When You Have a Lot to Lose is hosted, presented by Tara Martin of A Life Changing Journey and Meegan Dowe of RedStar5, is a discussion about the process of fitness and weight loss when you have a lot to lose.
Tara: Before we start, I’m gonna tell you, I am freaking out. If you don’t know us, this is my wife Meegan Dowe . I’m Tara, my twitter is tidbits_of_tara and my Blog is A Life Changing Journey.
You’ll notice there are white cards on the chairs around the room. I want you to put down how much weight you’ve lost. If you haven’t lost any, don’t worry, nobody’s going to know. We’re going to collect them and have someone add them up. Thea is the magical mathmetician, hand your cards to her. At the end of the discussion, we’re going to determine how much we’ve all lost.
This discussion is about the before, during and after for people who have to lose over 100 pounds of weight or more (triple digit loss).
When I decided to lose weight back in Dec 2009, I stepped on the scale and it said 270 pounds. I lost the weight in 11 months, I lost 120 pounds. I went a little far and had to come back. I’ve now lost 110 pounds. It was life or death situation for me, spiritually and emotionally. I did everything I could to lose the weight. When I came to fitbloggin last year, I was in the after, the maintenance. I didn’t think I would fit in. I never want anybody to feel they don’t have a place at fitbloggin. I don’t care if you are just starting your journey or have 500 pounds to lose, you are welcome here.
I’m going to talk about my before a little bit, then I’m going to let Mimi talk a little bit. There are three guests, they are on their journey and have already lost over 100 pounds. They are at different places in their journey and will tell us about it.
I played a lot of World of Warcraft, had a house, two dogs, married. But I was dead. My WoW character became who I wanted to be. My social life was in my computer. I had a blue chair which was two seats wide. When I first started I only spilled over one chair. After four years of playing, I fit into two chairs. I had just turned forty in 2009 and I realized that if I waited another 10/20 years, that weight was never going to come off.
I started small. I decided to take the stairs. Three flights. Stairs turned to parking farther. Parking farther turned to walking more. Walking turned to running. I’m now a marathoner. Before I hated everything about myself. I looked inside myself and thought I was dead.
Stand up, take control, you deserve this. We all deserve this. I want everyone to find their after, that is my goal.
Meegan: My before looked a bit different. In college I was very depressed. I worked with a lot of therapists and found some value in my self. And when I came out of that I found myself at 290 pounds. Finally I liked myself.
I had a friend at work and together we got a trainer, and we started to work out. Three months in I had lost 1 pound a week. At that point my friend didn’t want to do it anymore, but I continued. After a year I had lost 52 pounds. And then I started a blog, and through that blog magical things happened. I lost a total of 120 pounds. And in April of 2011 I met Tara in person.
But then last November I was hit by a truck while walking in a cross walk. I gained 30 pounds back. I lost that confidence. I feel like I’m back at that before. I need to find that confidence again to lose that weight. I need to start over.
Question – What was your before?
Sean: In 2000, I was 26, and had graduated from college three years earlier, I had a simple and successful career. I was 450 pounds. I was single and had a lot of things in my life I wanted to do. At that time I knew nothing about food or exercise, but I wanted more for myself. I had goals and I knew I didn’t want to be that person. I come from a rough background and family, but in general, I only had myself to help.
At that time I moved to a new city to get away from family. There I was professionally successful, but personally poor. I started my journey at 450 and saw a lot of success early on. But I hit points where I would lose confidence. There wasn’t a community back then. I had a blog in 2000 (which you can still find). Then I posted on Yahoo Personals where I met my wife. She was willing to accept me at 380. My journey from that point on has been starting and stopping 13 times over the past 9 years. I’m learning how to be comfortable in my own skin. You must emotionally accept that it is more than just a number. Self acceptance is the requirement to lose weight. My path took 9 years and I still have more to go. I’m currently 265 and have more to lose, but I’m happy where I am. I finished a half ironman last year. And now I blog all about doing fun things that have to do with fitness.
The journey took a long time, but I’m still on it. The male community doesn’t often talk about it, but I’m happy to share.
Allen of Sweating Until Happy: I have four turning points in my life. The first was 2nd grade when my parents got divorced. My relationship with food changed forever. The second point, when I was 19 my father passed away. He died in my arms in a parking lot. I beat myself up for years when he passed away. I was a high school drop out, but eventually I turned my life around and graduated from college. I loved my dad more than anything, but I wasn’t ready to make a change for me. The third point was in early 2000 when my first sister got engaged. I hired a personal trainer and in five months I lost 120 pounds. I looked great, but I didn’t learn anything. I didn’t do it for me at that point. It took me 7 years to finish college. Over that time I gained the 120 pounds back and added 80 to it. Then I got a great job and moved to Chicago.
The fourth point was in 2009 when I lost my job. I weighed 480 pounds. At that time I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, I was literally dying in my sleep. I had a doctor tell me that I couldn’t lose the weight, instead I needed to have surgery. That is the day I had to choose, die or live. And I couldn’t do it for my mom, sisters, or father. They have all begged me throughout my life to do it. The first step has to be for you. You’re not being selfish, you’re taking care of you. I’ve lost almost 100 pounds. Been up and down, but I’m working hard to get there. Enjoying fitness. Did my first real pushup two weeks ago.
I had a lot to lose, and I still have a lot to lose.
Kenlie of All The Weigh: There are some really important people in this room today. I was over 400 pounds in 2009. I don’t know how much I weighed because I couldn’t access a scale that went over 400 pounds. I registered an E on the scale. I was miserable. There were a lot of things I wanted for the first time. I was living in New York city, which was awesome. I convinced myself that I was happy, which was bull shit. I spent better part of a decade pretending to be everything I wasn’t. I looked in the mirror and hated everything I saw. I felt lazy. Like someone who quit before I ever tried.
I was in Washington DC on an escalator at the Arlington cemetery. It was very long. I fell down and broke my foot. A couple weeks later, I went to Aruba. I was getting wheeled around in a wheelchair, sitting in a beautiful spot on the beach and I couldn’t enjoy it. It hurt so much to carry my weight through the sand. I said to myself, “Really, am I done?” Let me go back to DC, for a second I was at the escalator at the very bottom. There was no elevator to go up, so it took two EMTs and two fireman, strapped me to a chair and pull me back up the escalator. The most humiliating trauma. I knew that I had to do something, but I didn’t know how.
After Aruba, I got back to New York and looked up weight watchers meetings because I heard they worked. I was nervous that I would be too big for that. It was tough to be twice as big as the other people in the room. But I went every week. I knew when I walked in and stepped on the scale, I would weigh less. I would walk in confidently knowing that I would lose something.
Fast forward, I lost 100 pounds in 13 months. And I ate cupcakes, sometimes, too. And I felt like, alright, I’ve got this. Then my world came crushing down. The sham of this life that I’d created for myself just came crumbling down. I left New York and wasn’t sure where I was going to go. Since that time, I’m happy that I haven’t gained it all back. Gained a little back, but not much. Kept most of it off for 2 years.
I spent the last year trying to become someone that I like. I came a long way. Now that I can fit into the desks, I’m going to Tulane. It’s cool to feel like I have a place that I belong. Don’t have to be anyone that I’m not there.
I don’t know why, but losing that first hundred was easier. Dealing with resentment now. On a positive note, I can run up the stairs now. I can do so many things. I’ve met incredible people through my blog. So many life changing things have happened. I’m looking forward to hearing from everybody.
Tara: I want to hear some of the reasons why you guys are on your journey. Is it because the doctor says you have high cholesterol, diabetes, high BMI?
Nikki of Bariatric Foodie: In a lot of ways I’m still trying to figure that out. My journey started in 2008. I had gastric bypass. If you asked the reasons why, I couldn’t have told you. I came from a history of abuse and addiction. I told someone, when you come from an abusive household, you learn how to separate out stories of how you speak to other people. You have to look normal and presentable. One of the things I learned was to separate emotions from decisions. In 2006 I was sitting in a seminar with a friend, who was going to get a lap band, and this guy stood up and talked about getting bypass and how he was able to run marathons. That was what got to me.
I was 340 pounds at the start and I went into it full throttle. I went to the gym daily and dragged my kids into the day care. I hadn’t identified what I was doing at first. Didn’t know what I was going for. At my bottom weight I was completely miserable. Losing the weight was just the beginning of my journey.
My abuser was my mom. She was an addict. As I was losing my weight, she got type 2 diabetes. She chose to ignore it. I knew I wouldn’t have long with her, and she passed away recently. When I saw what happened to her, it took me awhile to process, but when I got back into the things, I realized that I didn’t want my children to lose me. I came to the conclusion that my mom gave up on herself, but she never gave up on me. She was supportive of my efforts. Now I’m still on my journey. I had a bit of regain, but I stopped it. Still have 30 pounds to go and if I get there, I want to focus on liking me. I’m starting to get to that point. I could run now when I couldn’t before. It wasn’t about the distance, I found myself worthy of putting in the effort that it took to get there.
Keep going back. Keep sticking with it. Keep finding yourself worth the effort to look past everything. I’m doing it for me, because I want to be around to see my grandchildren grow up and my great grandchildren. This is where my journey is. I’m important and worth taking that little bit of time for. Worth feeling that bit of achievement.
Amy of Fat Girls Can Run: My whole journey started with a guy. I was living in upstate NY and my relationship ended just short of 911 calls. Then I moved in immediately with my new boyfriend – grilled cheese sandwich. All I did was eat cookies and chips for a year. Fast forward and I moved in with my family. One day I was running around searching for all of the good stuff in my dad’s hiding spots. My mom asked what I was doing. I told her I was looking for a snack. She told me they had joined Weight Watchers and there was no more junk. And she bought me a membership.
So we go to weight watchers and I lose 30 pounds because there was no more junk food in the house. I decided to take the weight loss seriously and decided to try running. It took me forever to finish couch to 5k. I only ran at night because I didn’t want anyone to see me.
My highest was 270 something and I had gotten down to 250. I went out running for the first time in daylight, it was beautiful out, and I’m running along and this woman comes toward me with a big thumbs up and says “You’re looking great.” But I flipped her off because in my head I heard her say, “Fat girls can’t run.”
I realized for 30 years in my life there had been a fat girl living inside of me. So that is when it really started for me. I lost 80 something pounds and now I’ve gained 30 back. I feel like such a failure. I feel like I did when I was 270 pounds. I have a great life, started a company, make great money, and I feel like a complete failure because I’m not 160 pounds. You feel like you are back at the beginning again.
One day I met someone while I was out with my mom and she had read my blog. She told me that I had inspired her to run her first 10k. But I just keep thinking about that weight I gained back. So what do I do?
Dawn: Hold on. You’re learning to live the rest of the life. You know what, your weight doesn’t make who you are. You make who you are. You are successful and funny as hell.
Tara: I was still at a healthy weight and I was freaking out. Isn’t it interesting that we spend so much time focusing on the 100 pounds we lost, and then when we gain back 10 pounds it is a huge ordeal. When you step on the scale and you see a gain, it wreaks havoc.
Dawn: It needs to be about joy and happiness.
Unknown: You need to go back to the spot where you started from. To the spot where you know you can go farther. What was it that motivated you to go down that 30 pounds? I learned recently that food is a fuel. I think a lot of people have forgotten what food is for. Take a step back and realize that I’ve lost 30 pounds and I can get back there.
Robby of Fat girl vs world: There was a time in my life when I wasn’t overweight or obese. When I was 8 years old, I was in the room when my grandmother passed away. I didn’t realize it, but it affected me. In my family when someone dies, other people bring casseroles. There was just food. Looking back I saw that the message was, comfort yourself with food. Fill yourself. You’ve lost something, here, I have something that will fix it.
My mother was anorexic, my father was morbidly obese, and I never had great instruction when it came to eating. In 1994, my mother died. The last time I saw her, she was yelling at me to get out of her hospital room because she didn’t want me to see her like that. My father worked far away so my brother and I became latch key kids. So I would go into the kitchen, my mother’s room, and I would try to find her. I found bits and pieces. And I ate more and more.
When I was shopping for my mothers funeral I had to go to an old lady store to find something that fit. I was 16 and I weighed 240 pounds. I wore an awful outfit because it was all I could find. And I shaved off all of the hair the day after my mother died. I looked awful in photos.
It wasn’t until I went to college that I left the house where my father’s grief hung over us that I really felt it. When I went to college, I felt how much pain I was in. As a freshman we had unlimited food so I gained another 10. Then when I graduated I went to work at a restaurant. It was two stories, I had to walk up and down stairs all day and I lost 20 pounds. By the time I was ready to lose weight, my body wasn’t doing what I was asking it to do. I have three bulging discs in my back, which wouldn’t allow me to do what everyone else was doing.
So I got a dialogue in my head that said, “You are broken, you are weak.” But I lost another 30 pounds, because I persevered. The doctors told me I wouldn’t ever stand up straight again. He told me I shouldn’t ever run. And I thought, “Fuck you!” Now I run.
Even if we fail, we get in the rings, we put on the gloves. I’m injured, I’ve gained 10 pounds back, but I haven’t lost the fight. I’m still in it.
Sarah: I’m 35, I’ll be 36 in a couple of weeks. I have a little girl that will be one. I was a fat child my entire life, by high school I was 240 pounds. As a kid I ate a lot of butter. My father put a sign on the fridge that said, This is not a sanctuary. It took a long time for me to figure that out.
In college I was 240 pounds, had a little success but I put it back on. Then my parents got divorced and I put on another 100 pounds. It sucked. I had surgery on my ACL and knee. Then they found an infection in my tibia. And then I was sitting in a doctors office and he said I needed to have surgery.
I woke up one morning and I couldn’t feel my finger tips. I knew I had to do something. I was in Boulder, Colorado which is one of the top places to be fit. So I started walking and joined my friend at the gym and became a cardio queen. And I lost 100 pounds. But then I hit a plateau.
I thought this is where I am going to be. I’m happier. I’m going to stay here because everything I’m trying isn’t working.
Your body needs time to adjust. Weight loss is physically hard on your body. It wasn’t until I went back to school to become an RD that I realized what I had done to my body.
This has been a long journey for me. There is no substitute for time. I started in the fall of 1999, it took years to lose the weight. And here I am with almost eight years of maintenance.
Tara of Worth Every Ounce: I’m really new but I know that I’m supposed to be here. I’m a single mother of four and I work full time. Yes we have to do this for ourselves, but my 12 year old is 265 pounds. I was always bigger when I was younger, but I was cute. I got attention and was happy being the fat girl, the bigger one. It never was a big deal. Until I started losing weight with my first husband. He didn’t want me to lose weight, so he fed me a lot.
When my 12 year old was 3, I left my husband. At 3 he was 30 pounds, at 4 he was 60 pounds. He doubled his weight. Now I’ve told him what he has to do. Telling him he has to workout and lose weight. But after my kids would go to bed I would eat.
In February I weighed myself at 279, my son was 240/250 then. In March my friend came back and she put on Facebook that she was going to a food meeting, so I went with her. It was an Overeaters anonymous meeting. For the first time in a long time I felt like I was home. The one thing they said was find somebody that has what you want and ask them how they got it.
Through a way I found my trigger foods. I’m a food addict. I gave up wheat and sugar because they are my gateway drugs. I’ve lost 31 pounds. I’m worth every ounce for a lot of different reasons. For my son, I had to decide to do it and be an example. I’m up at 5am and have one hour for myself every day, and I know that whatever happens I’ve given myself one hour. Then at 5:30, after work, my kids and I go to the gym.
My son was angry with the world. And probably angry with me. It was tough when our weights passed. He was mad when we went to the gym and I couldn’t force him to do it. But I told the trainer to kick his ass. I like this gym because we can all be together. As we left, I saw the change in him. He said, “Mom, something happened. I was mad when we started, but 15 minutes in I felt really good.” So we had a lesson and he said, “I want to do it again tomorrow.” I liked that.
Yes the pounds are great. But everything I do, I want to be reproducible and sustainable. I don’t blog much, but I’ve had people in my community tell me that I’ve motivated them to walk or go to the gym.
I’m just starting my journey. I’m hoping to take the kids with me and build a healthy relationship with food. I want my children to have a healthy relationship with food and build memories through fitness. That is where we’re headed.
Ashley of Coffee Cake and Cardio: I really started gaining weight in third grade. In HS I was terrified of PE. I begged my parents to let me get out of it. I don’t know how much I weighed as a child. Instead of PE I took the dance fitness with the football team. I became a discus thrower and a power lifter. Which let me feel like it was okay to be the size I was.
In college my highest was 261 pounds. After school I lived in Vermont, I was no longer competing and I realized I needed to do something. I joined weight watchers and lost the weight.
I have completely different habits now. My workouts and routine are different. I think you have to be patient with yourself and learn new habits. Something totally different could work now. Be careful about comparing your weight loss journeys, because they could get segmented. Everything changes so you just have to roll with it.
Karen of Karen CL Anderson: You talk about comparing yourself with other people. But we often compare ourselves with five or ten years ago and that is deadly.
Cynthia of It All Changes: I’m bipolar. When I was really little I was manic all the time. I ran around all the time and I was too skinny. So my mother fed me all the time. When I was 15 I was very depressed. My mother continued to feed me and I started to gain weight. And then the doctors gave me medication that caused weight gain. One of them caused me to gain weight incredibly fast.
In college I was the fat girl and I lived with it. I used medication as an excuse. I gained more than the freshman 15. After school I was applying for seminary and had to get a physical. They said that I had to lose weight or wouldn’t be physically fit to do my job. I knew this was the job I wanted to do. It scared the crap out of me that I wouldn’t be able to. So I went to the gym and lost 80 pounds. In total I’d lost 125 pounds, but I’ve gained back 20 of those pounds due to steroids. I’m actively trying to lose the weight, but it won’t come off. I don’t feel like the making excuses girl anymore, but I don’t feel like me.
Mara of Mara Glatzel: For me, I’ve always used my body in a specific way. My mom thought I was fat when I was 3, so I was on a diet from then until I was 22. I was always dieting but kept getting heavier and heavier. I put myself in dangerous and scary situations over and over again, hoping somewhere I’d feel like myself but I never did.
At some point there was a catalyst. At first I felt really great and I fell in love. I thought I was recovered. It wasn’t ever about the food. It was about my ability to take care of my life in the proximity of other people. By myself I was able to take care of myself. But when I was in love, I couldn’t play big, I took care of everyone else’s needs. When I finally realized that I’d been asleep, I realized I’d never asked for what I wanted. I didn’t care about finding out who I was, someone was going to come along and save me.
For me it was about taking responsibility for who I was. When we’re scared we look for experts, instead of looking inside. Is that scarier?
Samantha of Simplifying Sammie: It scares me how many people hear from doctors that “no no no, you can’t.” From a young age I was overweight. They told my mom that I was lying about what I was eating. When I was 15 I had a cyst rupture while in gym class. It was that doctor that said I had polycystic ovarian syndrome.
They put me on medication, it didn’t work. I started to lose my hair. My senior year of high school I had to chop my hair to a pixie cut, because I didn’t have enough hair. I took myself off the drugs. My mom didn’t want me to take anti depressants because she thought that made her a bad parent.
It wasn’t until I was 23 that I found a doctor that actually listened. They gave me the proper medication and I was able to lose weight. At that point I was 470-ish pounds, I’ve now lost 200 pounds.
When a doctor tells you no, that you don’t know your body. Say Fuck you and find another doctor. You know your body. You are the expert in you.
Christine of Dubyawife: I’d like to talk about depression, because I think that is what a lot of us have to deal with. What I’ll say is, a lot of you know me, but I suffer from depression very badly. I was the skinny girl in high school and got pregnant with the love of my life at 18. We thought that we were going to give her up for adoption, but at 6 months we decided to keep her. We lived off very little and the pounds came on. It was all about her.
2009 was a rough year. I wanted to leave my husband and my daughter. I wanted to run away because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I didn’t know I had depression. I didn’t know I was unhappy. I wanted to go and go and not look back. We had an argument because he told me to get on the elliptical and I got angry. He said, “We’re good at making excuses.”
The next day was my day 1. And day 1 turned into 2 and 3. Then I started Dubyawife. I lost 80 pounds and I’ve gained some back. But I’d never dealt with my depression. Today my good friend said, “Christine, if you don’t do it, you’re going to gain it all back. And what will be really scary is that you are going to die. You’ll die inside. You’ve got to stop and call somebody.” So we called a therapist and I’m going to see one for the very first time. I’ve never told anybody this, but that’s my shell and I just broke it.
Emily of Fit and Free Emily: I wanted to mention something my therapist said, with any journey there is this sense of brokenness. Through tragedies, my mother died when I was 12, my grandmother treated me like shit, and stuff like that happens. I suffer from binge eating disorder and will my whole life. I learned that we’re always making connections with other people, but we have to make a connection with ourselves. There is a place inside of ourselves that is not broken, it is our true authentic self. There is nothing wrong with us, it is the stress we put on ourselves.
Nikki: One of the things I learned early on in my writing career is that the story you tell is the story that others will believe. But I learned that is the story that you tell yourself that matters.
I try to tell myself a story that leads me to success. When I go to the gym, I tell myself that I’m going to feel like a kick ass person when I finish this. Tell yourself a healthy and productive story that will propel you forward. Tell yourself that I want to feel good about what I did today.
Tara: Thank you guys. I’m so honored that you guys came. If you don’t think that you are an inspiration to somebody… I never imagined that I was on someone’s Thank You list, and then I met Elisha. You inspired somebody. If you don’t think so, send me an e-mail and I’ll tell you how you inspire me.
This session was captured by Michelle of The Running Jewess.
Wow, I just wanted to send a huge "thanks" to Tara and Meegan for facilitating such an awesome discussion! As someone who still has a lot to lose, I'm completely moved by the sharing that happened by this group. I also just wanted to give a special word of thanks to Michelle for the AMAZING recap you provided for those of us who couldn't be there!
This was one of the two most powerful sessions at fitbloggin this year! Thank you Michelle for capturing it so well.
Holy fast typing batman! Well done!
Renée @pinkypie says
I said I wasn't going to cry and I kept it together until basically Alan spoke and I lost it the rest of the way. I wish I had the "right" answers to everyone so that they would know that they were good and they were on the right path and they had nothing to get down on themselves about… and on the other hand I want to scream out FEEL THOSE FEELINGS, GET ANGRY, GET THIS SH*T OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM so you can keep moving forward. I'm so in awe of everyone who was there and everyone who had the courage to speak.
Thank you for sharing.
I am not a blogger but I love this blog.
I have a long way to go.
What you share really keeps me motivated to go on.
Such good people sharing their hearts–it makes the world a better place.