“As you can probably tell from my photo, I have been overweight since I was a child. I live with anxiety, depression, and what I suspect is a PCOS related mood disorder. I have often wondered if my mental health struggles are a product of my obesity, or if my obesity is a product of my mental health. Either way, it hasn’t been an easy way to navigate life.
When I was at my heaviest, the smallest things became HUGE obstacles for me. Something as simple as a friend asking me to dinner could send me spiraling. What if they want to sit at a booth instead of a table? What if I don’t FIT in the booth? What if I try to push the table in the booth forward to give myself more space but it isn’t a table that moves? What if my stomach rests on the table? What if my size and my struggle embarrass my friend?
Every single moment of my life felt this way. Getting on a crowded bus was agony. Getting out of cars in tight parking lots was a struggle. I didn’t even bother shopping for clothes. Dressing rooms were painful places. The entire world felt like it was made for someone else. There wasn’t a single place I fit or felt comfortable. It was incredibly lonely.
I have known many people that embrace their size, whatever it may be. I have met people who were joyous, comfortable, and empowered in their lives; people whose beauty welled up from within, and had nothing to do with what a mirror reflected. I was not one of those people. I was not a girl that could laugh about how big I was. I was not a girl who embraced her curves and sensuality. I was a person who was deeply hurting and isolated.
December of 2014, after having avidly avoided scales for several years, I tentatively stepped onto one at my friend’s house out of morbid curiosity. I knew I had been putting on weight over time. I was getting more uncomfortable, and the amount of clothing in my closet that fit me was slowly dwindling. The red numbers flashed 302 and I felt the bottom of my stomach drop. I was over 300 pounds. How did this happen? I thought I was going to throw up right there on the scale. What was I doing to myself? I decided in that moment that something had to change. The way I was living my life was most certainly killing me.
That January I headed to the grocery store. I was bound and determined to stock my house with healthy groceries so I could reclaim my life. I promptly had a panic attack. I had no idea what to buy. None of my previous choices were options now. Everything felt confusing and incredibly overwhelming. I cried in the grocery store until my friend came and picked me up. Nothing was purchased that day. I spent the next week educating myself, and returned to the store with a clear list. The process was still stressful and scary, as silly as that sounds, but I managed.
Over the next year I lost 80 pounds. Putting in so much time and effort to improve my body and my health made me want to improve every area of my life. I found the courage and sense of self to leave an emotionally abusive relationship. I left a toxic work environment. I left Oklahoma and moved to Portland, Oregon. I had lived in Oregon before and knew it was absolutely where I belonged. Things were really starting to look up. I was hopeful for the first time in a long while.
Shortly after moving to Oregon, I met Kae. To put it simply, she swept me off my feet. We had an instant connection and it wasn’t long before she was wining and dining me five nights a week. I felt better than I had ever felt before. I loved my home, my job, my girlfriend, and most importantly — myself. We were married in October of 2016, and I noticed upon reviewing our photos that I was starting to put on weight again…
Before I fully realized it, I was back up to 260 pounds. Cue devastation, despair, and self-criticism. I cannot put into words how frustrated I felt. I spent two months stuck in the thick of my depression. Everything felt incredibly difficult. My mind, my body, and my spirit were coated in molasses. I couldn’t move or think. A slow and sluggish fog enveloped me and cut me off from the people I loved most. Once again, I found myself isolated.
A random conversation with my best friend saved me. I gave her a call, not because we were the type of people who regularly talked on the phone, but because I was so desperate for human connection that I NEEDED to hear her voice. We got to talking and realized we had been struggling with many of the same things. She told me she had decided she wanted to lose some weight and change the way she was eating. I saw a light at the end of tunnel I had been trapped in. I asked if I could join her on her journey. We don’t live in the same state, so being workout buddies wasn’t an option, but we decided we would support one another however we could. We made a pact to find health and happiness in celebration of our 30th birthdays which fall in 2018. All it took was a single conversation.
My wife was instantly supportive. We went out and bought a food scale, and stocked the house with healthy foods. While I had felt like a failure after my last weight loss snafu, I quickly realized that I was starting again with much more knowledge and experience. I knew how to do this. I immediately created a weight loss Instagram (@bee.loses.it) so I could connect with more like minded people. Losing weight is a journey that comes with many ups and downs, and I wanted to make sure I had a powerful tribe surrounding me. I decided to stick with calorie counting and walking, since both of these things are simple, straightforward, and free! I didn’t want to invest a lot of money into a program, have my anxiety prevent me from going, and then have the shame and guilt over wasted time/money trigger another depressive spiral. Walking and calorie counting seemed like good, low risk options. I started on January 7th, 2018, and I haven’t looked back.
Today, I am 53 pounds lighter than I was in January, and 95 pounds lighter than my highest weight. However, what I have gained is so much more important than the weight I have lost. I gained a functioning body. Two days ago, I successfully ran two miles straight. Prior to my weight loss, the furthest I had EVER run in my life was across a street. I gained access to one of the most gorgeous states in this country. Now that I can hike 10-12 miles a day without struggle, I have countless forests, waterfalls, and natural gems just waiting to be explored. I gained peace. Before this journey my mind was constantly abuzz with doubts, questions, and criticisms. My depression, my anxiety, and my mood swings are still here, as mental health doesn’t magically correct itself when other things start to look up, but I feel myself moving more freely through the world. I don’t worry about where I will or won’t fit. I’m not afraid that the people I’m with will be embarrassed to be seen with me. I don’t feel like I have to preface every decision with, ‘Is this an okay thing for a fat girl to do?’
My life feels like an adventure that is just starting to begin. I have traded in days on the couch for days in a kayak, nights of Netflix for nights spent under the stars. I’m not sure where all of this will take me, but I know it will be some place beautiful, and I know when I arrive I will have the strength and courage to enjoy every single moment of it.
If this has resonated with any of you, if any of you are longing for change, I want you to know that everything you need is already inside of you. You are strong enough, brave enough, and resilient enough to change your life. All you need to do is decide that today is the day you start.”
Provide hope for someone struggling. SHARE this inspiring story on Facebook with your friends and family.