About My Dream
For most my life, I told people that I was going to lose weight, but it remained a dream, a distant goal that seemed impossible to reach. I was 250 pounds by the time I was 12 years old, and never in my adult life had weighed less than 300. I suffered from severe depression from middle school on, and imagined being “normal”, but did not know how to make it happen. At my largest, I was over 400 lbs. I rarely left the house, I had very few friends, I felt totally disconnected from the rest of the world. I thought life was hopeless, and weight loss was a pipe dream. I remember thinking that losing weight would require too much sacrifice, that I would rather die young than give up the foods I enjoyed and was addicted to. Looking back on it now, I realize that morbid obesity was a form of slow, indirect suicide. I was so miserable and thought I had no reason to live, so I resigned myself to a slow death via food, suffering from diabetes, high cholesterol, mental illness, arthritis and other medical problems.
In 2011, at the age of 37, I moved to a new city. For the first time, I became involved in the community. I met people who wanted to see me thrive. I became an activist, and started planning events, attending meetings and doing volunteer work. And I loved it. I had discovered a reason to live, and I wanted to make sure I could continue. So, I decided to finally take control of my health, and of my weight. In 2013, I started to change how I ate and started working out. I met a trainer who was an excellent support for me, and as of today, I have lost over 225 pounds. But the physical transformation is the least of the changes in my life. I want to share two essays I wrote after going through this journey to better health. I hope they will inspire other people, no matter WHAT their dreams are.
Mind, Body and Spirit
"The key to weight loss success for people who start out morbidly obese IS NOT in the gym. It IS NOT in the kitchen. It is not about a certain magical combination of foods, a pill or supplement, or a workout regimen. The key to long term weight loss success for morbidly obese people is to CHANGE YOUR MIND!!! It is to accept and understand that without a total transformation of your mindset, you will not reach your goals. It is to accept that weight loss is much bigger than how you look. It is to see that the process must be holistic.... You must address mind, body and spirit. God will provide the support you need, even if you do not wish to hear His name, you will receive His message through the people He sends into your life.
I lost weight and continue to pursue my goals everyday because I listened to and opened myself up to someone who knew all of this and taught me from day one that my transformation required so much more than diet and exercise. I have undergone a total moral, mental and physical change. I am a new person, not because I lost weight but because I learned that fitness and health required a total overhaul of the mind, body and spirit."
Never Give Up
"Giving up is not an option. It is succumbing to despair. You will want to give up when it gets difficult, and it WILL get difficult. The days when you want to throw in the towel are the days you need to recommit to LIVING! I wanted to quit so many times, but had people in my life who would not allow me to. First and foremost was my trainer.
At our first session, I fell while trying to squat. I was humiliated and wanted to run away. I was over 350 pounds, could barely walk two blocks, and struggled to make my way up a flight of stairs. And when I fell, I could not get back up without assistance. My trainer actually picked me up off of the floor and we continued the training session as if nothing had happened. He would not let me give up! Immediately I felt secure in the knowledge that I was not alone in this process.
There were many days I wanted to throw in the towel. I was uncomfortable, I was in pain, I was embarrassed, I was angry, I was resentful. I cannot even quantify the amount of tears I cried out of pure frustration. But I knew I was not alone. I had people who wanted me to live, people who wanted to see my healthy and happy, people who held me accountable.
I once told my trainer that it was very important for to share my story with as many people as possible, because it would prevent me from backsliding. After all, how embarrassing would it be to share progress pictures and stories and then turn around and gain everything back?
Between my trainer, my family and friends and people who I worked with in the community, I had a winning team..."
If you would like to contact Joanna, her contact information is: www.facebook.com/joanna.iovino or firstname.lastname@example.org
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