The other night, on twitter, I was asked about different pieces of my story. I guess that means… more about my struggle? How I came to a point where I was comfortable with my efforts and my ability to continue on to where I want to be?
Okay.. here goes.
Once upon a time, I lived in Denton, TX. A student at UNorth Texas, I had a close friend who I’ve mentioned on this site before, named Alyse. She’d hit the campus gym (which was absolutely stunning and seriously state of the art.. floating track and all that) at nights, and started inviting me. Me, at 300+lbs and with a 8month old beauty on my hands, I figured it couldn’t hurt, right? I mean, if nothing else, I could get a good walk with minimal exposure to outdoor elements with my daughter. If only I could commit to it.
Needless to say, I didn’t. I fizzled out quickly and, although I wish she did, Alyse didn’t push me on this. She did stick by me, though.
Fast forward about another 8 months, and I’ve moved back home to prepare to start my own business. In the time of being at home, I’d put on a good 30 lbs. I wouldn’t admit it, but it felt like someone was pumping air into my spare tire. Being home was stressful… my mother – as much as I love and value her role in my life – is a stressor. Living under someone else’s roof… is a stressor. Single parenthood… is a stressor. Starting your own business… definite stressor. I’d turn to food, simply because it shuts up, gives me what I need, and makes me feel good. Was the high temporary? Of course… but that was all the more reason to eat some more.
It wasn’t my house, so I kinda sorta couldn’t really cook in it. I would dip to the grocery store and buy little quick microwaveables – things that’d allow me to heat, eat, and retreat back out of my mom’s sight. It was her house, I didn’t want her to feel burdened in her own home. Needless to say, the weight just came piling on.
By about May, I had finally received my articles of incorporation, and was feeling accomplished. Feeling like I could really just get up and take off… and my mother mentioned the brand new fitness center that opened up around the corner. I rolled my eyes… beyond normal eye-rolling, even. But I was so high off of getting incorporated that I said, “Screw it. Let’s go.”
The gym, an Anytime Fitness, was gorgeous. Mirrors everywhere (mind you, I didn’t look in ANY), beautiful shiny machines, and TVs! Hallelujah! TVs! The owner gave me a personal tour. Told me what some machines did, showed me the importance of certain exercises, and really drove a hard sale on getting me to join. Now, I work in marketing – I know when I’m being pitched to and when someone’s genuine. He was clearly a combination of both – he had to be in his mid to late 50s and was on some Jack LaLanne fitness type mess, but at the same time he needed memberships. So I accepted, and let myself sink into his sales pitch. I NEEDED to be compelled to do this.
Once his pitch became unbearable, I excused myself to the bathroom. Inside, it was this beautiful rusty color. Nice lil’ shower curtains. Clean bathroom complete with sprays and magazines.
And a scale.
I jumped on that scale. I won’t tell you exactly what it said, but once it soared past 300, I ’bout had a HEART ATTACK. I just sobbed my little heart out. After remembering that I had to eventually leave the bathroom, I collected myself and stepped outside… only to start sobbing again.
The owner (who was also a trainer) consoled me, assured me that I COULD – in fact – do this thing, and offered me the standard two training sessions that came free with my membership. Help me become knowledgeable about the equipment, how different machines help different parts of the body, and help me figure out the best course of action for my own body. I took him up on his offer.
To speed up the story a bit, about six months went by with my membership, and I had lost about 28 lbs. In theory, about a pound a week. To clarify, I was going to the gym 28 days a month (yes, that Erika K. over there is me!), and was regularly number 1 for most gym visits in a month. I spent at least an hour in there every night that I went. I didn’t know that there were reasons for such minimal results on a regular basis. Honestly, I didn’t care. I knew there was something much more important for me to address, and getting over myself and getting used to investing in myself regularly was more important than seeing the scale move. Learning to accept that I had to ruin my hair, on occasion, and sweat a little was more important than seeing the scale move. For now, that is.
After those six months, I packed up and moved my daughter and I to Miami. No gym membership here, although there is a little gym in the apartment complex. I never visited that bad boy, though.
After three months in Miami, I gained about 14lbs. Talk about a shocker! I was beyond confused! What part of the game was THAT? I knew I needed to start back up, but I didn’t understand how I could gain so much weight so quickly. I didn’t understand how I was shortchanging myself.
Two months more passed by, and after changing my eating habits a bit, the weight gain slowed down. I had three relatively traumatic events occur back to back, and I even remember the night the straw broke the camel’s back. I was baking a tin of muffins (you read that right – some box muffins, no less) and when the word came around, I walked in the kitchen, yanked the muffins – half done – out of the oven. I just… stared at them. I just so happened to be so nauseated, that I couldn’t eat. I stuck the half done muffins in the fridge. I thought I might have an appetite, and eat them later.
In fact, I only had a desire to eat raw vegetables, because they were light, less greasy, and wouldn’t turn my stomach. I won’t tell you how much weight I lost within the time frame that I did only eat raw veggies, but it was enough to make me realize that my eating habits were a problem. I just didn’t know how to address that problem.
A Sorority sister of mine with relatively healthy eating habits visited the grocery store with us one day. She knew about the changes in my weight, knew that I wanted to keep up the momentum, and knew that I was serious about changing my life. So.. we literally fought in the grocery store. If I reached for something I had no business buying, she slapped my hand. I think, at one point, I actually started throwin’ stuff at her.
“You don’t have to eat like this, Erika,” were her words. Hell, I didn’t know there were other options. Later that day, I remember saying to her “Gosh, I’m starving. Let’s go to Checkers right quick.” She told me, “No. You’ve got food at home.” That was actually the last time I ever even asked for fast food. I got her point.
Time passed, and I was losing weight without even working out. My mentality then became, “If I worked out, I could probably lose even faster!” And with that statement, I started walking. Grabbed my iPod, and hit the trail with my daughter. From there, natural progression has taken me from the walking, to the elliptical at the gym, to running outside. I spent a lot of time learning about calisthenics and with the right resources, I learned the benefits of working out at home.
To date of writing this post, I’ve lost 134lbs. If you want to include the 10lbs I actually wound up gaining back, it’s been 144lbs. I don’t like to give myself that satisfaction, though. To break it down, from the moment that I started changing my eating habits, I’ve lost about 80lbs. It’s October 31st today, right? I changed my eating habits in April. 80lbs in six months changing my eating habits vs. 28lbs in 6 months working out? Maybe now you see why I’m such a proponent for better eating habits.
In short (even though this is FAR from short, sorry), everyone has their “come to fitness” moment. Some even choose to never come to it. But if you can read my struggle and identify what the catalysts for change were for me, then maybe you’ll be better prepared when yours arrive. Maybe you’ll use them as starting points. Maybe you will use mine to start yourself up. If you use them at all, by all means, share in the comments!