The sun was rising and the sky was beginning to clear itself, revealing a blue layer of space above. The clouds were moving slowly and the sight of birds flying in endless freedom after the winter hibernation was beckoning. Barb walked towards the lake. The rays of sun were striking on the waters and bouncing back, creating a glittering spectacle. She felt the warm sensation of the sunshine on her white skin and the fresh morning breeze touched her face leaving a cold, soothing feeling.
She could see the signs of spring everywhere. In the surface of the calm lake, the snow was melting and slowly converting itself into its original form. Looking down, the earth revealed tiny cracks that make way for sprouting seeds. She walked further down the edge of the lake and she could feel on her bare feet the cool dews on the grass. From a few meters away, she heard the throaty quack of a mother duck that was happily leading her ducklings as they searched for food in the water.
When the paddling swam away, Barb peered on the clear water below. She released an air of joy and this time, she did not look away from the reflection she was looking at. She stared back and studied the figure before her eyes, then she flashed a sweet smile. The whole surrounding joined Barb as she enjoyed the celebratory mood she was feeling right now…and the reasons lie in the past that she was certain would not be coming back again.
I had always been overweight, even as a young child. I gained more weight after many failed relationships in my thirties, the last one was when I was 36. In 2008, I was at my heaviest, weighing 358 pounds, too non-proportional to my height of 5’11”. My body mass index (BMI) was 66.78 kg/m2, which indicates I was heavily overweight. My maximum healthy weight based on a BMI of 25 is 134 pounds.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), to achieve optimum health, the median body mass index for an adult population should be in the range of 21 to 23 kg/m2, while the goal for individuals should be to maintain body mass index in the range 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2. There is increased risk of co-morbidities for body mass index 25.0 to 29.9, and moderate to severe risk of co-morbidities for body mass index greater than 30. Worldwide, at least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.
I would work during the day and hang out with friends three to four times in a week at the bars. I used to drink plenty of alcohol and soda. I enjoyed pizza, junk, fast, and boxed foods. I never exercised despite the high carbohydrate and calorie diet I was consuming. I was never really a social person and never played sports as a child. I was not able to wear normal clothes and had always to go to the plus size stores. Likewise, I was not spared of social discrimination and had experienced name calling. My self-esteem was undermined and I felt I was never good enough for a decent relationship. I let a lot of men used me for money or material gains.
Life Begins at Forty
I saw how my health was and became borderline diabetic in addition to other health issues – bad left knee (I had knee surgery when I was 12 years old due to an injury from falling off a bike) and lower back pains. I have to go to the chiropractor every six weeks. One time, I was watching The Doctor Oz Show and saw him make “skinny shakes” with pomegranate juice, frozen strawberries, and lemon juice. I tried it and noticed I started losing weight. My friend from church, who worked at a health store, did a test on me and the results revealed that I had 48% body fats. This made me determined to get healthy without surgery – just with diet change and physical exercise. (Read Also: 5 Cold Truths About Having a Fit Body)
My husband, mother, co-workers, and friends from church inspired me and gave me genuine statements that affirmed my worth. My husband, who came from Kenya, is always very healthy and eats proper diet like fruits, vegetables, little meat, and whole grains.
During the first month (June 2012), I started eating lettuce salads and cottage cheese, drinking more water, and having the “skinny shakes” at night. I lost 32 pounds that month by changing my diet alone. I still treated myself with certain lunches out on a weekend, but watched what I ate. I became more aware of what I was eating. I let go of soda and cut out chocolate, junk, and fast foods. I ate more fresh fruits and vegetables, and added plenty of water to my meals.
I felt good about myself seeing the weight loss with the diet change, but I knew I had to start to work out to make a bigger change. In July 2012, I signed up at a local fitness gym and scheduled my work outs three nights per week for Aqua Fit and Aqua Zumba. I also did some work on five weight machines in the weight room one to two times a week.
I had issues with my knee and many people asking about my limping all the time. Due to the years of being overweight and surgery, my knee was not what it should be. It did not fully stretch out as it should. But I kept my tenacity and never thought of quitting. I removed from my circle a lot of friends who were not encouraging or helping me to stay on track. I spent more nights in the gym and made new friends there.
I aimed at getting to 220 pounds, but I told my trainer at the gym that I did not want to work with him, until I lost 80 pounds myself. Then, it got to be 90 pounds and finally 100 pounds. I wanted to do this weight loss on my own without a trainer.
I rewarded myself once in a while for every goal met. After shedding 50 pounds, I took my parents out to eat at a buffet to ensure I could eat, but maintain control. I would also give myself at least one new outfit from a retail store, not a thrift store. I had notepad and scale at home to keep track of my weight. I became more persevere, but did not set a timeline for I knew it would take time. I heard from others that it would take at least two years for them to lose 100 pounds.
I continued my classes on Body Pump, Aqua Fit, Zumba, Core Crush, and Body Flow. I did all classes at night after work. Saturdays and Sundays were my rest days, other than cleaning around the house and doing the laundry. I also did two-hour zumbathons when I could find them near my area. I even participated in the largest zumba class in the United States at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. There was over 5,000 people who tried for the Guiness Book of World Records for the largest zumba class, but missed it by approximately 1,500 participants.
I drew motivation from my instructors in my classes at the gym and friends I met in class. All three gym owners are wonderful and encouraging ladies who know all members. My gym has a family feel to it. In January 2014, I was chosen as the Member of the Month due to my awesome weight loss and positive attitude in classes.
The happiest day in my weight loss journey came after nine months – I lost 100 pounds. I always set short-term goals, and would be excited when I hit them. I gained some weight back, but in muscles. With my current weight of 250 pounds, my body fats is now at 25%. I felt good, but wanted to lose the excess skin, and become more toned.
I always tell myself I can do it. I keep challenging myself and trying new things. I discovered that I love shopping in the misses section of a department store; there are so many designer names and options in clothes that excite me. I have become more outgoing as well.
My message to people out there is do not give up hope. You need to find what works best for you as far as exercises are concerned. Some like classes at a gym and some prefer running, biking etc. Keep trying new things and see what you like to do. If you do not like the exercises you are doing, you most likely will not stick to that regimen. Always keep challenging yourself and pushing yourself to the limit. I am far from perfect and still a work in progress.
I was borderline diabetic. Now with the weight loss, I am healthy and no longer concerned about diabetes. My blood sugar is normal and I’m off prescription medications for diabetes! I still go to the chiropractor every 6 weeks for an adjustment in my lower back. My hip became offset and that affected my vertebrae in my lower spine. I don’t let my knee and back issues stop me. I wear a knee brace for all classes at the gym that are not in the pool. I figure as long as I can walk I am good.
You need to be in the mindset of how far you’ve gone and never want to go back. Tweet
Also you need a strong support system around you as well, whether it be family, friends, church, gym etc. I prayed and continued to pray to God as well, for strength and protection to make it through my workouts.
My mom is the one person I feel is the most proud of me. She knows if I want to change something about my life, I am bound and determined to make this happen. Since my weight loss, I have both my parents trying to eat healthier and live better lives. I feel God has given me this gift, to show others it is possible to change your life for the better!
Barb was stirred into the present when she heard the sound of the ducks coming to her direction. Before the current swept away the beautiful reflection she has been staring at with admiration, she closed her eyes and uttered a silent prayer of thanks for the new life she gained – a true gift from heaven.
Indeed, her biggest loss was also her greatest gain! ― As told by Barb Mboga, Wisconsin, United States
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