I once weighed 308 pounds but it took a while to get that way. I was very skinny as a child, about 20 pounds underweight, and often had strep throat. A tonsillectomy ended the strep throat and I began to put on weight and started looking healthy and feeling good, but I was 11 and a lot of bad eating habits began when I was trying to put on the weight. My parents saw the downhill slope and encouraged me to lose weight, but I pushed them away and rebelled. I became a closet eater, sneaking food into my room late at night. I could never get satisfied and the weight crept on. I noticed how heavy I was in the 8th grade when people started making fun of me and talking about me. At that age, your body is changing and hormonal and it was even harder to have the weight and realize people are talking about you.
In 9th grade, I was 250 pounds. My parents felt lost and didn’t know how to help me. My mom would try to take me for a walk, but none of that was helpful. In 10th grade we moved and I became homeschooled because of the situation, but that made it worse. I was at home by myself all day and didn’t have to be accountable. When I was about 305 pounds, my grandfather said something to me that was devastating. He asked what I wanted to do when I got older and I was thinking about medical school, but he said, ‘Do you want to be a sumo wrestler?’ It was just a joke to him and I always used my weight as something to joke about because I had been embarrassed by it, but I was mortified on the six-hour drive home. I knew I was heavy, but I didn’t think it was an issue or that people noticed any more. I had been so isolated that I hadn’t been made fun of and had forgotten that people could see me. My parents were very loving and encouraging and used positivity. It was August 16, 2010. I was 16 and thought that is it, I am done. I was 16. I didn’t ask for help or tell anyone about it because I was strong-willed didn’t want them to know if I failed. The next day I started with mailboxes and ran as hard as I could from one mailbox to the next and then walk to the next one. It was one mailbox at a time and I slowly began to see the progression, then I could run to two mailboxes. I looked in the mirror and could see a change. I was devoted to it.
The first 20 pounds dropped off and no one else really noticed. but I could see the difference in my clothes. At 50 pounds, I started learning about eating. At 308 pounds, if you had told me there was an athlete inside me that could one day run five miles, I would not have believed it, but now I tell people that they have to channel their inner athlete. I started changing portion sizes and then I changed the types of food. I will never forget the first time I introduced myself to someone from my old school. She didn’t recognize who I was and that was the most gratifying moment.
It took me three years of pushing and working to lose 180 pounds and my mother told everyone under the sun and showed them the photos. There is always something you can change or ask a little bit more to kickstart the metabolism and drop some more. Getting healthy was a lifetime change and how I want to live the rest of my life. I teach spin class and use it as a motivation to inspire people to get out of their comfort zone and push a little further. It is OK if exercise is not for you in the beginning, but it will become for you when you start seeing results.
I am in school to be a Physician’s Assistant and start clinicals in August. Medicine is what I love. I want to be one of these people who makes time to listen and be present with each patient. That is what people really need.”