Through childhood, adolescence, and now as an adult, my biggest struggle has been with my weight. The last time I can recall being at a healthy weight was at age 7. My mother vividly remembers me at that age, specifically at my First Holy Communion party, and how little I was at the time. However, the idea of being “overweight” didn’t come to mind until I was 10 years old. I remember one day going to my pediatrician for what I assume was a physical exam. I remember being told I weighed 136 pounds. Apparently for a girl of that age and whatever height I was, this was a problem.
I was a pretty active child. I was in Martial Arts and Dance Classes on a regular basis. Looking back, I think the biggest hindrance was nutrition. Yes, being active and exercising is important, but it is imperative that you fuel your body with the right foods. I can remember countless Fridays nights where I would go to karate, then to dance, and while en route to the studio, I would be scarfing down a cheeseburger and French fries from Burger King. Not the best food to inhale right before an hour-long class, but pre-adolescent me didn’t know any better.
The weight troubles didn’t stop there. Over the next few years I continued to struggle with my weight. I would go on these weight loss binges, pretty much like a cleaning binge, but with health and fitness. I remember being in high school and saying to myself “You’re going to eat healthy, and work out at least 3 times a week.” Unfortunately, those little “binges” wouldn’t last long. The pattern was basically like this: I would workout, eat healthy, lose some weight, get super happy that it was working, then it would all be for nothing because I’d fall off track and gain all the weight back.
My moment of clarity finally came in the Spring of 2015. Finals and summer vacation were just around the corner, and I just joined a sorority so things were going pretty well. I can’t remember the exact date, but one morning I remember stepping on the scale and the number I read was terrifying: a whopping 216 pounds, the heaviest I’ve ever weighed. I was shocked and horrified. I knew it was time to make a change. I didn’t want to become a diabetic like my parents (although I could weigh 135 and still be diabetic). I already had problems with my thyroid, which I now know made a big contribution to my weight issues. Something needed to be done before I reached the point of no return.
But before I could get started, I needed to find a gym. My friends told me that a nearby gym was offering a great membership deal, so I immediately signed up. I started going to the gym 6-7 days a week religiously, and I changed up my eating habits. The gym has become a sort of “safe haven” for me. I can be in the worst mood ever, and spending an hour at the gym allows me to clear out all the bad thoughts from my mind and refocus. Now keep in mind, I’m not your typical “I’m going to run on the treadmill for an hour” kind of girl. The usual “basic” workouts (for lack of a better word) are boring, and I get tired of the exercise after like 5 minutes. Yeah, I can distract myself by watching Netflix/YouTube on my phone while working out, but that only works to a certain degree.
I found my niche in group fitness classes. Since I danced all my life, I started out with just Zumba, and I eventually branched out to give myself more variety. I like group classes because I don’t know what comes next and I’m not controlling the workout, the instructor is. I just show up, give it my all, and before I know it, I’m sweating and feeling great. The gym I go to has MOSSA group classes, so I started taking classes like Centergy (Yoga & Pilates), Power (Strength Training), and Blast (STEP). Before I started working full-time, I would plan my schedule around my workouts, to keep myself accountable. After the summer I went back to school for my last semester, and even then I would plan my workouts accordingly. The weight just started melting off and by the Fall of 2015 I’d already lost 20 pounds.
It’s been over a year and a half since I started this journey, and I’ve lost over 50 pounds. Day after day, I get messages from my friends saying, “you look amazing,” “you’ve inspired me,” or “what’s your secret?” My secret is simply hard work and dedication. Though I’m at a much healthier weight, I’ve learned that staying fit and active is a daily process. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m closer every day. There’s no magic pill, you’ve got to put in the work and make the effort. If I can do it, so can anyone else. All it takes is making the first move, and I’m so glad I did because it changed my life for the better.