Name: Michelle Phillips
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Start Weight: 285 pounds
End Weight: 215 pounds
Time Running: 18 months
I have been overweight or plus-size my entire life. I rationalized it as a security blanket, wearing my weight so I didn’t have to deal with trauma from a sexual assault in my early 20s. I programmed by mind to believe that if I remained plus-size, a man would not be attracted to me or would want to harm me physically.
After my marriage failed, I fell into a deep depression, and I gained more weight. Around the age of 42, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and I suffered from high blood pressure and horrible migraines. At the time, I weighed 285 pounds.
In 2016, my youngest son joined the Army, and I told him I would take care of myself—but I didn’t. One day at work, I wasn’t feeling well and told my coworker to call 9-1-1. Turns out, I had suffered a mild heart attack. The doctor who treated me said I had three options: a heart bypass, a shunt in my heart, or losing weight.
As I laid in that hospital bed, I made a promise to God that I would no longer carry my security blanket (my weight). After 20 years of thinking this way, I knew my mind needed to be reprogrammed.
My sons encouraged me to try walking to get active. So I started to walk/run on a trail from my house to a nearby park; it was five miles there and back. At first, I would walk a mile and then run a mile. Then I bought running shoes and challenged myself to run for three-minute intervals. Once I got over the fear of others laughing at me or noticing how slow I was going, I felt free, and I just concentrated on myself.
I would also overdress when I first started running to hide my stomach and flabby arms, which made me feel insecure. I only exercised for short periods so no one would see me.
Joining a dance fitness class helped me begin to see myself differently. I slowly moved from wearing long sleeves to short sleeves and then tank tops in the class. This carried over into my running; I was no longer afraid of what others would think about my progress.
I also realized that that the more I ran in public, the more I could encourage other women and/or plus-size individuals to run for exercise. This past summer I ran several times in my sports bra and shorts, which was so liberating.
After my heart attack, I also decided to go back to school, and I used the gym and running as a way to calm my brain down after studying. I would run one to two times a week, or try using the elliptical machine at the gym. I started using MyFitnessPal and bought an Apple watch to keep me motivated. The turkey trot was my go-to race as a toast to staying active.
I now run three to four times a week, anywhere from one mile to six miles depending on the day of the week. My goal now is to work on my speed and stamina, so I do a lot of interval workouts and hill-repeat workouts. Running is my therapy, and keeps me healthy both mentally and physically.
In addition to exercising, I made a few
other adjustments to my eating habits that helped me. I am mindful of portions and sugar content, and I also cut out beef and pork from my diet. Making these changes helped me avoid stomach issues and feel lighter.
I prep everything I eat, including my snacks in three-day intervals. Remember, you eat with your eyes first. I make sure to season or marinate all my selections, so I do not reach for salt or condiments. I also keep nuts or fruit in the car for the moments when sugar cravings hit.
By the scale, I have lost around 60 pounds. In my clothing, I have gone from a size 24 to a size 14. This took me a year of being consistent in my eating and working out.
Even with the ongoing pandemic in 2020, I ran two 5Ks, two 10Ks, my first 15K, and three half-marathons. I hope to run my first in-person half marathon this year if COVID-19 conditions get better.
If other people want to start a similar journey, here’s what I’ll say: I have learned to not limit what my body can do. I use the gym, but I mainly run to help me feel confident, relieve stress, and feel free.
Do not let the scale define your journey. At my heaviest, the scale became my worst nightmare, and even when I started my journey, I’d obsess over the numbers. Now at my lowest weight, I don’t focus on the numbers, and I let my clothes tell the story.
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This content was originally published here.