Name: Lisa Jarrett
Before Weight: 336 pounds
How I Gained It: I grew up in a single-income, blue collar family outside of Chicago. My parents, while at normal weights in their youth, were both obese, and I picked up on many of their bad behaviors. Growing up, dinners consisted of lots of greasy meat, canned vegetables and boxed potatoes.
Things went from bad to worse when I moved to Olympia, Washington. I was in an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship and was suffering from depression and anxiety. I received treatment for said psychological ailments by way of prescription medication (I was on eight different meds at one point in time), and instead of making things better, it actually helped to make my life worse. It wasn't long before I had gained so much weight I saw the numbers "336" light up on the scale at the doctor's office.
Breaking Point: By 2010, my life was a mess. My relationship was breaking down, I was totally miserable and suicidal, and my drinking had increased. Something had to give. Visiting a friend on campus at the school I was attending gave me hope. I remember hanging out at his dorm and really liking the environment -- so much, in fact, that I decided that I wanted to move there, and soon let my live-in boyfriend know that. With the move, we broke up, and I started losing a little bit of weight naturally, being solely responsible for my own nutritional choices.
Around the same time that our relationship fizzled, our car broke down and wasn't repairable. We were both cyclists at the time, so we just adapted. Even minimal walking helps. With these various changes in my lifestyle, I saw small results.
A few months later, I lost my health insurance, and while I didn't recognize it at the time, it was one of the best things that happened to me. I was forced to withdraw from my medications, and that is when I saw them for what they were -- a crutch to keep me from dealing with the realities of the outside world.
How I Lost It: Over the years, my eating patterns have changed dramatically. While I still don't eat 100 percent healthy foods, gone are the days of over-processed garbage, over-consumption of meat and eating fast food multiple times a week.
I work in a bakery, and I'm not afraid to indulge. I still eat things many people wouldn't consider "healthy foods", like butter and chocolate and sugar. If I want to eat a pastry, that's totally cool -- as long as it's one pastry. The problem arises if one goes overboard.
Outside of the bakery, if I can't pronounce something on the ingredients list, I stay away from it. I also quit drinking alcohol; I have almost 10 months of sobriety. It was hard to do at first, but I don't miss it and I don't think about it either.
I'm also quite active. I was still active during my heavier years, but I kept eating too much. Now, a 30-mile bike ride sounds fun! And a 10-mile hike in the woods? Sure, why not? A few months ago I started going to the gym and lifting weights for the first time in three years. I'm so excited to have hips again! This is the smallest I've been since I was a teenager.
I'm very blessed and fortunate to have a second chance at life. The way I used to live wasn't really living at all, and sometimes I wonder how I get so lucky to wake up and live another day. Being heavy like I was wasn't really living, it was existing. No one should have to go on like that if they can help it. Now, I am happy and energetic.
Current Weight: 200 pounds
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As told to Sarah Klein