Friday, June 17

how it happened

Now that you know my philosophy on self-acceptance and my practical how-to's for dressing during weight loss, I thought it would only be appropriate to share with you how I lost my weight.
This is not a tutorial for your life, but merely a reflection of mine. How I went from being obese to fit and healthy.
It was a journey for sure. I didn't wake up one day and thing, man, I gotta lose this weight, and boom it happened.
I battled weight all my life. My sisters were naturally lean and I can remember others saying "some are born lean, some are not" and "you are just bigger boned" and so on. I learned to believe that I had drawn the short straw and I'd just have to be content being fat, or "big", all my life.
As you can imagine, this led to severe self esteem issues. I hated myself. What had I done to deserve being the fat sister?
It became more of an issue in high school, college, and post college as I entered the work force. I was surrounded with more people and was also more aware of how I compared to them. I remember a period when I worked at one job, I was so ashamed that I was fat and had to eat fat people food (Slimfast bars and shakes was all I had till dinner time) that I'd eat in the bathroom stalls. Besides the obvious gross factor, I find that very sad and hard to believe that was ME. I was so ashamed of myself and would punish myself by not eating with the "normal" people in the lunch room full of catered yummy food. Someone like me had no business eating food like that, much less in front of people. I could almost hear them saying "whoa, she needs to lay off the food!"
But as we all know, if you starve your body it's going to crave FOOD. So often after work I'd swing by the store and load up on sugary drinks and fried foods. Because lets face it, you don't get overweight eating 150 calories a day of cardboard and chalky beverages. :( You also don't learn to respect and appreciate quality food and nutrition.
To give myself some credit, I did TRY. I tried going on diets. I remember the cabbage soup diet all to well. :( I'd try working out. I'd go to the gym and waddle on the treadmill for 20 minutes and then go through a series (the same every day) of weight machines and then as many crunches as I could muster. I'd do the same routine every day and wonder why in the world I wasn't getting any smaller. In fact, I had gotten to well over 200 pounds before I was 24.
During this time I met and fell in love with my now husband (who has also lost weight and become insanely fit). Somebody who loved me for me! Somebody who wanted me to be happy. Period. I learned through his kindness and love that I deserved to be happy - whatever that was.
Fast forward several months to just past my 24th birthday. It was Thanksgiving and I had over eaten (as usual) and was trying to fall asleep. I was at my in laws and sometime in the middle of the night I had excruciating pain in my mid section. I kid you not. I told myself "that's what you get for eating too much" and tried to get comfortable enough to go back to sleep.
Weeks later I awoke to the same feelings, only more intense and painful. After a night of crawling between my room and bathroom, I went to work and made it halfway home before I had to call my mom.
My mom is the voice of reason. No drama, no nonsense. We never got away with a princess complex growing up. So I knew if something were really wrong, she'd be completely honest and drama-free about it. So I called her and she told me to turn around as soon as I could and go to the hospital. If that wasn't a sign. ;)
Two weeks and lots of tests later, I went in for emergency gall bladder surgery. I was 24. I could not believe that I had gotten to this point. Me. My life was really just beginning, but my body told a different story. I was killing it. I promised God and myself in the post-op room that I was going to change. No longer could I blame anybody else for the state I was in. It was my body, my choices, and my future.
From that day on, I started taking charge of things. I couldn't rely on friends or family or even my husband. I was responsible.
I took ownership and began studying and reading on diets, nutrition, and exercise.
I picked up a copy of Bob Greene's Best Life Diet book and it started me on the path of health. I love how he encourages baby steps. Too often I see people start fad diets only to end in "failure". And we know where that cycle takes us...back to binging because we feel so worthless.
When people ask me today how I maintain my fitness and health, I always start from the beginning. I know if someone had approached me with Crossfit and Paleo when I first started, I'd have been overwhelmed and felt like there was no way I could measure up.
So I started simply by running using the Couch to 5K program. It hurt, guys. I'd cry because it hurt so bad. It isn't easy. It never is, and frankly shouldn't be. But it is worth every effort.
I exercised to tone my body and increase heart health. All along my goal has been to first be healthy, and secondly to look good. ;) I saw my organs in an ultra sound pre surgery, and I felt so guilty for how I'd abused them.
I slowly added on some weight training using a workout DVD primarily with dumbells.
Over the past few years I'd moved from Bob Greene's book to the Eat Clean "diet". I loved this way of eating, and for a lot of people this will be plenty good. The food is doable, tastes great, and in many of the books there are ready meal plans.
A pivotal point in my "journey" was when my sister (who I'd compared myself to for YEARS) measured my wrist, then hers. THEY WERE THE SAME SIZE. "Big boned" is such a cop out. I feel as though we (me included) don't self educate so we pull at any excuse we can muster. I do realize there are some medical limitations, but those are few.
In a period of a few years I've dropped 70+ pounds and gained self worth, happiness, and pride in my accomplishment. I'm not obsessed with the scale, I don't take any pills or weight loss supplements (never did), and I'd never lie to you and say it was easy.
It wasn't, but I've never been so happy in my life. And honestly, I feel like the old fashioned way is the best. Because you are forced to learn as you go. Surgeries and pills could work, but you don't learn to respect yourself, the food you eat, and the work it takes to stay healthy.
So stop lying to yourself about what you deserve, and take charge of your life. What you want can be yours if you want it bad enough. Turn off those doubting, negative voices in your head and believe that you really can do anything and everything you set your mind to. There is no reason why you can't live your best starting this very moment. You deserve your dream.
I'm not "done". I don't know that I ever will be, but fitness and health are not a destination, it's a lifestyle. One that I love living, and I know you would too.
I will answer any questions or help in any way I can, but I strongly encourage you to make the effort to educate yourself. That was how I learned how to care for myself BY myself, and how I continue to maintain my fitness and health and push for the next level.


  1. Anonymous10:19 AM

    Great post, thank you for bearing your soul.

  2. You are awesome and inspiring. That is all.

  3. What a great post!

  4. This is a wonderful recap on what it was like to walk a very long, difficult road to change. Weight loss and self acceptance are two very difficult things to do. It is important that the motivations are solid, and beyond the superficial. I always felt a very important piece of loosing weight or general self acceptance is to introduce lifestyle changes. Diets tend not to work because they are time sensitive. When chagnes are made that are permanent, it is much easier to sustain them. Thanks for being a source of inspiration to me (and others).

  5. Anonymous6:12 PM

    You are such an inspiration.I admire that you lost weight through diet changes and hard work.

  6. Sarah, this post really makes my heart smile for you. <3

  7. I am Sarah's mother in law and I can testify first hand that everything Sarah said here and experienced is true. She was at my house when she had her first gall bladder attack that Thanksgiving.

    Sarah, your post brought tears to my eyes. I am so proud of you, sweetheart. I love you.

  8. Anonymous1:22 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing such an honest post!

  9. Sarah...Bravo for sharing your personal story! It will help so many other women that struggle with self-esteem issues and obesity!

    It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, but it is a gift of truth so many need to hear.

    I too am using the Paleo "diet" (if you even want to call it that). Eating clean is the best way to go.

    You are spot on, this is a way of life and taking care of yourself and your inner and outer beauty are BOTH shining now! Congrats

  10. Anonymous8:01 AM

    what a sweet heart you are and your hubby sounds like a real catch. I'm very happy for you. I always struggle with eating due to primal takeover. I have learned to accept my body and be happy even when I am overweight, for that is my choice and it does no good to feel bad. I can totally relate to when you want a change it is up to you and ONLY YOU. xo

  11. Ginny5:44 PM

    great post!!!! Getting back to the basics is the best way as you have proved!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  12. Anonymous10:16 AM

    Thanks so much for the encouragement. This is the first time I have seen your blog and it is very uplifting!

  13. Anonymous2:59 PM

    Could you share with us what a daily day of paleo eating looks like for you and your husband?

  14. We eat lean meats, lots of veggies (green ones are the best), and some fruit, nuts, and seeds.
    I get most of my recipes from I make enough at dinner to be leftovers for the next day's lunch. For breakfast we have breakfast meat and egg whites with salsa or a shake with ice, water, berries, and a little protein powder.
    Snacks are nuts, dried fruit (sans sugar), a trail mix I make myself, hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, lots of veggies, etc.
    We will occasionally break Paleo, but it's usually so we don't offend somebody, but it almost never fails to make me feel sick and I generally get bloated. :(

  15. Anonymous12:16 PM

    What a powerful story-and pictures! You wrote with such honesty. Thank you for the inspiration.

  16. Thanks for being so open with your story. Your honesty is inspiring. I've gone from a size 10/12 to a size 4/6 (dropped about 35lbs) in the last 3 years, and am still so embarrassed by my "before" photos. (I used the big-boned excuse all the time.) Often I act like i've always been a size 4 because of the embarrassment of ever being that fat. i appreciate your courage to share your story as inspiration for others.

  17. Amy, I totally get where you're coming from. Sometimes I see "before" pictures and the emotions go from shame, to guilt, to anger. It's still hard to confront my past sometimes, but it's all part of me and who I am and who I've become. I was not prepared for the emotional journey that I went through. Props to you for your success!

  18. Thank you so much for this post. I read your post about dressing during weight loss a month or so ago and I've been looking for your blog every since. all I remembered was most of your pics were outside your house and the beautiful brick wall. I'm so glad I found you again. Love the changes to the blog and thanks for the inspiration and motivation.

  19. Anonymous8:47 PM

    sounds just like me! i would punish myself for being overweight by ignoring hunger and starving myself because i thought i didn't deserve to eat. I'm in the middle of my weight loss journey which started years ago and it has been years of ups and downs. I WILL get to my goal becasue i deserve it. congrats on your weight loss and your new self confidence!