In the beginning of this process, I had extremely poor self esteem. I think it says a lot that I had so little confidence in my ability to succeed in losing weight that I didn't even start taking progress pictures until week 6. All I saw was an area in life where I had failed before, and I saw no reason why I wouldn't fail again. I had been overweight my entire life, and it was extremely difficult for me to picture myself any other way. But I knew that I could not continue living the way I was living. I use the word living lightly here because at 328 lbs, my weight had reached such an extreme point that it was difficult for me to do much of anything at all. So I thought I would try to do something differently. I didn't make myself crazy trying to exercise and eat in ways that were not sustainable long term like I had in the past. I didn't feel deprived all the time. My mantra became, "If you can't see yourself doing it the rest of your life, you probably shouldn't be doing it now." The changes started adding up. The pounds fell off. And little by little, a little became a lot. That's where people have it wrong. They think they can never do the same thing as I have done because it's such a large amount of weight. But the thing is, I didn't lose freakish amounts of weight every week. It averages out to about 3 lbs a week. But if you lose 3 lbs a week consistently, it adds up to something much larger. What can I say? It's basic math. That's why I truly believe others can do the same thing.
So fast forward to one year later. No exaggeration here...I'm a completely different person. In one year, I've lost 151.6 lbs. One hundred fifty-one point six pounds (sorry I had to be dramatic here and write it out in italics). So basically, you could say I've actually physically lost a person from my body, though I'm not quite sure who that person would be (Jane Doe?). That amounts to 46.2% of my starting body weight. That's pretty crazy to think about. I kind of wish I could pull an Oprah and wheel out 151.6 lbs of fat in a wagon as a physical example, but I won't because 1) I'm not sure and do not really like to think about where one would acquire that amount of animal fat and 2) that's kind of gross. I'll leave it to your imagination. I can show you what 151.6 lbs looks like on my wall of clothes pins though! And let me just take this moment to say, it takes a lllonnnggg time to write out 200 numbers on tiny clothes pins.
But more than that weight, I've changed mentally. I feel powerful. I can do things I never thought possible. I do 200 sit-ups at a time. I lift pretty heavy weights. I can run. I may not always be the fastest (ummmm never), or lift the most (not with those meathead guys at the gym), but that is okay with me for the first time ever. Being the best is not the point. I respect myself and the person I have become. It makes me so happy to know that I actually am the person that I have always imagined that I could be. I just never knew how to make that person a reality before.
Probably by now you're all thinking, "Just show the dang pictures already woman!" I know that's what you came here for, but as they say, this is my party. I felt a recap was in order here. After all, you can't appreciate where I'm at unless you know where I've been. As you may or may not know (I can't remember if I've shared this before), I take monthly measurements and progress pictures. As promised in my last blog post, I will share this NEVER BEFORE SEEN FOOTAGE (insert dramatic music here) in this post. We'll start with my measurement changes and prolong the suspense of the pictures a bit longer. I have to confess something here. When I first started, I couldn't wrap the 60 inch tape measure around my chest or hips. I had one inch to spare around my waist. It was a pretty big wake-up call to realize that I was bigger around than I was tall. I think I actually cried when I took that first set of measurements. So here are my measurement changes:
Neck: -3.9 inches
Bicep (one): -8.8 inches
Forearm (one): -1.5 inches
(Yes, I realize the neck and forearm are weird places to measure, but I had to in order to get my lean body mass and body fat percentage calculated.)
Chest: -24.4 inches (sorry gentlemen)
Waist: -24.8 inches
Hips: -30.2 inches
Thigh (one): -14.1 inches (thunder thighs no more; thanks treadmill)
Calf (one): -4.6 inches
When all that is added together (multiplied by two for the body parts that there are two of), that means I've lost a grand total of 141.3 inches. I hadn't added up all the inches in a while, and it was really staggering to me. My body fat percentage was 66.3% when I started this. Basically, I was 2/3 fat. That percentage has dropped all the way down to 26.4%. I looked up what normal percentages are, and 26.4% is apparently average. For someone who was pretty much off the charts before, that is crazy to think about. I'm also really proud of the fact that I've lost a minimal amount of muscle during this, which proves I've been doing it the right way. Some muscle loss is pretty much inevitable when losing the amount of weight I've lost, but according to my lean body mass measurements, I've only lost 9 lbs of muscle. That means all the rest of my weight loss has been pure fat.
I was going to insert the classic weight loss success picture here, you know the one. The one with the huge old pants. I was aghast to realize this morning that I had not saved any old pants! However, I did hang onto an old coat of mine that was very tight on me at my heaviest. Here it is now:
Moving on to...PROGRESS PICTURES! Like I said before, I've been taking progress pictures every month since week 6. I've got a picture that is around my heaviest, so I use that one as my before shot. Fair warning, they are kind of reminiscent of mug shots, but I wanted to get the front and side views. Please also be sure to admire the high tech (lol) signs showing what week it is in my journey. Here they are:
Pretty cool, right? I have to insert a special thanks to my mom here for being my photographer throughout all of this, not only for these progress pictures every month, but also my 6 month and 1 year pictures. The woman has the patience of a saint. Thanks Mom!
Also, I would like to take the time now to show you some unflattering pictures (haha, like I haven't already done that). I have often been curious about what my face looks like when I'm pushing through a hard workout. So I had my picture taken while working out. Bad idea. I had the vague idea that I probably looked fierce and determined, like Xena, Warrior Princess. Let me just say, I was quite wrong about this. That is, unless your idea of of "fierce and determined" is also your idea of "constipated." Because there is just no other way to describe how I look. So much for the old ego.
Now, so you don't think I'm a lost cause in the beauty department, here are some of the shots I had taken today on the beach. And yes, before you ask, I do model professionally in my spare time. You know, because solidly built 5'1" models are always in high demand.
Obviously, I had to have a jumping shot in there.
Senior portrait shot! *Stares meaningfully into the distance*
Yeah, we definitely got some weird stares on the beach, especially since I may or may not have had my admittedly corny inspirational workout music playing too, but I really didn't care. Haters gonna hate, right?
I was also thrilled to try on my ring this morning, the one that has such special meaning to me but that no longer fit my finger (for more on this story, click here), and see it slide right on my finger with no problem. I had been keeping it on a necklace until it fit me again. That ring has always represented the best part of me and also a promise kept to myself. To see it back on my finger where it belongs means more to me than I can say.
So I've got less than 50 lbs to lose until my goal weight now. My journey does not end there though. I may reach my goal weight, but this is how I am living the rest of my life. And unlike previous "diets" (which this is NOT!), that thought doesn't make me want to hurl and/or scream. This lifestyle is totally livable.
I want to thank the Academy (oops, guess I was having an Oscar moment there), I mean, all of you, for being so incredibly supportive of me. Whether or not you have been there for me in person (ahem, thanks to my family for putting up with some truly weird recipes and taking endless pictures, and my friends for dealing with my sometimes irritating nutrition requirements) or there for me virtually (shout-out to my Destination Skinny and other Facebook peeps), I can't tell you how much it means to me. I really think me sharing my journey and getting such an awesome response from people has played a huge part in my success. I had always tried to "go it alone" before and that never worked out. Reading your comments and hearing how I have inspired some of you keeps me feeling strong and motivated.
One of my goals now is to pay it forward. I'm not saying I have all the answers. I most certainly do not. I'm still learning every day. But I've learned so much through this process that I just can't help but feel driven to help other people change their lives too. I have such empathy for people trying to lose weight. It can feel so incredibly hopeless and daunting when you need to lose a lot of weight. The task seems insurmountable at times. You also feel very alone, and I want to show people that they are not alone. I know the phrase "If I can do it, you can too" has been used so often that it has gotten to be a cliche, but the fact remains that it's true. I've been where these people are, and I have such a passion to show them that it doesn't have to be that way, that they can choose another way. So if you're reading this blog and you want to chat, just comment here or message me on Facebook and let me know. I would be more than happy to talk with you.
I know this post has been super long, but I hope you enjoyed it! The blog continues as I venture on into year 2! More hijinks and hilarity are sure to come. I'll end with a picture of my awesome mirror motto.
In case you can't read it, it says, "You must make the choice to take a chance so you can change your life."