By Guest Blogger Erika Rath
300 pounds! 300 pounds! I looked at the scale and couldn’t believe the number staring back at me. How had this happened? How had I let myself go? I was in my early twenties, miserable, and weighing in at an unthinkable 300 pounds.
It had to stop. But how? I had tried it all. The diets, the weight loss coaches, the calorie counting, the cabbage soup diet, the no-carb diet, etc… NOTHING WORKED! Sure, I got excited after I lost a couple of pounds, but then I couldn’t stay strict for long enough and fell off the wagon faster than I could shove a chocolate brownie in my mouth.
Now stay with me here… I ate because I thought I could. Really. Even at my heaviest weight I still managed to stay “in shape” and exercise. In fact, I was a devoted gym member who never stopped going. And I believed that this gave me the green light to eat as much as my heart desired. Boy, was I wrong! My weight kept escalating while my self esteem reached a brand new low.
But then one day in 2007, a friend of mine asked me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding. I said yes and then began to panic. How could I walk down her aisle looking the way I did? I was too embarrassed and everyone would be staring. I decided right then and there that if I was to be a bridesmaid, I would take pride in my duty and do the work to look better.
I had 10 months until the wedding and gave myself a very reasonable goal. 4 pounds a month would give me a total of 40 pounds just one week before the wedding. The first several weeks were easy. I joined Weight Watchers and was encouraged by family members. I didn’t want too many people to know what I was doing as I wanted my weight loss to be a surprise. Things were going well at the beginning. But then, it got progressively more difficult to stay disciplined, and my weight loss slowed down.
I did however manage to lose 50 pounds just in time for the wedding. And I felt great. After that I didn’t want to stop, I felt empowered and knew that I had to keep going. I worked out everyday and followed a disciplined regime that worked well for me. I believe that I began to put myself back on my to-do list, and think about myself a bit more. My workouts became more important and I thought about what I was putting in my mouth before I actually ate it. I looked at menus before going out to eat to see if there was indeed something for me and I tried to bake and cook lower calorie versions of certain dishes and foods I really liked.
By now, I had become disciplined and regimented with my diet and exercise, and I realized that I liked routine and I liked the way I felt and looked. I was in a better mood after going to the gym and I had a more optimistic perspective on life. I began to develop a better relationship with my family, my friends, and most importantly myself. After I lost the next 50 pounds, I began to realize just how important my health really was. I was fortunately very lucky to have not incurred any health issues considering I had been so heavy.
After losing all the weight, I realized just how much I loved exercise and feeling well. I became passionate about helping other people overcome their hurdles as I had, through proper eating, exercise and a healthy attitude. I wanted to help these people gain back the self esteem they had lost, much the way I had. After tremendous thought and wavering, I finally got of the fence and became a certified personal trainer. I feel that there is not enough education and awareness for young teens about their health and about the importance of physical activity. I don’t want other young girls to go through what I did. We need to pay more attention to our youth, especially our girls who are future professionals, mothers, wives, etc…
Food will always be a part of my life, but I try to take a healthier approach to it. In fact, I’ve never felt better. I think deep down I also knew that I didn’t look good, and well, sometimes our exteriors drive us to change more than health risks. Unfortunately, we live in a very judgmental society where looks and appearances seemed to be placed high on the importance scale. But besides transforming for my own health and well-being, I feel good in my own skin now and feel that I have the confidence to do anything. My struggle with my weight will always exist, and I will continue to watch it and monitor it each and every day. I hopefully will continue to maintain my weight and become even healthier, stronger, and fitter. I encourage all of you to do the same. And remember, everyone needs a place to start. Think of a recovering alcoholic – 4 days sober is still a celebration. One day at a time.
So before I sign off, here are 5 tips that have helped put my body and my mind in the best shape of its life:
- Do something active everyday whether it be at the gym or outside. Make sure you sweat and put some effort into it.
- Stock your fridge with lots of fruits and veggies and if you can’t pronounce an ingredient on a label, Don’t BUY IT!!! Try to shop the perimeter of the supermarket, the best produce and healthiest items are there. Don’t keep tempting foods in your house, that way if you really want something you will be forced to leave your house and get it.
- Don’t deprive yourself. If you really want something, eat it because if you don’t, you’ll end up eating more of it later on.
- Be social and active at the same time. Go for a walk with a friend and have a destination in mind to grab a coffee or a frozen yogurt.
- Treat yourself to something besides food as a reward for your hard work. After each 10 pounds lost, I would buy myself a book, or a shirt I liked, or something I’d been looking at for awhile.
I wish you good health and happiness. Be good to yourself. The only way others will respect you is if you respect yourself!
Erika Rath is a Fitness and Weightloss Coach. When I had the pleasure of meeting her for the first time a few months ago, her story inspired me. I urged her to share her story with all of you to show you that… ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
What are your thoughts about Erika’s story? Have you learned anything? Or simply leave her a comment.