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Name: Eve Parker
Before Weight: 340 pounds
How I Gained It: Diet was my first four letter word. When I was crowned "Star of the Week" in kindergarten, my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, to which I responded, "I want to be thin." I learned at a young age that food equaled happiness and a way to escape shame. I would start a diet, cheat at school, disappoint my mom and then repeat the process. My entire family was obese. Eating an entire pizza by yourself was not that uncommon in my home. I ate because it made me happy, and eating was the only time my family came together.
By first grade, I wore my first training bra. By fifth grade, I had grown into plus-size clothing. I stopped fitting on roller coasters during middle school. While most young adults marvel about and save up for traveling, I cringed when I had to travel. By the time I was 17, I took up two seats on an airplane. Trips just left me in tears and eating more.
At the ripe age of 20, my doctor told me that I may not live to see my 40th birthday if I didn't make some big changes. This news startled me but did not jar me enough to want to change. I simply turned to drugs and more food to try and forget about my grim future.
Before I wanted to change, I was a 23-year-old, 340-pound woman in a relationship with a man obsessed with the rolls on my body more than the role I played in his life. My cholesterol peaked at over 300, my blood pressure never went below 190/110, my kidneys ached. I wanted to lose weight, but I didn't want to diet. If I couldn't eat what I wanted, then what was the point of living? My logic was to eat $17 worth of Taco Bell meals, make myself vomit, then eat a more sensible meal.
Breaking Point: During this time, I took care of my sick father -- changing his diapers, administering 18 pills a day and helping him off the floor from frequent falls. I realized one day as I helped him bathe that I was looking into a genetic mirror. If I didn't change, then that would be me in diapers before my "over the hill" birthday party: Never knowing the feeling of buying clothes in regular stores, no vacations, no happy marriage, no children, no adventure, no dreams of being a public speaker or a performer. I felt like a lonely soul walking the earth with no reason to live. I felt if I carried on with this life than I may as well end it. The physical and emotional pain kept me up late worrying about how I would die and how I would have wasted the life I had been given. I had to gain control if I wanted to survive.
How I Lost It: I started walking every day. At first I couldn't even make it past my long driveway, but I kept at it. I walked the driveway until I could walk out onto the street and pass the first few houses. It was painful, but I kept the image of my future in front of me. I continued to push every week until I could walk the entire block. I started walking in 5K events and fell in love with being around other active people. Being around active and happy people who accepted me as their peer and respected my efforts gave me purpose. No longer did I feel I had to do this alone or that I was looked down upon by others. They found my presence an inspiration.
I decided to go vegan and study nutrition. My mottos: eat close to the earth, and eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day. I started taking one less scoop of food at each meal. I cut out all fast food and soda, learned to love water and cooking and said goodbye to drugs.
The important thing was I never gave up. Some days I ate things that were unhealthy. I am human; this happens. I would simply pick up where I left off and keep going. I hit plateaus and felt the weight would never come off, but I kept reminding myself how far I had already come.
I completed my first sprint triathlon in 2013 in San Diego. As I crossed the finish line with tears streaming down my face, I reminded myself how far I have come. Today, I am training for a half marathon and taking pole dancing classes to build my personal strength and love the body I live in.
I did something I felt was impossible. If I can do this, then I can help anyone do it. As the founder of Inspirational Eve, I am now a life coach helping others. There is always a way out of the darkness. All you have to do is reach.
After Weight: 190 pounds. My goal is to walk this earth a size 6.
The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers.
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