“Mom, do you have any good fat pictures of me?” is a question I remember asking and certainly not one I ever thought I would. Earlier this year my trainer was impressed enough by my weight loss to ask me for before and after pictures to show to prospective clients. I have never been asked to be a before and after model before, so I excitedly began to choose two pictures that I felt would do my weight loss journey justice. Looking through many overweight pictures was a humbling, and embarrassing, process for me.
I’m what you may call “appreciative of the culinary arts.” I come from a long line of people who feel the same. With German and Irish heritage, I naturally have a somewhat stocky build that went out of style back when cavemen no longer had to chase after and fight over their food. I can look in the mirror and see a large ribcage, a high forehead, and skin so white I once recently looked at my legs while outside at night and mentally commented on how bright they were. These are things that I cannot change.
And then there was something I could change: my weight. And so it happened that earlier this year I had the notion to join a gym. This was not a decision made without some internal deliberation. I thought about how there are people all over the world without enough to eat and I was going to pay a monthly fee to walk on a treadmill. I thought about trying a personal experiment…. could I lose weight spending the amount of money a single person receives in food stamps and utilizing free modes of exercise such as running? (Disclaimer: I was well aware that it wasn’t a precise experiment; I certainly had privileges. For instance, I live in an area where it is safe to go out and run when I want to and I can afford an apartment community with a viable workout room.) My basic evaluation of the situation was no, I would not lose weight entirely on my own.
I think I will always be grateful I decided to hand over the cash and join the gym. I’m even more grateful I got matched with a fantastic personal trainer, which is funny because things like personal trainers were expenses I would have judged a couple years ago. A personal trainer seemed like a lavish luxury for the wealthy and contrary to what some may think, working at homeless shelters and for hospices doesn’t make one monetarily wealthy.
Despite my past misgivings, I had a free initial session with a trainer (that’s where they get ya, folks) and soon I was signed up for a 90-Day weight loss challenge. I approached this journey realistically. I knew that I wasn’t going to stop eating sugar; after all I never was one who thought you should eat dessert first because life is short, but that you should eat it first AND last because it tastes good. Except for the two weeks that I did a detox (nothing unhealthy, just organic, non-processed meats and vegetables and an absence of things like white flour, processed ingredients, etc. as well as some additional protein and fiber shakes) I snacked when I wanted to. The big change was I wanted to snack a lot less than I used to want to. Even the way I drank my coffee at Starbucks changed and I still maintain many of these habits.
At the end of the challenge I had lost 30 pounds. Of course, it’s easiest to lose weight initially. Since the end of that challenge I’ve lost almost another 20 and that second phase has taken six months. I realize the weight loss slowed for two reasons: I was past the initial quick weight loss phase and I was building muscle (and I’m friends with the candy bowl at work). Having a personal trainer has been invaluable. On my own I probably would have ran for hours on a treadmill with little to show for it, but I’ve received a lot of education from seminars at the gym and direct education from my trainer. Not only have I lost weight, but I’ve become a lot stronger and am no longer scared of strength training. I’ve had the opportunity to try new things (boxing, anyone?) and overall, it’s been a lot of fun. The accountability and camaraderie I've built with my trainer have been huge blessings.
Now, for the vulnerable part: When I first contemplated losing weight I was conscious of how being thinner could change my self-esteem and I wasn’t sure it would all be for the better. It wasn’t until I faced the prospect of losing this weight that I realized that I’d been wearing it like an uncomfortable security blanket. My concern was that if I lost the weight and was still single, it would validate that there really was something wrong with me. Newsflash: There is stuff wrong with me. There’s stuff wrong with everybody. In fact, there’s stuff wrong with every single married person (oh that’s a great play on words!) that I know because we’re human and flawed and that’s where grace comes in…. but that could be a whole other post.
I decided to kick my concerns to the curb and focus on being healthier. It’s funny the differences I notice now that I’m thinner. I’ve had instances of people I haven’t seen in a long time not recognizing me if I ran into them in public. Once I was waiting outside of a restaurant for my own parents and they couldn’t tell if it was me until they got closer. Other times I do feel noticed. It’s almost funny how when I was larger I almost felt invisible when it came to things like dating and now, it just feels different. A huge part of that is a renewed sense of confidence and that’s been one of the best results of this journey.
So, yes, I have spent money for a gym and a personal trainer and I wouldn’t go back and change that. I’m interested to see how God uses this newfound confidence because it really has been one of the best results of becoming healthier.