Live Blog: When You Have a Lot To Lose

Everyone who has struggled with trying to lose weight knows that it’s a frustrating, bumpy process. For those who have over 100 pounds to lose, it can seem like a never-ending cycle that others can’t relate to. This session is moderated by Emily Sandford of Skinny Emmie, who has lost over 110 pounds and is the founder of Authentically Social

Emily: This is my favorite session. This is a difficult one. The ups and downs of going through, “I’m going to try this because it’s the latest trend, etc” is difficult. It’s a completely different scale from someone who has maybe 20 lbs to lose compared to someone who has 100 lbs. FitBloggin is such an amazing space to share together and encourage each other. I want people to feel comfortable sharing their experiences.

I’m going to pass around some slip paper and get the discussion started. Write down the total number of pounds that you have lost as of today, in your current weight loss efforts. Then pass those slips in to the middle.

I can’t expect everyone to be honest unless I’m honest. I started at 455 pounds and thought I was going to get on the Biggest Loser. But I didn’t get on the show and I felt really lost. Over the years I’ve been to fat camp, I was on weight watches at 7. Now that I’m 32, it’s been a life of going up and down. Looking back, I go “Damn, I looked good.” But I had thought I was a hideous monster. I’ve been stalled for about a year with injury, an eating disorder, and I just recently my health has been up and down with stress, eating disorder, anxiety, etc.

I’m at the point that I want to accept myself as I am. But logically I have the weight conflict. “How can I feel okay at this weight?”. I think we all struggle with that.

Have you ever had an Aha! moment of “this is why I’m trying to lose weight” or “this is what I’m trying to change”.

  • On the day of 9/11 my mom had a heart attack at 58 yrs old and had to have surgery. I was 37 at the time and my heaviest weight, 340 pounds. All I could think was, if my mom is having this happen, what is my future going to be? Over the next 2 years I lost weight but then put weight back on. I’m going to be 50 in February and am trying to get back in touch with that Aha moment. It’s really scary to think about people in my family who have died from heart attacks.

Emily: I think those tipping points are common and extremely poignant when loved ones are involved. That identification is something that I have to keep concrete in my head to stay focus. Any other stories?

  • The birth of my son. When I was pregnant I was put on bedrest because my body was shutting down. My son was in the NICU and it was my fault. He is fine and beautiful now, but Preeclampsia can be caused by obesity. I thought, “I caused this because I’m fat.”
  • My kids are part of my Aha moment. Looking at my life, my family memories all involve food. My 12 year old son is in the 270’s. I’ve never wanted to fix him, but fix the world he lives in. My aha moment was realizing that I need to create an environment when my children has the best chance of success. My weight loss journey is about creating a lifestyle for my kids, a healthy relationship with food and moving every day. I can’t tell my son what he needs to do when I’m only kind of doing well. I’ve got to be healthy for me.
  • My aha moment was about 6 years ago. I got tired of feeling sick and tired. I felt that if I kept living this way I’d be dead by 30 and my way of dieting and relationship to food was killing me. It’s been a process of looking for love in other ways, not food.
  • I’ve been on a weight loss journey since 10 when my signed me up for Weight Watches. I haven’t had an Aha moment really.

Emily: I was in that situation, too. It’s hard when you’re in that from childhood.

  • My mom was overweight also and she reads my blog She doesn’t get the point of weight loss blogging which is to put it out there. I don’t call it a weight loss journey, it’s a project with an end point.
  • My grandma wanted a photo of me and my cousins. I saw my face was so huge and I couldn’t button the shirt. I felt disgusted looking at the photo. It’s so embarrassing. I didn’t feel good looking at that picture. That photo is still hanging up there and I wasn’t proud of me.
  • My picture is on Emmie’s blog. I have so much less face in that photo. My lowest weight was 284, which feels impossible. When I was trying to decide to come to FitBloggin, I wasn’t sure because others were doing so awesome and I wasn’t. I wonder what is wrong with me, why can’t I figure it out? I want to look pretty but I don’t know how to finish what I started. And people think I don’t want it enough, but I do.
  • When you see other people do it’s hard. I look at myself and realize that I’m still going and not there yet. It’s hard not to look at them as say, “They’re better than me”.
  • I don’t compare myself as much now unless it’s a bad day, but I’ve come so far and I’m in such a better place than I when I started. I’m still dealing with resentment and I just don’t know where to go from here.
  • I’m in the same place. I had lost but gained back. It’s taken me since 2006, so 7 years, to loose that 200 pounds and then between Thanksgiving and New Years I got back to 320. No rhyme or reason, I was logging points, watching calories and everything. I was doing it right. It shouldn’t be as easy to put on weight as it is! I sin once and the scale rockets! It’s so infuriating! I was heartbroken when I saw 320 on the scale. I was so excited when I’d lost the 200 pounds – I saw the light at the end of the tunnel – but trying to move forward after a bad 3 or 4 months sucks.

Emily: Sucking is part of the process! [Laughter] As long as you know you’re not the only one.

  • The longer you tinker with it, the harder it is for it to come back to a normal state. It’s really easy for your body to keep going in whatever direction it’s already going. I took a biology class on this topic and learned a lot. Honestly, I feel like a freak. I lost 185 pounds and have kept it off for 9 years. I don’t know what it is, I wish I could bottle it up and give it away because I want everyone to have success, but the reality of biology is crazy. We are set up for failure with our environment and bads food that are so present. Combatting that biology is so hard and exhausting. It’s been long enough for me now that I feel the way I eat is normal. It took me a long time to lose weight but I think that’s why I had success. I think we need to give our bodies a chance to rest. Losing weight changes a lot in your body. People forget how much they’re trying to combat their biology, and if they did perhaps there would be less stress and emotional heart ache. Understanding why I was always hungry and living with the fact that it’s uncomfortable instead of wondering why it was uncomfortable.

Emily: It’s interesting you feel like a freak for being successful. Anyone else have aha moments?

  • This past year I accomplished a major goal, finishing my Master’s Degree. Life had been insanely busy and weight had been an issue, but I decided to celebrate and so I took a trip to Thailand. As soon as I got off the plane, a man thought I was pregnant. Then I went to try on shoes and the shoes were too small and the salesman said I was just big all over. Then someone else said, “You’re really fat”. Within the first week, my vacation was ruined. I was subject to ridicule everywhere I went. I went on an elephant ride and a man poked me with a prod and said I was bigger than an elephant. I just thought, I don’t want to be at that point anymore where anyone can make me feel that way. It ruined a bucket list dream of mine. I can’t think of Thailand anymore because of that experience.

Emily: When that happens, you have to find a way to turn that hurtful moment into a place of power, giving you fuel to create a positive action.

  • My aha moment was my grandma who had diabetes at the end of her life. She understood her health issues, and was dedicated to making her life better. The rest of my family are all diabetic also, my parents and uncles. Then I look at my kids. I don’t want them to experience this with their grandma. I realized I had to stop this cycle. I’m going to translate that change to my children.
  • In college I started walking more and I did all the weight loss programs. I was on a very restrictive program and lost 30 pounds and I was done. I thought I was fine. But I hadn’t learned mentally what you need to do to keep being healthy after the program. I gained back the weight and more. My anxiety kicked in even worse than usual and I couldn’t stop thinking about food. I was obsessed with food and points, etc. It would not turn off. I finally went to the Emily Program for therapy. They are completely dedicated to eating disorders. In my intake appointment where they tell me my diagnosis and they told me that I’m definitely a compulsive eater related to my anxiety and food restrictions, but they could help me. I was like, “Thank God!”. I was actually happy about having an eating disorder. This was the first time when I have felt that I’m actually going to conquer this. I feel like I can be dedicated to this. My aha moment was figuring out what my body needs.

Emily: I hear you on that one. My doctor telling me my lab results, I was like “Yay!” It’s something! We spend so much time trying to fix ourselves, we don’t realize the other factors going in to this. If I could do one thing in the world it would be to make people realize that obesity or being overweight isn’t a function of being lazy or not having will power.

What about moments of hope? When you meet people who change your life? Any stories of hope?

  • I don’t have an aha moment, but I remember laying on my bed on pinterest and I found the Disney races. I said, that’s it I’m going to do it. Anyway, so I did. The happiest times I’ve had is out running by myself. So this was January and I walk/run my first half in May. I’ve lost 80 pounds and I feel pretty good. Realizing I was enough and that I could do this for me. That was it. I still do need help and don’t believe in myself. I don’t think I’m a whole person and someday I hope to be complete. I need to love me.
  • I work with fantastic bloggers and they’re amazing. There was a challenge, the Slim Down Showdown that some of them were participating in.They’re stories were so powerful and I saw solidarity happen. Tony has a post called “Taking my shirt off” and it’s really powerful. It inspires me tremendously. It’s understanding that we’re all works in progress. I’m hopeful looking at everyone’s powerful stories.
  • We need to see what each other is worrying about. I probably can’t lose more weight. But seeing how much everyone else is working, even if it’s not coming off, she’s still working at it! It may be hard but we’re still going. Having people who you can connect with is huge because often times we feel like people at home don’t get us and that it’s not that simple. The support that it’s here, reading the posts and seeing the pictures when I can’t sleep in the middle of the night. That’s support.
  • When I need the support the most I often disappear.
  • When someone goes quiet, that’s when I know something is going on and I reach out.
  • No matter how bad it gets I know I need to reach out.
  • I have to remind myself. Sometimes I’m full of [expletive]. Only posting the good stuff but not the bad isn’t being transparent. So I post what I weigh each week whether it’s a loss or a gain. I have to put it out there because most people know it’s not a straight line of progress. Letting people know when it’s not going right. We all deal with the same thing.
  • There are people who you can go to, who will really get you and tell you what you need to know.
  • I want to move past defining myself by the number on the scale and move toward worrying about my health and fitness. I feel like I need to redefine myself and my blog. Over the last year I focused so much on building traffic, working with brands. I don’t feel as authentic. I want to get back to blogging me.

Emily: I’m actually changing my blog name. It’s going to be “Authentically” instead of “Skinny”. We try to fit a mold that people want to see, and I’m tired of havin to deal with that. The strength comes in the struggle and sharing. If I don’t share the crap, I’m never going to move forward.

  • I don’t care about putting up the bad stuff. It’s my accountability. But if you’re not sharing it online, accountability can be from someone else, a friend, a family member etc.
  • We all get negative attention on our blog sometimes, and I’ve really been struggling about that lately. I notice this is effecting my writing and I was nervous about coming to FitBloggin. I’m finding myself not being full of crap but just full of nothing. I’m saying nothing.

Emily: You’re letting them take away your voice.

  • I get that I could be at my goal and I wish I was, but it’s so tough. I’m happy and want to tell people that I’m having fun. But I’m letting these people steal my voice.
  • I started blogging because I had no one to talk to. I had a family but I wasn’t comfortable sharing with them. Blogging was my space. I don’t care what anyone thinks about my page. I share what I want to share. If I don’t want to write I don’t. Blogging gave me a community. When I spoke at FitBloggin last year I found out I’m not alone. If you don’t want to write, don’t write. If people hate on you, so what. Who cares what they think?
  • Don’t let people come up in your house. [Laughter]
  • Exactly. If you need something, ask. This is what this community is for.

Emily: The weight on the scale is whatever. But, if I can deadlift 200 lbs, that means something! Would you mind sharing your non-scale victory?

  • My victory was that I flew here from North Carolina. The first flight was a small airplane with one row of seats on one side and two rows on the other. I haven’t been on an airplane in 5 years. I was on the one seat side. The seat was a little tight, but the seatbelt wouldn’t close. I was bummed. I had to ask for an extender. The next plane was normal size and I sat down and it buckled! It’s not just vacations, but if affects even my career. Opportunities in other parts of the country and I don’t want to travel. Yes, now I can fly. I can catch up on my career.
  • Two weeks ago, first time in 14 yrs, my doctor took me off medications.
  • I wear a uniform for work and it’s not flattering. I don’t wear normal clothes often. The first day I was here, Lara and I walked around and I saw a Betty Page store. I thought there is no way I’d fit in to a pin up style dress. The clerk came up and was very nice. I had like 12 dresses that all fit in different ways. The dress I wore last night fit so well and I felt fantastic.
  • I had the opportunity to work with a personal trainer and when we were weight training, I got used to hearing him say “Bam!” when I made a lift. When I wasn’t able to train with him anymore I went to Body Pump group classes. Last time I went, class ends and I’m changing in the locker room nervously. A slender woman comes in from the class and talks to me and says, “You are strong!”. That felt better to me than anyone saying “You’re beautiful or you look great”. That felt so good. That was my Bam! moment. I used to think I wanted to be skinny. Now I want to be strong!
  • Thursday I picked up Tara and said, let’s go to Multnomah Falls. I haven’t hiked there since I was kid because I didn’t think I could at my weight. I was hoping she’d maybe not want to go. But we went and said, well let’s just hike to the first bridge. We got to the first bridge and then said, let’s do some of the switchbacks. Then from there we made it all the way to the top, 2 miles up and back.
  • I started doing #yogaaday. The wheel pose, first time I tried, I couldn’t even push myself up. That was in January. In February I got my head up. I did the wheel pose in yoga this morning and realized I wasn’t able to do that months ago.
  • 3 years ago we went to Six Flags with all my family. I hadn’t been to an amusement park in a while. I couldn’t fit in any rides, stand up rides sit down ones. Two weeks ago, our school went to Six Flags again. I was very reluctant. Went there and rode every ride.
  • My friends are a size 5 and I don’t feel like they understand. We went on a trip for a weekend and they wanted to go to a store and I knew I can’t fit anything there. But I thought I’d look at their biggest size, and they were on sale and such a good deal. My friend forced me to try it on. She grabbed me by the arm and took me to the dressing room. I got in the dressing room and put it on. It fit! I looked amazing. I was balling and my friend asked if I was okay and actually crawled under the door into the stall. I can finally fit in clothes from one of the cool stores and walking out of there buying clothes was such a good feeling. It was just amazing.
  • The knee surgery from March meant crutches for months. I had never been able to be on crutches successfully and support my weight. This time around I was so good being on crutches, I never had to put weight on my foot and can hold myself up. It was so frightening for me. I spent time training to be crutch ready. And the time came and it was a cake walk.
  • I lose weight at a glacial pace. I decided I have to look at something different. I have a wifi scale tracking body fat and lean mass. Losing 10 pounds of body fat and 2 inches in my waist, but the scale just said 5 lbs.
  • I use Weight Watchers Active Link. It showed me that in 24 weeks I’ve earned 361 activity points. That hit me. That’s amazing. I’ve been wearing this just to see. I’ve been moving 40% more than I did originally. That’s pretty awesome.

Emily: Those are the things we don’t realize we’re doing. Even if the scale doesn’t move we’re still doing awesome things. Progress mentally. We quickly forget that. We short change ourselves. Not that losing massive poundage isn’t great.

I wanted to know if anybody has positive affirmations, things you’re awesome at or proud of. We need to celebrate those things.

[Everyone present took turns sharing the following]

  • We opened a fitness studio.
  • I discovered that I’m awesome at swimming and am doing a 2nd tri in May.
  • I finished week 4 of couch to 5k. I never thought I’d run again.
  • Since last FitBloggin I got my personal training certification!
  • I can do 1.5 hours of Zumba without an extensive break.
  • My waist is in the 30’s now.
  • I can do Jacobs ladder for 2.5 minutes.
  • Living the single life and loving it.
  • I’ve started to believe and be proud of myself for drive and determination.
  • I’m an awesome mom and I love it every day.
  • My drink used to be Mt Dew. 3 Per day min. I’ve not had a pop in 18 months.
  • My first Zumba class. I’ve taken it as a personal project to make everyone realize how awesome they are.
  • I’ve got a little baby in my belly.
  • I signed up for a tri, which is on my bucket list.
  • I surprise my trainer because I shouldn’t be abel to do stuff but I rock them. I love to see the shock on her face.
  • Being a mom.
  • Ran my first half marathon last Sunday at 290 lbs
  • I started wearing tank tops to yoga even though my biggest insecurity is my arms.
  • I’ve started running and say yes more, even though I’m the type that finds reason to say no.
  • I had the strength to switch schools as a teacher and I found the love of my life.
  • I’m wearing shorts in public
  • My PT set me up on the leg press. I asked if it was 1 or 2 legs. I did with 1 legs what he thought I could do with two.
  • I’m an awesome singer.
  • Never done a group exercise class but this weekend I did 5.
  • I quit a full time job and went freelance andI have more work than I can handle.
  • Two weeks into a 6 week bootcamp – a terrifying fear
  • I have a fear of being on camera but have to for work. I’m the host of a TV show that is nominated for an Emmy.
  • I do Bikhram yoga, which terrifies me. I feel like such a badass every time I walk out of there.
  • Survived Jump Sport class today.

Emily: Thank you all for sharing. I hope te biggest lesson, cliche as it is, is you’re not alone no matter where you are, beginning or maintaining, regaining. Think of all these people in the room you now share something with and can connect with. It’s the most powerful thing i can leave FitBloggin with – building these relatinoships. We’re so much stronger as a whole.

The last thing I want to share is the total from the slips of paper passed around at the beginning of this session:

In this room, we have lost a total of 1,415 pounds! 

This session was captured by Running Hutch from