It took me a long time to decide whether or not I wanted to start writing this. It’s been over a month since I pitched the idea to the editor; more than 30 days of pouring over it in my head before I actually sat down and forced myself to start typing. Putting this new challenge of mine into words meant coming to terms with truths that I didn’t want to admit to myself, let alone all of your peering eyes.
- I would be admitting to myself and every set of eyes reading these words that I am, in fact, a panzona, again. (A cutesy-sounding way of saying I’m chunky, for the Spanish-challenged.)
- Though they were effective at the time, I was not serious enough with my weight loss efforts in the past, like, at all.
- By not changing my lifestyle, I am going to make myself sick.
Shudder. Just reading over those words again on my computer screen gives me a queasy feeling in the pit of my chubby little gut.
So, how did I get here? At the end of 2011, I had a revelation: I need to lose weight. Now, when I say “revelation”, it’s not like losing weight was a foreign concept to me. A few years back, after graduating college and moving back home, I joined Weight Watchers. After learning about portion control and diligently monitoring what I was eating (but doing zero exercise), I lost 20 pounds of what I refer to as my “Oh my God, college made me forget what real, delicious, home-cooked food tastes like” weight. Then in 2009, I started a wedding bootcamp to help me look good for the big day. The scale didn’t move much, but the inches fell off and as I continued the program a year after my wedding, it got me into the best shape of my life. (Thanks mostly in part to my trainer, Will, who helped me realize how much I actually liked working out.) I was leaner and felt strong, even though I had stopped keeping track of the food I was putting into my body (read: I thought working out that hard gave me license to start eating junk again).
And then, I just sort of stopped taking care of myself. I turned life events like the loss of my grandpa and starting school again into excuses for emotional eating and straight up laziness. I didn’t even care what I ate anymore; if something looked good (or if I was bored, sad, angry or stressed), I would devour it. I went from working out five days a week at one point to working out twice a week, to once every two weeks, to not having had any physical activity in months. My pants started fitting tighter, and soon I developed a muffin top so big it belonged in a bakery. I had gained back all I had lost, and then some. My skinny jeans were ashamed to call themselves that when I squeezed my thunder thighs into them. I was back to my gorda ways, in a major way.
But the tight pants didn’t bother me too much. Sure, there were times when I had to lay on the bed just to get those suckers buttoned, but hey, what woman hasn’t had to maneuver her hips into a pair of pants that way? What finally made the amount of weight I had gained register in my brain was my annual checkup at the end of the year. My doctor told me she was concerned about my blood sugar level being too high. If it didn’t come down, I had the risk of developing Diabetes.
Essentially, if I did not change my ways, I would give myself a disease. As in, not something I acquired through genetics nor something I caught from not washing my hands, but a disease that I would be tying a nice little bow around and leaving for myself under my Christmas tree. If I did not change my eating habits and get my ass moving, I would be setting myself up to deal with a disease that 10% of Latinos are afflicted with. 10%! We as Latinos have the second highest obesity prevalence among adults. That means I’m not the only one out there with extra pounds. Our parents, siblings and probably even some of you are living a lifestyle that is likely to lead to heart disease, hypertension, stroke and certain types of cancer. This can’t go on. Lord knows we’ve got to change, baby.
And changing my ways is what I’ve been doing. Here I am, three months into the new year, and 20 pounds lighter than I was last year. I had a follow-up visit at the doctor just this week, and my blood sugar is at a normal level. (Yay!) While my clean bill of health is relieving, it doesn’t mean my battle is over: it’s just begun. It hasn’t been easy, and my God, it has really sucked some days, but I’ve been tracking every meal and snack, and making an effort to work out at least two to three times a week. On the days when I see the number on the scale drop, or someone notices and comments that my face looks thinner or my clothes fit looser, it is a feeling better than any french fry has ever tasted. Which is pretty damn good.
I hope you’ll all join me on as I rediscover what it means to be healthy. I’ll share new workouts that I didn’t hate, healthy tweaks to my favorite recipes and stories of my journey to salud.