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April 8, 2020

Why I was Trapped in a 328 Pound Body & How I Escaped.

In 2011, I weighed 328 pounds. I was trapped in a body that kept me from living the life I wanted to live.

I believed that in order to lose weight and be healthy, I had to execute the perfect diet and exercise program. Pizza and brownies be damned forever! Anything less than this level of perfection was a failure that I remedied by “starting over”…on Monday.

I was stuck in a vicious cycle of dieting, failing, and then repeating it. I was watching my life pass me by.

I was too large to fit on roller coasters, airplane seats, and those stupid white, plastic patio chairs that seem to be everywhere—taunting people of size with their less than trustworthy legs.

I was too heavy to go zip lining or do rope courses. Too out of shape to go white water rafting, hiking, skiing, or mountain biking.

I was too unhealthy to get pregnant due to PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).

The guilt I felt every time I ate made me feel more and more like a failure. It felt like I was never going to be healthy, or live the life I so desperately wanted to live.

I felt hopeless and helpless. I was always wishing things would be different—terrified that if I didn’t find a way to lose weight, I would have to be wheeled out of my house on a stretcher before my 40th birthday.

That’s when I decided to have weight loss surgery. (Please keep reading)

Although it was the best option for me at the time, if I had known then what I know now, I would have done things much differently.

It took me two years to lose 164 pounds. Half of my original body weight.

Landing me at 164lbs, for like three days. My weight leveled out around 175. Throughout those two years, I counted every calorie, tried Keto, Paleo, Whole 30, and some kind of crazy cleanse. I did all that while also doing CrossFit five to six days per week. And I was still obese, according to the BMI charts.

I thought that weight loss after gastric bypass surgery would be relatively easy, but I was wrong. The entire process was full of ups and downs, trial and error, and several long, and frustrating plateaus.

The main thing I learned was that doing everything “perfect” didn’t mean instant results, and not doing things “perfect” didn’t mean instant failure!

Imagine that!

For 20 years I had tried and failed every diet known to man because I thought I had to be perfect.

These days I know that to expect perfection is to create failure.

Once this concept clicked in my diet-industry-conditioned-brain, I was able to let go of the idea of perfection, and focus on living a healthy lifestyle—free from the cycle of diet, fail, repeat.

It’s been about eight and a half years since I weighed 328 pounds, and man is my life different!

Fast-forward to 2020. Much has changed—my age, my weight, my hormones, and the fact that I am now the proud mama of two perfect little boys! By perfect I mean equally adorable and challenging at the same time. I think that’s what perfect is at its core.

It’s balance.

It’s grilled chicken and broccoli with sweet potatoes and a hot fudge brownie sundae. It’s hard-core workouts and Netflix binges.

Since I didn’t get the overnight, drastic results I was expecting from weight loss surgery, I was forced to create real habits for myself. Not just routines that allow me to eat better and move more, but mental and emotional habits that bring me a sense of peace and joy. It started with forgiveness.

It turns out, living a happy, healthy lifestyle is about so much more than diet and exercise. It’s about creating a mindset shift, taking action, and making choices that allow me to feel my best, physically, mentally, and emotionally—every day.

Learning to let go of perfection allowed me to escape the never-ending cycle of unhealthiness. I was free to live my life!

These days my life is 75 percent kale and 25 percent pizza.

20 percent hardcore workouts, 20 percent yoga, and 60 percent walking around my neighborhood pushing a 75-pound stroller.

100 percent self-acceptance. 100 percent body appreciation.

75 percent working toward progress—sometimes I just need a nap! And zero percent regret, remorse, guilt, or shame.

Since 2011, I have worked to change my mindset. I established sustainable habits and have been able to find a sense of peace and joy in my life, even with my body. A feeling I never knew was possible.

The lessons I learned inspired me to create a few rules to help live a truly happy, healthy, imperfect life.

If you’re stuck in a cycle of unhealthiness, I recommend starting with the first three rules:

  1. Forgive yourself, always.
  2. Enjoy your food.
  3. Exercise to feel good.

It may seem counterintuitive to let go of perfection, especially when it comes to diet and trying to lose weight, or living a healthy lifestyle, but you know what’s worse? Beating ourselves up every night before we fall asleep and promising that tomorrow will be different. Or worse, waiting until Monday to start over—again.

So next time you eat a hot fudge brownie sundae or skip a workout, know that you have not failed. You are simply living a happy, healthy, imperfect life.

It’s time for all of us to let go of perfection so we can love ourselves more, care for our bodies better, and live sustainable, happy, healthy lives.

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Andrea Matthes  |  Contribution: 235

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