It was a *CLICK* moment at the age of 21 and 350 pounds that would change my life forever.
I was born fat. I grew up in a home where food, family and fun were the center of our lives. At the ripe old age of four I was already having weight issues and seeing a nutritionist about the problem. Being the baby who looks like there are rubber bands in her arms and legs is adorable...at 15...it's not so adorable. I used my goofy sense of humor and positive outlook on life to build a "funny fat girl" schtick that helped me survive middle school and high school. If people were laughing WITH me, they couldn't laugh AT me.
I had Duodenal Switch surgery in 2010 hoping that this would be the answer. A month after surgery my weight loss had slowed down to a slow crawl and I was devastated that the surgery had failed me. Luckily, it was another click moment that made me realize that it wasn't the surgery that was going to fix me. I was the problem and I was also the solution. I needed to change my LIFE. I started reading everything I could get my hands on. I wrote a list of all of the bad behaviors that I had and everything that I knew I needed to change and I got to work. I went down the list one thing at a time and week by week I modified behaviors, cut out bad habits and educated myself about the surgery, about a healthy lifestyle and fell in love with the gym.
In 2012 I reached my goal weight of 150 pounds and decided that I needed another big challenge. I fell in love with the gym and working out and decided that my new challenge was going to be bodybuilding. I was going to compete in bodybuilding.
By Senior year of high school I ate my way to 280 pounds and was desperate to lose weight. I begged my mom to let me have the lap-band surgery and in 2006, I went under. I successfully lost 50 pounds and quickly gained it back due to my college diet of pizza, instant mashed potatoes, alcohol and ice cream.
At the age of 21, I was 350 pounds and had successfully failed the lap-band surgery. I was flying home to Chicago and didn't fit in the airplane seat. They made me buy the seat next to mine and then I still needed the extender seat belt. There I was, sitting in my own ugly tears, snot running down my face, embarrassment smeared all over me. I made a decision right then and there that I would never feel that way again. I was 21 years old and I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without feeling like I was having a heart attack. I couldn't even put on my own bra or shoes. I needed to change.
Not only was I going to compete in bodybuilding, but I was going to become a personal trainer so that I could help others feel this amazing. I studied with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and received my certification and one year later, on June 7th 2015, I was named Women's Physique Champion with the United Fitness Events Federation.
I wanted to keep inspiring others and helping others reach their goals. I fell in love with the process of change that goes along with being successful with bariatric surgery. It wasn't the surgery that saved my life. It helped a lot but it was my dedication to changing my lifestyle that saved my life. In 2016, I received my Behavior Change Certification through National Academy of Sports Medicine to further my education.
Surgery is not the "quick fix". It isn't even the "easy way out". It is a TOOL. I want to help others utilize their tool so they can live the healthiest life possible.