Those Jeans, My Journey: Reflections At The Place Where My Weight Loss Mission Began

I shed 90lbs in 11 years and here’s the picture to prove it.

I was aiming for 100lbs a few months ago and that still may be coming soon, but for now, I stop to reflect on this amazing fact. And there’s more to this story than what I’ve lost, keep reading to find out some of the beautiful things I gained by letting go.

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March 2006 (left) and July 2017 (right)

The jeans that I am wearing on the left in 2006 are what started my weight loss journey. How did those jeans start my journey, you wonder? Well, my first trip to Paris was one of those monumental trips. I’ve wanted to visit Paris since as long as I can remember and came close twice but something always happened. The first time, my passport was stolen while leaving Germany heading to France and I was forbidden entry into France (this was before the EU was established). The second time, I was admitted into, but then had to decline participating in a study abroad program to France (the fees were increased at the orientation and I didn’t have the extra $1,000 needed to cover the fee increase). But, 2006 was MY YEAR, I claimed it at “Watch Night” service going into the New Year. After being disappointed twice, I decided that I would…JUST GO! Just go on my own. Just go alone if I had to. I was going and nothing was going to stop me. I was determined to have my trip of a lifetime.

For this trip of a lifetime, I wanted a pair of comfortable jeans for all the walking I would do on my first trip to Paris. I went from store to store trying on jeans only to discover that I had outgrown some of my favorite clothing stores. I was well into “plus-size” and couldn’t ignore the fact that I was no longer on the bridge between “regular” size and “plus” size; like I thought I was. Those jeans are a size 20W.

Jeans don’t lie. Jeans tell you the truth. Unless they are stretch jeans but those aren’t stretch jeans. Those jeans told me the truth and nothing but the truth.

Buying a size 20W jeans was a shock to me and that became my personal wake up call. I told myself that those would be the last pair of size 20W jeans that I would buy, unless I had a medical reason. I made sure to keep that promise. I walked holes in those jeans. I wore them until the threads in the inner thigh were sheer like pantyhose.

When I returned from Paris, I began the journey to being healthier. I bought a scale, something I hadn’t owned in years. Stared myself in the mirror and told myself the hard truth that I had been evading. Honestly, I was plus-size because I didn’t care enough not to be. I was plus-size because I didn’t really understand how not to be. I hadn’t known how to enjoy my favorite foods in moderation. I didn’t know how to deal with disappointing family and friends when I refused their meals or desserts because rejecting their dishes was viewed as rejecting them, so I ate.

In the journey to becoming healthier, I gained a lot and here are a few of those things.

Healthy Cooking Skills:

When I returned from my Paris trip, I saw a nutritionist and spent the first 6 months of my journey, learning what healthy meals were and how to cook them. I didn’t want to return to the weight I was and I knew I needed the skills to help me stay on track. I didn’t want to yo-yo. I didn’t want a quick fix. I wanted complete and permanent changes.

Stronger Self-Confidence: I cut off my long, chemically-straightened hair which caused me to dig deeper into myself and emerge with more self-confidence. I no longer had hair to rely on as an aspect of my beauty. I had to make my inner beauty shine brighter.

Fearlessness: I confronted my fear of being a “fat person at the gym” head-on. I even had a mantra… “People are already looking at me, I’m gonna give’em something to watch.” And I proceeded to claim space on the front row of every Zumba class, Body Pump, and Spin class I took. I figured if they were gonna talk about my fat butt, they would be talking about the way it moved! IMG_7369More Determination: This hasn’t been an easy journey. Five years into it, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes which completely devastated me. Diabetes was a major set back in the beginning because managing diabetes took priority over everything else. I had to learn how to exercise with diabetes (which requires a lot more effort, skill, and preparation).  I had to learn healthy cook with diabetes (which requires a different lens, mathematical equations, and strict portion control). I had to learn that my body has limitations that can’t be ignored. In order to continue on my journey with the extra baggage of Type 2 diabetes, I had to be determined in a way that I hadn’t ever been before.

No Limit Outlook: While shedding the weight slowly over time, I gained a new outlook on possibilities. I stopped saying things like “I can’t lose that much” or “I won’t look right at that size” or “My neck ain’t gonna be right if I dropped that much weight.” I went into each year with one goal…to finish that year healthier and more fit than I started it. I stopped putting limits on what’s possible for my journey.

Motivation by Challenging Goal Setting: Until I put these two pictures side by side, I didn’t see the totality of my transformation and that’s partly because I focus on what’s in front of me–my short-term goals. I learned to set small, challenging, short-term goals that have a long-term impact. For example: eat a pescetarian diet for 30 days, get 10,000 steps twice this week, go to the gym 25 days this month, have a salad for dinner three days this week, do 5 push-ups before going to bed tonight, complete five 1-minute planks today. These small challenges are fuel to my body and to my self-esteem. Feeling a sense of accomplishment on a daily or weekly basis works wonders. Before I know it, 365 days or 52 weeks of challenges have gone by and I end the year having accomplished my long-term goal of ending the year healthier than I started it.

The person on the right isn’t just 90lbs lighter, she’s 90% more resilient, confident, and assured in herself.

If I could go back in time and chat with my 26 year-old self, I would bear hug her and thank her for starting the journey.

I would tell her that it wasn’t too late to start, it was right on time.

I would assure her that going alone on this journey to being healthier spiritually, mentally, and physically will be the most important journey of her life.

I would tell her that she is a better mother and wife because she learned how to love herself unconditionally.

I would tell her that in 11 years she will be more than she could have ever imagined.

I would inform her that she would once again be able to find her size at most stores in a mall and wouldn’t hate when friends asked if she wanted to go shopping at the mall.

I would surprise her by telling her that she would return to Paris, that this trip in 2006 wouldn’t be her last like she thought. That she would also return to Walmart 11 years later and buy a size 14 pair of jeans that would fit comfortably for her walk along of the streets of Paris.

I would explain to her that she would one day sit at the Louvre and take a picture in the same spot where this journey began and that she would call that picture “BEFORE and NOW” because BEFORE and AFTER doesn’t adequately describe how she feels about her journey because she would come to see it as a life-long pilgrimage.

I would let her know that she would look at the comparison between 2006 and 2017 and smile, cry, and her soul would marvel and sing “look where He brought me from.”

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Thank you for reading.

For me it was those jeans, what was it for you? If you had a breaking point in your journey, I’d love for you to share in the comment section.

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6 Comments

  1. Nikki Canady Penda September 20, 2017 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    For me it was borrowing clothes from my mother because I had gained so much weight during a 6 month assignment in Europe that none of my clothes fit. I refused to buy the 18s I needed to be comfortable.

    Over the first 6 months I got back down to my 14s but realized, I didn’t have to stop. I could focus more and more and finally stop talking about losing weight by actually losing weight. That 8 years ago. I still have more to lose and the focus has slipped a lot this year but I keep reminding myself it is a marathon not a sprint. Healthier is the purpose…

  2. Johnniea Armstead August 18, 2017 at 5:51 am - Reply

    I originally read this post while in Mexico, but my internet was in and out. I’m experiencing my own journey and you encouraged me today. I am yet to find the words to describe this journey, my breaking point, or even how I will overcome it all, but I’m here pushing through. I was so down today about not being further along in the journey, but you reminded me that this is a life-long pilgrimage. I cried today and my soul was refreshed……for that I am obsessively grateful. Thank you for sharing your journey; you look absolutely amazing. I am cheering you on…..Go Dr. P go!

    • Dr. P August 18, 2017 at 6:55 am - Reply

      Thank you for your comment. I am so glad that you were touched and inspired by my story and took the time to comment. I wish you the very best on your journey and remember each new day is another chance at getting it right.

  3. Amani July 24, 2017 at 7:12 am - Reply

    Hot Stuff!!! Awesome Job!!

  4. Rick Phillips July 22, 2017 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    Congratulations. You look amazing.

    • Dr. P July 22, 2017 at 11:28 pm - Reply

      Thank you

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