On Your Health

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An Update From the INTEGRIS Employee Who Lost More Than 100 Pounds

Today we have a post from our guest blogger, Sarah Johnston. Sarah is a social media specialist at INTEGRIS.

Hi readers. I’m Sarah. You might remember me from my blog post 10 months ago in which I first told the story of my 100 pound weight loss journey. Since it’s a new year, and I imagine many of you have dieting resolutions, today I'd like to give you an update to let you know how things are going for me. To say this journey has been a learning experience for me is a massive understatement. It’s been a long road, filled with ups and downs, and it’s one I still travel a day at a time. But I never gave up, even when I confronted tremendous setbacks, and I hope once you hear my story you’ll feel inspired to keep at it, too.

As I shared in my last blog post, a big key to my weight loss success is self-care. Self-care is a broad (and quite vague) term that can only be defined by each individual for herself. For me, being conditioned as a caregiver for my family, I put myself at the very bottom of the priority list, mostly leaving my own well-being out of the equation. At the time, I just thought of myself as someone who had a kind and caring heart. But I didn’t realize that in all my caring and worrying for others, I was leaving my own mind, body and spirit depleted. After a series of significant life changes that included the loss of family members and a painful breakup, I finally refocused my efforts and activities on making myself truly happy and healthy.

During this journey I've lost 145 pounds so far — that’s 45 more pounds I've lost since I wrote the first blog last April! So, here is what life is like for me now.

I'm celebrating the NSV's (Non-Scale Victories).

Anyone who has struggled with weight is familiar with “non-scale victories,” those achievements that have nothing to do with a number on the scale. In the past, I rarely acknowledged these achievements, since my eyes were always glued to the scale. In the last few months though, my focus has changed, and now I celebrate achieving these milestones. Here are just a few.

  • After struggling to breathe going up just a few stairs, I can now run several flights without stopping.
  • After years of barely fitting in an airplane seat, I can now sit in one comfortably. And after buckling the seatbelt, I have slack!
  • I can cross my legs comfortably. This might sound trivial but I've always seen that as a feminine trait that was out of reach.
  • I'm buying clothes off the rack, rather than having to special order them.
  • I can easily fit into a movie theater seat without having to raise the armrest to give myself more space to be comfortable. 

When I look in the mirror, I like what I see.

Like so many women, I’ve always battled a negative body image. I looked at myself in the mirror and felt nothing but disgust. I used to put a magnifying glass on every single flaw as I picked myself apart and spoke to myself in a way I would NEVER speak to anyone else.

I've learned that body shame has very little to do with the scale, but almost all with the mind. I finally started asking myself important questions, such as: If I don't love myself, and my body, why would I go through the work of taking care of it? Where did I learn this body shame? When did all my negative self-talk begin? Why don't I value myself?

At the core of my warped body image were conflicted feelings that I had to address, including such phrases as, "I can't, I’m too scared, I’m not good enough,” which endlessly bounced around my head.

After working with a counselor to address those thoughts and feelings, eventually my perspective evolved. I slowly began to embrace my struggles, feelings, and eventually, my appearance. I look in the mirror and I love my curves, loose skin and cellulite because I see my value beyond that. I see the kind-hearted, dedicated employee with a corny sense of humor who is really the essence of me. At the age of 39, I'm finally comfortable in my skin.

I realized it had come full circle for me when I looked at myself in a full length mirror one day and thought, "Hmm. That's a cute body." And I MEANT it!  

I enjoy being active.

After feeling trapped in a body that physically hurt when I simply moved, being active makes me feel so good. I enjoy being off the couch and pushing myself out of my comfort zone to accomplish fresh and new goals that I had once passively accepted as just not possible.

My personal trainer tells me over and over, “There’s nothing you can’t do.” It took me a while, but I finally believe it. My “I can’t” days are long over. I’m running multiple laps on the track at the gym when I used to struggle to complete one. I'm hiking with friends for several miles, where once just walking a few feet made my back feel like it was about to break. Once I was barely able to pull myself out of a swimming pool, and now I'm bench-pressing 100 pounds. I like feeling strong because I've been on the other side of that, when doing even day-to-day activities, such as bending over to tie my shoes, made me miserable. Being active reminds me that I don’t want to go back to that.

I am happy.

I always thought I was happy. Even when I was more than 300 pounds I made an effort to be pleasant and crack jokes. I thought I was happy, but I wasn’t. Now, within the last year, I keep hearing the same comment from so many people: “You look happy.”  My peace and contentment show in my face and being happy feels effortless.

Moving forward, I still consider myself a work in progress. I’m human and like anyone else I have setbacks. But I have to stay focused and remember how far I’ve come from my old, bad habits. I still have goals I want to achieve. For instance, I’d like to lose another 20 pounds. I want to do activities that I couldn’t for many years because of weight restrictions, like riding a zip-line or trying an indoor skydiving session.

As I said, this journey has been a learning experience, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding. I finally believe in my heart that I’m worth the hard work. And my reward? I have truly found my happiness.

 sarah johnston before

Sarah Johnston

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