This is a guest post by my incredibly talented and awesome sister. Her name is Kim and she is one of the best people I know. She is not only my sister, but one of my very best friends (I have 2 sisters:) I asked her if she would be willing to write some health posts for me and she agreed. She will be contributing to this blog from time to time and sharing her wisdom in regards to health. Today’s post is her introduction and she shares her journey with us. If you are interested in how to lose weight, this is an inspirational post you won’t want to miss!
How to Lose Weight: My Journey of Transformation
Hi all! My name is Kim and I am Becky’s older sister.
When my sister asked me if I would be interested in writing something for her blog about my weight loss journey, I was a bit hesitant. Like so many women, I have had my struggles with weight and self-esteem. There is so much pressure in our society for women to look, feel and act a certain way. Women are daughters, sisters, mothers, wives, confidants, co-workers, etc., etc. We are also supposed to be strong and confident if we want to get ahead in the workforce, while at the same time appearing demure, selfless, supple, sexy, alluring, and beautiful. I don’t know about you, but my head is already spinning thinking about all those things we have to be. So, why did I agree to write this? My hope is my story will help someone that has struggled or is struggling with the same issues I am.
Being overweight is tied to so many of the qualities I just listed above. For me, being overweight, I struggled with feeling confident and strong, and just forget about all those adjectives linked to being sexy or beautiful. Because of that, I felt like I didn’t belong, that I didn’t fit anywhere that I was supposed to. Let me be clear: no one has ever made me feel this way; my family and friends have always loved me for who I am. The way I felt (and being honest, how I sometimes still do feel) is totally pressure I put on myself.
By a doctor’s standard, I am categorized as being morbidly obese. Years and years ago, I was diagnosed with depression. We all know that depression is a lifelong battle, one you fight forever. Because I didn’t seek help when I should have, I turned to food for comfort. I ate my way through all my problems and came out feeling worse. And this is coming from a psychology major in college. I knew what I was doing wasn’t healthy, but because I thought I could conquer depression on my own, I didn’t bother to seek help. (I apparently did not pay attention in class.) Finally, after countless prodding from concerned friends and family, I sought the help I needed to boost me out of the depression haze I was in. I felt mentally better, made some serious changes in my life for the greater good, but I was left feeling restless.
Two years ago, I had an epiphany. Literally an epiphany. Up to this point, I had felt like I was just living each day to get through it. I wasn’t happy. Sure, mentally I was better than I had been, managing my depression, but that was all that I had accomplished. Don’t get me wrong, that is an accomplishment in itself, but now I wanted more. I needed more. I really spent time thinking about what it was that I wanted and needed, and how I could get there. What was it about my life that I wasn’t satisfied with? I knew things could not continue as they were or that I would slip back into the depression hole that I had just worked really hard in climbing out of. I did not want to go backwards: I wanted to move forward.
“I realized I wasn’t happy and it had to do with more than just my weight”
The first thing I realized is I wasn’t happy with my career, and decided I could do so much more for myself in that area. There was nothing tying me to the area where I was living. It had just become comfortable and familiar to me, but other than my job and friends, I didn’t have anything emotionally or physically tying me to the area. So, I decided I wanted to move to Ohio to be closer to my two sisters that I treasure more than anything in this world. It was the best decision I have made in my adult life to date.
Growing up, my sisters and I were always incredibly close. Then life happened. We went to college, they got married, had kids, and we sort of went in separate directions. My two sisters, Becky and Sonja, just happened to land near each other geographically when the dust settled on their lives. I had stayed put in Pennsylvania after college and was working in the same job I had been at since graduating college. One day it hit me: why in the world am I still here at this job, making very little money, when I have 10 years of work experience, 2 degrees, and so many other possibilities out there for me? Fast forward: my move to Ohio. I found a good job doing what I liked that made more money, and it was near my sisters who I knew I needed in my life. I made the move 2 years ago and I haven’t regretted it for a second. I knew I needed change.
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The second thing I knew that was bothering me was my weight. I had never been an “active” person. All through high school, I never found a sport I liked, and I found I was better with books than sports. I threw myself into clubs and honor societies, and concentrated on getting good grades. While I had never been happy with the way I looked (like any teenager), I never felt like I was unattractive. I was the jokester, the one with the sense of humor and quick wit that everyone loved about me. I was strong, confident, and independent, while still being loyal and loving to those closest to me. That same persona followed me through college. I was always over the moon happy and half the time didn’t know why, but it was because I was comfortable with myself, and I knew who I was. It wasn’t until I was out of college years later that my first wave of depression hit me, and I packed on the pounds from eating my feelings. It seemed like before I knew it, I was a good 100 pounds overweight, and bigger than I had ever been in my whole life. I had lost my confidence and strength, and even my sense of humor. Gone was the carefree girl that everyone had known and loved. And I knew I wanted her back – I knew I needed her back.
“I had lost my confidence and strength, and even my sense of humor. Gone was the carefree girl that everyone had known and loved. And I knew I wanted her back – I knew I needed her back.”
Trust me when I tell you that I had tried to lose weight before. Even before I moved to Ohio when I was in a better place mentally, I had tried to lose weight because I knew it would help my self-esteem. I tried every diet you can think of: Weight Watcher’s, weird diet shakes, South Beach diet, blah, blah, blah. What I discovered is- I just wasn’t motivated to lose the weight. Because I had gained so much weight, and I knew what I needed to be at to be considered “healthy”, it seemed like that journey was just impossible. I didn’t know where to begin. So, I’d be super psyched to start a new diet, but quickly lose steam when I didn’t see the scales move.
This past April, I decided that I needed to switch tactics. My sisters had told me about a diet called the The Fast Metabolism Diet by Haylie Pomroy. Being completely un-optimistic (is that a word?) because of all the other diets I had tried, I decided to read her book to hear what she had to say. Reading her book gave me a different outlook on dieting. In fact, she doesn’t want you to think of it as “dieting” at all. She wants you to focus on eating better, and change the way you think of food. More importantly, she wants you to focus on just being healthy – whatever that means for you. Of course she tells you that you need to cut certain things from your daily food intake (no-brainers like sugar!) to be successful. She encourages you to give her 30 days. Stick to the plan for 30 days and see what you’re like when you come out the other side. I was feeling more optimistic about trying something for 30 days. After all, I’d already tried years and years to be healthy and was unsuccessful – what’s another 30 days? Besides, I appreciated how she tried to adjust the way you thought about food and dieting in general. Dieting is not a negative thing; it’s a lifestyle. Haylie also understands that no one is perfect. She knows people are still going to have those French fries and pieces of cake – and she’s okay with that – as long as you give her 30 days before incorporating any of that into your food intake again.
“Dieting is not a negative thing; it’s a lifestyle.”
Now, I have to be honest; I followed a lot of what she said, but I still did not follow it 100%. I did cut out sugar completely from my diet, along with dairy and more “processed” like foods. However, I could not cut out caffeine. While I cut down – drastically – on my caffeine intake, I still had coffee every morning. Instead of cream and sugar, I used Stevia and unsweetened almond milk, and I was okay with that! I also did not cut out alcohol (when my sisters and I get together, we like our wine), but I made sure to limit how much I drank, and tried to drink extra water to flush it from my system. There was one weekend in that first 30 days that I strayed from the diet and that was because I was working all weekend, and my meals were provided at the mercy of others cooking them.
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In that first month, I dropped close to 20 pounds. I was astonished. That’s the most progress I had seen in a long time, and I felt good – really good. I had transformed the way I thought about food, was thoughtful and deliberate about what I ate, and I saw how good it made me feel. Slowly I began to understand that I could do this. I just needed to think about food differently and not worry so much about the darn scales! It would all come in due time if I was patient and thoughtful about what I was doing. I realized I needed to cut myself a break; nothing was ever built over night! And I know what you’re thinking: I’ve heard this so many times. But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
“It is amazing how good you feel when you know you’re doing right by your body”
It is amazing how good you feel when you know you’re doing right by your body. I know it’s hard. Believe me, I know. And no one is perfect. Have I been strict since those first 30 days? No. Am I still motivated to lose weight? Yes. Except I am less focused on the scales and more focused about how my body is feeling. If my body feels good, then I feel good. I followed the Fast Metabolism Diet pretty thoroughly for almost 3 months and lost 30+ pounds doing it.
While I had no plans to leave the job I took when I moved here to Ohio, over the summer, a great opportunity opened up for me. It is a higher level position, and I thought “Why not try for it?” I hadn’t felt that confident in a while, and a year ago if I had found out about this opportunity, I don’t know that I would have even bothered to try for it. But, because I was slowly regaining my confidence and feeling better about myself, I wanted to try. I knew I was the best person for this job, and I knew I deserved it. So, I applied for this higher level position, and got the job! It is my dream job doing what I love.
“I realized how much I needed people.”
About 6 weeks ago, I moved in with one of my sister’s. Yes, I am in my early 30’s living with my sister! Don’t judge! It started out as being just for logistics, to be closer to my new job and to help her and my brother-in-law get their kids to school every day, but I would be lying if I said it has had no effect on me mentally and emotionally. I was never one that enjoyed living alone. But, I did it because I had to, and I was ok with that. Living with my sister, brother-in-law, and their two young kids (my nephew, 8 years old, and my niece, 5 years old) has been terrific for me. I love coming home to people at night (besides my cats that I have had), and I love that I have things to do when I get home. I love helping out with the kids and having that kind of structure. Even though I had lost weight, I hadn’t quite mastered (and still haven’t!) the whole exercise thing. So, for me, my evenings before moving in with them was coming home, fixing dinner for myself, watching TV or reading a good book. Low key and lazy. My sister’s household is anything but low key and lazy. I am literally up and moving all evening long, running around with the kids, and I get more sleep (thank you early bedtimes) than I have in a long time. It’s the type of structure I need in my life right now, and it’s the connection I’ve been craving.
In my first 2 ½ weeks living there, I lost another 12 pounds. They seriously are movers and shakers in that house, and my sister is very keen on healthy eating. My current weight loss is 48 pounds total. Could I have lost more if I had incorporated (or did incorporate) more exercise into my daily routine? Absolutely. Could I (even now) be stricter with my diet? Absolutely. But I am happy – truly happy – with where I am at right now. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a long ways to go to reach my weight loss goal, and to continue to feel better about myself, but I feel like I’ve jumped a huge hurdle from where I was.
“Progress, not perfection. Weight loss takes time to be long lasting.”
The moral of my incredibly long story is that there is always a way to get what you want and what you need for yourself. Stop worrying about what you should be, and start thinking about what you need and want to be. This is just my story. You are unique, and what you need will be different based off of the type of person you are and that is completely ok! No two people are alike! And remember, you’re human, but being human means we all deserve to be happy – whatever that means for each person. If you’re on a journey like I am, then I encourage you to think about what it would mean for you to be happy – really think about it! Go against the norms of what society thinks a woman is and be selfish for once! Life is too short to worry about everyone else all the time!
Go against the norms of what society thinks a woman is and be selfish for once! Life is too short to worry about everyone else all the time!
I hope my story has inspired you to think about what it truly is that you want. My story is quite far from the end, and my journey of transformation is just beginning. But, for the first time in a very long time, I am excited to see the path that I will pave for myself and where it will lead me.
Love, laughter, and happiness…it’s what we all need and deserve! Don’t stop until you find it!
When I think back and try to figure out why I couldn’t lose the weight before, it came down to this:
1. My unhappiness in my life stemmed from more than just my weight. I figured out there were other reasons I wasn’t happy and if I wanted to be truly happy, I needed to make those changes too.
2. I knew I needed people. I was living alone and I knew I needed the accountability and the right group of supporters to help me in this part of my journey.
3. I needed my confidence back. I needed to be that person from high school and college again. I needed to figure out how to boost my self-confidence and self-esteem again. I was the one lacking it and I was the only one who could improve it again.
4. I needed to change my thoughts about food completely. I knew that in order for me to lose the weight and keep it off, I needed to really have a healthy relationship with food again.
5. I knew I needed a diet that worked for me. I needed a diet that I could relate to and that would fit into my lifestyle. I needed something where I could make healthy food modifications without it being painful.
What are your thoughts on losing weight? What method has helped you to get healthy?
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