I went from 525 to 385 pounds. Here’s what keeps me pushing to lose even more.

Obesity

I’m here to share with you my story. It’s an imperfect story with plenty of bends and twists that leave me wondering how the heck I’m navigating through all my “junk” and issues every single day. But, this is my life and while it’s definitely not a fairytale, I can promise you it will have a happy ending.

By Christina Lyn Dunham, 4 months ago

First, I want to tell you that my story isn’t rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 40% of adults in the U.S. are considered obese and that number, unfortunately, continues to rise. To say this is not a national epidemic would be a lie. To believe that obesity is the sole fault of the individual that is overweight would be making a statement entirely ignorant of the facts.


While I could ramble on for hours about how society, big businesses and poverty perpetuates unhealthy eating habits, this does nothing for those here and now who are battling this very real illness. (Yes, I do also believe obesity and food addiction are clinical illnesses).


So, I’m here to share with you my story. It’s an imperfect story with plenty of bends and twists that leave me wondering how the heck I’m navigating through all my “junk” and issues every single day. But, this is my life and while it’s definitely not a fairytale, I can promise you it will have a happy ending.


With any story, there is a beginning and mine is rather hazy.


For the most part, I only remember vague bits and pieces from my childhood. I know I was born a rather large baby at more than 9 lbs. Aside from that, I was happy, healthy and wanted  very little. Up until the age of about 4 or 5, I was of average weight. My parents were both fairly overweight, but nothing jaw-droppingly obvious. By the time I reached school age, the transition from “normal kid” to “fat kid” had started. It is in this time frame things get extremely hazy. Aside from happy bits of school activities, which I loved, my memories fade out rapidly.


What I can tell you for sure is that there are pieces of traumatic memory stored in my brain somewhere duct-taped, padlocked, nailed shut and caution-taped over. It’s this strange inkling that something, somewhere along the lines, happened that I can’t quite get my brain to recall.


Now trust me, I’m sane enough to know this sounds crazy, but it’s the strange reality I live with every day. I’ve had random dreams creep back in from time to time that play out like memories, but I tend to just shove those back under the locked door and move throughout my day. This used to bother me.


But the way I look at it now, there’s two scenarios: Either my brain is locking me out these memories for a reason or I’m just making excuses up in my head to justify the blank spaces in my personal timeline.


No matter what the truth is, both of these reasons tell me one thing: Accept that the past is the past, regardless of what I remember and deal with what is now. This is an important fact we will touch more on later, but first the rest of the story.


By the age of 10 and the start of 6th grade, things got much clearer for me. A lot in my life had changed. My parents divorced, I began living solely with my dad and I started school in a new city. While there were unfortunate and frustrating bits of life throughout these years then on through high school, I can’t really say with certainty that any of these particular events led to my massive weight gain. Fact is, my weight and eating habits at this point were already well established and, frankly, they were absolutely horrendous. Again, we could sit here and point fingers at who or what is to blame for these habits, but these are moot points for the purpose of this story.


By the time I reached 7th grade, I was well over 300 lbs. By the end of high school, well over 400 lbs. By the time I married my now ex-husband, I’d tipped the scales at over 500 lbs at the ripe old age of 23. I thought then that I was ready for change.


So in the summer of 2012 I underwent Lap-Band surgery. I can tell you that this surgery was doomed to fail from the start. First and foremost, this band is wrought with complications and never really designed for individuals with that much excess weight to lose. For every success story I’ve heard of with the Lap-Band, I’ve heard countless more of failures and complications resulting in additional surgeries and lifetime scarring.


While I will never ever embarrass anyone for opting for surgery to lose weight, I would never recommend that particular procedure to anyone for any reason. (Keep in mind, I’m no doctor but have done my research). Due to my own complications, both with the band and  my mental state, I never got my weight lower than 400 lbs. Talk about an incredible disappointment!


Within a couple years of this procedure, I not only regained a lot of weight but I also went through another number of other major life shifts-from divorce to  additional major health scares. I’d regained all of my weight back and then some. To say I’d given up would be an understatement. From diets and diet pills to major surgery, I still failed this weight loss thing.


For the next couple of years, I resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t let go of this addiction to food, that I’d never be able to stick to any diet longer than a couple weeks and I’d forever be stuck in this massive body that no longer fit in the world. I forced myself through life pretending I was OK but would secretly lie awake in bed at night panicking and wondering if it  was going to be my last night. I was constantly paralyzed with fear. It was like that closet full of nightmares locked up from childhood started to spill into adulthood. It would seep from the keyhole and slide like black tar from underneath the doorway. It was a living and breathing nightmare that I lured back into its hiding place with insane amounts of refined sugar and overly-processed carbs. I literally was feeding my demons (and myself) to death, and I knew it.


Addicts often talk about a rock bottom.


I can’t tell you the exact moment I hit it, because I think I was down there for quite some time and never even noticed. What I can tell you is that this “rock bottom” was a critical turning point for me. Even the last time I reached over 500 lbs, I never really felt the incredible sense of doom I did in those moments leading up to me changing my life. I think most of this was because I subconsciously had what I would describe as a support system that carried the burden for me. I believed all along I was weak and truly felt in my heart I was doomed to fail.


So when people said things like, “Oh, I’ll help you do this!” my naïve brain instantly triggered to this state of, “It’s OK if I jump off the wagon, they’ll just pull me right back up.” While I didn’t consciously sit and think these things, it was a state of belief I can look back on now and see clear as day.

Now, if you’re smarter than I was, you’ll immediately see the error of this thinking. The facts are simple: There is no one on this Earth that can do this for you, and there is no one in this world that can love you enough to make you change. That’s a sobering reality, isn’t it? But let’s look at it another way: I may have NO control over my past. I may have NO control over the reasons I got into this mess. I may have NO control over the way other people treat me. But what I do have is ABSOLUTE control over how I treat myself.


Depending on how you look at it, it can either be the loneliest, most isolating feeling to know you alone are in charge of your fate, or it can be the most empowering. That differentiation, my friends, is exactly where the line is drawn between ultimate success and failure. That is it! There is no secret code, there is no special diet plan and there is no single absolute truth for any individual aside from that. Simply put, my success or failure depends on my belief in one simple fact: “I am empowered to make a change.”


Now to say I woke up one day and just believed I could do this would be a lie. For me, it all started with breaking down, getting totally transparent and writing a tell-all letter. (If you want to read this exact letter, look in my links down below!). This sounds simple enough, but believe me admitting I needed help was a heart-wrenching, pride-swallowing venture. A huge part of my masquerade was convincing everyone I loved and who loved me that things were just fine – Because if I wasn’t worried, why should they be? This letter quickly drew attention I’d never expected. It landed me on the set of “The Doctors” TV show and then in the capable hands of the folks at Premier Fitness Camp.


For me, the publicity wasn’t critical, but the separation from old habits and gaining the incredible amounts of accountability were. It was in this process I made the choice to let go of everything. In a matter of days I said goodbye to my home, my car, my job and 95% of all worldly possessions I owned that I didn’t carry with me to California. This was me consciously shedding the things I worried about most in order to focus on the things I needed to worry about – my health and long-term wellbeing.


This became the first step of many I took to regain my power over my own life.


Over the next 6 months, I began the slow and very painful process of healing and strengthening. First it was my body because let’s face it, the physical stuff we can see is way easier to fix than that emotional baggage we carry around. After about 3 months, though, it was evident I needed to get my mind on board. Fears, resentments and old habits started to rear their big ugly heads, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I let them sabotage all my progress.


I began seeing one of the best counselors I’ve ever met and believe me, there have been a TON. For the first time, a counselor was able to give me real-world, tangible solutions to a purely emotional and psychosomatic issue. I loathe taking pills of any kind,  especially those used to treat my laundry list of mental afflictions such as anxiety disorder, depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Through emotional freedom techniques (EFT) or “tapping” and meditation techniques, I saw a genuine shift in my emotional responses and triggers. It was slow and I often felt skeptical and silly, but I knew what rock bottom looked like and I didn’t want to go back. I remained open-minded and willing to try whatever it took.


In just a few short months working with my new counselor, I can look back now and say it made a very real difference in my life and the way I was letting my past dictate my choices. If you would have asked me a year ago about my childhood and the scars it left behind, you would have gotten a much different answer than you did at the beginning of this story. While there remains quite a ‘bit of bitter’ left for me to root through and work on, I’m confident I’ll come out of this next chapter of life a much more happy and balanced person.


Today, I’m just a few months shy of closing out my first year on this new journey. And while there are still daily moments of triumph and defeat, the one thing that has remained constant is my resolve to make consistent and sustainable healthy choices. When it comes to extreme obesity, food addiction or any other physical or psychological impairment, there is no magic fix. The trick is to find resources and tools that work for you. Whether it’s a trainer, food tracking, social media supporters, bariatric surgery, nutritionists, counselors, fitness camps, hypnotherapy, gyms or any other limitless number of things. I HAVE to find the combination of tools that makes sense to me and fit the kind of lifestyle I want to lead. (Yes, I said combination! I’ve got resources, and I USE THEM ALL!)


And it’s also important to note that what works for me now, may not work two months, two weeks or two days from now. So I stay diligent, reach out for support and continue to modify my strategies every single day to suit the needs of my body, mind and soul.


I always maintain a view of the bigger picture, but never forget to look back at where I have been. At 29-years-old, I was close to 525 lbs. The day I decided to start this journey I was 514 lbs. Today at 30, I weigh in at 385 lbs. My cholesterol has returned to normal. My blood pressure is phenomenal. My BMI dropped from 82.2 to 60.3. I’ve even gained close to an inch in height.


But beyond all of this, the one thing I get excited about each and every single day is that for the first time in my adult life I believe I can do this! Now, I can look forward to a future full of possibilities that don’t include premature death or immobility – And there’s no sugar in the world that could possibly taste as sweet!


(Follow Chrissy and get daily updates:Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/takingbackchrissy/Or…Blog: https://ourtalkofthetown.com/category/weight-loss-journey-with-chrissy/YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYAhNkIZdUhpsVkUNYxOP7AE-mail: TakingBackChrissy@gmail.com)



Christina Lyn Dunham

My Personal Weight Loss Journey - One Healthy Choice At A Time.

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