Does your past haunt you?

Fitness

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Have you ever felt like you needed to get something out of your head, but didn’t have the words to describe it? That’s exactly how I have been feeling lately. I have not had the time to even process what is going on inside of me. I believe God has been trying to get me to sit down & tell my story for sometime now. But I have resisted & ignored the continuous gentle nudges along the way. I have made excuses & kept myself busy in order to avoid what happened today. It’s Monday, October 12, which happens to be a holiday. I am out of excuses & have some time to sit & process all that’s been going on inside of me. I am sitting on the bed of my truck in the parking lot of the Snowden Grove baseball fields. I tried sitting in the grass overlooking the lake, but bugs kept attacking me. I don’t do bugs! So, I climbed up on the back of my Avalanche and started typing. This was my attempt at unraveling my pent up thoughts. I had no idea all of this was going on inside of me. But, God knew it. I didn’t know this was what He had in mind when I started typing three hours ago. What you are about to read is something I have never told anyone other than my immediate family members & my life long best friend. And they don’t even know this entire story…

I have a passion for health & fitness due to my past struggles with being overweight. I was over weight the majority of my life. My teenage years I always felt fatter than everyone. I was over- weight, but I was not as fat as I saw myself in my head. I had a very negative self-image of myself that caused me to have very low self-esteem. I was insecure and fearful of everything. I was always afraid to try new things. My fear of being made fun of or embarrassed kept me paralyzed. I did not have any confidence at all. This crippled me in many ways throughout my teens & twenties. Fear controlled so much of my life. It left its mark in the form of regret that still haunts me today.

I gained the majority of my weight after I got pregnant with my daughter at the age of 19. I gained about 80 pounds during my pregnancy. I lost about 40 pounds after giving birth, but continued to gain weight throughout my early 20’s. I got divorced within a year & a half of my daughters birth. I lost about 40 pounds during the divorce, but eventually gained it back. I dated someone shortly after my divorce that pointed out how fat I was every time we fought. And we fought a good bit. I never really saw myself as fat until he pointed it out. I guess I was in denial about the reality of my health. I was 274 pounds, but I was tall. I could carry more weight & not be considered fat. I would tell myself I was thick and big boned. But, the truth was I was severely overweight. I had no hope of life ever being any different. My self-esteem was even lower than before now that I saw the reality of my unhealthy weight. I didn’t know how to lose weight, eat healthy, or workout. I tried every fad diet out there & failed miserably each time. I might lose a few pounds only to gain back more than I lost. This pattern continued to make me feel hopeless. I remember sitting in my office one night searching the internet for ways to lose weight. I came across a website that offered a weight loss surgery. At that point in my life, I knew I could not lose the weight on my own. I was desperate and felt completely alone. I would have done practically anything at this point to lose weight. I called the doctor’s office the next day to set an appointment for a consultation. I wondered if I was heavy enough to be a weight loss candidate. I guess a part of me still didn’t think I was that fat. Who was I kidding other than myself? I was 5’9 and weighed 274 pounds. I was fat!

I was definitely a weight loss candidate. I got approved for the weight loss surgery shortly after the first doctor’s appointment. I think I was around 23 at this point. It’s hard to remember exactly because I have suppressed so may of these events for such a long time. I ended up getting the gastric lap-band surgery. This type of weight-loss surgery restricted the amount of food I could consume at meals. It was reversible unlike some of the other weight-loss surgery’s available. I went with it because it was reversible. I wanted a way out just in case something went wrong. I lost about 55-60 pounds the first year. I couldn’t eat breads or pastas without throwing up which was the point of being restricted. I would vomit if I ate too much or the wrong type of foods. This is how the lap-band was designed to work. But, I could not eat anything without throwing up. I threw up every day. Sometimes I threw water up. I told my doctor several times, but he insisted I was eating too much or eating the wrong foods. I kept trying to find foods to eat that would not come back up. I was stressed & felt pretty bad most of the time. I was an emotional eater, but I could not eat anything, so I used my workouts as an outlet. I worked out every day. I ate healthy foods 6 days out of 7, but could barely keep it down. My doctor loved my weight loss success, but did not seem to care about my overall health. My hair was falling out, but I was getting thinner each month. I was thinner than I had ever been in my life. I could go shopping in the normal clothes section for the first time in my adult life. I was not a plus size woman anymore & that is all that really mattered to me at that point in time. I knew throwing up daily was not a good thing, but it was better than being fat again.

After a year of vomiting almost daily I ended up in the hospital during a family vacation. I was not able to eat or drink anything without vomiting or experiencing severe pain. It had gotten so bad that I would vomit my salvia in my sleep, which could have caused me to choke to death. My esophagus was severely inflamed due to excessive vomiting which had also caused me to have severe acid reflux. The doctor at the hospital in Florida told me I needed to have the lap-bad deflated or removed because it had slipped. When I got back home I scheduled an appointment with my doctor. He told me the band had not slipped and even got mad at me for seeing another doctor. I told him I wanted to remove the lap-band. He scheduled the surgery to remove the lap-band. He was not happy with me & treated me unkind at this point and after. I really did not have a choice. I was dying. The lap-band was killing me slowly. I was afraid I would gain back my weight. I was afraid I would not lose the rest of my weight since I still had more to lose. But, I was more afraid of dying than being fat again. I had the surgery so I could lose weight in order to be healthier & to be a better mom to my daughter. What good was the surgery if I was dead? I knew removing the lap-band was the right thing to do.

I only had the lap-band for about 18 months. After it was removed I was free to eat whatever without restrictions. My body went back to its original state before the surgery. This scared me to death. I was afraid of going backwards & gaining weight. I was afraid of being fat again. I was stricter in my diet & worked out even harder in order to avoid going back to the old fat version of myself. I worked hard to continue to lose the rest of my weight. I remember my doctor telling me I would gain all the weight back without the lap-band. He didn’t want me to remove the lap-band because he liked my success story. It made him look good which made him more money. I worked hard to prove him wrong. I worked hard for myself too. My fears drove my weight loss & fitness success for many years. I enjoyed working out and eating healthy, but I felt like I was running from something instead of running towards something. I was not pursuing a goal. I was fleeing being fat, lazy, and insecure. I was getting attention from men that would never have given the fat Chris the time of day. I became obsessed with my looks and losing more weight. I would workout twice a day at times even if I had only eaten 1000 calories. I kept my calories around 1000-1200 at max. I avoided family functions and social events that involved food. However, I did not avoid alcohol. I could drink alcohol without caring about the calories for some reason. So, I drank and partied a lot. I was not an alcoholic. I was a binge drinker. I didn’t drink everyday. I only drank when I went out which was usually Thursday-Saturday. Drinking helped me with my confidence & it also helped me keep my weight off. I definitely don’t recommend this way of weight loss by any means. I got thinner & finally got below my goal weight without the help of the lap-band. I stayed at this weight for the most part, but I struggled to maintain it. I had to workout 7 days a week and eat clean all the time. When I cheated or failed to workout, I would fast for 24 hours or beat myself up for cheating. I said awful things to myself when I fell off the healthy food wagon. I called myself terrible names and reminded myself of who I was when I was fat. It worked, but it didn’t make me feel good inside about myself. I was afraid of the voice in my head that kept telling me I was going to be fat again. That voice would tell me I cheated by having the weight-loss surgery and that if I ever gained weight again I would never be able to lose it on my own. I was afraid my family & friends would think I was a failure if I got fat again. I was afraid my friends would not like me if I were fat. I had more friends now that I was thinner. People liked me & wanted to be my friend. I never thought people liked the fat Chris. I felt accepted in my new thinner body. I didn’t want to lose friends or that acceptance. So, I worked my tail off to maintain my weight loss in order to never go back to the old me. I remember thinking if I could lose enough weight everything in my life would be perfect. Boy, was I wrong.

A couple of years passed by without me getting fat. However, I did gain weight. I went thru a pretty bad season due to an unhealthy relationship. I gained about 20 pounds during the ending of that relationship. I ate my feelings. My workouts alone couldn’t keep up with my emotional binge eating habits. I eventually lost the weight, but it was hard. It took way more effort to lose weight than to gain it. I had worked too hard to get to this point in my life to just throw it all away. I knew I was not ever going back to the old me. Gaining 20 pounds helped remind me of how I felt when I was over weight. I was not comfortable in my skin with an extra 20 pounds on me. I knew that I had to get back to working out consistently & be disciplined in my eating habits. I got back on track shortly after I gained the weight, but I was starting to struggle more, which caused me to yo-yo quite a bit.

In 2009, I was introduced to CrossFit. I fell in love with CrossFit. It scared the heck out of me every single time I went to the gym. But it changed my body in ways that my previous workouts had not. It challenged me to face my fears every time I worked out. It helped me gain confidence in myself that I still didn’t have as a thinner version of myself. I got stronger not just thinner. I gained muscles & could do things that I never dreamed I would be able to do. I met people from all different backgrounds, fitness levels, & ages. I loved it. I talked about it to anyone who would listen. Ok maybe I loved it a little too much there for while. I got obsessed & addicted to it. It was not a bad addiction in my opinion. I quit binge drinking and started really eating healthy. I learned about nutrition and what eating healthy really meant. I met Scott who was one of my coaches at Crossfit. He taught me how to eat clean & eat in a way that fuels my body to perform mentally and physically. I learned so much from him about nutrition that has helped me to get to where I am today. He introduced the Zone diet to me first & then a year later Paleo. I liked Paleo because I could eat what I wanted without constantly thinking about what I was eating or counting calories. I just ate when I was hungry from a group of foods that included lean meats, veggies, healthy fats, some fruits, & a few healthy carbs. I finally found a diet that worked for me. It eventually led to a lifestyle change. It was no longer a diet, but my way of life.

Crossfit definitely changed my health & fitness journey for the better, but I still struggled with my failures. I did not have any room in my health or fitness for failures. Oh they happened,and I would beat myself up for failing. I was still mean to myself. I would look in the mirror & say those same awful things like Do you want to be fat again? Well keep on eating bad fat a$$ or keep being lazy & you will be fat soon enough. This was a weekly thing. No one knew I was this way with myself. I never told anyone my struggles. I kept everything to myself. I had traveled this far along the health and fitness road alone. I was too afraid to tell anyone about my struggles out of fear of what they would think about me. They could not understand the emotional baggage I was carrying around because they did not know about my weight loss surgery. None of the people I had become friends with over the last few years knew me when I was over-weight. What would people think if they knew the truth about me? Surely, they would think I was a liar or a fake. And if I got fat again then I would know I was a failure & the only reason I was able to lose the weight was because I had the surgery. I know it sounds crazy to some, but that is what I told myself.

In September 2010, I started going to Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN. I rededicated my life to Christ shortly after & started walking with God. I began a real relationship with God for the first time in my life. I started reading the bible, praying, & going to church consistently. The funny thing is that the more I got to know Him the more I got to really know myself. Turns out I did not really know who I was. I only knew who I thought I was based on the lies in my head. I started to believe what God says about me instead of the lies Satan had been telling me most of my life. God’s word says that I am fearfully & wonderfully made, created in His image. He makes no mistakes because He is God. He is perfect. So, if that’s the truth about me then how could I look myself in the mirror & tell myself all these horrible things? I would continue to do so for a while, but eventually I stopped. I started to believe the truth about who God is & who He says I am. I still struggle, but now when I fail I replace those lies with the truth. I now know what grace means. I have allowed grace into my health & fitness that I didn’t have before my relationship with God. There is grace in everything because of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for God’s grace in my life. My journey with health & fitness has been up & down. I have had highs & lows, but thru it all God has used it to teach me many different things about Him & my faith as well as myself. I have learned how to face my fears, persevere, and get back up after failing. I learned how to accept myself as I am and to love myself. I have learned that failure is not a bad thing. It is how we learn. I will never be perfect and that is ok. The goal isn’t perfection. The goal is to be healthy, to live a quality life, and to be a good steward of my health. My faith is a big part of why I want to help others with their health & fitness needs. I want others to know what God says about them & that there is grace in their health & fitness journey as well as every part of their life. I want to help others overcome their struggles with health, fitness, & weight issues by using my experiences to help them reach their goals. I want to be the person encouraging them along the way that I did not have during my journey. My hearts desire is for people to understand what it means to be healthy and how it affects their mind, body, & spirit.

My past of being fat & having weight-loss surgery no longer defines me. The scale does not define me. Neither my pants size nor my deadlift weight defines me. My friends & family’s acceptance of me no longer defines me. God defines me. He declares me worthy, loved, & accepted. I am His & He is mine. I am a child of God. My story exists for His glory. My past still haunts me to this day, even though I had the lap-band for less than 1.5 years out of my 12-year health and fitness journey. I’ve been consistent in my health and fitness more than not. I choose to eat this way and workout because I know the benefits I gain from being healthy. I enjoy it. I don’t feel like I am dieting or running from anything anymore. Except one thing, I have held this secret inside out of fear of what others would think about me. My shame of being so fat that I had to have weight-loss surgery in order to lose weight has taunted me. I have been ashamed of my past for all these years. I never knew the hold it had on me until recently. Therefore, I want to tell my story because it exists for God’s glory. He didn’t redeem my past for me to keep it a secret. The enemy is a liar, but God is truth and His truth has set me free.