Anatomy of Losing Weight
The following story was written by a friend of mine, Toni Arnold about her journey of losing weight. So proud of her!
I grew up in an amazing household, and I had incredible experiences as a child and teenager. I had parents who believed in me, taught me to be independent and always championed me to go after my dreams. I was not your average teenager; I was very active and involved in anything that I could get into. I started gymnastics, cheerleading and dance when I was four years old. I started playing soccer when I was 8 years old. I kept up with all of these sports until I graduated high school. All to say, I was very active. I was very competitive. I traveled many states to compete for cheerleading, and was part of squads you would see on ESPN (we were even on twice.) I trained hard, and was very dedicated, and talented.
Weight was never a problem. I was so active, that I could eat whatever I wanted, it didn’t matter. I would bounce from a 2 hour soccer practice, to a tumbling class, and then straight into a 3 hour cheerleading practice. Somehow, there was a grace to handle it all, all while getting good grades and being involved in many clubs and school functions. I was involved in student council, school spirit committee, dance committee, and the list could go on and on.
However, I never really took time to really ask myself what I believed to be true about myself. Did I believe I was beautiful? What did I believe was my worth and value in this life?
So, here is my journey. It can be defined in three simple words.
Tragedy Changes My Life
So you read the above, and la, la, la yeah it seems like I was busy, but how does this play into where I am now. So, I graduated high school, went off to college and managed to avoid the freshman 15. I had just finished my first semester of college, came home for Christmas break. The date was December 15. Saturday December 16th I woke up, meandered into the kitchen, talked to my mom and started to compile my plans for the day. My mom was getting ready to go to a wedding with my sister and we were talking about our plans for the evening when they would return back to town. I went to the restroom, my mom came in and asked me to fasten her bracelet, she kissed me on the head, said “love you” and she left. I went on with my day. I was going to finish my Christmas shopping since we were only days away. I was with my best friend and her family. At exactly 1:44 pm in the afternoon, Steffany my best friends dad’s phone rang as we sat down to eat at our favorite Chinese restaurant. He was a pastor so it was not uncommon for him to get important phone calls. It was one of those phone calls where you feel the intensity of the moment and you know something is wrong. He hung up the phone, looked at Steffany, looked back at me, and simply said “we have to get you home”. Somehow, you always know when its really bad news, you just know in the pit of your stomach. I dropped my fork and simultaneously dropped my food all over the floor. To this day, I still can’t eat in a Chinese or Thai place. They ushered me out of the restaurant. I, all the while was asking what was going on. My lips kept asking, but my heart already knew, my life was about to be changed for forever. The words you never want to hear came out of his mouth “there has been an accident”, immediately I burst into tears. I mustered up the courage and asked that fateful question “is everyone ok?” His hesitation was the confirmation I needed. He took what seemed like forever to answer and said, “Your mom didn’t make it”.
What. Are you kidding me? Did this really just happen? Take it back. Take the words back. Take it all back. Lets rewind. Lets re start the day. This can’t be reality. Please someone wake me up. Wake me up. However, it was not a dream. It was very real.
What I Loved About My Mom
My mom was the type of mom that every kid could hope or wish for. She did life and love better than most. Everything in my world was extravagant and everything was a big deal. I loved that. She was passionate, and she taught me that no dream was off limits. She was the most giving, loving person I have ever met. She took such good care of me and all of my friends. It wasn’t uncommon to come home from cheerleading or soccer and find my mom sitting at the kitchen table with one or two of my friends giving them advice, or just being with them. She made an impact on everything she put her hands to. I loved that. She was successful because she was so powerful and believed in herself. One of my favorite memories of my mom was prom my senior year. I saw a dress in a magazine and I had to have it. She searched high and low for the dress, and finally found it. She searched the whole country, and finally found a store in NYC that had it. It was a 1200 dollar dress, and she had it shipped in the next day. It was beautiful. I also had a crazy idea for prom that year, I wanted to paint flowers in my hair so they would match my dress, and use beads for the center of the flower. My mom took two weeks and called every salon in the country for hair paint, and for hair glue, we literally had products shipped in everyday. The person who was doing my hair for prom had to do about 12 trials to find the right products. But, of course we did it. We found them, and it was beautiful. She loved to love. I have said over and over, I would of rather of had my mom for 18 years than anyone else for a lifetime. I see myself in so much of her, and I am thankful for that. She carried her extreme love with balance. Although she loved well, and would have given me the world, she taught me to work hard, and to respect, honor, and never take advantage of those around you. Yes, I was pretty spoiled, but there wasn’t a moment where I didn’t understand the sacrifice, and place it was coming from.
On December 16, my life changed. And the following 10 years became a prison for me.
In the following months, I gained 80 pounds; literally I woke up everyday heavier than when I went to bed. I wasn’t working out, but I wasn’t eating the city either. It was puzzling for me, and it was heartbreaking. I went into a severe depression, and I lost hope. I lost so much hope for my life. My life was broken, and it was too overwhelming to fix. So, I went into hiding. I built walls around myself, so that I wouldn’t feel pain, joy, happiness, loss, or rejection. I became isolated, numb, and just wanted to disappear from the earth.
I Became Depressed
I knew I had a problem with depression because everything was exhausting. It took every ounce of energy to get out of bed, and I would nap for long periods of time after being out of bed for a short amount of time. I would take 4 to 5 hour naps 2 times a day, and would sleep 12 hours a night. I didn’t have any drive or passion for anything. There were times where I wouldn’t even be able to get out of bed for days on end. I just wanted to shut out the world. I had no vision, and I didn’t really care what happened to me. I continued to hold onto God and everyday I would pray that I would make it through the day and that he would help me. Five years ago, I started going to counseling to battle depression. It was the start to this process. I was fed up with it. I didn’t want it to run my life. It was an amazing year of counseling. After that year, I began to feel alive, I began to feel like my life has purpose, I began to believe in myself again, but the weight was still there. It was just a reminder, everyday, and I hated it.
Three years ago, I made a big move in my life, I transported my life 3000 miles and moved to Redding CA. Once I got here, I really wanted to go after more inner healing, I was tired of battling the same lies, the same mindsets, so I embarked on the most emotional journey of my life. Grief. It was time to look it in the face and deal with it. I had pushed it away for so long. I had buried it deep inside me, and it was time to let it out, or it would literally kill me. I was in a counseling session and I was just numb. I was hearing the words the counselor was saying, but I wasn’t feeling them connect to my heart. He looked at me, raised his voice and said over and over “Toni, your mom is dead, she is just laying there, she is dead, you are never going to see her again, you are never going to hear her voice again, you are never going to spend time with her again, your mom is dead, she is laying there dead” “what do you have to say to her”, wow, I was in shock 1. That his voice was so loud and 2. At how intense his words were. That day the dam broke, literally, so I began to cry, and cry, and cry some more.
I could have provided Redding with all the rain it needed for the year. I knew that day that it was a turning point for me. We continued to meet and everyday I felt emotions I hadn’t felt in many years, and I felt so alive and hopeful for my life once again, but the weight was still there. It was a reminder everyday, and I still hated it.
Fast forward to June 2011. I had become really restless with my physical appearance. I had recently put on more weight and felt like I was ballooning to be out of control.
What Would It Take For Me To Feel Beautiful?
I had just started a new job with Victoria Secret. Everyday I would come into work and I would see these beautiful women and I was responsible for selling beautiful products to women. However, beautiful was the last thing I felt. Sexy was defiantly out of the picture, all of a sudden I was responsible for leading a team of employees, and setting an example to sell our products. I felt fake. I felt like I was that car salesman who was trying to talk up products, but didn’t really believe it for themselves. The company that I work for has a core value to inspire women everyday to feel beautiful, to feel confident in their skin. I began to self reflect. I asked myself questions “Toni, what will it take for you to feel confident”, “Toni what will it take for you to feel beautiful?” and my internal reflection continued and continued. I think I filled a whole journal.
I went home to visit in September and was really frustrated at this point. I felt gross. I felt hopeless. I felt powerless. I was carrying shame. Shame that I had let myself get to place that I was. At this point, I was battling the fear of socializing. I had tons of anxiety and fear when going to social events. I just wanted to hide. However, if you have ever met me in person you would think the opposite. I am passionate, loving, full of life, I am positive, encouraging and I am a fighter. I am someone who doesn’t believe that impossible is a word. I am a dreamer and my dreams are larger than most. I don’t just look at a mountain and want to take it, I want to dominate it, and I want to own the whole mountain. I am an all in person. I am passionate about excellence, and I am a hard worker.
My body was reflecting the opposite of my true nature and character.
That is what I was frustrated about the most. How could I be so powerful in every area of my life and yet be so powerless towards myself.
Family Patterns of Weight Gain after Trauma
While I was home I realized that there was a family pattern where women in my family who had been through trauma, had battled with weight. Well, like most things, I am the exception to the rule when it comes to my family. I simply prayed and asked the Lord what the tie was. He simply replied “fear, my love”, women in your family gain weight after trauma because it becomes their safe place, it becomes the place you hide, the place you can seclude yourself from so you don’t feel pain and rejection. My love, if you reject yourself first, then you don’t ever have to feel the pain of anyone else rejecting you. Wow. Yikes. Holy crap. So I went to war. I went to war for myself, I mustered up all the courage I had inside. I prayed through the fear, then went to the bathroom mirror, looked at myself and began to pray and prophesy over myself.
So now what.
I’ve had this incredible encounter, but now what do I do. How do I start this process? I knew it was a lifestyle change. I knew that it was something that I was going to execute for the rest of my life. So like anything else, I dove into self-reflection even more. I guess I did to myself what I do with my staff of 30 employees, I got into my own head, I observed myself from a distance, I took inventory, I coached myself to find out what was really going on and what was going to work for me.
I Found A Trainer To Help Me With Weight Loss
A month later one of my associates came into the office at work and told me about a trainer whom they had met. I said, I need his phone number! I need to call him! I called him, and set up a time to meet with him. I dragged my best friend Steffany along with me. I weighed in; he took my measurements and talked to me about losing weight, diet and exercise. We decided that I should start this process by a 10 day juice fast to detox my body from sugar, toxins and all that other un-healthy stuff. I hit 10 days and decided to go 20 days. I hit 20 days and said why not 30. I hit 30 days and said lets go 60 days. I ended up juicing for 60 days. I wanted to purify my body, and I wanted to break the emotional attachment I had to food.
I started juicing on November 1, 2011 and I started working out on November 7th 2011. At the time, I weighed 250 pounds and wore a size 18 pant. Today, I weigh 155 pounds and wear a size 8 pant.
How did I do it? How did I press on? How did I make it? Those are all good questions, and I am so glad you asked. I would love to tell you how I have gotten to where I am today.
One. Day. At. A. Time.
There was no going back, everyday I make the choice to continue this process.
Eating Was Attached to my Emotions
At first, it was hard because for me, eating was attached to my emotions. If I felt overwhelmed I wanted to eat, if I felt sad I wanted to eat, if someone hurt my feelings I wanted some ice cream to be my band aid. If there was something to celebrate, lets eat.
Everything. Revolved. Around. Food.
I had to learn how to filter all of those emotions to a different place. I had to learn that food was not going to make it better; it was only going to make my backside grow. I had to learn how to step back from the cravings and desires and had to solve the real root issue.
Healing Her Heart
The reason why I am bouncing back between emotional and physical is because it is directly linked for me and my success. I had to heal my heart, and I have worked harder on the emotional stuff than I have my body. I am working really hard on my body, but the most important thing is your heart. Its taking inventory of how you got there, what do you believe to be true about yourself. Do you feel beautiful? Do you feel like you have something to offer the world? What has life taught you? What did your parents teach you about food? Is food a control trigger? Do you have a poverty spirit that manifests itself in eating and indulging? Do you want to hide? Do you want to live? How were you created to live? How does heaven long for your body to look? These are just some of the questions I really searched my heart to know. The answers sometimes scared me, but I kept pressing in, kept pressing through.
A year ago, I was out of shape physically. One of the hardest training days I had was within the first month. Michael my trainer at the time, stuck me on the treadmill, by myself and said, “you have two hours to hit six miles”. I laughed. Two hours on a treadmill? Are you kidding me? It was the workout that mentally prepared me for what I was about to do. I had to believe it was possible. My mind tells my body how to act. If my mind tells my body we can do it, then my body will respond. If I don’t believe I can achieve it, I might as well pack my bags and go home, I will lose every time. That day, I made it. I made those 6 miles and I only had one minute to spare. I looked at the treadmill, looked in the mirror and said I can’t wait to run 6 miles in under an hour. Within 4 months I was able to hit that. Goals are a huge part to my success as well. I am always setting new goals that will challenge me. When I hit them, I celebrate the win, and make an even harder goal.
How Has My Life Changed Today
Today, I run 10 to 12 miles 5 days a week and I can do it under 2 hours. Yes, its that possible. One day at a time. Everyday I push myself to run a little harder, and to run just a few more steps. It may not seem like a lot at the time, but soon you will see that it will turn into something incredible. You will be amazed at what your body is capable of.
In short, I spend 2 to 3 hours 5 times a week in a gym. This has increased over the duration of the last year. At first, I was only doing 3 days a week, then 4, and have worked myself up to 5 days. I do cardio. weight training, and incorporate crossfit into my workout regimen as well. I love to leave the gym feeling like I left it all on the mat, so your probably saying to yourself “3 hours a day, this girl is crazy!” This has worked for me, it has been something I have really chosen for myself, for you it may be going to the gym 5 days a week for an hour. The pace doesn’t matter, what matters is you push yourself, that you push the boundaries of breakthrough physically, mentally, emotionally everyday. There are days when I get off the treadmill, pull out my notepad on my phone, journal and cry. I have to address those issues as they rise up. I made a choice to not be afraid of the pain; I made a choice to feel the pain and to allow God to heal the pain in my heart.
I eat as lean as possible. My diet mainly consists of vegetables, eggs, chicken, fresh juice, and I eat as many greens as I can a day. But, if I want a cheeseburger or pizza I am going to eat that as well. It’s all about building a lifestyle, and maintaining. I may only eat one cheeseburger every few months, but those days happen. However, once you start to put the food into your body that it was designed for, it doesn’t want anything else.
In Total I have lost 95 pounds and 80 inches from my body. I have about 20 pounds to go, and a few more inches as well.
How do I feel today?
I feel amazing. I feel alive. I feel at home. I feel like I am living to be who I was meant to be. I have more energy than I have had in a long time. I am happy. I am free. I am in love with myself. I love who I am, and I don’t want to be anyone else. I love my skin, its mine. I am brave. I am full of hope. I am excited for the future. I am excited to press through to the next level. I am me.
How You Can Get Started
Accountability– find a group of people who you can support you through encouragement, support, and accountability. I have a group of people who have been with me through the ups and downs and have helped me succeed at this process, but I choose to be vulnerable with them, and let them see when I am really struggling. They have been a lifesaver for me.
Find a gym, or find some place that is conducive to the type of physical activity you are looking for. Join the gym, join a class, hire a trainer.
Figure out what type of food you can make fit into your lifestyle that is healthy and good for you. Look at your schedule. Remember, success is in the details, if I don’t prepare food weekly, then I am setting myself up to fail.
Pack your gym bag with you in the morning and change at work, it will help you stay focused
Buy a journal. Write it all down. When you feel yourself wanting to give up or give in ask yourself questions.
Develop a mission statement for why you are doing what you are doing, for me I reminded myself everyday until I didn’t have to any longer of why I was doing what I was doing.
In closing, this last year has been the most amazing journey of my life. It has been so fun, hard, incredible, discouraging at times, but it has also been one of great beauty, life, success, excitement, and fullness. This last year has taught me that nothing is impossible. I am excited to cross the finish line, but I love where I am at today and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
You can do it. I know it.