By Krystal Lambert
Around 8 years ago I lost 130 pounds. When I tell people this, or they see before and after pictures, I always get a flood of questions about how I did it. For the longest time I would give people a list of tips and leave it at that. It wasn’t until the body positivity movement happened that I started to rethink my methods and consider the deeper meaning behind losing all that weight.
Growing up, I was always overweight and once I hit puberty I gained and gained and there seemed to be no stopping it. I tried dieting throughout high school and college but never seemed to much progress. I knew I had some blood sugar issues (PCOS), but I also had an unhealthy relationship with food. Being overweight can be a vicious cycle in that society makes you feel like a monster, and so you are filled with self-hatred and turn to food as your source of comfort and happiness.
The thing that finally snapped in me was wanting to feel attractive. I had just graduated from college and I was at around 305 pounds. I was miserable. I believed so deeply in my heart that all my problems would be solved if I could just get skinty and hot. I had never even considered trying to love my body as it was. That was still an absurd notion in 2008. So, I used a combination of self-hatred and a longing to be attractive as my motivation. While that motivation worked for a while, it eventually caused me more harm than good and I have had to completely reevaluate the way I view my body and weight loss.
So, I can tell you how I did it. But there is much I would do differently if I could go back in time.
I started by being very extreme in my thinking. My world revolved around working out and eating only exactly what I allowed myself with no cheat days and no mercy. I cut out sugar entirely and lost 40 pounds in one month. I think cutting out sugar is key to losing weight quickly and to this day I still limit my sugar intake. Once I lost that initial 40 pounds, I was so excited that I got much more extreme. I would skip dinner every night and go to bed hungry. I figured if I ate breakfast and lunch I wasn’t starving myself. There were times when I would get very dizzy and almost black out because I had worked out all day and didn’t eat enough calories. Looking back, I wish I would have been more responsible and patient with myself and my body. Starving yourself is not sustainable and can become an eating disorder very quickly. I was so happy during this time because I was losing a pound or two every day, that I didn’t think to analyze my reasons for losing the weight or if my methods were healthy.
I did learn a lot over the next few years about how to maintain my weight loss without starving myself or completely depriving myself of foods that I loved, but it has been a continual journey since day one and is something I still battle with today. Now that I understand my body was always beautiful and I was always worthy of love, I use a lot more positive reinforcement with myself. I have realized that no matter how much weight I lose, I will never be “perfect” by societies standards. I can be perfect by my standards though, if I decide I am always perfect no matter what I weigh. Losing all that weight did something really good for my self-confidence because I learned how truly strong and determined I can be. (It also felt amazing to start getting all of this attention from guys, if I only knew then how annoying that would get lol.) I also learned how much happier I am when I am working out consistently. I learned that I feel so much better and have more energy when I feed my body protein and fiber and water over carbs and ice cream. That doesn’t mean I don’t still eat pizza rolls on occasion. I have relaxed my rules a ton over the years because I realized eating Taco Bell twice a week doesn’t matter in the grand scheme as long as I am exercising and not overeating.
My weight continuously fluctuates up and down about 20 pounds and it doesn’t bother me anymore. I stopped obsessing once I stopped hating on myself. Do I want to gain that 130 pounds back? No, of course not. But I no longer care if I have a fupa or look good naked. I eat right and exercise for my mental health more than anything. I don’t want to worry about my weight all the time so I make a habit of doing the things that keep my weight in check. I also know that if I did gain a ton of weight back it wouldn’t bother me like it did growing up. I have undone that evil lie I believed for so long, that I had to be a certain size to be worthy of love or to be sexy. I have a confidence that is unshakeable now because it is rooted in who I am not what I weigh.
The best advice I can give to anyone who wants to lose weight is: keep it positive. Make it fun, like a game. See how many steps you can take in a day (I recommend the Pacer app), how much water you can drink in a day, reward yourself with clothes or makeup or books etc. not with food. Food is for sustenance, not for comfort. If you use self-hatred for motivation you will be miserable and unsuccessful in the long run. Decide that your body is perfect as it is, but you want to be happier and healthier so you start to find fun ways of doing that. Also, find friends that will work out with you. I can’t stress this enough. Most of the time when I make plans with my best friend Victoria, it involves walking or climbing stairs or dancing. I hate the gym, so I always try to find ways to work out outdoors or at home.
I can’t tell you much of anything you don’t already know about losing weight. There is no secret magical thing I did. Diet and exercise and motivation is all you need. I just urge anyone who has decided they want to lose weight to make sure they are being healthy about it and not using the wrong motivation. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good about yourself. There is something wrong with abusing yourself to live up to society’s standards.
All bodies are good bodies. Period.