Most people don’t believe me when I tell them.
“You? Overweight? How many pounds did you lose?”
I’m used to it by now.
It’s been two years since I met my goal, one I’d safely guess is shared by a vast majority of the people I interact with every day. From DoubleStuf Oreos and crème brulee to cafeteria pizza and Mom’s Christmas lasagna, my love affair with food has spanned far and wide. I once had the waistline to prove it, though it took an unforgettable act of social cruelty for me to realize it.
A letter appeared in my locker at school one afternoon, during my eighth-grade year of junior high. It was handwritten by the token pretty girl of my class who wore her snobbery like a badge of honor on her slender sleeves. Upon opening, I soon realized it was not a letter at all, just a denouncement to me, her socially estranged minion, in which she simply scribbled in glittery purple pen, “1-800-JENNY, you should try it.”
Then it hit me. I’d missed the mark of social acceptability set arbitrarily by the slender Cinderellas around me because I was fat. I continued through high school, reminded of my condition every day because I was too defeated to try and change.
My weight-loss story may be different because I never gave in to the cycle of yo-yo dieting or extreme deprivation to lose the weight, like many young women do under social pressure. I just love food too much! Some girls will choose social acceptance over brownie batter ice cream or peanut butter pie. But as for me, please pass the spoon!
Through high school and into my first year of college, I fully indulged my food addiction, my way of coping with the tumult of emotions that go along with surviving those years. I consequentially became an emotional eater, out of control when given over to my tasty vices. I hid my body with dark, ill-fitting clothing and always chose the solace of a good book over social outings.
Flashback to the summer after my freshman year of college, home from school for a long stretch of summer leisure and willing to sacrifice a limb at the chance to fit into a bikini. Something happened then—I decided I’d had my proverbial fill of potato chips and chocolates, and I stepped away from the pantry.
I was done.
I’d been losing a battle I’d started myself and only I had the power to win. Nobody else could grant me the health and confidence I lacked, and so it began. Eighty-five pounds later, here I am. I won.
How did I do it? Ah, the question I’ve answered countless times in these past two years. I have no secrets or formulas, unfortunately. If only it were that easy, right? Any health expert, doctor, or nutritionist will tell you that a balanced diet, modest portions, mindful eating tactics, and regular exercise are the key ingredients for weight loss. They say those words with such ease, like it really is just that simple. Well, I’m living, breathing proof that it is and that they’re right.
Cutting back on fast food, processed sweets, and nutritionally void food choices, I learned to incorporate fruits and vegetables into every meal. With no outside help from trainers or doctors, I re-taught myself how to eat, mindfully and tastefully, the way we were created to eat.
As for exercise, I began to jog moderately a couple of times a week, which was about all I could push myself to do. Over time, I saw results, felt the benefits, and craved it more. Soon my light jog turned into a run and I had found a new passion. I’ve been running ever since.
I completed my first race, the Ocala Jaycees God and Country Freedom Run, a four-mile route through historic Ocala, on July 4, 2008. I finished strong and placed third place for my age group. The victory was priceless.
Running reminds me of how invincible and free I am and that I have the power to make change happen—when I want it badly enough. That’s what losing weight has taught me. When you want something, let nothing stop you from having it—not the people around you, the cheesecake in front of you, nor the person inside of you.