I was emotionally, intellectually, and physically fat the first six decades of my life. My arthritis disabled me, my stamina was nonexistent, and my breathlessness with any activity defeated me. I felt as if I were hopelessly trapped in a room with no windows or doors. That room was my 301-pound body, and it separated me from the rest of the world–in many ways, it became my world. “Fat” was the totality of my self-identity.
It seemed nothing would stop my “fat train,” but one person did. During my regular check-up, my doctor talked with me about my weight. He told me that I was allowing it to block out the hidden me–the terrific person he knew me to be inside. He said that I wasn’t alone; his team could help if I wanted to find a different way to live. He talked about medicines that could control my appetite, adding that I would still need to do a lot of work if I wanted to get healthy. He gave me hope.
I spent over two years learning how to successfully lose weight, become physically active, and find happiness in my daily life. I fought to break down the physical and emotional scar tissue from nine knee surgeries and a lifetime of believing I wasn’t worth anything. I explored my relationship with food and my non-relationship with exercise, and found hidden “truths” buried deep within me that had kept me fat and undermined my self-esteem. Beliefs like:
“I will always be fat.”
“Even if I lose weight I will gain it all back again.”
“I will always be in pain.”
“I will never exercise.”
“I should never cheat.”
I wrote down every one of those beliefs and worked to find ways to change them.
Years of dieting and denying myself what I liked to eat had never worked, so I sought a new way of thinking about food. I didn’t want to start a diet; I wanted to create movement in my life towards health and wellness, not just a smaller dress size. To do that, I needed to unpack years of painful memories and perceptions. I rewrote my relationship with the world in which I lived. I removed the unspoken taboo of talking about my weight with friends and family; instead, I openly explored my life experiences and challenges related to my body size.
I hated to exercise with a passion, but I started an exercise program and stuck to it, five days a week. Push-ups on the wall morphed over time to push-ups on the floor, and deep knee bends starting from a chair moved lower. I felt myself not just getting less weak, but actually getting strong, and I looked forward to those daily sessions.
I worked to rewire my brain and lost over half my weight: 155 pounds! I became fit and strong–and you can, too. Yes, each person needs to figure out what will work for them; but, the process I went through can serve as a roadmap for you to achieve a healthy, happy lifestyle.