Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Someone asked, so here's a quick, sweetened condensed version of my weight loss journey - the G Free way!

For those who have been asking, "Aimee, how did you lose 50 pounds, what's your secret, what program do you follow?" here is my story.  I've hesitated, hummed, and hawwed about this.  Believe it or not, I've even prayed about how to explain what brought about this major change in my life. I am a private person, and my new blog has no readers.  It's just for me. I am, however, at the request of a fellow chunky girl, writing this down. Perhaps someone will benefit from my candor.

In that spirit, I must confess that as I listen to Regina Spektor on iTunes and write, I have M&M's on my headboard and a Diet Coke opened next to that Valentine's bag with my rotund boyfriend's face smiling at me. Blue M&M has always been a favorite.  ;) Now, let's get serious.

I married in December, 2006. I was 23.5 years old. I weighed 218 pounds at my last Weight Watchers weigh-in before I got married, and I was in a size 18 (not women's, misses) on my wedding day. I don't have a picture to post of that. Trust me, though, I looked good.

I was married for 6 years, including the 6-month waiting period before my divorce. (SURPRISE to those of you reading this who didn't know!!!  Yes, I got divorced.) Partially due to the toxic nature of my relationship and LARGELY due to my inability to cope with the immense stress under which I lived on a daily basis, my weight soared to 280 pounds at my heaviest.  I've always carried my weight well, but I was heavy....obese.  A couple pictures to illustrate my point.
Thanksgiving, 2011. Left to right: Me; my little sister, Emily; my cousin Lindsay; My cousin Keri (5 months pregnant); my cousin Spencer)
I was at about 277-280 in that picture, wearing size 22 pants.

I am third from left in the back row here. Again, about the same size. This is at my Central California Children's Choir reunion on July 31, 2011. 
Now, I do have health problems. I was suffering emotionally and physically in my marriage, but I used those as excuses to hide behind my weight, to suffer in silence.

When I left what was a toxic situation on Mother's Day, 2012, I weighed 260 - 265 pounds. I could not walk through Target or Walmart without extreme exhaustion and fatigue from my weight and my fibromyalgia. I followed a gluten free diet but still experienced exhaustion, frequent headaches, digestive issues, depression, mood swings, and other issues that can be attributed to Celiac Disease.

This picture was taken about a month after I separated from my husband. I was living with my mother. I had started exercising as part of my therapy, and I was walking on a daily basis for approximately 30 minutes. I began eating real meals - breakfast, a small snack, lunch, and dinner. I started drinking water. I started eating fruits and veggies. The stress was intense, and I didn't want to continue with destructive behaviors, so I walked. I walked on my breaks, my lunches, in the morning, in the evening. I would walk and talk to my confidants.
At the beach with my nephew, June 2012. Approximately 10 pounds lost.

After returning to work in June 2012.  I've lost about 12 pounds in this pic.
This is something that many people may find difficult.  I started attending a 12-step program for family and friends of addicts.  This is called the Addiction Recovery Program, and it is similar to Al-Anon, but it is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There I learned to let go and let God, that I was powerless without Him in my life, that I had to admit that I had problems that needed to be fixed.  I needed to rely on Him to overcome my own struggles. It was only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that I could gain control over what was an addiction to control and an addiction to food.

I started working those steps and setting boundaries for myself. I would say, you can have 1 dessert at a party or one dessert on the weekend. You need to eat a fruit or a vegetable with every meal. You must eat breakfast, even if it's yogurt at your desk. You need to buy groceries, but after you've had dinner.

Those boundaries helped me start to develop a healthy relationship with food, helped me realize that I didn't get gratification, trust, comfort, love, or any other emotion from food. Food wouldn't fix my problems. Heavenly Father would help ME FIX MY OWN PROBLEMS if I would be HUMBLE AND GO TO HIM for support and strength. It takes work, hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. Yes, I had to tell myself no. Yes, I had to say I'm only going to eat half of my food because I know I serve myself too much.  Yes I had to cook every day. No, it wasn't what I wanted to do after 8 hours of work and dealing with PTSD from a bad marriage, but I did it because I knew I had to take care of me or no one else would.

When things got too overwhelming and I wanted to eat a half gallon of ice cream or a bag of M&M's in one sitting, I put on my tennis shoes, grabbed my iPod, and walked until I could sort out my feelings.  I remember the first day one of the guys at work whistled at me when I walked by. I looked over my shoulder to see what pretty girl was walking behind me.  There wasn't anyone else around.  I just about cried. He was whistling at me. He thoguth I was pretty. I just about jumped in the air! Those good feelings I got from exercising kept me going. Pretty soon, about 2 months later, I was walking 2-4 hours a day. This was how I looked in September.

I didn't even look like that as a missionary, so needless to say my family was shocked when I posted these pictures on facebook!

I felt good about myself, so I kept following the formula, meeting with my doctor and therapist, writing in my journal to discover what roadblocks I would find, how I would overcome them, and in October, this is how I looked:

I modeled for a local retail store, showing their fall line. This was always a dream I'd had!  I was thrilled when I bought my first size 1x and size 18 at that show!! I was down 30 pounds here.

My brother came to visit me in November, and he didn't recognize me when I came to get him at the airport.

 I was down 35 pounds here. Notice that the double chin is almost gone!  :)

By Christmas time I'd lost 40 pounds, and I felt great, so I bought a belt.  I hadn't bought a belt since high school. I wore my shirt tucked in to church for a piano solo I had to do.

The shirt I'm wearing I bought right after high school, and the skirt I bought just after my mission. I continue to walk 4-6 miles a day, eat healthy, and love myself. Most importantly, I work the 12 steps, putting God first in my life. It is beacuase of Him that I am here, breathing, healthy, and happy. I now (as of Friday) weigh 217 pounds and wear a size 16 pants and xl shirt. I cannot fit into my "favorite store" Lane Bryant anymore, except for pants and some T-shirts. My new favorite store is The Gap.

I bought my first shirt at Anthropologie last week, a promise I had made to myself 8 years ago.

It was so exciting to go into that store and buy clothes instead of nick knacks! The ability to have my life back far supersedes what any person might say about how I look.

I will continue to work hard on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  I'm looking into barre method classes as well as cardio boxing, and I'm hoping to start eliminating some of my maintenance medications in the near future. This has been the biggest challenge of my lifetime, but the rewards have been the greatest.

Best of luck in your pursuits as well!