WHO: Jen Fischer
CITY: Mississauga, Ont.
By The Numbers: 250 pounds at my heaviest, and currently 160, total weight loss 90 pounds
The Weight Gain: I can only remember being overweight. It seemed normal to me. My parents divorced when I was nine and I sought comfort in food. My mom was confused; it was the '90s and divorce was just beginning to become popular. She, like many others, wanted to fill the void of my father with whatever I needed and I, like so many children today, thrived on what felt and tasted good.
As all things have their price and I gained significant amounts of weight. My face and body were bloated and I remember being asked in elementary school what those funny looking stripes were (it turns out they were stretchmarks and not as hilarious as they had seemed). I had trouble keeping up with the other children and this isolation just pushed me further into my addiction.
The Final Straw: I was teased, but not any more than most and definitely less than some. I had friends and a social life. I lied about my size when I shopped, not wanting to tell people that I could only find my size 22 at the “fat people” store. When shopping for my prom dress it was not the idyllic experience that most of the girls I knew had, but a nightmare found in the bottom of a pile of dresses on the change room floor that just simply wouldn't fit.
The final straw came in second year of university when I weighed myself for the first time in five years. I vaguely knew that I had gained some weight, but I had always referred to myself as a “skinny fat person”. When the scale topped off at 250 I felt nauseous. While I knew I had to take the weight off I wasn't sure how to go about it. I had tried many different diets, from Weight Watchers to Atkins. All of them were some small form of torture, some way that I had failed and another sign of embarrassment.
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The Plan Of Attack: While in university, I came across a flyer for mistreatment of animals in the food industry. My two friends and I decided to make it a competition to see who could go meat free the longest. Both of them dropped out within an few days of starting, but for some reason it made sense to me. I started make a rule to eat seven vegetables and fruits a day and gradually cut out the crap, as I was limited in my fast food selection by my new diet.
I also began to work out on a regular basis, joining the gym and sports teams. In a lot of ways, I became a different person, interested in things beyond my own small world of books and school. I started to see the pounds fall off and, motivated, I began to cut more of the bad stuff (sugars, chips, etc.) out of my life until I eventually became a vegan.
Another aspect to weight loss is changing your mentality. Before, my association with fun and being social was almost always food associated. I had to retrain my brain to look for other ways to be social. Instead of going for lunch, we would go for a walk down by the lake with a coffee or hiking.
The Food Element: I became a vegetarian and focused on eating seven servings of vegetables and fruit a day. This helped me to focus on an element other than calories and kept it simple and non-restrictive. I let myself eat what I wanted to (within reason) as long as I finished those servings. After a while my tastes and cravings began to change and I started craving the fresh produce instead of junk food.
I gave up meat products and eventually all animal byproducts. I also gave up soda, junk and fast foods for the most part. I made sure to allow myself indulgences, but later in the midst of my veganism began cutting out all sugar and highly processed carbs.
The Exercise Factor: Even going for a walk down the street was intimidating. At first, I began to walk at night with my dog and bought an elliptical to use at home. Once I had lost 40 lbs, I began to go to my school's gym and I eventually joined a gym with my best friend. Encouraged by the weight loss I was seeing, I began going five days a week and walking my dog the days that I was off. When I lost 60 lbs I joined a soccer team, a sport I loved and missed since childhood.
My fitness routine is currently three days a week at the gym and trying to walk on my off days. I initially avoided trying to do too much weight lifting because I had the incorrect notion that I would just build muscle under fat and become even bulkier. I now focus largely on strength training in order to lose weight as well as tone and create a stronger structure.
The Current Day-To-Day:I still sometimes feel like I’m bigger than I am. It’s hard to shake a life long mentality. In some ways I am more conscious of myself than before because I am no longer in denial about my weight and I don’t hide away in my room anymore. I take full body photos and refuse to hide what I look like. I have more energy and am more spontaneous as I don’t have to over think situations or scenarios that I may be placed in.
My biggest regret in regards to my weight loss was becoming obsessed with my image and being skinny. I must say a word of caution when dieting that I feel a lot of articles and blogs leave out. Being obsessed with eating healthy can be as much of a hazard as eating badly and being obese. I am not an example of the best way to lose weight — I don’t believe anyone is. As someone who has been on countless formal weight loss programs and have “failed” on each one of them I think it’s up to the individual to find his or her own motivation, what works for them but most importantly make peace and accept themselves.
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