“When I was younger I always dreamed of being something more. I wanted to be someone people could look up to, I wanted to inspire, to help people believe their dreams could come true. Little did I know that one day, I could.
I haven’t struggled with weight for my whole life. To be honest, up until my sophomore year of high school I was a very healthy weight. I was fit and conditioned, and softball was my life. I worked hard everyday and had dreams to play softball in college. It all went downhill my junior year.
Freshman year I had hit a bump in the road and broke my wrist, but I didn’t let that stop me. Actually, my kryptonite ended up being a boy. A boy! We were together for a long time, and when we split up it crushed me. I started emotionally eating, I lost all motivation to do anything. Five pounds up went to 10, then 30, then 100! I was spiraling out of control but I was so blinded by emotion and food that I never noticed.
My last 2 years of high school were awful. I had lost my love of softball because at nearly 300 pounds I could hardly go up the stairs, let alone run a mile or pitch a full game. I got made fun of, I had no friends, I was depressed and took all my anger and sadness out on food.
When I graduated high school, I weighed 285 pounds and it just got worse from there. I went to Morehead State University for college and it was a nightmare. I still had no friends because my self esteem was so bad, I was afraid to talk to anyone or come out of my comfort zone. I started smoking cigarettes to deal with stress and continued to eat nearly 4,000 calories a day. I dropped out about 16 weeks in because of declining health and my lack of friends. I was so depressed.
When I came home I went to the doctor and he hit me with some truth. I was only 18, I was at 305 pounds, I was at a huge risk for blood clots and I had to get my gallbladder removed. I had kidney stones. He basically told me at the rate that I was going that I was going to die before I turned 30. I had horrible ovarian cysts and my acid reflux kept sending me to the ER. I could hardly fit in my car anymore. I couldn’t go up the stairs without losing my breath. I didn’t go to fairs or amusement parks anymore because I couldn’t fit in the seats, and I was too scared to go swimming because people would stare. I was extremely obese and very depressed. I wasn’t someone I would ever look up to, I was the exact opposite. I was my own worst nightmare. So, I decided to change it.
It started with little things like change of diet and adding a little bit of exercise here and there, but that wasn’t enough. I still struggled to get out of bed, I had way too many cheat days and I didn’t work nearly as hard as I should have. I got sick again and had a stomach ulcer that nearly killed me. I wasn’t doing enough. I was in the hospital for almost two weeks and lost nearly 30 pounds because of this. I ramped everything up, I went on a strict diet of proteins and vegetables and actually started TRYING. Soon the weight began melting off of me. I got a personal trainer and began working with her 4 days a week. I joined a slow pitch softball team to make exercising a little more fun and to finally step on the field again. I started watching workout videos and walking my dogs, taking them to the dog park and running and playing with them. I kept an emergency cheese it in my car for when I had snack food cravings but I stayed on track (mostly).
I wanted my parents to be proud of me, I wanted to do something with my life and be more than I was. I dreamed of being a model or an actress, a successful vet or pilot. I looked up to my older brother who had lost a ton of weight to join the Air Force and now he is traveling the world and doing everything I wished I could do. I wanted to be someone bigger, better, stronger, just like my big brother.
After a while I was finally at 180, I could smile again, and with clothes on I learned to love myself again. But after such a huge drop in weight, I had so much excess skin. It was everywhere. On my belly, in between my thighs, on my arms and on my butt. What was the point of all of this if I still looked and felt disgusting when I looked at myself in the mirror? So, I decided to have a tummy tuck. This surgery took off nearly 20 pounds of excess skin from my belly and my sides. The recovery period was terrible, I had some complications with my surgery and wasn’t able to get up or do things on my own for nearly 2 months. I almost regretted having it. Almost.
I went from being 305 pounds to 150 and I have never been happier. My self esteem is great, I don’t mind going swimming, I can fit in a seat if I go to a fair or an amusement park, and my steering wheel no longer touched my belly. Instead of being introverted and scared I came out of my shell. I started working as a haunted house actress, and snagged a job working with animals, one of the things I had always wanted to do with my life. I was no longer depressed and miserable and taking my anger out on food, I was happy and enjoyed life and took whatever came at me as a challenge.
I still have some pretty terrible scars from the surgeries I have had. I have had almost 16 surgeries at 21 years old, and most of them stemmed from being overweight. I dreamed of being a model or an actress but with these scars I left those dreams behind and went on to chase something else, but I love myself with these scars nonetheless. I love my job, I want to get back into school, and I want to continue changing my life. Now that I have done it physically and lost weight, its time to start working to become a better person, get a better job, move up and continue to grow.
I want people to realize that they can do this as well. It was so hard for me at first, most of the time I could hardly get out of bed let alone go to the gym. The food cravings were almost overwhelming, they distracted my thoughts and haunted my dreams, I thought I could never get over the need for junk food but I did. I thought I could never lose weight, that I would always be miserable with myself and never change. But I did. And I know that you can do it too. Not only am I happier with the way I look, but I feel 100% better. I don’t think its about being larger, I think its about being healthy and loving yourself for who you are. I didn’t love myself then, but I definitely do now. Now I am reaching for more, I want to be an inspiration. I hope my past self could look at me now and be proud. I will reach all of my goals, and I will push for my dreams. I want to be more than I could have ever dreamed of, after all, I never thought I would be here.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kenzi Groft, 21, of Lexington, Kentucky. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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