By Annie May
“You can have anything if you want it badly enough.” Yes. I also used to roll my eyes at that quote, but throughout my whole weight loss & health journey it has become so much more to me than just a cliché quote.
Hi, my name is Annie. I am a senior at Sacred Heart University and in May of 2017 I decided to change my life.
After returning home from my freshman year of college, I not only brought home my clothes, room décor and bedding; I also brought home an extra 40 pounds around my waist. I’ve always struggled with my weight, but everything really became real for me after freshman year.
I knew that finally, I wanted to make a change for my benefit. So, I began focusing on portion sizes, healthier alternatives and exercising regularly.
In two years I have lost 90 pounds and I could have never imagined how my life has changed.
As females, we constantly believe the ridiculous concept that if we lose “the” weight, everything will be perfect and everyone will like us and we will be confident and live happily ever after. Well, take it from me, although I live a healthy life now, and I have more confidence than ever before, losing weight did not make all of my problems go away (which was something I once believed it would do). Sometimes I still look in the mirror and see that girl I used to be, sometimes I still have panic attacks and anxiety. I still grab for my old sizes when I’m shopping and I even still say no to going out with friends just because I’m not completely confident yet.
However, one of the biggest things that this journey has taught me, is that no one can make you change, you have to make that decision for yourself.
When I returned back for my sophomore year, I had dropped about 25 pounds. I worked so hard all summer and was so happy with my progress but inside, I was also terrified that I wouldn’t be able to find healthy options on campus and that all the progress I had made would reverse itself. I was surrounded by my friends eating junk at 2 a.m., temptations of French fries, ice cream and everything in between. Although I of course let myself have those things sometimes (balance is key), I had to resist a lot of it and that alone taught me how strong I was.
When I would go to the dining hall with friends and they would get burgers and fries, I would order a burger too, but I would get it without the bun on top of a salad, or when they would go to the diner and have milkshakes and French fries, I would have a grilled chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries. Balance is absolutely key, but I promise you it is completely possible to eat healthy on campus.
As I mentioned before, I struggled with my weight for most of my life. I was never ridiculously overweight, but I was also never skinny. When I was younger, going to the mall with my friends was more stressful than fun. While they would find their sizes in cute tops and bottoms immediately, I would have to dig to the bottom of the pile for mine. While they would wear different outfits to school every day, I would repeat outfits constantly because I was only comfortable in certain things. Sometimes, I wish I could go back and tell myself that everything would be okay and I would figure it out, but unfortunately I can only change my mindset now.
The questions I constantly get asked are “HOW DID YOU DO IT? I’VE BEEN STRUGGLING FOREVER! WHAT’S YOUR SECRET?” While I don’t have a simple answer and I definitely don’t have some magical secret, what I can say is that once I decided to do it for me, and only me, everything changed. I wasn’t picking healthier options so that some guy would like me, I wasn’t going to the gym 4-5 days a week just because I wanted to wear a smaller size, I wasn’t counting calories because I wanted to get fit so people would like me, I did all those things for me. I worked out, not to punish myself for a cheat meal, but because I wanted to care for myself enough to make time for the gym, and I wanted to live a healthier, happier life for me.
Over the course of this journey, I’ve had friends come and go. I’ve had endless support from my family and most of my friends, and other friends who felt threatened by my new-found confidence and decided they didn’t want to be a part of my life anymore. I’ve gotten out of a long relationship and I’ve had to make some choices strictly for me and my benefit. Now, I’m not saying you should be selfish, because I do not consider self-care selfish, but what I am saying is that when you embark on a journey or life-change like this, you have to stick up for yourself when no one else will. Because, although so many people want to see you happy, there are people out there who are struggling within themselves so much that they can’t be happy for you. When you can eliminate negativity, amazing things can happen.
Although I’ve been through ups and downs throughout my journey, I am continuously trying to find balance. I’ve struggled with binging; I’ve struggled with under-eating to compensate but I refuse to give up. The journey never stops, but the destination can.
To anyone struggling with their weight and feeling like it is impossible to eat healthy on campus, I totally understand the struggle. Taking things one day at a time is key.
Lastly, I promise that if you are not an athlete, and are scared of going to the gym, I completely understand. I used to be terrified of working out in front of others, but then I realized that we are all on different journeys, and no one will judge you for trying to better yourself. We all started somewhere.