that brought me down.
Thinking positively isn’t always easy. It’s something that requires daily work because things happen. Stuff arises that we weren’t expecting and it may knock us upside the head and our immediate reaction may be a negative one. But the more positive I am, the easier it is to step back, take a breather and think “what can be thought positively about this situation?” Even in the darkest of situations, there is always some glimmer of positivity and if that glimmer is what’s focused on, things get bigger, better and above all easier.
Positivity has given me such a clearer and cleaner way of thinking. It’s provided me with endless possibilities. It’s allowed me to find happiness.  It’s allowed me to focus on me and filter out the toxicity I was surrounded by.  It’s given me encouragement during my weight loss journey because I’d look at how far I’ve come instead of throwing my hands in the air and saying “forget it” over something small.  It’s given me this ray of light from inside that makes me overall a happier person.  That in itself is rewarding because it truly shines on my face.
And without it … I would not be where I am today.

Weight Loss Gains


3+ years into this journey and it’s true I am physically smaller, I am literally half the girl I used to be, but with my weight loss I have gained SO much.  With this journey I have gained wisdom, self love, happiness, confidence, determination, motivation, control, understanding, patience, and an ability to inspire.  I’ve also gained the confidence to conquer my fear of public speaking by speaking at a Weight Watchers event, I’ve also gained the ability to accept a compliment AND give one in return.  I could go on and on for days as to what I’ve personally gained over the last 3+ years.
It’s amazing to me to think that by focusing on me and my health that so much in my life would change – and for the better.  Every day isn’t always easy, but it’s SO worth it.
I have so much to be thankful for.  I am happy (this is a big one because for a very long time I never knew what happiness was), I am healthy, I have energy to do things and all along I have been doing it for me! My niece and nephew will not grow up having their nearly 400 pound aunt sit on the couch and watch them play. They have an aunt who’s active in their life and will willingly get on the floor and play with them.  I have control over my life and my destiny and I love knowing that anything is possible if I want it bad enough and if I am willing to work for it.