There’s a saying that every person you meet has a unique story, but you only pick up the plot at the chapter you enter.
Unintentionally, my story is primarily about weight, but depending on where you pick up my “book,” it could be about me gaining it or losing it.
I lost 96 pounds, which is roughly the equivalent of 16 bowling balls, an average 12-year-old girl, or a baby hippo. Because I wasn’t overweight growing up, and now — having kept off an amount of weight equal to a tractor-trailer truck tire for many years — there are people who never knew I had gained that weight, or that I had lost it.
My “aha” moment that I needed to change my life came after a receptionist at a day spa embarrassed me when I had to ask for a larger robe because the “one size fits all” robe quite simply didn’t fit. It was in that moment that I realized I no longer recognized myself, and I began my relentless assault on the 96 pounds that had gradually crept onto my body.
The author before her weight loss. Photo Courtesy Of Charlene Bazarian.
It was a careful balance of weight training, cardio, and heavily limiting starchy, white carbohydrates that finally worked for me. While my “aha” moment hit me like a pie in the face, I never envisioned that my little motivational quips of “you’re no busier than a fit person,” “moderation is for maintenance,” or “vodka leads to Oreos” would form a path to my new life.
Now that I am on the other side of my weight loss journey, I have come to understand that the point at which people pick up my story influences how they respond to me. Whenever I’m at a restaurant now with my “no cheese, no bacon, skip the sauce, dressing on the side, can I have double veggies instead of pasta, and please don’t even think of leaving the rolls on my table,” type of order, invariably, if I’m with someone who never knew I was heavy, they will say something to the effect of, “Oh, for God’s sake, look at you, you can eat whatever you want.”
My reply is always, “You know why I can eat whatever I want? Because I don’t eat whatever I want.”
At the gym, sometimes I find myself working out near a person who is just starting out, and I’ll inevitably catch a sort of side-eye glance. If I could see a bubble over their heads, it would say something like, “She’s got it easy. She has no idea how frustrating this is for me.” Little do they know that was me not too long ago.
Truly I can say the “after the after” presents its own set of challenges. I think there’s a fascination with weight loss transformation stories because there’s always the hope that losing weight will transform everything and will make people’s lives all puppies and rainbows. I think there’s also a corresponding secret fear that it won’t change anything, and that people won’t love their new body or be any happier.
Based on the experience of my own weight-loss success, I can tell you that these are things that definitely change for the better:
1. Shopping for clothes is infinitely more enjoyable.
2. My bathroom scale has become a useful tool and not my mortal enemy.
3. My personal relationship with food and exercise has changed more than I thought possible. I gave up thinking of eating healthy as depriving myself. It’s not about never having a cupcake — it’s about not always having a cupcake. In truth, even when I had 96 pounds hanging on me for dear life, I very rarely had the cupcake.
And now, like the end of a drug commercial, here are the possible not-so-great side effects:
1. Not everyone will be happy for you. You’ll be surprised by how those closest to you may react, and saboteurs lurk in places you’d least suspect. Your friends and family can sometimes make discipline seem like a four letter word.
2. There is no finish line and no touch down dance. Losing weight and keeping it off is a daily battle. I realize this whenever I see articles about the high rate of people who lose weight and then regain it. It makes me constantly aware of the fact that I’m only a few bad decisions away from disaster, and the way I choose to dance with temptation is ultimately my responsibility.
3. Life’s other challenges and frustrations will still be there. I try to face my toughest days by telling myself that working out will give me the strength to handle whatever life throws in my path.
The author before her weight loss. Photo Courtesy Of Charlene Bazarian
While I’m certainly not a fan of fat shaming, my run in with that unsympathetic receptionist at a day spa did change my life. Up until that moment, I was in a state of self-pity, self-disgust, and just downright denial. I used that awful feeling to fuel my start, and then went on to use my story to encourage and inspire others.
So whether you picked up my story “before the before,” during the years when I was carrying around an extra sixteen bowling balls, or now, during a time I like to call it, “after the after,” know that your own success story is all up to you and who knows where your “after the after” will take you.
Charlene Bazarian is a fitness and weight loss success story after losing 96 pounds. She mixes her no nonsense style of fitness advice with humor on her blog at Fbjfit.com and on Facebook at FBJ Fit.