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.


Fat my whole life…


My weight has been a constant battle since the age of 4 or 5. In the above picture, I want to say I was anywhere between the age of 11-13 and in the 6th or 7th grade – of course the photograph on the right is me a few weeks ago. Considering I have been overweight practically my entire life, I know the emotional torment. I know how it feels to be teased and made fun of. I know how it feels to feel hopeless and helpless.
Early on in life, I learned how to cope with food. I would eat when I was happy, sad, angry, hurt, etc.  I also learned that if someone made food for me, it was a way of them expressing their love for me – so I had to eat it.  My grandmother watched me for my parents while they were at work and she would ask me what I would like to eat that day. Regardless of what I told her, the food was delivered – and in abundance. If I wanted French toast, magically pile upon pile of French toast would be delivered to the kitchen table.  The same followed suit with any other foods my grandmother would cook – potato pancakes, fried eggplant, grilled cheese, etc., etc.
I learned that food was a means of celebration. Food (whether made for someone or being consumed) made people happy! As I got older, I then learned how to suppress my feelings with food. If someone said something to me that I didn’t like, I turned to food for comfort, to put a band-aid on my “boo-boo”. Food was and had become, essentially my best friend. Food never judged me. Food never told me “you shouldn’t eat that”, food never snickered behind my back, and food never did anything to “hurt” me.
I was also (and still kind of am) a picky eater. I did not and don’t eat certain foods. My parents always cooked – they’d only order out on Friday or Saturday.  It was never really a matter of what they were cooking; it was merely a matter of portion size.  I had my first peanut butter and jelly sandwich at 17 simply because I wanted to try it.  I admit, I was rather spoiled because if I refused to eat dinner I’d whine and whine and whine until, my mother (my father wouldn’t give in) would take me out to get my favorite food as a child – a hamburger from a fast food restaurant.
The cycle continued and into my teenage years, I developed a habit of having dinner before dinner. By this I mean eating something “quick” at a fast food establishment (usually hamburgers, tacos, etc.) before going home to eat the dinner that my parents prepared.
Fast forward into my adult life and I simply continued doing what I knew: emotional eating, eating dinner before dinner, eating in abundance, and merely eating just to eat because I’m also a boredom eater.  I don’t look back at my life and wonder how I ever got to nearly 400 pounds.  Sometimes I wonder how I wasn’t more than that.  For decades, I had a pair of blinders perfectly cemented over my eyes, which didn’t allow me to see what I didn’t want to see.  Me.
Before joining Weight Watchers in February 2010, I was able to remove the blinders and see myself for the first time. I, the emotional and boredom eater, was able to grasp hold of her life and decide that I needed to be healthy and happy. So far, it’s been the best decision I have ever made.  I needed to do a lot of work – physically and emotionally, and I am still working on myself today. Old habits die hard and sometimes those old habits or feelings can creep back up – but it’s up to me to decide how I am going to deal with them.  This isn’t an overnight revelation; it takes work – days and even years.  I found it takes a little digging deep down inside to find out why I do certain things.  Talking about them, getting things off my chest to an unbiased individual made it so much easier.  It’s not always fun diving headfirst into the deep stuff – but once you do, it gets easier and a weight begins to get lifted.
The difference in me today versus me years ago (and truthfully my whole life pre-weight loss journey), is that I have control and I know what I need to do to make my lifestyle livable. I’m still a work in progress. I’m not perfect; there isn’t a single person on the planet that is (well … aside from my beloved fictional Mary Poppins). I’m still learning every day – things about myself, about life and just things in general.  As I always say it may not always be easy … but it’s worth it.
190+ pounds gonebut not forgotten because I neverwant to become that girl again … and I won’t because I have control of my life now.

Non-Scale Victory: Shannon Feels like a Rockstar!


I wanted to share a little non-scale victory.  My brother had a set wedding date for June 1stso I had been looking for dresses online – having order after order shipped to my house and nothing was really a “yes” dress.  Sometimes I’m so used to the old style of dresses (where it covered me up).  At the beginning of my journey I wanted to be covered, boxy dresses and my staple oversized t-shirts that came down to mid-thigh, etc. I then started gravitating towards wrap dresses because they looked better.  Well, fast forward 2 years I found 2 maxi dresses that fit me like a glove and truly made me feel like a rockstar.  Needless to say, I purchased both.  The dress I wore the wedding is similar to this one pictured but its black and white stripped.  3 years ago I would have NEVER purchased either of these dressed – I’d have fawned over them but went home empty handed.  Today I have the ability to grab something off a rack and go to try it on.
I’ve lost 190.6 pounds which is actually MORE than what I currently weigh!  Someone I know saw the photograph and said it looks like I jumped out of myself in the “now” photo.  I may not be at my goal weight, but I’m trudging towards that. It’s taken me 3-years to get where I am today and I will reach that finish line and maybe when I do I’ll find myself an even MORE amazing leopard dress!

Meetings make a difference


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While sitting in my Weight Watcher meeting I was struck with inspiration and decided on a few topics to blog about – this being one of them.
Being a Weight Watcher I’ve quickly learned that meetings undoubtedly make a difference!  I understand there’s a price differential between online vs. weekly vs. a monthly pass.  Many people find success solely using the online program – whereas others find success with meetings.  I’m in the success with meetings category.
When I joined Weight Watchers three years ago, it never crossed my mind to be solely an online member. I know me. I would end up winging it because at the end of the day I’d be weighing myself and nobody but myself would know my successes/failures.
With meetings I find they give me a sense of accountability.  I know every Thursday I am going to have to step on the scale and I am going to be faced with whatever number is on that scale.  Up, down, or the same – it’s going to be presented to me and I am going to have to take that and keep moving. I’m also going to have to swallow the fact that someone else (a Weight Watchers employee who isn’t going to judge me) is providing this information to me.  Once again – I get that sense of accountability.
The meetings themselves are extremely helpful. With being a monthly pass member, I can go to a meeting every day if I wished, but I typically stick to my Thursday night meeting only.  Each week I learn new tips and tricks.  Yes, I’ve been doing this 3 years and I still learn new things. Listening to what fellow members have to say can truly change your way of thinking and it can completely lift your morale.  Considering we’re all different, we all think differently and we all do things differently.  There’s a lot of understanding, relating and even finding humor in the topics being discussed – at least in my experience.
I know every week on Thursday I cannot schedule to be anywhere or do anything between 5:30-6:45. If someone wants to go to dinner, we’ve got to schedule that for after 7pm – if not, then we’ll need to pick another day.  I am a stickler with my meetings.  I’m quite positive everyone I work with and everyone that’s around me knows about my Thursday meeting.  One time at lunch at work I mentioned how traffic was annoying because it almost made me late to my meeting and my coworker said “Meeting? What, like, AA?”.  Close … but no cigar!
After being a member 3 years, I have only skipped out on probably 4 meetings because of prescheduled travel plans.  When this happens I make sure I find another nearby location to at least weigh-in to have that accountability for the week and to pick up a Weight Watchers Weekly.  One time my boyfriend and I were considering going to South Carolina and I found a Weight Watchers location nearby where we were considering staying in South Carolina so I wouldn’t have to miss a meeting.
I love meetings and even once I hit goal and then lifetime (because that will happen!) I’ll still be attending meetings. Why? Because meetings work.
QUESTION:
Do you like attending Weight Watchers meetings or are you considering joining meetings?

Total NSV: Lose for Good

In 2010 I won my local Weight Watchers meetings Lose for Good challenge. It was a friendly competition to donate food for charity and to shed some pounds by incorporating activity into our lifestyles.  In the end, I won a t-shirt at the time.  Upon bringing it home realized it was a size Medium. Let me stress that, when I won this shirt a size medium was no where near my size – it was a distant hope.  I was still surfing the racks in the plus size section and trading clothes with family members.
I folded the t-shirt up and stuffed it in my drawer because I wasn’t going to throw it away.  I EARNED that shirt whether it fit me or not.
It’s been tucked away for 2 years! I found it this morning while looking for something to wear in my drawer. I saw a nearly folded white shirt and thought “What is this?”  I pulled it out and saw it was my Weight Watchers shirt. For a moment, I put it back in the drawer.  Then I thought … for kicks let me put this on.
Guess what?
IT FITS AND IT’S A LITTLE BIG!!
Thanks, Weight Watchers! This girl is happier than a cucumber and I am STILL losing!

You can’t please everyone – you can ONLY please yourself


Weight loss is a wonderful thing.  When you finally undertake the idea (or if you want to call it, challenge) of losing weight to get healthy – it’s a life changing event.   Anything is possible as long as you set your mind to it and that has truly become my motto.
One thing I’ve noticed during my 3-year long journey is that not everybody you know (personally or second person) or even people online are going to be your personal cheerleader.  It’s fabulous to have an amazing support system, but there are times where you feel like “the world is against you.”  In times like that, it’s best to remain as positive as possible and think of why you started your journey.  I personally started my weight loss journey for me and for me only.  No doctor, no family member, no potential future possibilities pushed me to join Weight Watchers.  I made a conscious decision because I wanted this for me and that was the first time in my life I’ve ever wanted AND done something for myself that had substance to it (that is excluding going to college – but with that choice I had a lot of help and guidance along the way).
Personally, when I was at my heaviest I was told that I was too fat.  I was too unhealthy for my age.  I should really consider losing weight.  I had “such a beautiful face” (why is this a universal term?).  I was in a road to devastation.  There were comments after comments because at the end of the day, almost everyone had one.
When I joined Weight Watchers there may have been a bit of skepticism as to if I was going to follow the program and/or give up.  But as I continued along with it and continued to lose weight I heard a lot of supportive comments.  You’re doing so well.  I’m glad you’ve decided to change for yourself.  I wish you the best. You’re looking great.  Oh my god, how much have you lost?!  Comments like that continued for about a year and it really helped in boosting my confidence.  I had family, friends and people in my Weight Watchers meeting rooting for me, praising me for my dedication and cheerleaders.  It really helped.
When I hit about the ~160 mark my “slimness” started to show.  My collar bones were prominent (as they should be) – and I was still over 200 pounds.  I started to receive comments like: how much weight have you lost?  What is your goal weight?  I think you look perfect as you are right now.
There are times when the smaller (and I am talking still healthy in terms of your attending physicians, your BMI chart [according to the BMI chart I’m technically still ‘obese’] and even your weigh-ins) you get, the “nastier” (that’s a stretch – but sometimes words can get that way) the comments can get.  Not for everyone, but for some.  The comments about you being too fat suddenly turn into comments about you being too skinny.  You look unhealthy.  You look like skin and bones.  You look like a skeleton.  You need to stop losing weight.
I am not saying everyone says these things and I am not saying that everyone will experience things like this on their journey.  But what I am saying is that as long as you are happy and healthy that is ALL that matters.  Everything else is mute.  If your doctors approve of your physical condition and weight, if you’re eating your recommended daily in-take of food, if you’re doing things the healthy way (exercise, etc.) and you are in a happy place – that’s all that matters.  All those other comments are just words.  Words we learn (or will need to learn) to let bounce off you.
Sure, I have moments of weakness where I can’t take the negativity. I am human.  I have feelings. But it’s up to me to choose how I deal with it.  And I know deep down in my heart those words will not push me to be nearly 400 pounds again.  My happiness and my journey cost more to me giving up and appeasing anyone.  And even if I did gain weight – that wouldn’t please anyone. It certainly wouldn’t please me.  So I’m focusing on me and I’m focusing on me only.  My health. My happiness. My journey.  I’m not unhealthy; I don’t starve myself (I LOVE FOOD) and my doctors are the happiest they have ever been with me in my LIFE.
I think we (me) sometimes need to remember that we were a particular weigh/size for so long that those who were around us have a hard time seeing the new us.  Even if that transformation took 3-years, it’s still a drastic transformation.  But in the end of the day – the only person you can aim to please is yourself.  So that’s all I’m going to do because I enjoy happiness too much to let anyone take it from me.

My most memorable NSV’s (Non-Scale Victories)

  • Being able to walk up and down the stairs, repeatedly, without gasping for air
  • Being able to sit in a restaurant booth and swivel chair (that are connected to a table) comfortably WITH room to spare
  • Went from a 5X shirt down to a Large
  • Went from a 30/32 pair of jeans down to a 12
  • Donated ALL clothing that is not in my current size to family or charity
  • Is able to make it through a 50 minute gym class without sneaking out early
  • A stranger at the RMV, when renewing my license said, “Great job sweetheart, you look amazing!” after seeing my license photo and me in front of her
  • I no longer completely shun doctors because I’m ashamed of my size
  • My doctor is no longer “mad” at me when I show up for physicals
  • Being able to shop at ANY store I want because I can fit into non-plus sized clothing
  • Blossoming into a positive AND happier person

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