Everyone’s health journey is different and I love hearing other women’s stories! I believe that we find strength and encouragement when we can be transparent about our struggles and celebrate one another’s victories. For that reason, I am sharing this guest blog post with you written by my friend Shanae. I’ve witnessed her journey and I hope that this blog will give you a glimpse of her journey BUT most importantly inspire you in your own!
Majority of you already know what’s healthy and what’s not healthy to eat. We all know that we are supposed to get exercise. We learned this information from Kindergarten through high school (Health Class). So why do we ask the question, what should I do to lose weight? WE ALREADY KNOW!
So, the only thing left to do is change our entire mindset. Instead of trying to diet to lose those 20 pounds, practice clean eating and exercise just because you need to be healthy.
Here’s my story:
Phase 1. (I love to eat)
I grew up in a small town called Hazlehurst, GA and as a child I played outside a lot with my brother and friends, so I pretty much stayed slim. When I got home from school the first thing I did was go outside and play. On the weekends I played outside from sun up to sun down. My brother and I played outside for so long that my parents or grandmother had to make us come in the house. I got plenty of physical activity which easily kept my weight down, but I ate each meal like I wasn’t going to get a chance to eat again. It was way too much! I’ve always had a big appetite and ate two pork chops instead of one, or wanted three pieces of fried chicken, or just wanted to eat all of the sweets I could eat.
Hey… I was a kid and that’s what kids did where I’m from. I love my grandmother to pieces, she and my mother were excellent cooks. My mom would try to limit what I ate because she did not want me to have to battle with being overweight. On the other hand, my grandparents would feed me until I looked like I was about to pop. They had no limits when it came down to eating good ol’ southern food with all of the fried foods you can eat and the super sweet tea that you can drink.
Phase 2 . (Who is that ???)
As I grew older, my time of playing outdoors grew less and less, but my big appetite stayed the same. By the time I reached 4th grade, I didn’t like going outside anymore because I was entering into that older stage. This may sound weird or strange, but I was unaware of when I started gaining weight. I can remember being in 4th grade and had to be weighed during a school physical and the gym teacher gave me a slip of paper with my weight circled in red. I weighed 202 pounds. WHAT!? I was so shocked and kept asking myself, “How in the world did I get there?” To make things worse, I accidentally dropped the slip of paper and another student picked it up for me and saw THE number! He said, “Dang Shanae, you weigh 202 pounds?” I was so embarrassed and just wanted to disappear.
By the time I reached high school, I had gotten bigger, and I didn’t realize that I was as big as I was until I saw a picture I took with some friends. I can remember looking at the picture and saying, “Is that me?” One of my friends said, “yes silly that’s you.” They thought I was being funny, but I was looking at a total different person in the picture. A person I didn’t recognize anymore.
Phase 3 (Low self-esteem)
After seeing how big I had gotten in high school low self-esteem crept into my life. I became so self-conscious that I walked around with a jacket on year-round. I wore a jacket in the winter AND even in the summer. Strangely, I thought the jacket was hiding some of the weight. My mom would always ask me to take my jacket off, she thought it was the craziest thing she’d ever seen. At the time she was innocent and thought it was some silly teenage fad, LOL! My self-esteem continued to decline.
I remember going school shopping and crying in the dressing room because I couldn’t fit any of the fashionable, cool clothes that all of my friends were wearing. I had to wear what I called “old-fashioned” clothes because I had to shop in the adult plus-size section. My emotions had gotten so bad that my mom dreaded to take me school shopping because she knew it was going to be a sad and emotional day for me, only because I couldn’t fit the clothes kids my age were wearing. My dad would be hurting because he knew that I was hurting. My mom, being the awesome mom she is, tried everything in her power to console me and help me pick out decent looking clothes. Unfortunately, everything she pulled off the rack made me cry harder because I looked like somebody’s elderly auntie that smoked at the family reunion picnics.
Phase 4 (Junior & Senior Year of High School)
Phase 5 (HALLELUJAH a change took place)
Phase 6 (Fast Forward)
Phase 7 (Self-discipline & Self-Motivation)
I reached my goal weight and wore a size 10 in clothes. As I moved out of my cousin’s house, got a job, got married to my amazing husband, Duane M. Lewis, and had two beautiful little girls, Kylie and Mackenzie, my schedule and new responsibilities left very little time for working out and very little money for a gym membership. I wouldn’t trade my family for the world, but after giving birth to 2 babies the baby weight stuck to me like gorilla glue. Listen, I gained about 60 pounds during my pregnancies. My doctor fussed at me during every visit because I was gaining too much weight. I worked out while I was pregnant with my youngest baby, Mackenzie, but because I still ate everything in sight, I gained a lot of weight. After having Mackenzie I remember going shopping for clothes. I was nowhere near the size I had worked so hard to reach.
I felt the old, insecure, low self-esteem creeping back in. To experience that awful feeling again after working so hard to get rid of it almost made me give up. I started feeling angry and complained about my weight just like I did in high school. One day I was complaining about how big I was, and my husband said, “I love you just the way you are, but just know that if you lost all of the weight before, you can do it again!” That reminded me of Tye Tribbett’s song, “If He did it before, He can do it again!” When I lost the weight the first time I had a lot of time on my hands and had the extra money for a gym membership. The gym had so many different workout classes that kept me motivated and excited about working out. Now, I had way less time and less money, so I felt like I couldn’t do it again. Losing weight and reaching my goal, but then gaining over half of it back, I knew how great I felt without the weight. Remembering how good I felt without the weight motivated me to figure out how to make it happen again. I prayed a sincere prayer and asked God to give me the strength to lose the weight again.
It takes so MUCH willpower to do the opposite of what your flesh wants to do. However, God heard my prayer and I started jogging on my lunch break, 2-3 days out of the week. I started following workout trainers on Facebook and when they posted free workouts I saved them and worked out in my living room at home. I researched healthy meals on Pinterest, found free workouts on YouTube, and downloaded free workout apps. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! I found out that there are so many free workouts at our fingertips, but we must make eating healthy and exercise a priority. At this point I had built self-discipline and self-motivation because I didn’t have a lot of time to meet workout partners. I had to work out whenever I got a chance which was early in the morning after I took my girls to daycare, on my lunch break at work, or at night after feeding my girls dinner, bath time, and then getting them to bed. Self-motivation is the absolute best thing you can develop. Partners are great, but I couldn’t always wait for someone else to help me meet my goals or else I would be waiting the rest of my life. I had to learn to motivate myself!