Losing Over 110 Pounds Naturally and Sustaining It: Tanea's Story

"Prior to May 2017 I had never tried to lose weight. Nor was I always overweight. I was not a skinny rail growing up, but I was perfectly average. I played sports all the way through school, including distance track and loved it. College came and my first year I actually lost weight, but only because I did not make enough time to eat. But slowly as I became used to a routine and could not afford healthy food, I started to make bad decisions and had zero time to work out. Once out of the workout routine, it is difficult to restart. In fact, the hubs and I started a gym membership in Jan 2006 to be healthier for our wedding, but it never really amounted to more than a few times a month on an elliptical for more than 10 years. Ladies, especially if we do not portion control and work out, the years are not very friendly to us.

But let me go back a little further. I grew up in a single parent household. My Mom and I were closer to sisters than Mother/Daughter. We helped each other, I started contributing at a young age financially and did at least half or more of the housework, as she was always working two jobs to help provide for us. Looking back, we did not eat very healthy, because it was expensive to eat well. Mac and cheese and hotdogs cost a lot less than fresh vegetables and organic chicken breast. I also grew up with a Mom who constantly thought I could do no wrong and was the prettiest girl in the world. Right, wrong or indifferent, I didn’t know I wasn’t healthy or that I was building bad habits along the way, because she was so encouraging of who I was and was going to be.

Life continued to go this way. I was never bullied or made fun of. I only dated good guys, not jerks, I was lucky. But I was really lucky to find “My Person” at 17 who always told me I was beautiful. Even as our lives progressed together and I started cooking all our meals, the way I grew up, and now was quickly NOT average size, but slowly going up a size a year. Still, I never felt like I was overweight, not really. I admit I didn’t enjoy the yearly physical, but other than that I was in blissful denial.

2015-2016 were my years of pain. I was in the most stressful work situation I could have been in. I was putting everyone ahead of my own needs. I remember a weeklong vacation I took and still worked 40 hours. I now was at least 100 pounds overweight, couldn’t fit into the seat on the airplane without pain and the worst of all, I was so embarrassed that my seatbelt couldn’t latch, and I faked that is was latched when the flight attendant went by (so unsafe). I then proceeded to go to a theme park where I was pulled out of the line to see if I would fit on the ride. I was mortified and cried myself to sleep that night. Things like this kept happening over the years. Also, I found myself just opting out of activities because of my weight. Going up and down stairs hurt my knees and I was winded. I was too big to do a zipline event. Just everything, but I still did nothing different, because work needed me, or so I thought in my head.

I worked 80-90 hours a week and answered emails always. Until one day my Boss (who was new and I hated) did something unspeakable at work (zero integrity) and I just quit, right then and there (with two weeks’ notice, I am not an animal).

I took those two weeks to evaluate what I wanted to do next and My Hubby and I decided that I needed a mental break. We were fortunate that we could afford that for a while. It did not take long for me to find the gym with all my spare time, but after a month of going every day, I had no success on my own (not shocking). But I was certain that I was taking this break to finally put me first.

So, one day I saw they had a 60 day, jump start, program. So, I thought that might be good to get some structure and goals. They make you weigh in on the first day – Al (Alyssa) had just started working at the gym and was assigned to me, since the person I was suppose to meet with was not there.

It was not good. I had successfully not seen my body weight for almost 10 years, I had told everyone at the dr. office to not say it aloud and I always looked away. I WAS 260.1 POUNDS! I am 5’2”. Tears came again. I had no idea. My head had been in the sand, but for the first time in my life I knew for certain I had to do this for me.

It took another month of doing of an exercise program with some success, that I realized that I was missing the mental and nutrition side of things and I reached out to Al. I was so ready to make these changes, I was the perfect student and the weight started to really come off then. Not in an unhealthy way, but in a sustainable way. That was the first time I did macro counting and it rocked my world for well over a year.

I am not going to lie I participated in the 60-day challenge also for the competition, they posted results every week of how people were doing and that helped to motivate me. I placed 2nd after that first challenge, so I did it 3 more times and won the next three times. I was feeling like nothing could stop me. First, I wanted to just be under 100 (6 months), then I wanted to lose 100 (14 months). I discovered so many things about myself over this journey. But the most important thing was to put myself first and love myself. When you start there, anything is possible!

I have since gotten on a plane and buckled that seat belt and had to tighten it (CRIED SO HARD)! Got on those rides and no one took me out of line. Got to wear clothes they sell in the stores, not just online. And I know this is going to sound weird to a lot of you. But when I started all this, I had to bring a beach towel to the gym with me, if I took a shower to wrap around myself. So the day I could use a gym towel was a very powerful moment!

Now, I want to tell the whole truth in this story of my journey.

I have bad days. I have literally never gone longer than 3 days without going to the gym (because I love it), I only rarely go off plan for nutrition. So, when I stopped being able to control my weight loss with those things still in place, it is very frustrating, even maddening. I struggle more than ever with body “self love”. My old body, as my doctor so lovingly has stated, is just waiting for me to fail. Because of the amount of time I was morbidly obese (and I was). Those fat cells only shrunk they did not disappear, so if I stop caring about this, I will go back to the same old me.

What is also a HUGE side effect of my former self is the excess skin and subcutaneous fat on my thighs and butt especially, that even after 4 years of hard work, are still there. That even after getting to 23% body fat are still there.

I know, I am stronger than I have ever been, but when you look in the mirror and it is covered in your old body waiting for you to fail, it is hard. Trust me, my therapist has her work cut out for her. But I am willing to do the work and most days I hit a lot of other goals that I am proud of and maybe someday I will not have those bad days. But that is why this is a journey, 115 down now, wanting that elusive 130’s and 20% body fat and to love this body that I have been given by God.

May 6th marks 4 years of sustained natural weight loss. If I can do it, anyone can! But be ready for forever!"

-Tanea M. Fridley, MN

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