I was a jock in high school and at 5 feet 7 inches and 150 pounds, I was happy with my weight. In college, my social life took priority over playing sports and dorm food was seldom satisfying, so my friends and I went out to eat after the dorm meals. My clothes grew tighter each week and I skipped social events, like trips to the beach, because I didn’t want my friends to see me in a bathing suit.
I could not admit that I had a weight problem until the day of my college graduation. Weeks earlier, I bought a dress to wear for the ceremony, but on the big day, I tried putting it on and was horrified to find out that I couldn’t squeeze into it. After crying about it, I found another dress to wear and attended the event. I looked happy on the outside, but on the inside, I was sad that I had let my weight spoil my graduation.
The next day, I took responsibility for my health. I was at 190 pounds and made my goal weight 150, my pre-college weight.I started reading books about healthful eating and learned the basics of nutrition. Until then, I had had no clue what a proper portion size was, and I found that in many instances I was used to eating two or three times more than the suggested serving size. At first it was hard to adjust to the smaller portions – I even bought smaller dishes to trick myself into thinking I was eating just as much as before. My body eventually adjusted and I became used to eating less. I also cut out high-fat foods like red meat and replaced them with chicken while adding fruits and vegetables, other nutritious items that were lacking from my diet. I lost 1-2 pounds a week and within four months, I had lost a total of 20 pounds.
When I moved to a new city for a job, I joined a basketball team to meet people. At first, I was nervous because I hadn’t played since high school, but it all came back to me when I got on the court. The only problem was that I was coughing and wheezing during the game because I was out of shape. But I kept playing and improved my endurance. I also joined a gym, where I took step-aerobics classes and started weight training.
To challenge myself, I signed up for a 5k run and fell in love with racing. With each race I’ve completed, I have improved my performance and my body confidence. And, in the process, I reached my goal weight and completed a triathlon. I feel like an athlete again.
Last spring, I returned to college to earn my master’s degree in health promotion and wellness management. I want to help others see fitness as a tool to help them achieve a happy life. I know my next graduation day will be a joyous occasion.