How I Lost 100 Pounds
Written by Samie Acevedo
This isn’t your typical weight loss story. Often we label weight loss as “success stories” because we have been taught that losing weight is the goal and purpose of fitness. And there are many historical, political, and personal reasons we think this way. And while my story does involve those components for the sake of this post, this will focus on the personal. So, again this isn’t your typical weight loss story because it has nothing to do with the weight on my body.
We often celebrate weight loss as gaining something. Gaining health. Gaining confidence. Gaining validation. Gaining acceptance, self-worth…What we don’t always talk about is what we actually lose when we lose weight. You see, we automatically assume that the size of our bodies equates to our health and our happiness. The assumption is that the smaller we are, the healthier and happier we are.
What isn’t talked about is that sometimes, the smaller we get, we lose a lot more than the weight on our bodies.
Okay, hang in there with me because this gets personal and a little heavy. This is NOT a cry for help or for anyone to feel sorry for me. And to be honest, while YOU by NO MEANS have to put yourself out there like I am, this has taken me years and years of processing, hurting, learning, and unlearning. I am simply one person sharing her experiences and stories in hopes that someone else reads this and feels a little less alone and maybe feels like, “Okay, I am not the only one, and there is hope.”
Like so many, the past two years have done me dirty. I have felt the collective stress, sadness, pressure, and loneliness many of us have felt this past couple of years. The year 2021 shook me to the core. A lot of good came out of the past couple of years, but so did a lot of change in response to the good, the bad, and the just is. One of the most noticeable changes this year brought was the size of my body.
My body has become noticeably smaller. And as someone who had YEARS of fearing her body image, one of my biggest fears came true. People seeing and commenting on my body.
In 2021, I stopped competing in weightlifting because an old injury was acting up again. In addition to stepping back from something I loved, I was a full-time student working on my master’s from the third best public policy school in the country, had a job as a consultant in disaster recovery, and three other side jobs that felt a lot like full-time jobs. Plus other personal life events. Looking back now, I have no idea how I was doing it. Evidently, not very well.
After taking the time to heal my body, when I finally got back to the gym, every day for months, people gushed about how I looked.
“You look amazing!”
“Did you lose weight?!”
“OMG! You look great!”
“There is something different about you…”
And while I know people are saying this from a caring place, I did not have the heart to tell them that yes, I did lose weight because my anxiety had gotten so bad I could not eat. I did not tell them that I had taken a step back to heal my body, and for months, all I did was go for short walks. That my school work and three jobs had me so stressed out I barely slept. That I had stopped weightlifting because my back injury kept flaring up. That I had multiple full-blown breakdowns every single month. That I missed my strong body. I missed lifting and being able to lift heavy weight. Heck! I missed being able to lift my groceries without having them feel heavy. That I was in a complicated relationship with my smaller body because I could not lie, I felt good in this smaller body, and there was still this deeply ingrained need for validation of a smaller body. Validation that I was receiving from every direction.
My stress and anxiety had consumed my body. And while I did try to stay off the scale, my bad habits of obsessiveness with my weight would take over every time I saw that I was losing weight. So when I was probably feeling physically, mentally, and spiritually my worst, it looked as if I was doing so well on the outside.
Like many others, I lost a lot these last couple of years. Weight, passion, health, jobs, family, a sport that I love, my identity, my wallet (more than once!)…There was a point where I thought, “Okay. THIS is rock bottom,” and then life told me to think again; there is always farther down to go.
I found myself getting more and more sucked into a victim mentality. That even though I have all the tools and knowledge, I was sucked into a spiral of self-pity. Seeing others lifting weights and longingly wishing I could do that too. I was mad that I was lifting 100 pounds more weight a year and a half ago than I could today. I was angry that not only did my physical strength leave my body, but it felt like my inner strength went with it too. I was supposed to be this strong, independent, life-loving, fiery, passionate person! And now, I could barely find the energy to do anything at all.
But hey, I am starting to feel more comfortable in my different body.
While there are many stories from the past couple of years, today, as I sit here and reflect, I am once again faced with finding out who I am. Who am I in this changed body? How am I going to use this body to fulfill my passions? What do I want next? How am I going to move on from rock bottom? How am I going to take action to live a truly healthy life?
The answer? We are still figuring it out.
What I do know is that I am truly resilient. I know that I am strong, but I am also many other things. When I feel that I can no longer trust my strength, that is when I learned to believe in my consistency and my effort. What I am learning is that even when I feel less than strong, physically, mentally, and spiritually what we CAN do is believe in our ability to keep showing up in whatever body we are in.
My smaller body did offer some relief of my old anxieties, but it also did not stop new fears from attacking my self-image and thoughts. That is further proof that our happiness and well-being is not defined by or tied to the size of our bodies. Not truly. There are so many more components when it comes to finding peace and happiness.
Do people view us differently when we physically change? Yes. But they don’t know the entire story. They don’t know the full picture. And they don’t have to, because it is up to us to find our own peace and happiness. Will society continue to praise and value the shrinking of feminine bodies or the enlargement of masculine bodies? Maybe. But, my hope is that by sharing stories and experiences of why bodies fluctuate and showing that shrinking or intentionally gaining in body size does not make all of our fears and worries disappear.
Whether we change our bodies willingly or not, the size of our bodies is not the only indicator for our health and happiness.
Now I am gaining back my passion, and channeling that in finding ways to heal my body. To be kinder to my body and to share what I am learning along the way. I feel like I have a pretty good relationship with my current body, and I am okay when I have less than ideal body image days. Because I know it is just a change. Just an adjustment.
Whatever size body you are in, and wherever you are in your health journey, be it rock bottom or on the body love train, keep showing up. We have more to gain in this lifetime, my friends.