Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to Tell My Story

I rarely, rarely ever try to push my weight loss story out into mainstream media.

Just like I don’t really do much of anything to promote my blog, I do even less to promote my story.

Not sure why but I think it’s a mix of laziness, not having enough free time to spend trying to promote and grow the blog, and also- it’s just not really me. I say this because I just blog for fun. I like the social aspect and camaraderie that blogging brings to my life. And that’s really all that I want out of it. It’s an outlet for me to speak my mind, to work through struggles, share my happiness, and amazingly enough it has helped create so many new friendships, and rekindled some old, along the way. It’s been quite the whirlwind adventure.

But today, I saw on FB my friend Ashley posting that she submitted her story to Shape magazine to be part of the spread that will be featuring Brooke’s story. If you heard the piece on the Today Show (or caught wind of it on E!) you know that they will be featuring Brooke and five others in a piece showcasing the realities of extreme weight loss. And for some reason I decided I wanted to submit my story too.

I quickly pulled together an email and sent it along with some pictures.

I wasn’t really sure what to write or how I could differentiate myself from the probably thousands of others submitting their story. I knew I didn’t really have a ‘hook’ or something super amazing wonderful to help sell myself so I just told my story, as briefly as possible, and included what I thought made my story different and why it would be important to share.

So, without further ado- here is what I sent to Shape magazine.

Title: My Not Quite Brooke-ish Weight Loss Story

First off, let me say that I love Brooke Birmingham, she is a friend of mine, and I hold her story and everything she stands for in the highest regard. I am proud to know her.

My story, however, is a bit different.

I, too, lost a substantial amount of weight (130 lbs.) and it happened over the course of about 2.5 years. Part of that time was spent as a Weight Watchers member but towards the end of my weight loss I found that the program just didn't work for me anymore.

I found most of my success in weight loss through mindful eating, food journaling, monitoring my hunger scale/hunger cues, and being more active- novel concepts, I know.

At my known heaviest, 286 lbs., I knew this wouldn't work for me if I turned to extreme diet and exercise as I had tried unsuccessfully many times before. This time it had to be different. So I started doing the only thing I could do- walk. I walked and walked and walked. And it hurt. At almost 300 lbs. the act of just walking a mile or two took a huge toll on my body. But I stuck with it. After time I moved from walking, to lifting weights, to boxing, to yoga, to Nia, to Pilates, to cycling, to running. The evolution took me from hardcore couch potato to half marathoner and even triathlete. This transformation led me to do things I never dreamt were possible

I also started changing how I ate. Looking back now, I know the choices I made then in my early days of weight loss were still not the healthiest but they were way better than how I used to eat and they were what got me focused on eating differently (less processed, more whole foods, fuel for my body) and over time led me to where I am today.

So, essentially when you boil it all down- Brooke and I did have similar journeys. Mine however, did result in me having skin removal surgery around my abdomen. Although I often say that this surgery was for medical reasons (which is true- my doctors pushed me to get it for 2 years due to health issues it was causing) I would be lying if I did not say that part of me did it for cosmetic reasons as well. I worked really hard, I literally worked my butt off and lost a whole human’s (a healthy 5' 5" female) worth of weight, and to have skin issues was hard to deal with. No one wants to have to tuck their loose skin into their size 6 jeans. No one wants to have to lift up their loose skin to clean themselves- not when they have worked so hard to move past those days. So, after much encouragement from my doctors, family and friends I had the surgery last December (I have a ton of pre and post-surgery pictures) and have been really happy with my decision since.

I think that my story shows a different side of weight loss than Brooke's- it shows what life is like if you opt, like I did, to have surgery. I think this is also an important side to show because a lot of people battling through extreme obesity will be faced with making this tough decision once they have lost all the weight. I think that is important to show all sides of the 'After' because none of them are easy.

I called this my quasi- Before/After photo
After my first triathlon
I just had to submit this picture with a baby sheep...because who doesn't love baby animals???

I wasn’t really sure what to write. How do you accurately (and briefly) sum up a huge, life-changing process, and everything that has occurred both mentally and physically because of it, in an email? I have been writing about my story and my progress for over three years now and I still can’t figure out the best way to ‘tell’ my story.

Ultimately it boils down to this…

I used to be really fat. I lost a lot of weight by taking care of myself the way I should have all along. And because of this everything in my life has changed for the better.

The end.

Love and hugs,