Every now and then an AMAZING weight loss story touches me. In this case it happens to be one of the people I love most in my life. Kimberly Wells and I have been best friends for many wonderful years. She is loving, caring, and has a beautiful soul. I am so proud to have her as a guest on my blog. Her health and fitness journey is admirable and motivating. If you have given up, if you are almost there, if you need inspiration to reach YOUR goals…this is it.
Hi, I’m Kim Wells. I am sharing my story in the hopes that it will inspire others to find the courage to commit to their health and happiness. I, like many college students, put on “the freshman 15”. While it feels like yesterday, that was 16 years ago! Up until just a few years ago I was convinced that I could shed those extra pounds easily with just a little focus and exercise. I left college as a size 10 and had about 10-15 pounds to lose. How hard could that be, right? In my mind it was going to be so easy. I just had to set my mind to it. I can’t tell you how many crazy weekends of beer, wine and greasy food I ended by saying, “This is going to be the week I am going to get focused.” I would set my workout clothes out on Sunday night and commit to a morning workout. I even packed my lunch with a healthy salad, read a fitness magazine before bed and was totally committed to making the necessary changes. Some weeks my commitment would last through Tuesday, or Wednesday at the most.
There were four consistent issues with my plan. My first issue was that I am not a morning person and I lost my willpower to wake up early by Thursday, usually sooner. Packing lunches required some forethought and I honestly would just forget. There were always home-baked goodies or other snacks around at work and I didn’t think much about my daily grazing. And finally, going out to dinner was always the easy way out so I didn’t have to cook dinner. I blamed my failures on my lack of willpower and ended up feeling lousy about myself. After another indulgent weekend I’d start the same routine on Sunday. This went on for years. I was like a broken record.
My weight loss journey became more complicated in 2009. After lots of tests and a minor surgery it was confirmed that I had cervical cancer. I was scheduled for surgery in June. The great news is that the surgery was a success and I was declared cancer free! The bad news was that I was out of work recovering for three months and during that time I put on another 15 pounds. At this point I was in a size 14 and felt horrible about myself. I became the master of disguise with my wardrobe. Everything was black or grey and loose-fitting. Planning for a night out of the girls was torture as I literally spent hours trying everything on I owned to find something I could feel decent in. I would spend the night out constantly tugging and pulling at my clothes to keep anyone from seeing a roll or a bulge. I hated the way I looked in pictures and most of all I hated the way I felt. My self-confidence was nowhere to be found. I tried the same old tricks and would lose a few pounds but soon lose my resolve and go right back to where I started. I finally realized that this weight loss thing was going to be a lot harder than I thought.
After another summer of feeling lousy in shorts and bathing suits, something just clicked. It happened around September of 2012 and I honestly don’t remember anything specific that triggered it. I decided that I had to make a change, a BIG one this time. I realized that I needed to adjust my focus. I had only focused on my weight and how I looked in the past. What I came to realize was that without some self-confidence and self-worth, I would never succeed. I decided to commit to my health because I deserved to feel good about myself and what I could accomplish. I would set goals for myself that many would doubt based on my past performance. Normally I would have been the first doubter in line.
One of my first goals was to run a 5K. I have always admired the confidence and dedication of runners. In the past I had taken up running with friends and was easily discouraged when I couldn’t keep up. I decided that I had to make this a challenge against myself, not anyone else. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it – for me! I downloaded the Ease into 5k app on my phone and got started. I committed to running three days a week. That’s when things really started to change for me. It started off fairly easy and got harder each week. When I really struggled and couldn’t keep up I didn’t beat myself up like I used to. I slowed down the pace and kept working at it. It took me far longer than the program was supposed to take. My former self would have looked at that as a failure and would have quit, but this time was different. I was committed to meeting my goal regardless of how long it took. The added bonus was dropping pounds each week, which really helped keep me motivated. I started noticing my body changing. My legs didn’t jiggle as much, my stomach was more firm, and I felt stronger. Most importantly, I felt great because each run was an accomplishment. I signed up for a 5K in April and trained for it for months.
Running definitely kick started my weight loss, but I knew all along that I also needed to focus on my diet. Shortly after I started running I decided to also set short-term and long-term weight loss goals, not because I wanted to look better, but because I decided I deserved to feel great and to be healthy. Looking better would be a bonus! My short-term goal was to get my weight to a healthy BMI range before my next health assessment at work in January. I started using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to track my food and exercise. I was shocked at how much the grazing and other snacking throughout the day was costing me. I also used a visual to remind me of my progress. I bought two jars at the dollar store and filled one with 34 glass stones as my “pounds to lose” jar. For each pound I lost I would move a stone over to the “pounds lost” jar. I never enjoyed moving a stone back and it was fun to watch the pile of stones grow in the once empty jar.
(Pounds to Lose – Pounds Lost Jars)
I incorporated lots of changes into my daily routines to ensure I didn’t fall into the same traps as before. I cut out diet sodas during the week when I realized they made me crave unhealthy carb-loaded snacks which only temporarily satisfied my hunger. I packed more breakfasts and lunches and eliminated carbs from my dinner menu. I stocked up on healthy snacks like almonds, apples and other fruits and absolutely forbid myself from eating the snacks around the workplace. If I did, I knew I would have to work out even harder to make up for it or pay for it on the scale. Based on our lifestyle I knew it would be impossible to be good every day, so I decided to give myself one day off a week to accommodate situations where I didn’t have as much control, like parties or tailgating at Phillies games or whatever we might have going on. I used these free days to enjoy whatever I wanted, but made sure to get right back on track the next day. I participated in several weight loss competitions at work and with neighbors which kept me motivated. I found it personally fulfilling to help inspire others to meet their personal goals. I went for my health assessment in late January and by that time I had lost 20 pounds and was in a size 8. I passed my health assessment with flying colors. I was so proud of what I had done for myself. I was well on my way to my ultimate goal of losing 34 pounds.
When it came time to run the 5k in April I was confident and physically ready. I ran it in under 30 minutes! My husband was there to cheer me on at the finish line. He said always knew I had it in me. His unwavering support has been absolutely critical through this journey. I even signed up for a few more 5k’later in the spring to ensure I would keep up my running routine. By the time summer came I was down another 10 pounds. I bought my first bikini in 16 years! It felt funny to wear one after all these years, but I did it and got over it quickly. It felt great! Buying cute summer dresses and tank tops was so much more fun when I wasn’t worrying so much about finding ways to disguise my arms, my stomach, and my love handles like I was used to! I was finally proud of how I looked. To keep things interesting, I decided to get back into playing tennis by joining a local tennis program and have enjoyed the benefits of a serious workout while just having fun. I did hit a few bumps in the road over the summer, including some back issues and vacations. I managed to maintain my weight through it all by staying focused and committed to my ultimate goal and constantly incorporating new challenges to keep from falling into a rut.
Today I am happy to write that I moved my last two stones over to the “pounds to lose” jar. It has been such an amazing journey with the support of my family, coworkers and friends behind me all the way. My journey is not over as this is now a lifelong commitment to be happy and healthy. My advice to others who are struggling is to believe in your ability to achieve your own goals, no matter how long it takes you to get there. There will be doubters along the way. Keep telling yourself you are worth it and you will find your courage and strength along the way. To quote Plato – “The first and the best victory is to conquer self.” Thanks for letting me share my story. It’s my story and I am so very proud of it! Now go create your own J