My journey has been one many can identify with. I’ve always been a bit chubby growing up, since I gorged on food with little abandon. Food had been my outlet for numerous emotions. I ate when I was happy and wanted to celebrate, I ate when I was depressed and needed to cheer myself up, I ate when my eyes caught sight of something I loved to eat, and least of all, when I was actually hungry. I was teased, of course, but its scary how quickly one can become mentally calloused, immune to bullying if one accepts it as a constant. Still, I never really saw it as a problem. I was healthy, my ten plus years of intense martial arts training and practice served as a covert means of counteracting my unhealthy lifestyle and burning calories.
Then came college.
Away from home for the first time in my entire life, and enthralled with the whole college experience, I did everything but exercise. Being in a brand new country, with foods I’d never eaten before, new tastes to explore, and over the space of five years I had ballooned from my already beefy 230lbs to 340lbs. Even then, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. That is, until clothes suddenly wouldn’t fit well, if at all, and shopping for them became an exercise in patience, endurance and a huge dose of depression.
At that point I’d fallen into a trap that many people tend to given these circumstances. I had given up hope of ever losing weight. The lifestyle change necessary was daunting enough, but the sheer amount of exercise I knew I’d need seemed unconquerable. I felt so lethargic. I had no energy and no positive outlook with regards to my weight. Short story even shorter: I felt disgusted with myself.
Its an easy thing to fall into depression over what can be considered insurmountable odds. Its worse knowing exactly what you need to do to overcome it and simply not having the energy or willpower to follow through. Its even more so when you seek help, or at least understanding and are met with:
“Why are you so weak-willed?”
“Its your own fault you’re so fat. Why don’t you man up and go to the gym.”
“What do you mean you need help? You know what to do, just do it!”
Yes, “supposed” friends, I know I’m weak-willed. Yes, “supposed” friends, I know its my own fault I’m this way. Yes “supposed” friends, I know exactly what I need to do… but I can’t simply just “do” it. I need help. I need moral support. I need someone in my corner who won’t make me feel even worse about myself than I already do. I tried the gym, I hated it. I tried the dieting, I wasted hundreds of dollars on weight loss supplements.
And then I graduated.
I returned to Trinidad in the summer of 2010, back to the friends and family I’d grown up with. It took some doing, as I was conditioned not to discuss my weight with others because of aforementioned reactions, but when I tentatively broached the subject, a flood of support came my way. What do you need? What can we do to help? Lets do this together! We believe in you! Its amazing what a bit of positivity can do.
After four months of strict dieting and exercise I’d dropped from 340lbs to 240lbs. A full 100lbs.
It’s been a full five years since this transformation took place, and sure, with life the way it’s been, being a working adult, its been difficult to juggle exercise and healthy eating, and for a while I surrounded myself with people who led me off the path I’d set myself on. I have gained some of that weight back, but I am so fortunate to still have this positive support system in my life.
My weight loss journey continues. I still hate the gym, but armed with my fitbit, I walk and walk and walk and walk. I still love food, but I quit eating take-out as often as I used to, decreased my portion sizes and I quit drinking soda in favor of water. Small changes, over time, yield results. And I intend to keep going!
And, ladies and gentlemen, if someone with a problem (weightloss or otherwise) comes to you for support, even if the solution seems simple to you, offer support. You don’t know how difficult or brave it is to bring it up in the first place.
You could be the reason this person gets up and goes, or the fuel to the fire that is their insecurity and self-loathing.