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Name: Michaela Brennan
Before Weight: 243 pounds
How I Gained It: I was a binge eater who used any and every substance I could to stuff my feelings down (quite literally). I was an unhealthy eater (and drinker), and, although I was a high school basketball and lacrosse player, I gave up any and all athletic activity the moment I started college.
Breaking Point: I wanted to lose weight after my husband proposed to me in May 2012 in preparation for our wedding, but I didn't know where to start. I went to my doctor, who did blood work, and she told me that my results came back showing that I was pre-diabetic, meaning I was at a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. That was a huge red flag, and it definitely lit a fire under me.
How I Lost It: I started going to a local weight loss center that integrates the medical aspect of weight loss with psych, dietary and activity classes. For example, I would meet with a bariatric physician, go over my progress in terms of weight loss, lab results and struggles or bingeing urges, etc. Then, I would head to the classroom to learn from the psych team how to stop emotionally eating, or to learn from the dietitians how to properly portion and grocery shop, or to learn from the trainers how to easily change my daily routine so that I could burn extra calories. It is a well-rounded program that doesn't just say leave you on your own after you've lost the weight. They really taught me how to lose and keep the weight off.
When I was overweight, my lack of self-esteem and general exhaustion would keep me from doing things that I should've enjoyed: going to pool parties, going out dancing with my girls, going on group hikes, even eating in public places. I always felt that people were going to judge me. I covered myself up in clothes that were too big so that I could hide my shame, all while simultaneously making myself look larger than I was. I also injured myself frequently. I always had a sore back, I dislocated my knee and the recovery was painstakingly long due to all of the extra weight I was carrying around and I suffered from avascular necrosis in my left second metatarsal and required surgery. I was a mess! Now, I partake in all of those activities that I was afraid of. I wear the clothes that show my arms, and I'm not afraid to eat the dessert that I ordered in front of a group of people. I run at the gym -- yes, in front of people! Who cares if my legs jiggle a little bit! -- and I even wear two-pieces to those pool parties.
I can't even begin to explain how this weight loss has changed my life. I feel like I'm able to actually enjoy myself for the first time in a long while without fear of judgement or hostility. I've learned to love my body because it is strong and healthy and it allows me to do fun things like yoga and silly-themed 5Ks. My weight loss has brought my husband and I closer together: We go to the gym together, prepare meals together and run races together. Being a healthy weight has changed everything about my life for the better.
After Weight: 180 pounds
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