I struggled with obesity my entire life. At the age of 11, I was told I was overweight and had to go on a diet. I was 4’11” and about 130 lbs. Had I known that just a couple years later I would stand at 5’7”, those words would never had affected me the way that it did. 130 would have been a completely normal weight but sadly, I had succumbed to the stigma of obesity from that moment forward and in my case, carried on for over 20 years. I was put on medication as early as 13 when Phen/Fen was the new rage until it was banned and it was on to the next new “magic” weight loss pill.
For 20 years I yo yo’d from fad diet to fad diet. You name it, I likely tried it. Weight watchers, Atkins, South Beach, Hollywood Liquid diet, Hydroxycut, personal trainers, counting calories, juicing, Paleo, Whole 30, etc., and every time I would lose the first 20 pounds fairly easily and then nothing would happen. When you don’t see results, it’s almost too easy to fall back into old habits but you think, “What’s the point? It’s not coming off so I might as well live life right?” Before you know it the 20 lbs comes back along with 20 more. Over time, you again get frustrated with yourself, you hate your reflection, you are tired of always being tired and just once you want to be happy in a photo again so you get back on the horse and let history repeat itself time and time again.
For some of us, something happens that scares us enough to make changes. I thought it was falling through and breaking a lounge chair and the humiliated feeling in my core. Nope that wasn’t it, history repeated itself then.
For me, the moment came when I was diagnosed with Diabetes, Fatty Liver and High cholesterol. I was barely 30 years old and I was scared. I didn’t want to succumb to medications for the rest of my life. I decided to take 6 months and do everything in my power to be healthy and lose weight and change my life around. If after 6 months, I was still diagnosed, then I would give in to the medication. For 6 months I focused my energy on food, cutting everything out, going on walks and doing what I could. When the time came and I retested, I reversed everything on my own! It was such an amazing feeling, until the scale came out. I only lost 20 lbs once again after 6 months. I knew then it wasn’t a matter of will power, calories or exercise. My gut tells me it was the result of 20 years of yo yo diets that my body just shut down in theory and the weight would not come off. That’s when I decided that it was not me anymore but something else and I looked into Gastric Sleeve Surgery.
I used to be one of those people that always thought that surgery was cheating or the easy way out. Being obese myself, I judged those who had it and would think if they just put the fork down and walked a bit, then they wouldn’t need to do something so drastic. Surgery is just a quick fix and you lose the weight because you are literally forced to.
My opinions drastically changed on September 19, 2014 when I came out of my first experience with any kind of surgery. The months thereafter proved that this was not an easy fix. It was the hardest period of time in my whole life at that point. Having this surgery was not easy. There were days where it broke you mentally, physically and emotionally in ways I never thought. For me it was all about the mindset, remaining positive that this is for a reason and that it will get better. Each bad day was the worst it was ever going to be moving forward and that was my fuel. I would visualize myself completely tasks I once dreamed, visualized my reflection looking smaller, visualized smiling in photos again, visualized a towel wrapping around my waist and a plethora of other feats that you don’t realize is taken for granted until you are in a place where you can’t do them.
Five and a half years later my life is constantly changing for the better. I have been able to accomplish things that were merely a pipe dream as a kid. I’ve been able to move up stairs without wanting to keel over, tie my shoes in the middle, sit in a restaurant booth, fit in an airline seat, sit Indian style on the floor and more importantly, I look into the mirror and I love who I am both on the outside and the inside. I wish I had the same confidence at 350 lbs as I do at 190 lbs but unfortunately society makes us feel less than human simply because of a number on a little machine.
The stigmas of obesity have haunted me my entire life. I have been passed on interviews, overlooked on promotions, had complete strangers mock or make damaging comments and I even had a massage therapist completely humiliate me during a massage by repeating telling me that I don’t need a massage, I need a gym.
At some point, obesity is a mindset telling ourselves we are not good enough for love, life and happiness. It teaches us that we are less than normal, less than human and comes with stereotypes of laziness, slobs and disgusting. The fact is that each and every one of us has a story inside, a chain of life experiences that have shaped who we are now. I was living proof that my weight at many times was not because of those stereotypes, but something else that I didn’t know.
My goal in life now is to help spread awareness that obesity is not a stigma but merely a temporary situation. Anyone can overcome obesity with the right tools, helps and most importantly, the right mindset. Obesity is not permanent. Obesity is not failure. Obesity is not a stigma. Obesity is not always a choice. I am not a doctor, so I can’t help people with the physical weight loss but I can help them be motivated, help them visualize specifically the person they want to be and conquer their goals. I can share my story around the world and show people that once you change your mindset, you can become unstoppable. Give yourself permission to love yourself how you are and just constantly evolve and change so that you too can life your best life.
People treat you differently when obese or skinny. The reason is because we let them. You dictate how people will view your heart and that will shine outwards through your body. It’s time to go full speed ahead and send a message.
Change your Mindset, CHANGE YOUR LIFE!