“You need to lose at least 70 pounds to be considered for the procedure,” the doctor told me. At 22, I laughed at the thought because in my mind, I was only “top heavy” — not obese.
I was sitting in a consultation for a breast reduction. I thought that would be the solution to all of my weight problems. However, the doctor further explained that I was morbidly obese.
In a nutshell, I was at an increased risk for developing serious illnesses that could lead to my early death. Again, I was only 22.
After sitting with those two small but powerful words for months, I realized I needed to change.
Being overweight wasn’t new to me. I was always “chunky” for my age, as early as elementary school. I was teased often but chalked it up to kids being kids. After all, I did some teasing myself.
When I transitioned to middle school, I began to take notice of my size. I could see that my body didn’t look like the other girls, and well, the boys just weren’t as into me.
My mom semi-forced me into sports, in hopes that it would help me slim down some. I had a pretty competitive spirit, so I didn’t mind.
I played basketball and ran track my 7th grade year. Yet, I still was “chunky.” I started to think the saying “big-boned” applied to me and that I would be this way most of my life.
Fast forward to college.
At this point, I had lost some weight, and I didn’t stand out as much amongst my peers. That was until the end of my junior year.
I went through a very bad relationship experience, and the pounds packed on. I reached my heaviest weight around 230 pounds. (Keep in mind, I’m only 5’5.)
Sometime during my senior year, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t necessarily fat, I was just top heavy — and having a reduction would magically knock off the extra weight. That’s when the doctor told me, “You’re morbidly obese. You need to lose at least 70 pounds for your insurance company to even consider covering the surgery.”
Doing the work
After undergrad, I headed to law school. During my second year, I started taking my health a little more seriously.
I made a conscious effort to cook at home, and I started taking some low-impact exercise classes a few days a week on campus. My eating habits were very poor and had been since I was young. So learning to cook well-balanced meals was the hardest part for me.
Doing those two things helped me to lose about 20 pounds. But it was short lived.
I gained the 20 pounds back, and due to the demands of law school, I wasn’t moving my body like I needed to. I started eating whatever was quick and easy, and I wasn’t as conscious about the types of foods I was putting in my body.
After 3 years of up-and-down dieting, I came up with a plan. During the 10 weeks that I was set to study for the bar in 2010, I decided to spend at least 30 minutes a day walking outside or on the treadmill. I also began meal prepping weekly. Those small tweaks to my routine would end up leading to big changes.
Right before taking the bar, a friend stopped me and said, “Wow! Your clothes are swallowing you!” I hadn’t even noticed. After weighing myself, i found that I had lost about 30 pounds.
From that point, I knew I had to keep going, so that’s exactly what I did.
I moved back to Charlotte after law school and immediately got a membership to the University City YMCA (now called Keith Family YMCA). Month after month, the pounds dropped off.
I started off slowly: taking Zumba, then kickboxing, then moving into strength training. My body was changing, and I was loving it. I managed to drop over 80 pounds and even tone up in the process.
Then people started reaching out asking me to help them. Since I wasn’t an expert, I decided to seek proper training and studied to become a certified personal trainer.
Just a few years after the weight loss, I wanted to kick things up a notch. I decided to register for and compete in my first bodybuilding competition. After 12 weeks of dedicated dieting and intense exercise, I went on stage and did my thing. I came away winning third overall in my division.
Since then, I have maintained a normal weight. I can’t say that competing will ever be for me again, but what I do know is that I refuse to go back to where I was in the beginning. While this journey hasn’t been easy, it has definitely been worth it.
You don’t have to go crazy in the gym to see results. Slow and steady wins the race. Weight loss shouldn’t be a quick fix — it’s a lifestyle change. For many, myself included, fighting the mental battle to discipline yourself is the hardest part.
Once you get it in your head that being healthy is more important than anything, the routine of it all becomes second nature. You got this.
Do you have your own journey to good health to share? Tell us about it in the comments.