Sunday, August 7, 2016

Who Ate My Psyche?

No, seriously. Who or what ate my psyche? Because this person inside me is not this size so I can only assume I was swallowed whole by something. 

Am I the only one who ever feels this way? I don't think I am. I'm pretty sure nearly every overweight person out there feels like a "normal-sized" person trapped in a cocoon of fat. 

Weight loss is a topic most of us have thought about at least a time or two. For some of us, however, it's a thought that never goes away. It's a way of life. My name is Ashley and I am one of those people. I have been overweight pretty much my whole life. But that's changing and I would like to share my journey with you. 




I have been thinking of starting this blog for a while, but it's not easy to put the thing that's caused you to hide your whole life out on display for the world to see. And that's exactly what being overweight has done. I allowed it to cause me to miss out on life. I wasn't just a "little chubby." I was obese. Technically, I still am obese. I hate that word. I remember the first time I saw it in correlation with my name, it was like I'd been punched in the gut. I was a teenager and I had been labeled as "obese." Over the years I've decided labels are really bad. Because I had been labeled "overweight" my whole life and then "obese" as a teen, I got it into my head that I was DEFINED by those things. I realize now those labels don't define me. Yes, I have a lot of fat on my body, but I am not fat. "Having fat" and "being fat" seem like such minor differences, but they are a huge change in your thoughts and the way you feel about yourself. 

Having fat on your body should not define who you are. It's taken me a very long time to realize that. I am a kind, generous, caring, sarcastic, sassy, hot-tempered, stubborn woman. All sorts of good and bad things mixed into one. Those things are part of who I am and aren't likely to change. Having fat on my body isn't something that's a part of who I am. I can change that at any time - and I am. The experiences I had while suffocating in my fat cocoon helped mold me into the woman I am today, and for that I will forever be grateful. I have discovered a strength in myself that I never knew was possible. One that includes writing this blog post and putting my weight out there for the whole world to see. 

My highest weight was a number I never expected to see. It brought shame and intense sadness with it. I initially started losing weight in April 2015. Prior to that I hadn't been on a scale in years. I was depressed and I felt like I was in a hole I would never be able to crawl out of so instead of doing something about it I kept sitting on my butt and drinking Coca-Cola because that made me happy. Happy for the moment anyway. What it was really doing was making everything worse and making that hole even deeper. 

In the photos below you can see a photo of me wearing the same shirt one year apart. A shirt I used to feel comfortable in now feels like I am wearing a blanket. The photos on the left were taken in July 2015, and I had actually lost about 10 pounds at that point (though I'm not sure any of that was even visible). The photos on the right were taken August 5, 2016. I didn't start seriously losing weight until December 2015, so even though there is a year between the photos, there is only about 7 months of lifestyle change represented. 


Left: July 2015/Right: August 2016

Can we just take a moment to laugh at the fact that my before pictures were taken at the M&M Store? That wasn't planned. I avoided photos of myself like the plague but this was during a trip to Las Vegas and my friends wanted photos, so I joined in. I knew I was big, but until I saw myself in these photos I had no idea just how big. You don't see yourself in the mirror the same way you do in a photo. I almost deleted them when I saw them, but I told myself no - you're going to want to see this someday. You're going to want to remember what you felt like on this day because you don't ever want to feel like that again. We were walking the strip in Vegas and since I was about 3-4 of everyone else I felt like I was slowing everyone down. They didn't act like that or make me feel bad at all, but I knew if I wasn't so huge I'd be able to keep up. There will be more about this trip in subsequent blog posts, as there is too much for this one.


Left: July 2015/Right: August 2016

The shirt that fit me just a year ago looks very tent-like now.

A few years ago I became friends with some amazing women. Women who loved me despite the fact that I was hugely overweight. This was a huge revelation for me because all of the friends I had grown up with ended up going their own ways. Some left in a very hurtful manner, some just because we grew up and life separated us. But since I had it in my head that I was not as good as everyone else because I "was fat," I contributed losing them to my weight. I didn't make any other good friends. I had my mom, we're very close. But your mom loves you no matter what, right? I had a family who loved me, but nobody outside my family who I could hang out with or talk to. So, when people started befriending me and liking me for ME, regardless of what I looked like, it was pretty amazing. I finally had a best friend I could talk to about anything and everything. I really didn't ever think that would happen. I think forming these friendships and knowing it was possible for me to be loved is what made me start dragging myself out of the hole I had been in for years. 


Me and my best friend, Sheila, one year apart.
Left: July 2015/Right: July 2016

When the time came that I finally decided I HAD to do something, I just happened to stumble on a weight loss story from a Facebook friend. She was a fellow nail art blogger, I didn't know her very well. She didn't have nearly as much to lose as I did, but even so, her thoughts before she lost weight were very similar to mine and they struck a chord. I commented on her status saying how her story inspired me and she sent me a private message offering me encouragement and tips. 

So, I decided I was going to get started. Then it came time to weigh myself. Regular scales wouldn't weigh me, I had to get an "extended weight" one. I don't think most people even think about needing a scale that goes past 300 pounds. Just needing one of those is an embarrassment. I remember stepping on that scale and not wanting to look down. Then I did and looked at the number in disbelief. 402. How in the world did I ever let myself break 400?! The last time I had weighed before this I was around 325. I knew I had gained some, but I had no idea I had gained that much. I was mortified. But I resolved to never see a 4 at the beginning of my weight again. 

I counted calories and lost 23 pounds over the course of the next few months (it was coming off VERY slowly). It took me about 3 weeks to get out of the 400s. Between being in my 30s and having some health issues, my metabolism seemed like it was now non-existent. I was very discouraged. I fizzled out and stopped trying as hard. I didn't completely stop, but I only half-tried. I gained back most of it in the latter half of the year. 

Then, I'm not sure what happened, but I just woke up one day feeling different. Determined. I had done the low carb way of eating years earlier (before it was a "thing") and had had great success with it. I had considered trying it earlier in 2015, but didn't want to completely give up my Coke. I had a serious Coca-Cola addiction and doing low calorie I could still fit in a can a day, which was the main reason I had tried low cal over low carb to begin with. But I was feeling worse. My health issues weren't going away and I was tired of not being able to move without hurting. I was a 90-year old in a 30-something body. I guess I had the "I've had it" moment you hear about. I weighed again on December 7, 2015 and was at 394.5. At least I hadn't broken 400 again, but I was pretty close. But I was adamant I was going to go down from here and not gain it back. I felt like I had flipped a switch inside. I am losing much faster with low carb than before, plus cutting out Coke and pretty much all sugar. The last time I weighed (August 6th), I was down 95.4 pounds, with a current weight of 306.6. I still have a very long way to go, but I have no doubt I will get there. I can't wait to get out of the 3s! The last time I was below 300 lbs I was probably 15-16 years old. And it's so close now!




I know I still have a lot of weight to lose. I am still over 300 lbs. (barely!) and weigh more than most people's "befores," but I feel so good! I sit on the floor a lot due to my job and it was so hard to get up at 402 lbs. It is so much easier now, and I know will just continue to get easier. But, maybe most importantly, I feel confident. Never in my life have I felt confident. I never understood how other "plus size" women could feel confident. While I still want to continue to lose weight and improve my body, I get it now. I am starting to love myself just how I am and that's the biggest revelation on my journey so far. 


I hope you'll follow along on my journey with me.  I'd love to break out of our fat cocoons together! 



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51 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your loss, Ashley!! It took a lot of guts to post this with your numbers and pictures, and I'm super proud of you! You're such an inspiration and I'm a lucky person to be able to call you friend. <3

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    1. Thank you! I'm lucky to have you as a friend as well! <3

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  2. I love this so much. <3

    Way to go!

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  3. Major congratulations on your weight loss and journey. I'm hitting my own wall of "how did I get here" especially after realizing that I was avoiding photos this year and that's not like me. Here's to a healthier 2016!

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    1. Definitely to a healthier 2016! I know it's cliche, but if I can do it, ANYONE can truly do it.

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  4. You are an amazing soul. I am enjoying your journey to the you that YOU want to (and will) be! You have been outstanding and i have conplete faith in you my friend!

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  5. You are one of the bravest women I have ever met, and I feel so honored to have actually met you.
    And like I told you in person: the difference between last year and this year is very noticeable. Not just in size, but your whole personality is so much better! Your confident, the love that you share, the light that you project... you are simply glowing and it's the most wonderful thing to be around you!
    Good luck in your journey <3 May I be able to be a part of it all the way through!

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    1. Thank you so much! Love you, my friend! And I hope to see you again soon! <3

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  6. Ashley,

    You are such an inspiration and never giving up is so wonderful to see!! Thank you for sharing your journey and we wish you continued success!!

    David

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  7. You are such an incredible inspiration Ashley and I am so so happy for you!

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  8. I am so incredibly proud of you, Ashley! You continue to push me to stick with my goals and I am so thankful to have connected with you on this. You rock and I am so excited for what you have done so far and even more excited for where your journey will continue to take you. 💜💜💜

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    1. Thank you! You helped me get started and for that I will always be grateful! <3

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  9. You are amazing!! Love you!! ♥

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  10. What an inspiration. Love your new pictures. Love you, too.

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  11. You are doing amazing, Ashley! I know you can do whatever you put your mind to. Do not be afraid to toot your own horn every once in a while. You deserve it.

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    1. Thank you! I am not great at tooting my own horn, but I am very proud of what I've accomplished so I may start. ;)

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  12. What a spectacular journal describing your mindset, emotions and thought process's that you started with and how you have grown and changed as the weight has come off <3. I am very proud and so honored to know you are someone in my life who has made me a better person! I am thrilled to go on this roller coaster of realization and life style amendments with you <3

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    1. Thank you! I am honored to call you a friend!

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  13. Congratulations Ashley! I know we don't know each other personally but your blog popped up on my Facebook feed thanks to some mutual friend we have so I read your post and wanted to leave some words of encouragement. I've been going through a weight loss journey this past year too so I can relate to many things you said. I was dealing with so much self hatred and feeling trapped in a body that wasn't me. I also had that moment where I decided no more, it's enough, I need to make a change. The road is long and bumpy but I mean, WOW look at how far you've come and the incredible progress you made, both mentally and physically. The mental part is just as important, if not more important. You should be so proud of yourself, you look amazing! Thank you for being brave and sharing your journey with us. We're here to support you!

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    1. Thank you so much! Self hatred is the perfect example. I knew I was a nice person, but I couldn't imagine anyone loving me in the body I was in. I know that was flawed thinking, but I couldn't help it. Even though I still have a long way to go I am starting to love myself just how I am and that's the best feeling. Congratulations on your journey! I'd love to talk to you about it sometime if you ever want to message me on Facebook. :)

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  14. Following! You have done amazingly well so far, congratulations! I'm on my own similar journey, started at 360lbs, now down to 271, not far to go for my 100lb milestone :) it's been great to read your story, look forwards to seeing more!

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    1. Wow, you have done amazingly well! I'd love to see photos if you want to share. :) Congratulations and thank you so much!

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  15. You go, brave girl. Major hugs of encouragement - proud of what you've conquered so far, knowing it's only the beginning, 'cause you've got so much fight in you. <3

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  16. Ashley – As your Granddad, I have always been proud of you and loved you. Over the years, you have demonstrated your ability and sincerity, with your love of Jesus, in life and virtually everything you have done. Your prior accomplishments have made you a light on the hill for many. In doing so you have affected many lives. Now that you have taken the position you have on losing weight and ‘going public’, you will positively affect many more. I have always been honored to have you an integral part of our family. Now, I reckon I’m just bursting with pride in what you have done and will continue to do. May Our God bless you richly for your efforts and actions. I love you!!!

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  17. Congratulations on all of your hard work! You are inspirational! <3 <3 <3

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  18. Ashley, I think it's amazing that you decided to do a post on your incredibly journey. I know you said you still have more to go, but you definitely need to be proud of how far you have come!

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    1. Thank you, MK! I am incredibly proud of what I've accomplished thus far!

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  19. Sheila is my cousin, I'm so glad y'all have found each other. I would like to follow your success and find some inspiration through your journey. I weigh close to 250 lbs, and I'm so lazy and unmotivated. Keep up the awesome work.

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    1. Thank you, Mary! Sheila is the best and I am blessed beyond words to have her in my life. You can definitely do this! If you would ever like to message or email me, feel free. :)

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  20. Hello Sweetheart, this is your Dad's Mother who you call "Mom". You will never know how proud I am of you. Your Blog is wonderful and I know while helping you, it will help many others. Sometimes sharing helps others so much. I know the Lord will continue to help you. He is so generous with His love and assistance and never gives up on us. Thank Him for that. I love you and will constantly keep you in my prayers. I know you will be a great success and will be a blessing to many, most of whom you will never know. God bless you Grand Daughter. Love.....

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  21. I also incredibly proud of you!!!! It took some guts to put it in writing, and to out yourself out there... I am rooting for you mama!!!! And just so you know, you're beautiful no matter what your weight is! :))

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  22. Sometimes just starting is the hardest part, those first few steps in realizing it's time to make a change are the hardest!! I wish you much success in your continued weight loss!! Congrats on what you've accomplished so far! I have no doubt that you will reach whatever final goal you have. You are Amazing!!

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  23. I'm going to follow your blog. You are a wise and beautiful woman, and I can relate with the conflict between what your body looks like and who you are as a person and the damage that conflict causes. If you ever get discouraged, come back to this and see all the loving comments of encouragement. Looks like you have some pretty amazing people in your life, and they are there because YOU are amazing. :)

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    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate that! :) And I do have some very amazing people in my life!

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  24. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!! You have done amazing, and are really inspiring me to take bCk control of things. I look forward to continuing to follow you!!!! Xo

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  25. Congratulations! Your journey and attitude are inspiring. :)

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  26. Ashley, you are definitely an inspiration to get started. I faltered in my journey to health and have been waiting for something to click to get started with the first step ~ the mental part. Someone once told me the days would pass ~ do you want to accomplish something as the days pass and the answer is yes. After reading many of the comments you have a great and vast community and network supporting you as you make your way, now you can add me.

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