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Name: Maia Sutton
Before Weight: 310 pounds
How I Gained: My entire life, I have never been a thin girl. As a child, I wasn't really fat either, but the one thing I have always been is extremely tall. Because of my height, I always had to wear larger-sized clothes than other girls my age, and I think that is why, by the time I was in the fifth grade, I thought I was fat. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself that I looked ugly. It didn't help that I had a member of my own family who would support this way of thinking. I was never told, "You're fat, lose weight." But being constantly asked questions like "Are you sure you want to eat that?" and "Do you really need that second helping?" certainly didn't help.
The other problem that I had was that I really just liked to eat and really enjoyed food. Eating was one of my greatest pleasures. My weakness was anything fried and salty: French fries, potato chips, etc. I moved to New York City after I graduated from college and, like a lot of New Yorkers, I rarely cooked for myself. I was eating out for two, sometimes even three of my meals each day.
The year before I finally started losing weight, I was unemployed and extremely depressed about it. I had devoted my life to my career and to have that suddenly vanish left me with a huge gaping hole in my life. On the days when I would actually manage to get out of bed, it was to go and stock up on junk food, the majority of which would be eaten that very same day. I stopped caring about everything, and that included myself.
Breaking Point: I don't know what caused it actually, I just remember attempting to fall asleep one night when I again (like so many other times in my life) started thinking about my weight and how disgusted I was with myself. Like a bolt of lightning had struck me, I realized how stupid I was! I had all the time in the world to do something to correct this! I was unemployed. That meant I could go for walks in the afternoon! I lived down the street from Central Park, why was I not taking advantage of this free exercise? It was the Friday before Labor Day 2010, and I initially thought that I would wait until that Sunday to start so I could start at the beginning of the week. Then I quickly changed my mind. If I didn't strike while the iron was hot I wasn't going to do it. I had to do this now or never. That next day I went outside and walked around the Central Park Reservoir. I was extremely slow, and I felt like I would die, but I did it, and for the first time in a long time I felt a sense of accomplishment.
How I Lost It: When I first started, I told myself I wasn't going to pay attention to the scale, that I just wanted to get healthy. For the first week, I would walk for an hour or so every day, and I was making somewhat healthier food choices. A friend suggested I start using an online calorie tracker, and so began the real journey. I weighed myself after that first week, and that was when I was 310 pounds. I assume I was actually a few pounds heavier when I started.
The calorie tracker calculated how many calories I should eat each day. Through reading a lot of online articles, I finally learned how to eat healthier. But I knew that if I restricted myself to no sugar, no gluten, no carbs, etc., I wouldn't make it long term. If I want a cookie, I eat a cookie, but I account for those calories. This is sustainable for me. My long-term goal is to wean myself completely from processed foods and eat as cleanly as possible.
I kept up walking and lost my first 30 or so pounds that way. It was a friend of mine who put the running bug in my ear. She kept telling me to just give a Couch to 5K program a try, even though I kept insisting I would try running after I lost more weight. Finally, I gave in and downloaded a program on my iPod. It told me when to run and when to walk, simple as that! Now I can call myself a runner -– something I never thought I would have said just a few short years ago. I've tried other methods of exercise, but it's only with running that I've truly found results. I've now run multiple 5Ks, a couple of 10Ks and hope to eventually run a half-marathon, possibly even a triathlon.
What really helped keep me motivated was reading a lot of online weight loss blogs, and keeping one myself. It helped me to read about the trials and tribulations of other people who were going through the exact same process I was. It was like a free online support group for me. My own blog was to keep myself accountable. I was scared to share it with my friends, but I figured if I made it public, I would feel a sense of obligation to my "followers" to continue to succeed. The support I receive from my friends (both in real life and online) and family has been extremely beneficial to my process. I don't know if I would have succeeded if I hadn't made it a public journey.
I've had some plateaus along the way, and gained back about 15 pounds at one point, but this past year I recommitted and am well on my way to my ultimate goal weight: 200 pounds.
For the first couple of years of my journey, I still had difficulty seeing myself as the new me. It wasn't until very recently when I seemed to have an unexplained epiphany and realized, I am good enough! I am worth all of this! For the first time in my entire life, I look at myself in the mirror and can say I look amazing. I find things to compliment, rather than degrade. I'm the most confident I have ever been in my life. I am proud that I can run six miles. I'm proud that I'm strong. I'm proud of myself when my friends tell me that I inspire them. And most importantly, I'm happy, and that's a feeling I never really expected to ever understand. And that's really all I wanted, to be happy!
Current Weight: 220 pounds
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