This year has been such an eye opener for me regarding body image and why I have given it so much importance unintentionally through the years.
After doing my routine physical this year, my doctor found that I was overweight for my height. At the time, I weighted 167 lbs, my doctor suggested I meet with a health educator that would help me with my weight loss.
After completing my first assignment with my health educator, I went down to 164 lbs. He challenged me to lose 4 lbs by my next visit but seeing my progress motivated me to push myself. Six weeks later, on July 30th, I was down to 153.6 lbs.
What was my starting weight?
I measure 5’5.5 in height, which means the healthy weight for me ranges between 112.6-152.2 lbs. This means at this point I am just where I need to be to have a healthy BMI.
However, this whole experience has made me look at life a lot more different and I am aiming to go back to my weight of 140 lbs, two years ago.
How did I gain so much weight?
After graduating from college, I took the next step in my relationship and moved in with my significant other. I wanted to work on loving myself more without caring about my shape, size or the number on the scale. Because of this, I decided not to purchase tall size mirror to avoid constantly looking at my body. But then came the love pounds.
I spent several years avoiding gaining any extra pounds, and this time around, despite going to the gym 5-days a week, I gained 28 lbs. Getting to that point in my life made me realize how much I loved my old body. Not because of how I looked but because of all the things I was used to do that now became difficult.
I feeling tired all the time, my energy was low, I had difficulty running or walking for long periods of time and soon difficulty exercising at the gym. It didn’t help that out of fear of losing too much weight I avoided doing cardio. This reduced my motivation and I no longer recognize myself.
It was then that I discovered the other side of my fear of gaining weight. I was not proud of the way I looked because now my body set a limit on how much I was able to do.
My weight story
Gaining weight wasn’t necessarily out of carelessness, it was a mixture of several issues that began when I was a child.
My weight discomfort did not begin until I moved to New York at the age of nine. Lots of little girls would tease me and call me names because of how skinny I was. The same happened at home, I was always told I wasn’t eating enough but every time I saw the doctor my weight was just fine, which is why I never paid any mind to it.
The problem didn’t start until eight grade when I was in the school dance team trying to get into LaGuardia High school for dance. I would often hear the girls on the team say you had to be super skinny to get in.
I invested so much time in becoming a great dancer, making it into the honor roll and getting good grades that I never made my diet a priority. At 14 years old I weighted 90 pounds and I was well aware that I wasn’t eating appropriately.
The next few years through high school and college, my weight always fluctuated. I experienced a lot of discomfort with the attention I was getting from both young boys and grown men. My changing body was always the topic of conversation, no matter who I spent time with.
I already had a fear of gaining weight that I developed through high school due to my dad’s side of the family having a history of diabetes. In the other hand, I didn’t want to be too skinny because my mom’s side of the family had a history of anemia. It made me always be at war with the scale and the food I ate.
Watching shows like “America’s Next Top model” pushed my desire to have the perfect body even more, as I aspired to be a contestant in the show when I was old enough.
I never had any issues gaining or losing weight, but I had trouble feeling comfortable with the shape of my body. Additionally, people only acknowledge my existence because of my body and not my drive and intelligence. Looking the way I did was considered a gift, since it was the ideal image of society.
Tiny waist and big derriere, advertised by the media and praised by the public.
The difficult part about having this “gift” is that it is very hard for anyone to take you serious. There is a stereotype for the type of women that looks like me and they are classified as easy or slutty.
I had a lot of difficulty in High School and College because of this as I often had to deal with sexual harassment from teachers. Ultimately, it creeped into the work place, where a promotion meant you “slept” with a manager to get the position.
Losing the weight
When I sat down with my health educator for the first time, we had about an hour long conversation about my eating habits.
Being in a relationship and living together made me develop some new bad habits, which I never had before. I was often ordering takeout and eating junk food. I went from a Vegan to Pescatarian diet because I didn’t want my boyfriend to feel that he was obligated to make the change with me. But in the end, I was the one who compromised.
During my conversation with my educator, he asked me what I ate on a typical week. During that year, I was waking up at 4:30 a.m to make it to the gym by 5:00 a.m. I worked out for one to one and a half hours, went home and prepared breakfast and lunch.
For some time, I was drinking 6 oz of protein and having breakfast right after. Then I would try to pack snacks in between such as tangerines or baby carrots. My morning and afternoon meals were fine, the problem was dinner.
Coming home from work is tiring, to me it doesn’t matter what you do, when you come home is hard to motivate yourself to make dinner. I usually get home before my boyfriend does, therefore I would end up having dinner around 10 or 11 pm.
The educator found these to be bad habits because I would go to bed right after eating. Instead, he suggested I started having dinner around 7 or 8 pm and waiting 2hrs for the food to digest. This made me see all the difference in my weight and my metabolism.
In two weeks, I lost 4lbs. I wasn’t discouraged. During the next six weeks, I wanted to find ways to reduce my appetite and cravings. I started with doing ACV drinks, which I only did consistently for about 3-4 days. Then I did intermitted fasting for the rest of that week.
This helped me see eating the same way as drinking water. You drink water when you are thirsty, therefore, you should only eat when you are hungry. I experimented this theory for the next month and saw the change in my weight.
Before eating my meals, I drink water extensively and if my stomach was rumbling it was my cue to eat. My snacks were now Roasted peanuts and crackers while at the office. And a large cup of coffee first thing in the morning somehow always makes me eat breakfast a little later.
In addition to the changes in my diet, I implemented walking into my daily life to ease into cardio at the gym. I was first assigned to walk the track for 3 hours a week but instead I opted to walk home from work at least three-times per week. I used the fitbit to keep myself inspired and joined weekly challenges with friends that were also trying to lose weight.
Where am I now?
This roller coaster has made me realized that if it’s not broken, it doesn’t need to be fixed. During this weight loss process, I have also been working on going on a plant based diet. I am working on cutting sea food out of my diet again, I stopped eating eggs towards the end of last year and cheese is only in my life if I have a slice of pizza.
I have developed so much respect for people who genuinely have struggled with weight their whole lives. It is not easy feeling defeated when your body is working against you and not with you.
My advice to anyone out there is to be patient. Weight fluctuates, it goes up and down when your losing but you will get there eventually. Join communities of people that will encourage you to keep going. I joined the fitbit community and recently myfitnesspal and it is more motivating to interact with people there then posts that you see in social media.
Be the best you, set your own goals and have reasons behind them. Do not try to be like someone else, being you is the best and easiest way to be.