Through this blog, I came across an opportunity to submit my weight-loss story to Self Magazine. For whatever reason, something in my gut is telling me to send this in, to maybe have the opportunity to share my story with others, and maybe inspire someone who was once in my shoes. Please--tell me what you think, if it's appropriate, if I'm leaving anything out, if anything should be grammatically changed, etc. I'm really excited to be doing this. Thanks in advance for your help!
I've been fat my entire life; I was born at almost 9 pounds, and continued to be obese throughout my childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Being "The Fat Girl" was always the biggest part of my identity, outweighing (pardon my pun) the other parts of myself that were just as important. My parents have always both struggled with weight, as have other members of my family, and I'd just accepted the fact that I'd be obese for the rest of my life. It wasn't until I'd gotten into my dream graduate school that my mind--and my life--began to change. By that point, I was 24 years old and weighed 337 pounds.
The first year of my graduate program required us to spend a year living and going to school in Jerusalem, Israel. Jerusalem--a city of hills, beautiful white stone, and boisterous people--was an overwhelming change from my quiet Midwestern life. I found myself huffing and puffing my way through the streets, longing to be in my apartment while my classmates enjoyed life in the amazing city. I decided very early on during my time in Jerusalem that my health needed to move much, much higher on my priority list.
I joined Weight Watchers in Israel, which is very different from it's American counterpart in that discussions are based on the challenges of the JEWISH calendar year. I found myself quickly wrapped in a group of the most supportive, loving men and women of all ages and religions, who were always excited to hear the results of my latest weigh-in. I changed my perspective about the hills of the city; instead of being the reason I stayed home, they became the reason I went out--not only would they allow me to see the city, but they'd allow me to get an amazing workout at the same time. I also found a personal trainer, a wonderful student colleague of mine with 10 years in the fitness industry. To tackle the emotional side of my overeating, I started writing in a mostly-private blog that I continue to this day. With the help of these things, along with my amazing roommate and friends and family in Israel and in America, I managed to lose 75 pounds by the time I returned to the United States in late May.
The summer was a blur or reacquainting myself with America and the overwhelming portion sizes and inexpensive fast food options available around the clock. I learned to stay far away from the drive-thru's, to track my Weight Watcher's points carefully, and to incorporate exercise into my life 5-6 times a week. My health and well being quickly took top priority, and I loved the way I looked and felt because of it. As I prepared to move to New York City to continue my education, I knew I'd need all the stamina and strength I could get. I also knew it would be yet another change in lifestyle, this one bigger and more challenging than any that had come before it.
I have to admit, I'm still learning how to survive in this huge crazy city. I decided early on to take a break from Weight Watchers, as I needed time to figure out the basics of my new life in New York City. With it's endless bakeries, delis, pizzerias, diners, coffeehouses, etc., it's certainly a challenge to stay on my game. I've realized, however, that my healthy habits have turned into a healthy lifestyle; not only do I only keep healthy foods in my apartment, I try to walk to whatever I can, whenever I can. I've also learned to be gentle with myself, realizing that one Black and White cookie or piece of pizza will not cause me to fall of the healthy-lifestyle wagon completely. Even with a few hiccups, I'm still well on my way towards becoming the best Tracy I can be.
To date, I've lost 102 pounds. I have another 80 pounds to go before I reach my goal weight of 150 pounds. The challenges and triumphs of this already amazing achievement are with me everyday, and will continue to guide me through the rest of my journey. Through this process, I've learned so much about who I am, what I can do, and what I really want for my life, and I discover new and exciting pieces of myself each and every day. My life is dramatically different today than it was 18 months ago when I began this process, and I can't wait to see where I end up in another 18 months. Until then, I keep going--knowing that the only secret to weight loss is that there is no secret--all the while enjoying healthy and delicious food, embracing the incredible workings of my body, and empowering my soul and spirit with every step I take along this lifelong journey.