Hi, my name is Shannon. And I’m fat. I went from being the fat kid in class to the fat adult. Over the past year, I’ve made a commitment to change my life and to health. Since January of 2018, I’ve lost 115 pounds. I’m still a work in a progress but it’s exciting to see a change. You know what’s even more exciting? Feeling better. Having more energy. Feeling more positive about life in general. And the empowering feeling of knowing that when you set your mind to something you can accomplish the goals you set for yourself…whether they’re big or small.
I’ve had so many sweet listeners and friends reach out to ask how the journey’s going and how I’ve done this. Until now, I haven’t posted a “before and after” photo because as I shared with family at the beginning of this year, it’s not a journey that will ever end. There is no end to a lifestyle change. But I am still on a weight loss journey. With that in mind, I wanted to share some photos (eek….this is scary). No filters, just photos of me at 350 pounds and photos of me now (post workout and sweaty) at 235 pounds.
I can’t give you a magic solution and inspiration you need to commit to weight loss. What I can do, is share my numbers (which breaks most rules of being a woman but it’s necessary for accountability). I hope they can help you see you can do this!
And I wanted to share eight things I’ve learned along this journey. I hope these help you in some small way.
Eight Things I’ve Learned About Losing Weight
It’s a lifelong commitment…to literally save your life. I began this process on January 4, 2018 and I’m still a work in progress. I still have plenty of weight to lose to reach my ultimate weight loss goal. Once there, I’ll begin a lifelong process of maintaining my weight. Which is why calling losing weight “dieting” is missing the mark. It’s a lifestyle change and a commitment to doing all you can to change your quality of life and hopefully add as much time to your life as you possibly can. The moment you transition from a “dieting” to “lifestyle” mindset you’re going to feel something “click” inside and you’ll feel so empowered.
It’s all about changing your habits. I reminded myself that taking control of my health and well being would mean waging a war with all my poor choices of the past. In the beginning, it felt like a weekly battle to try to say no to poor choices of food or my old habit of getting home and eventually settling into the couch to rest when I knew I should be moving and exercising. But there was a moment, a few months in, when I realized I wasn’t waging little weekly wars. I had changed my habits and CRAVED workouts and healthy food.
It’s a mental process, which brings physical reward. If you’re an emotional eater, it means you’re bringing a lot of emotional baggage into weight gain and into the ultimate need to lose weight. Which means the biggest part of this battle is going to be mental! Yes, it’s mental first. I finally embraced that and I know that’s what’s made the difference. That’s meant intentionally re-wiring my inner voice.
It requires change from the INSIDE OUT. You know that voice…the little one that says things like: “you’ve screwed up today, so why even keep going”/“you’re worthless”/“you’re so ugly” I once heard that the only way to defeat the battle with that inner voice was to say everything you think to yourself…out loud. Have you ever done that? Lord have mercy, if you’re like me and you struggle with self worth and your value some days, you may amaze yourself at how negative you’re being to YOU! The dark thoughts you direct to yourself. I made myself say it out loud. When you hear the negative coming out, you’re inspired to change that to positive. Which I’ve worked on for the past year. It’s amazing to see the change that happens in every area of your life when you finally commit to be nicer to yourself. It can literally help you re-shape yourself.
It can feel unbelievable. If you’re like me and you have a significant amount of weight to lose, your body may change faster than you expect. And you may find your mind needs some time to catch up. You have to be cautious and not let that freak you out. You can forget what a difference 10, 20, even 30 pounds can make. You may not notice it as quickly as others will. Embrace the compliments and know that your mind will catch up with what others are seeing.
It requires a willingness to pay attention to and really listen to your body, and adapt as needed. I’m no diet and nutrition expert. People ask me all of the time what I’m eating and about my workouts. All I can tell you is that I eat less of the “bad stuff”, more of the basics (clean protein and fruits and veggies) and I move more. I constantly adapt routines so that my metabolism can get a little jolt of energy. Some weeks I eat more healthy fats and mix in healthy carbs, others I back off high fat and go with high protein, and limited carbs. If my body responds, i make note of it in my journals and I know meals to rotate in to the mix when I need to make changes in the coming weeks. You have to listen to your body because your body will tell you exactly what will and will not work for you.
It’s hard work and you have to eat AND exercise. No weight loss program or weight loss meal program will work long term – if you want to maintain weight loss. And if you look at weight loss meal programs that limit your caloric intake to a very low number….RUN!!!! This is great news for some but for others it’s hard to accept (stick with me)….YOU HAVE TO EAT TO LOSE WEIGHT! Your body needs fuel. Which is why you need a lifestyle change, not a starvation campaign to enter a new phase of health. Transition to healthier foods, don’t transition away from food. Choose food that’s not processed, cut out soda and sugary drinks. Drink coffee with sugar and creamer? Commit to working your way back to black coffee. You may be disgusted by that but I used to be the person who had a little coffee with my creamer. Now, the idea of anything in my tasty black coffee disgusts me. You’ll be amazed by the difference small changes can make. Moving and getting in workouts is so important. You can do all the right things when it comes to nutrition but if you don’t move you body, this will not work long term. Find a workout you can commit to in the beginning. For me it was walking. I could barely walk a half mile without feeling out of breath. But within months I worked my way up to walking at least a 5K a day. I’ve added in resistance training and have since purchased an elliptical so I always have a way to workout (no excuses for “bad weather”). Find what works for you and make sure you love it.
It can change relationships. Assume it will, for better or worse. It’s a truth, universally acknowledged, when you lose weight your relationships change. Some are strengthened because you find support and encouragement from friends and family members. My family’s support has meant the world to me this year. But there’s this other part that no one likes to talk about. The part you have to mentally prepare for. The risk of losing friends when you lose weight. This is very common among female friends. And since I’m being so honest I may as well confess that it’s been a major deterrent to my previous weight loss efforts. I let little comments from my female friends “get to me” and gave up. Which is my mistake. Then there’s the relationship with your spouse or significant other. Years ago, I quit trying to lose weight years when a man I was dating told me he liked my extra weight. I didn’t like it but I liked him. He’s long gone and here I was…still so overweight and miserable. I sacrificed a part of myself to please someone and that never ends well. This last year has taught me that weight loss can make others uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s your partner who wonders if your weight loss will mean you’ll want to find someone new and leave. Or your friend who preferred having a fat friend to hang out with her because it made her feel better about herself and meant she didn’t have to face some of those demons you also struggle with. That doesn’t’ make them bad people. It does mean you may have to have some tough conversations and you may have to drop the extra weight of unhealthy friendships. If you find yourself in that situation, ask yourself this: “If their trust and support was conditional on your weight…were they ever TRUE friends?”
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