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Name: Spring Cha
Before Weight: 250 pounds
How I Gained It: For as long as I can remember -- probably since the first grade -- I have been on the heavier side of normal. Being overweight felt comfortable to me. Exercise and healthy eating were never appealing; I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and didn't think twice about it.
After graduating from college, I lived by myself and worked late nights as a nurse. I was sad to be away from the school environment and ate at late hours of the night. I put on the pounds then and let my size reach a level that I never thought I'd reach. Shopping for plus-size clothes became a regular occurrence, and I would progressively have to purchase larger and larger sizes as the years went by.
Breaking Point: In January 2008, I had agreed to try out exercising and eating healthier with two fellow co-workers, but I wasn't that motivated. It wasn't until the second week of January that I got one of the biggest wake-up calls of my life. I was in the middle of graduate school orientation when I got a call telling me that my dad had had a heart attack and needed emergency quadruple bypass surgery to save his life. My life stood still when I got that news. I remember driving down a long highway on my way to the hospital, feeling this was a sign for me to take control of my own life. I was so scared -- I didn't know if my dad would make it through surgery. I told myself on that ride that I needed to make a change.
My dad luckily made it through surgery and had a speedy recovery. I remember going to the grocery store on the day of his discharge, picking out foods that would be heart-healthy for him, and making a conscious decision that I had to start shopping this way for myself as well. I knew I had to take care of my health in the same way I would take care of my dad or one of my patients.
How I Lost It: I set a goal for myself to reach a weight within the normal body mass index (BMI) for my height. It would mean I had to lose 75 pounds. I set a timeline for a year and planned to make small changes in my diet and exercise without overdoing it. I took baby steps in my diet changes. I started out by shopping at the grocery store when I wasn't hungry. I gradually cut out a lot of my frozen pizzas and ice cream bars and replaced them with whole-wheat bread, salmon and frozen fruit. I ate off of smaller plates and put lots of pre-measured snacks in sandwich bags.
I started watching "The Biggest Loser" to gain inspiration from people who were going through the same struggles and challenges that I was. I went to my work's fitness center and worked on cardio -- mainly the elliptical and treadmill -- and got some videos on strength training. I started taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and I parked my car farther away in parking lots to get more steps in. I realized that exercise in the beginning was a lot like showering: It wasn't something that I necessarily wanted to do, but something that I needed to do, and when it was over, I felt refreshed!
At the end of 2008, on Christmas morning, I woke up, stepped on my scale, and found that I met my year-long weight loss goal of 75 pounds. It brought me to tears -- it was the best Christmas present ever. I went on to do activities that I never dreamed would be possible. I completed the P90-X fitness regimen, did rock climbing, yoga and step aerobics, ran my first 5K, did a Warrior Dash and ran two half-marathons. I have more energy than I ever imagined my body could have. I am able to shop for clothes at any store and have them fit in a way I never dreamed of. I genuinely feel that I have a new chance at life, and that new beginnings and opportunities are at my fingertips. This was a monumental goal that I was able to achieve, but it took a lot of hard work, and I faced a lot of my fears. I feel like anything in life is possible now.
After Weight: 175 pounds
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