“I have always been happy. I am naturally a happy person but my attitude towards health and fitness was another thing entirely. After battling for years I decided to give it one more try, either lose the weight or just accept it and be the ‘fat, happy Mom.’
That is really how this final journey started over 6 years ago. I had recently given birth to my 8th baby and battled my weight literally for all of my life. I had tried countless diets, lost weight, gained it, over and over again and I was tired of it. I wasn’t happy with my reflection and I was completely exhausted from the struggle.
I come from a large family, as in ‘overweight.’ We didn’t exactly eat healthy, lots of meals were had in front of the television and lots of dessert. I first remember wanting to lose weight at 10 years old, 10! I didn’t actively try and lose weight until junior high where I would track how long I could actually go without eating, how sad. Looking back, I wasn’t really ‘fat,’ but felt big. I am 5’11, and in my warped mind big equaled fat. I wanted, desperately, to be small and cute. If only I could have just embraced my body and all that I was.
I do remember a few comments by classmates, being called fat in 3rd grade by a boy, which stuck with me all this time. My parents didn’t say anything, but they also didn’t discourage me from starving myself or following unhealthy fad diets.
Throughout high school there was a lot of binging and purging, starving and depravation. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, I just knew I wanted to be smaller. Nobody really made comments, unfortunately it was the norm for girls my age to eat as little as possible. Nobody knew about the binging and purging, I did it in private. I was definitely headed down a path towards bulimia, but read it was potentially harmful for fertility. I knew at a young age I wanted to have my own children one day, so I stopped.
I married my high school sweetheart at the age of 20, existing on half a sandwich most days and spent hours on the treadmill to get to my ‘ideal size’ for my wedding. For the record, my husband never cared or said anything negative about my weight, he has always supported me and made me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world.
I remember seeing a friend from high school at my bridal shower and she called me skinny. Me, skinny? I felt so happy and proud, but now looking back, it is so sad, sad I equated my worth with my size.
At 22, we bought our house and decided to start a family. I got pregnant right away and also started gaining weight. Sadly, I also suffered my first miscarriage and continued to gain weight. The loss triggered me to eat. I figured, why bother taking care of myself when my body had failed me? Food was my comfort.
I was blessed to get pregnant again a few months later and with twins! I honestly stopped looking at the scale, but gained at least 80 lbs with that pregnancy.
By the time the twins were 1-year-old, I lost most of my pregnancy weight, not really with a plan, but just being too exhausted to eat much. I did walk as much as possible.
Three years later, I had another baby, and continued to gain and lose the same 50 lbs. At this point I tried so many different diets and plans, and wasted so much time and energy. I did the Hollywood Juice diet, Herbalife, Weight Watchers, Mayo Clinic Diet, South Beach Diet, and pretty much anything I saw on the cover of a magazine.
Over the next 14 years I had 5 more babies. I was always happy, happy with my life and my family, but not happy with how I looked and felt. Looking back at pictures, I can see how I hid behind my children or tried to stand a certain way to conceal some of my body. It is such a shame to think of all the time I wasted punishing my body instead of treating it well and celebrating it.
We are an active family, loving being outside on adventures and hiking. I can specifically remember one hike where I tried to hide how out of shape I was. My husband always leads our family, and I bring up the rear to make sure all of our children are safe and don’t get lost on the trail. My husband was far ahead and keeping a good pace and I was dying, but too ashamed to say anything. At one point, he looked back to make sure I was coming and I distinctly remember trying to smile and pretend I wasn’t completely breathless. My husband would have gladly rested if I needed to, if I would have just said so, but I was trying to hide it. I am not sure who I thought I was fooling, but until I was ready to admit I wasn’t as healthy as I would like, nothing would change.
I was a slave to the scale. Each morning, sometimes more than once a day, I would get on the scale and how I felt about myself was determined by whether the number was smaller or bigger than the day before. It is so sad that I gave so much power to the scale. That I decided my worth was only determined by my weight. ‘If only I weighed x amount, I would be happier, prettier, and be more liked.’ I was a failure for gaining weight and then I’d overanalyze why I had gained.
I was 40 when my 8th child was born. I always wanted to have a big family, not really sure why. As a young girl I always said I wanted 11, and if I hadn’t had all c-sections, we might have had more. I love having a big family, all the love and craziness brings me joy. I had 2 daughters, and I knew one thing I did not want to pass down to them was body shame. I didn’t want them to watch their mother constantly complaining about her weight, depriving, starving, hiding and not fully living life because of the excess weight that she felt was holding her back.
I decided to fully commit, took ‘before’ pictures, and told anyone who would listen how I was going to transform my body, and I did. In just 11 months I lost 100 lbs. I had effectively lost 17 years of baby weight. I shared my journey on social media which definitely helped keep my motivated and accountable.
Once I hit my goal I was kind of lost. Sure, I hit this milestone, but now what? I knew I wasn’t finished. I was still just chasing a number on the scale, a size that I felt was small enough. Was I ever going to feel like I was small enough?
Two years ago, I had our 9th baby and gained about 40 lbs. It was my healthiest pregnancy ever and I felt so much better, even considering I was 44 years at the time. Right after he was born, I got focused on losing the weight again. I started running and strength training.
I decided to try the keto diet. I had been successful in the past, and actually was following keto when I got pregnant with our last baby. I found keto relatively easy. I obsessed over it and added in serious intermittent fasting. At the time, I felt good, but looking back I was now going too far in the opposite direction. I really wasn’t eating very much and the weight fell off. My clothes got loose and it was all that mattered to me. I was so focused on the number on the scale and the size of my jeans. I ended up losing a total of 135 lbs and got told I was ‘wasting away’ and ‘skinny.’ At first, I was annoyed I went from being judged for being fat and now the same for being skinny.
January this year, after realizing my weight loss journey had ended, I decided I wanted to lift weights and I mean, really lift weights. I wanted to compete as a powerlifter. My husband set up a plan for me in our home gym and I was excited to see how strong I was. Ha, big surprise there. I was not nearly as strong as I thought I would be. I figured because I looked fit and strong, I must be. Even after all these years I still didn’t get it, the scale does not determine how healthy or fit I was.
Over this last year I have grown and learned so much more than I had in the previous 20. I learned that the scale is just a tool. You can’t place all your value on it. You need to focus on how you feel, how you look to yourself, not anyone else. I don’t diet and don’t encourage anyone to look at it that way anymore. I track my macros, focusing on food that will fuel my body but don’t make any thing ‘off limits.’
I wish I could go back and break the cycle but I can only look forwards and hope that I can help inspire others to realize their worth and they deserve to feel their best. It isn’t easy to make a change, it takes dedication and focus but once those things become a habit, it gets so much easier.
Each day is a decision to either live my best life or just exist. I don’t ever want to feel trapped in my body that way I used to. I was holding myself back. You need to set your sights on your goals and why you want to achieve them.
Wherever you are at, be proud. Be proud of what your body has done and what it can do. It really is pretty amazing when you think about it.
After 11 months of lifting, I am strong now. I have changed my body in ways I never dreamed possible and I am not done. I am getting so much more enjoyment out of growing my body then I ever did when I was trying to shrink it.
I am so glad that I decided to live and no longer make excuses. I accepted that I had gotten myself to the place I was and that I could get myself out of it too. I am grateful that I never settled for being the “fat, happy Mom”. I love seeing all the things I can do and who knows how far I will go.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lisa Wright of Boring, Oregon. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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