Deba’s CalorieKing Success Story
At CalorieKing we are so proud and deeply moved by our members’ successes. We often ask our community to nominate another member whose story has inspired them.
This time it is “Deba’s” turn. She had such a profound change in her thinking along with her weight loss journey that she has given speeches on the subject to students.
We are delighted she’s shared it with us:
Some of you may have noticed that I’ve lost a fair amount of weight, but not a single student has mentioned it to me. I want to share some of my story with you, showing that it’s o.k. to acknowledge and talk about this. I’ve been overweight since before I started school, and first introduced to Weight Watchers in the 5th grade. I’ve lost and gained back over 100 pounds three other times in my adult life, eventually giving up the fight close to 15 years ago. Fortunately, I never developed any serious medical problems linked to obesity. But that’s not the case for some of my friends, who because of health issues, opted to have weight loss surgery. As wrong as it sounds now, I was really angry at them for choosing surgery as a solution. Not because they were taking care of themselves, but because it forced me to wake up and do something about my own weight, or risk getting left behind. Truth be told, I didn’t want to be the only fat person left in my family and circle of friends.
Since I wasn’t willing to have surgery, and had failed at dieting many times before, I was determined to figure out what I needed to do to succeed. I really wanted to know the difference between people who diet just to lose weight and people who live a healthy lifestyle, consistently making good choices because it’s who they are at their core. That’s who I wanted to be. So I went after it. I found people like that in my life and studied them. I picked their brains trying to figure out what they had that I didn’t have. Sure enough, through observation and conversations, I figured it out. Keep in mind that everyone is different. For me, it came down to two things: self-respect and the ability to trust. Two things that were taken away from me at a very early age. Once I figured that out, I was able to move forward.
The Power of Self Respect
The self-respect piece came to me like this. Last January, I started working out with a trainer. As soon as I met him, I told myself that I was going to do whatever he asked me to do. Anything less than that would be disrespectful. Three months later another person at the gym offered to help me with my eating. I did the same thing. I immediately gave her that same level of respect. Then a light went off. I looked back through my life and realized that this was a pattern for me. Why was I so willing to give these two people, who I barely knew, respect that I wasn’t giving to myself? Improving my health and fitness wasn’t about them. It was about me, and I needed to take responsibility and start making better choices out of respect for myself.
A Life-Long Commitment
Eating smart and exercising are things I’ll need to do for the rest of my life. That’s a very long commitment, which takes a significant amount of trust. I had to learn to trust that it’s the right thing to do and that it will eventually pay off, even when I’m not seeing instant results. It’s very similar to being a student and having to study things that other people think you need to know. Every day you’re asked to trust that what you’re learning is important to your success down the road. We all know that’s not easy, especially when you’re spending countless hours on school work when you would rather be doing something else.
People ask me if losing weight was hard. It was at first, but not any more. Living this way is very important to me, and when something’s important, you just do it. The other question I often get is: Do you feel better? Absolutely! I feel great knowing that I control how I feel, physically, mentally and emotionally with exercise and what I choose to put in my body. Feeling better isn’t about the number on the scale, although losing weight is a nice bonus. It comes from being healthy, strong and ultimately happy.
“You’re Always Smiling”
A few weeks ago a woman I didn’t know walked up to me after yoga class and asked “Are you always this happy?” I thought … Where’s that coming from? How would she even know that a
bout me? Nobody talks at yoga. It’s an hour, actually 50 minutes of playing Twister in silence, with a 10 minute nap at the end. Then she finished by saying “you’re always smiling.”
When I was heavier, I seldom smiled because I had daily, hurtful, experiences that most of you never have to think about. Each time one of those things would happen to me, I’d turn it into a statement that helped me deflect the embarrassment. In my head, it went something like this: You know you’re fat when you have to ask the flight attendant for a seat belt extender. Youknow you’re fat when you miss your niece’s wedding because you can’t find clothes that fit. You know you’re fat when you have to press the up button forever to enter your weight on the treadmill. You know your fat when your butt’s so big your cat can sit back there on your butt shelf. You know you’re fat when you throw your underwear down the stairs and they open up like a giant parachute and float to the bottom. I had hundreds of those statements.
…Has Changed to I Know I’m Healthy
Each time I would come up with a new one, I would kick myself for not writing the previous ones down. I always joked about writing a funny fat book someday. In retrospect, I’m glad I can’t remember most of that negative self-talk. My thought process is entirely different now. If I were to write a book today it would start like this: I know I’m healthy because … I know I’m healthy because I can run up and down the stairs. I know I’m healthy because I leave the house every morning with a packed gym bag and nutritious food for the day. I know I’m healthy because I fit in, and can ride roller coasters again. I know I’m healthy because I can finally push the down button when entering my weight on the treadmill. I know I’m healthy because people I don’t know are actually nice to me. I know I’m healthy because I can stand up here and talk about this and it’s o.k. Notice the transformation. I’ve gone from disconnecting and giving my life away (you know you’re fat when) to embracing and owning it (I know I’m healthy because).
The Power of Positive Thinking
In true Thanksgiving assembly fashion, I want to leave you with something to think about, and perhaps work on. I could easily rattle off inspirational quotes about hard work, motivation and discipline, but that’s not the most important thing I learned this year. In April, while recovering from gallbladder surgery, I sent a long text to my trainer whining about not being able to work out. I was so annoyed with my slow recovery, that I had become very annoying. Apparently my trainer thought so too because she responded to my long message with three short words that changed my perspective: Deb Look Around. It felt like she punched me in the gut. That ended our conversation for the night and hopefully my whining forever.
Her response reminded me that whatever problems I have, there will always be others struggling with situations that are much worse. I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and start being grateful for the people and things in my life, including all the support and resources I have to help me become a better person. She also taught me that everyone has bad things happen to them. It’s what we do with it that matters. We can let it define us, defeat us, or use it to get stronger. I battled with my weight for a very long time because I let my past define and defeat me, instead of using it to my advantage. This new way of thinking and positive self-talk gave me the inner strength and confidence I needed to achieve my goal of living a healthy lifestyle.
You Only Get One Body
In closing, I want you to think about the fact that you only get one body in this lifetime. Please don’t wait as long as I did to make health and fitness a priority. Whatever your goals are, never give up and never be afraid to ask for help. Be kind to others, especially those who are struggling, but most importantly learn to love, respect and nurture yourself. Once you do that, don’t be surprised when people start saying “you’re always smiling.”