They say your younger years are supposed to be the best years of your life, but for me, I spent my entire childhood, teenage years and early twenties being overweight. But I wasn’t just overweight – I was morbidly obese. I didn’t have confidence and I didn’t have just an ‘extra 20 pounds’ I could stand to lose. I had much more than that.
The more my family tried to get me to do something about my weight, the more I turned to food and convinced myself I didn’t have a problem.
The most embarrassing memory I have of high school gym class is having to redo the mile because I could never finish it in under twenty minutes. Needless to say, I never passed regardless of the countless times I tried. (I’m happy to share I’m now running a 10-minute mile, but I digress).
My weight continued to skyrocket in college, mostly due to my unhealthy eating and drinking habits. By the time I was a sophomore in college, I had hit it: 300 pounds.
I was pre-diabetic, had thyroid issues and other medical conditions. Walking up a flight of stairs or from one end of campus to the other would take it out of me. You couldn’t pay me to eat a vegetable, drink water or participate in any form of physical activity – I just wasn’t interested.
Fast forward to the spring semester of my junior year at college in 2010; I woke up one morning and told myself this had to stop.
A New Direction
So what made me turn my life around?
It was quite simple, actually. Among many other things, my clothes didn’t fit and I was uncomfortable on a daily basis. I was tired of sitting down and feeling my stomach hang over my pants. I did not want to become a diabetic, and did not enjoy the responsibility of taking medications on a daily basis for this and that.
I don’t think I’ve ever said this out loud before, but Weight Watchers saved my life. I joined with a girlfriend of mine, and we held each other accountable each and every week. I learned what a serving size was (who knew it wasn’t socially acceptable to eat a whole pizza by yourself?). I learned that your body needs food for fuel, and that I should be eating to live, not living to eat. Learning to track my food not only made me aware of what I was eating, but held me accountable for my choices, good or bad. I never knew what it felt like to be hungry prior to Weight Watchers, and embraced this new lifestyle 110%.
With my continued success at Weight Watchers, I was somehow convinced to start exercising. Skeptical about it at first (mostly because I was embarrassed to be in the gym thinking people were staring at me) I got up every morning before class – whether I liked it or not – and went to the student rec center.
I owe all of this to another girlfriend of mine, for she stood by side and was my cheerleader day in and day out. It became a habit, and I soon looked forward to our mornings at the rec center together followed by a breakfast somewhere close to campus. I was uneducated in the gym though, so I stuck to the cardio machines and continued to lose weight quickly.
I began to find confidence as I received compliments from people that they could tell I was losing weight. Every time I would go home for the weekend from college, my mother would gasp and say “You’re getting so skinny. You look great.”
Fast-forward to year twenty-two; I graduated and moved back to Minneapolis. I joined a gym, and shortly thereafter got connected with a personal trainer to ensure I was continuing on my weight loss journey. I no longer hung around the treadmill and the elliptical, but rather found myself migrating to the weight room as I was becoming more and more educated.
The weight room built my confidence.
I never knew just how strong I was, and how challenging using my own body weight in different movements could be. It was hard to believe that buried under all that fat was a lot of strength and confidence. Each week I would continue to lose weight, while developing physical and inner strength to keep going.
Among many milestones, I was able to run my first 5K Thanksgiving of 2012.
September 2016 I moved to Chicago, and the first thing on my list was to find a gym. I now call FFC Old Town my home, and look forward to working out there during the week. I began training twice a week to keep my motivation in a new city going.
Needless to say, I hit my second major milestone within a week of being in Chicago; I was no longer in the ‘200 club.’ I had hit 199 lbs, losing a grand total of just over 100 pounds in five-ish years.
My third major milestone? I hit my first goal weight of 185 pounds the week before Thanksgiving of this year, and I’m on my way toward my final goal weight of 165 pounds (a total of 135 pounds)!
I am the lightest weight I have been since I can’t even remember and I am wearing the smallest size clothing I have ever been able to wear. I am no longer pre-diabetic or have any medical conditions, and call me crazy, but I have developed a close relationship with the stair master. My journey helped me lose over 100 pounds.
My dedication to weight lifting has allowed me to break PRs on my squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc. and I couldn’t be in a better mindset than where I am now. You can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do; they have to want it for themselves.
Life is about balance, choices and sacrifice. “Make a promise to work hard, commit yourself to your goal and don’t say a word until you’ve made significant progress…” – Joe Duncan
Post written by FFC Old Town Member Lauren Rutzick.