Name: Tara B.
Before weight: 236 pounds
How I Gained It: My weight fluctuated a lot growing up. Though I was always "bigger" than the other kids around me, it was mostly due to an athletic build and the fact that I was tall for my age. I would gain weight now and then, but I would always lose it again. I was super active and played sports all the way up until high school. My mom was very strict about eating healthy, so even though I was genetically predisposed to gaining weight easily, I wasn't an unhealthy kid.
By the time I graduated high school, years of sports injuries had resulted in the need for multiple reparative surgeries. Over my last three years of school, I was constantly incapacitated due to procedures and recoveries, so the weight came on. It crept up on me slowly but surely, and by the time I graduated, I was obese.
I can't give an exact number because I never tracked my weight; I never had to before. To this day I'm not sure why I gained so much weight during those years. My family remained healthy eaters: There were no fast-food binges, bags of chips or stashes of ice cream. The only thing I can figure is a combination of inactivity and stress. Whatever the reason, I entered college wearing size 20 jeans and feeling extremely embarrassed by the way I looked.
I lost some weight during college. I was still bigger, but not as much as I had been. I maintained a size 14 frame through graduation and into my marriage. It wasn't until after I gave birth to my son in 2011 and experienced the darkness of postpartum depression that my weight shot upward. I didn't care what I ate or how I looked. I was depressed, and I consoled myself by eating cheeseburgers and ice cream. By February 2012, I weighed 236 pounds. I didn't want to take photos with my (slim and fit) husband and wouldn't let him touch me. I was miserable.
Breaking Point: One evening my husband suggested we go for a walk. I went into our bedroom to change and, looking at myself in the mirror, I experienced for the first time embarrassment so acute that I didn't want to leave the house. My son was 3 months old, and I looked like I was still seven months pregnant. It was the first time that I had hated my body that much and that deeply, and I decided that I was done with it.
How I Lost It: I started working out again -- and hard. For three months, I sweated it out at the gym... with no results. I finally caved and went to my mother. She had lost more than 70 pounds through Weight Watchers and had encouraged me to try it. I decided that I was willing to do anything and started tracking my food with their points system. At first it seemed tedious, which is why I had avoided it for so long, despite my mother's insistence it would work for me. But it didn't take long to get into the groove. By the end of the year I had lost 40 pounds.
Now, I don't really have to count points. My brain and body have programmed themselves to know where my limits are. The biggest change in my eating habits has been finding balance. Food is, first and foremost, fuel for our bodies. If I keep that in mind when making eating choices, I’m good to go.
Weekly gym time and food tracking has resulted in weight loss, not to mention a more confident self. My confidence is centered not only in my size but in my fitness level. Hours on the elliptical and hundreds of squats have given me legs of solid muscle, a well-defined back that I am growing rather proud of, and the stamina and energy to give my son and my husband all of myself that they deserve. I still eat cheeseburgers and ice cream, but always in moderation and always with my next trip to the gym in mind. I love the life I am living now, and I will never go back to the way it was before!
Current Weight: 147 pounds. My goal is 139.
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As told to Sarah Klein