As clearly as the highest quality of crystal, I remember that night. The night before my weight loss journey began. I was nineteen years young, 336 pounds, and a complete mess on the inside. I had been bullied relentlessly, beginning in Kindergarten and continuing all the way through high school.
Everything hurt. It was hard to walk any distance more than a few steps. Walking up stairs took the breath from my lungs. When I walked into a room, I was absolutely sure that every person whose eyes glanced my way would be filled with disgust.
One particular night was the absolute turning point in my journey.
I was absolutely consumed with the heaviest of burdens, as I pondered the agony I was feeling both physically and emotionally. I was exhausted at the endlessness of this amount of weight that pounded on my joints day after day.
I had started and stopped a million times, trying and failing to lose the weight. I was so sad. So filled with hopelessness. And like a semi truck full of bricks, it all just hit me at once and I was filled with desperation.
So I cried. And I cried. And I cried.
I can still remember how the tears felt as they poured down my face. I remember my eyes being swollen and red from all the crying. My face being warm.
I remember how I was laying – on my back, in my bed, as if paralyzed. I couldn’t move other than to keep trying to dry my face with my hands.
It was truly awful.
The next morning I woke up. Things seem so much better in the morning. If you can just get through the night, you’ll feel so much better when you wake up the next day.
That morning as I was getting ready for work, I remembered that a friend had given me her old Weight Watchers books a few months earlier. I had stashed them on top of the fridge in case I needed them.
“hm” I thought.
“maybe I’ll read those today”
And so I did. I’m sure the program has changed by now, but at the time you really didn’t need much else than the starter books, and a points calculator (which was a little cardboard slider thing).
At the end of that day, nothing much had changed. I had read the books and was starting to wrap my brain around what to do to follow the program. But at the end of the day I was still the same person.
I was still broken, sad, defeated, 336-pound-Jennifer. So again, my soul welled up with tears, and I sobbed myself to sleep.
The next day I was able to actually start counting points. So I thought, “hm… I think I’ll do that today…”
And I did.
I focused only on that one day. I wouldn’t say I have any mind-blowing advice as to what it was that made me stick to the plan. I think I had just reached such a low, crushing place in my health journey, and I just had to do SOMETHING. At least this plan outlined exactly what to do, thankfully. Because the general “eating right and exercising” that everyone always talked about was absolutely not cutting it for me.
I was raised by a single mother. We were poor. My amazing mom did the absolute best she could for us. I attribute nearly everything I am to her (and God, of course)
But it was rough. We had terrible eating habits. And being a parent myself, I know that sometimes you just have to give your kids whatever you can muster up. And as a single parent, you do what it takes to survive and keep your kids surviving.
We didn’t have money for a lot of food other than things like rice, ramen noodles, things like that. We tried. We did what we could. But we just had a tough time. And slowly, over the course of my life up until that point, I had developed terrible eating habits. And that’s when I found myself severely obese, and feeling absolutely horrible, both inwardly and outwardly.
For me, I think there were many contributing factors that led me to this point. Having tough times in my upbringing, my dad not being around much, the horrible bullying at school, living in poverty, relocating 30 times before I turned 18… It was all just tough.
My self esteem had become nearly nonexistent; I had absolutely no friends, and didn’t want any. I didn’t feel worthy enough to look people in the eye, hardly spoke a word to anyone, had adopted a very serious demeanor, and rarely laughed or smiled.
If you know me now, you know that I am absolutely nothing like that anymore. I’m basically the opposite in every single way. THANK YOU JESUS FOR PULLING ME OUT OF THIS AND COMPLETELY TURNING MY LIFE AROUND!!!
This is one reason you’ll frequently find me talking about how thankful I am for the little, everyday things that a lot of people don’t give much thought to. Because if you had any idea how awful my life used to be, and how God COMPLETELY transformed my life from the inside out, you’d be in awe too. I am nearly moved to tears every time I think about it.
But back to the weight loss journey. hehe!
It was that moment of complete desperation that started my journey to health.
To be completely honest, I took it one day at a time. Every single day, I’d reset my points, and try my best to stick to them. If I went over, I increased my exercise (since with weight watchers, you earned points when you exercised). I just tried to make it to the end of that day knowing that I stuck to my points allotment.
I didn’t even own a scale at the time. One day, after I had been at it for several weeks, I woke up, and happened to notice that my face seemed ever-so-slightly smaller when I looked in the mirror. That was a nice little reminder to keep on going. Although I do have to say that by the time I reached the point of making the changes, my motivation wasn’t what I saw in the mirror (it still isn’t), it was more about how I felt. More on that in another post.
I purchased a scale, and started going for walks. That was the only exercise I did for a very long time. I’d go on long walks. As I lost weight and got some muscle in my legs, I could walk longer distances. So I did. I got to the point that I would walk for hours on Saturdays. Then I would start jogging short distances (veerrrrryyyyyyy slowly…. if you can even call it a jog….). Then worked myself up to jogging 4 miles, then 6 miles. Then I’d run up and down this enormous set of steps for exercise. I couldn’t believe it when I finally got to the point where I could run 13 times up and 13 times down. ME! I used to be 336 pounds, guys!!!!!
I continued losing weight in this way for my first 100 pounds. I’d say it took me a year or two, but I wasn’t keeping track. I was just terrified of going back to the way things used to be. So I kept on going. No matter how things seemed to crawl at times.
And don’t be misled, there were soooooooo many times along the journey that I would end up in tears because I’d feel disappointed. I’d fail to make the perfect choices, I’d gain a pound or two, or whatever the case may be. It wasn’t until probably a decade later that I actually learned to embrace the journey, and realized that ups and downs are completely natural and normal. I still fluctuate a lot, and finally, that is ok.
What was great about weight watchers is that it actually taught me better habits. It taught me normal portion sizes, and the importance of other things like water intake and eating a balanced allotment of protein, veggies, fruits, fats, and carbs. I’ve done
LOTS of different things to lose my weight little by little, but I do think that weight watchers did a wonderful job at teaching me the absolute basics of eating right. I’ll go into other ways I’ve lost weight and adopted a healthier lifestyle in future posts. Subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss them! Click here to do that!
I wouldn’t say that I have any one, enormous, mind-blowing piece of advice to someone seeking to lose weight. I’d say that the biggest thing you need to do is find a plan that is healthy and proven to work well, and something that you can actually stick to for weeks or months or even years. I’d say steer clear of fad diets that promise huge amounts of weight loss in very short time frames.
It’s about making small, healthy changes that will actually make a difference and push you toward your goal. I can still remember what it was like to make these baby steps when I was first starting. I’d start with changing from mayonnaise to light mayonnaise. Then I’d learn to measure so I ate the correct portion of mayonnaise. Then I’d learn that the fat in mayonnaise was ok to eat, so I’d switch back. to regular. Then I’d switch to a healthier brand of mayonnaise. Then I’d learn to enjoy a sandwich without mayonnaise sometimes.
You see where I’m going with all of this? It’s all a process, a journey. Which I will address in a later post.
There is NO PLACE that you can find yourself, that is too far gone. I believe that with my whole entire heart. You don’t need a miracle. You need a tiny seed of faith, enough to take one baby step, and then reset, and take another one after that.
I AM NOT at my final destination with my weight loss journey, nor am I the perfect picture of health. But I can tell you that being on a never-ending journey of health, and really truly embracing it, is one of the greatest blessings that has been bestowed upon my life.
And it can be the same for you.
I am NOT an expert, I do NOT have a perfect body (never will, and that’s ok!!), and I have NOT reached the destination.
But health has been a focus of mine for over a decade. It is a huge part of my life, and I love sharing the story of my journey!
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Let’s inspire people who find themselves on this health journey!