So here is my story...
The only time I can remember being skinny was when I was in the second grade. Seriously. And the reason why I was skinny, was because I was diagnosed with Graves Disease. Graves Disease is an autoimmune disorder that leads to overactivity of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism). Usually women (and sometimes men) don't get diagnosed with a thyroid disease until they are in their 20's. For me, I was in second grade.
For the longest time, doctor's couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. Since a thyroid disease is 99% nearly impossible for a 7 year old to get, they automatically ruled it out. But when my symptoms kept getting worse (eye bulging, heat intolerance, increased sweating, tremor and fatigue to name a few), I was sent to an endocrinologist. I was that 1% rarity case and got diagnosed with Graves Disease (what an awful name for a disease... especially to a second grader). From there, I received immediate treatment; radioactive iodine. This treatment destroyed my thyroid completely and now I have to take replacement thyroid hormones for the rest of my life.
So cool fact about me: I don't have a thyroid... WEIRD!
But now that I don't have my thyroid, I now have hypothyroidism, which makes it 5x easier for me to gain weight and 10x harder to lose it. Figures.
I always tried to stay active in high school, and I was at just an "ok" weight, but when I entered college at BGSU, the freshman
But blaming my weight on my disease was an excuse I used for years as to why I was overweight... so I just kept eating and eating and blaming and blaming. But a little over a year ago, when I realized that I could
I joined Weight Watchers online at first. In all honesty, I was too embarrassed to go to a meeting by myself. Although it is a meeting of people who feel and look the exact same way that I did, I always felt like I would be judged. I guess that's just the mentally I continuously built in my head over the years.
I would go to the gym, but wouldn't put 100% effort into my work outs... because for those of you that don't know me, I'm pretty sure I was born with 10x the amount of sweat glands a normal being should have. So I was always too nervous that people would point at me and laugh at the chubby girl with pit stains.
I would try to track my points, but I wouldn't hold myself accountable for what I ate. I would track 2 pieces of pizza when I really ate 3. I always thought, "what I don't track, I didn't eat. They won't know I ate it if I don't track it." Really Joanna? Your stomach knows you ate it! Idiot!
I also wouldn't hold myself accountable for weighing in on my own. I would only weigh in when I know I lost a pound or so. On weeks where I gained that pound back, I wouldn't weigh in and I wouldn't record it.
So to say the least, I wasn't getting anywhere.
That's when I ran into my friends, Cristina (now my current roommate) and Katrina (now one of my best friends), at the gym. They were lookin REAL slim. I asked them what they were doing and they said, "Weight Watchers!" I immediately got excited, because that's what I was doing too... but clearly no one could really tell. They told me they were going to the meetings in Perrysburg, Ohio and invited me to join them. Now that I had someone to go with, who I knew wasn't going to judge me, I tagged along.
The first time I walked into those doors for the meeting, I felt overwhelmed, nervous, happy and scared. I didn't know what to expect. I was introduced to the leader, Linda, and to the room full of wonderful members. From then on out, I knew there was no turning back... I think that is what scared me the most.
The next couple of months were hard and frustrating. It was hard to get into the swing of things such as proportioning my meals, maintaining a regular exercise routine, and tracking what I ate. I expected to lose weight quickly... so when I wasn't, I felt defeated. But with the support from Cristina and Katrina, I kept with it. They helped me figure out the program, they were constantly asking me to come to the gym with them and we would even cook dinner together so I could figure out appropriate proportions. They were not only becoming my motivators, but they were becoming my best friends.
My first work out with Cristina! Running the BGSU Stadium!
When I finally reached 5 pounds, and received my 5 pound award at the meeting, the feeling of determination over swept me. Even though you probably couldn't physically notice I lost 5 pounds, I could feel it. I felt more energetic and I felt more in control. I was curious to know what the next award would be and I was determined to get there.
11 pounds later, I received my 5% award. I was 5% towards reaching my goal. That number sounds so small, but it was one step closer to my goal weight. I felt on top of the world. I was getting the hang of things and I wanted that next award.
I started to run a lot more and I signed up to run a 5k in July. I've ran 5k's before in college, but I have always had to stop once or twice. This time was going to be different. My goal was to complete a 5k without stopping... and I did. Cristina stayed by my side the entire time.
Another 11 pounds later, I received my 10% award. Again, one step closer to where I wanted to be.
By November of 2011, I reached my 25 pound award! Boy was I feeling great! I was running more and felt like I needed a new running goal. So I signed up for the Cleveland Turkey Trot... a 5 mile race. At the time, 5 miles seemed like a lot to me, but I was determined. Again, my goal was to complete the race without stopping... and again, I did. Cristina was waiting for me at the finish line.
December rolled around, and Tony finally proposed to me!! We did a TON of celebrating... so my weight fluctuated a lot. But you only get engaged once, right? ;-) So I had no regrets. After the celebrating was done, I got right back on track and now feel more determined than ever to meet my goal by our wedding in November. I plan on rocking my wedding dress. Watch out, Tony!
Me on the weekend after Tony proposed!
Another 12 pounds later, I am at where I am right now. 40 pounds lighter. And guess what? I've set a new running goal... a half marathon. My goal you ask? To finish without stopping. But this time, I will be crossing that finish line with Cristina, Katrina, and Tony. My three biggest supporters, my three biggest motivators, and three of my favorite people who I've ever met in my entire life.
I wish nothing more that Cristina, Katrina and Tony could be here tonight for my motivation talk (actually, Cristina was asked to tag team the talk with me), but Cristina and Katrina are off on a 180 mile bike ride for BGSU's Dance Marathon's, Bikes for Tikes and Tony is off in Cleveland for work. But Jo(W)anna know what? The more I think about it, they don't need to hear my motivation story... they are my motivation story. They are the ones that helped me get to where I am today. Sharing my story tonight is not to get them motivated, it's to get others motivated... to let others know that there are other people out there, just like them, who has walked in those shoes of embarrassment; ready for change.
So even though I still have 17 pounds left to lose before my goal, the point of my story is this:
Achieving a goal is not always about the end result. Sometimes, achieving a goal is the experience of the journey. This journey has given me 2 new best friends, a better and positive attitude, and more importantly, a healthier lifestyle. Being healthy increases happiness not only with your relationship with others, but with yourself as well... and I am living proof of that. It doesn't matter how long it has taken me to get to this point, what matters is that I actually got to this point... and I am not turning back.