Strong Arms Girl

My Realistic Weight Loss Journey

From the time I was 10 years old, I began to realize that my body was not like everyone else’s. Maintaining my weight became an increasingly more difficult challenge as I entered my teenage years. I can remember having to get a school-wide physical in sixth grade and hearing my weight, then finding out a girl in my class weighed the same as me. In my mind, I was average for my age and looking back at pictures confirms this. However, this classmate announced to the whole class how “fat” she thought she was, and she couldn’t believe she had reached the 100 pound mark. I laugh thinking back at how sixth graders think a 100 lb person is super heavy. This memory burned in my mind throughout my adolescence, and I’d like to think this was the first moment I began comparing myself to others.

My sophomore year of high school came around, and I noticed that my weight was beginning to fluctuate frequently. At 15 years old, I was not fully caring about what I was eating because I believed that my four to six hours of cheerleading practice per week needed to be fueled by a greater amount of food. Before I knew how metabolism and weight gain works, I was just living my life and saying “yes” to each time food was offered to me. I looked around and saw my thinner friends eating unhealthy foods frequently and not gaining an ounce from it.

As someone who is 5’1, I have always been expected to keep a petite figure because having a low weight is proportional to someone my height. Every year I dreaded going to the doctors because I was made to feel unusual and lazy for having some extra weight on me. I did not eat a lot of fast food growing up and my parents always tried to cook at home, so I felt like I was being judged and misunderstood.

On my 16th birthday in March 2017, I took pictures with my friends before heading out to my party. I didn’t really focus on these photos until about a week after. As I scrolled through my camera roll, I noticed how different I had appeared from years in the past. I had a lot of very visible extra body fat, and I did not like the way I was presenting myself to the world. Sure, I wasn’t trashing my body with unhealthy foods, but extra snacks and mindless eating had gotten me to that point.

That spring break my family went to the Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, and I challenged myself to only eat healthily at the theme park. I knew if I could resist my favorite treats at one of the most tempting places, I could seriously commit myself to a weight loss plan. I successfully accomplished my goal, but it was a major change because I had been eating to the point of being very full and not simply satisfied. The next day I ordered a Weight Watchers points slider and learned how to do the program for free. The point system is based on weight, height, age and activity level and dictates how many points (calories, fats and fiber) you’re allowed for the day. Within my first week of being dedicated, I lost 4.5 lbs and it didn’t stop from there. After working out frequently and staying mentally strong, I ended up losing around 35 lbs in five months. To this day, I have never been so strong and confident. As someone who has struggled for years with my weight, it meant a lot to finally succeed at a problem area in my life. I didn’t feel like I was the heaviest one on my team for once and looked stronger than ever. After keeping my weight off for a little over a year, I began to slip back into my old habits.

In my junior spring, I went on an academic trip to San Francisco, California, and lost all self-control. It was the first time I had traveled cross-country without my parents, and I wasn’t on a normal eating schedule. By December of my senior year, I had gained all of my weight back plus another five pounds. To this date, I have tried to lose the weight again, but it can be difficult when you’re on a sorority meal plan with buffet-style lunches and refillable dinners.

Towards the end of March, students were highly encouraged to return home due to the spread of COVID-19. This was a huge change for UF students, but it also presented an opportunity to make a schedule where I could better prioritize my health and fitness. This week is approaching the two-week mark, but so far I have lost three lbs in the first week. Although this is a small chunk of weight, it is the beginning of a beautiful journey that I am ready to reembark on.

When we go on social media, it is common for celebrities to endorse fat-burning teas and waist cinchers that claim to get you looking runway ready. What we don’t see are the thousands of dollars spent on skincare treatments, plastic surgery and personal trainers. Sometimes we can get so caught up in rushing the process and wanting to achieve unattainable standards because of the influences around us. This was a major problem for me when I began gaining my weight back. You don’t hear about people struggling with weight gain after losing a considerable amount. The media makes us believe that once we achieve our goals everything is perfect and the work is over, but this is false. Everyone’s personal story is completely different; however, it’s important to remember that mental health and physical wellbeing are the most important factors. This is a realistic weight loss journey; this is my weight loss journey.