“Little by little, one travels far”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
It is with great joy that I have finally met my lifelong goal of meeting the clinical definition of healthy. My life is decidedly separate from what it once was. I don’t know who I was anymore; I simply know that that girl was not actually me. Like a close friend that slowly fades from contact, and becomes a presence that once was, I see her in my past and marvel that we are the same. Simultaneously, I understand that I am still not yet who I will be; I wonder when I will be who I am? As I have said before, I do not feel like I have changed who I am so much as I have fought to become who I have always been. I have always been confident in myself, what I stand for, what I want; but I wonder if we are ever really ourselves, so rapidly do we evolve with every decision and experience. It is strange, to feel both so solid and so fluid. But I have this to say to you – don’t ever let the confusion of a process muddle the clarity of your goals. I made it. I will continue to make it. You can too, no matter what you are setting out to do.
Let me sum up the very basics of this goal that I have achieved, and why I set this goal. At my highest (known) weight, I saw 272 lbs. on the scale. I am now at the goal weight I had set for myself, 150 lbs. I have lost 122 lbs., through trial and error, over the past three-ish years. I set the goal of 150 because, for my height of 5’4” (ish…), 149-150 lbs. puts me at the very top threshold of the “healthy” range in the BMI scale. I have also always believed that 150lbs would be a pretty good weight for me, as I have always been of more than solid muscular structure.
Now let me elaborate. I go into a bit more detail of my back story here, but essentially I have always been overweight. From age 7 or so I graduated from overweight into the obese class, and finally into the morbidly obese class by the eighth grade, where I scaled in at 220lbs. I was more or less there for many years, until my second year of college when I ballooned up to 272.
At not quite 5’5” my BMI at 272 lbs. was about 47. Unfortunately I never fully recorded stats at this weight, probably because they were too hard for me to think about. If I recall correctly, I believe my body fat percentage was around 42%.
Now, at 149.7 lbs., my BMI is 26. Though this is still just in the “overweight” range, my body fat percentage is currently around 22%, well within the range of 21-24% that is considered “Fitness” level.
I’ve effectively shed 44.85% of my bodyweight.
What I would have done differently
I want to say that I wish I had never had the 30 lb. setback. I want to say that I wish I would’ve been more of a stickler. I want to say that I should have pushed myself harder to work out more consistently. But I simply cannot discount all of my mistakes, for they have been more instrumental to my strength, progress, and solidity in a better way of life than any other thing I can think of. I believe that without them, I would not be so stable now in my mind; truly the most important part. I am, however, really very happy that I didn’t have more than one period of time where I set back like that. No matter how important of a part it played in my mental journey, it is still an incredibly frustrating topic.
The one thing I really, truly wish I had done differently is keep a more detailed track of my progress. I sincerely wish that every time I hit a new ‘ten’ level (270, 260, 250, etc.) I would have measured and recorded detailed stats. If I could go back, I would have included in these notes; Weight, body fat percentage, blood pressure, resting heart rate, and taped measurements of calves, thighs, hips, waist, bust, neck, and wrists. I wish I could look back at those stats now to have a comprehensive picture of how drastically my health has improved. I also believe they would have been incredibly beneficial to motivation when the going got hard.
There is no good thing without its struggles, but there is no bad thing without even more. I struggle now with understanding what I look like, what size I am, especially in relation to other things. My brain is simply taking time to catch up. I believe this issue will, for the most part, resolve with time; but I do intend to write more in-depth about it in the next month.
I am endlessly frustrated that I will never see my bare body as it could have been, as it would be if I had always been healthy. I am sad, very sad, that I never have. But maybe it is better that way now. . . I grieve this half formed concept that has never fully existed; it sits like a deformed ghost in my mind as I contemplate the extensive systems of stretch marks that cover the vast majority of my body. I tremble with anger, and blame, and guilt when I think about loose skin that would otherwise cling tightly to muscular definition that I have earned, but may never experience in its true form.
I am at peace in total with stretch marks, save that they contribute to loose skin. I understood their permanent reality long ago; my first recollection of them appearing, pink, angry, puckered things before I was a teenager. They tell me where I have been, I appreciate them. But, especially as someone in their early twenties, it is incredibly difficult for me to cope with not having a taut canvas. I understand that I lost over 80 lbs. in about a year, that my skin should have trouble keeping up with that rate. I know it will continue to tighten up over the next few years, but the reality is that it will never be great. Depending on the state of things as I progress in age, I may require surgery to remove excess. Only time will tell. Until then, I work every day on finding peace with it, but it will always feel like an injustice.
Going forward into the busiest year of my life thus far, working towards and creating new health goals is going to be a struggle in and of itself. Between both jobs and my new endeavors in school, I must constantly remind myself that my health must come first; without it there is no reason for anything else.
I want to remind myself, and anyone fighting this fight; no matter what else you are dealing with in life, you cannot give anything your all if you do not give yourself your all.
Accomplishing one goal means striving for the next. Be progressive!
Now that I’m here, I can easily visualize what my next steps will be. I will not set another weight goal at this point. Instead, I’m going to set goals for certain capabilities and achievements. I’m excited to see where it takes my body.
By the end of 2017 I am aiming for several new physical capabilities. This is what I’m looking ahead to:
Plank: I want to achieve a five-minute weighted plank. The goal is to maintain proper plank form with a 25 lb. weight plate laid over my mid back for the duration of five minutes.
Pull ups: I want to be able to do pull ups, period. At this point, I can maintain a proper activated hang and have a decently controlled let down. I aim to be able to complete a minimum of five consecutive pull ups.
Dips: I want to be able to perform dips with correct form in intervals of ten.
Handstand: I want to be able to perform an unassisted handstand! I don’t even care about holding it for any duration at this point; I just want to be able to do one again!
You may have noticed these goals span a whole lot of upper body. Like I said here my strength lies mostly in my lower body, and I’d really like to even that out a bit. I’ll be upping my pushup game, for sure.
This is not a comprehensive list, to be sure. Every day I see something and make it a new goal. I train every day for greater strength and flexibility, I’m aiming to really hit a lot of new Pilates and yoga poses, and I’ll be upping my carrying capacity during hikes as the year progresses. The point is, now that I’ve hit my main goal, I’m going to play around with getting stronger, more fit, more capable, just more.
Being able to do things that you never could have previously is an incredible feeling.
We all know it’s beneficial to lose weight if you’re overweight. But sometimes these benefits need to be repeated again and again, to help motivate us. Obviously I have drastically cut my risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancers, etc., but let me tell you some of the very noticeable things that getting healthy has done for me.
I fall asleep faster, and wake at a normal time. It used to take me hours, long, torturous hours to fall asleep. When I finally did, I slept for ten or so hours and woke groggy and tired. My body is more efficient in many ways now, but in sleep especially. I fall asleep within an hour, usually, and sleep for 7-8 hours. Waking up is not even half as difficult.
I’m less grumpy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a dark, cynical, realist at my core – but I have far less to be aggravated about. Physical discomfort really decreases the quality of your mood.
I have a much more positive outlook. Things seem more achievable to me now. I don’t feel so completely entrenched by setbacks and bad luck – something that is abundant in my life, and those surrounding me. Things are always a struggle, but I feel more equipped to deal with them.
I no longer have exercise induced asthma, or other exercise induced complications and discomforts! I used to get pounding pulsing in my eyes if I ran a quarter mile; I could literally see blood vessels swelling and blurring my vision. Thirty or so minutes afterwards, I’d be coughing and hacking, to the point of panic trying to catch my breath and escape the pain in my ribs.
Being alive is easier and more enjoyable in literally every way. I can’t convey enough how my life is better in literally every single way. Even the things that are still the same are better – because I view them from a more peaceful perspective. There is nothing that being healthier hasn’t touched with a gilded hand.
If you need anyone to tell you that you can do this, that you have all of the power in the world to change your life, that you can make yourself happy and proud, let it be me.
I’m not going to tell you this is easy. It’s hard. You will stumble and fall on your face so many times. Take those scars and wear them proudly as you soldier on. Don’t take short cuts, don’t take the easy route – it will not last. It takes time to forge a new person, to build a new brain. It takes time to do things the right way. Invest in yourself. Invest in your future.
You can meet goals that seem impossible.
You can crush goals that seem impossible.
So set them high and keep climbing. Shoulder that burden; you will be all the stronger for it.
Seek motivation everywhere. One day, you will become the motivation.
Life is an uphill battle. Make no mistake; I will always be fighting it. But I want to hear about your goals, and your accomplishments. Comment below what you’ve done to change and build your identity into what it is today, and where you are taking yourself in the future!
Now, for the disclaimer – I am not an adventure guide, personal trainer, doctor, nutritionist, or medical authority, this is meant to be only a source of information and inspiration, implementing these techniques into your daily life is something you do of your own free will and at your own risk.
Join us for the journey!
Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Get great updates and inspiration with The Tenacious Crasis newsletter!