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My Weight-Loss Story: 'I am Not a Fat Girl: I am Fearless'

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Name: Liz Taylor
Age: 24
Height: 5'4"
Before Weight: 244 pounds

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I have been overweight most of my life. Growing up I was very active, but as active as I was, I was never given restrictions with food or taught about proper nutrition. I grew up in the country and playing sports. I was always very active. I loved to eat though -- especially junk food. I would consume cake, ice cream, chips and candy. I ate it all and I ate it a lot. All of this combined was not good for my health, image and self-esteem. Up until I was around 12 years old, I never cared about how I looked. My hair was almost always thrown in a ponytail, I wore baggy sweatpants and sweaters and wore huge glasses. I was teased periodically for my looks, but it was not until I was a sophomore in high school that it became worse.

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In my high school there was a "commons area" that everyone walked through to get to their classes. People would stand out in this area for a few minutes before going to their next class. That is when the teasing began. I would walk through the commons area and this one particular group of people would yell at me and call me names. The group that tormented me the most were the "jocks" of the school -- heavily involved in sports, attractive and popular. I was called almost every derogatory name you could imagine, from being called ugly to a "fat pig." This happened every single day and throughout the day.

One time I was trying to walk into the school building and they huddled around the doors so I could not walk in. When I was cheerleading, if they were not playing the particular sport I was cheering for, they would sit on the bleachers and mock me, make grossed-out faces, laugh and point. Another time, after school I had to run a mile for PE class on the outside track. I was making up time that I missed. The football team was running stairs on the stadium steps right beside of the track for practice.

As I would run past them, I would hear the guys yell "Run fat girl, run!" "Too bad running will not make you pretty!" "You need to run 100 miles, not one!" In another instance, I won an award in 2004 for an outstanding academic performance and as I was walking across the stage to receive my certificate, the group of people who often teased me started booing and laughing at me. My geometry teacher was married to one of the sports coaches. She told him what I was going through, and the coach made the captain of the baseball team write a letter of apology to me for all of the bullying he and his team were putting me through. Unfortunately, that just made it worse.

These types of instances were situations I dealt with for years on a daily basis. Overtime, my mother grew sick of me coming home crying every day so she talked to my principal and student resource officer. They pulled up the footage on the video cameras, and after that, I was escorted to class to help avoid any teasing. It helped calm things down, but it never stopped.

Every day during the ride to school, my stomach was always in knots because I never knew what particular torment that day would bring. I wore baggy clothes sometimes, in hopes that no one would notice me or my body. That never worked. When I received my driver's license, I would skip class just so I would not have to walk through the commons area. I would go in the bathroom in between classes and cry. I would take sleeping pills when I came home in the afternoon just so I would not eat. I never wanted to go out with my friends because I thought everyone else was so much prettier and better than me. I showered with the lights off so I would not have to look at my own reflection naked.

At one time, the depression was becoming so bad with the teasing at school and the abuse from a family member that I remember praying to God and asking to die. I would be kneeling at the foot of my bed, on my bedroom, hunched over, crying, begging to die. Food was my main source of comfort, because it seemed like the adults and mentors around me had no idea how to fix my situation. I never monitored my eating habits. I was an emotional eater and binged a lot.

I graduated high school early (January of 2007), began college and worked part time. That is when I was quickly becoming my heaviest. Now I did not have the time to be as active as I once was, and my eating habits stayed the same. All of these factors combined resulted in a huge weight gain. When I graduated in early 2007, I was 180 pounds. By September of 2008 I was up to 276 pounds. I remained semi-active by going to the gym, but it was not nearly enough to compensate my intake of bad foods.

I was 19 years old and sitting in my doctor's office for depression on a Tuesday afternoon in September of 2008 when I decided I wanted to make a change. I wanted to know what it was like to buy clothes and not cry in the dressing room because nothing would fit. I wanted to know what it was like to look at my own reflection and not cringe.

That was when I started researching everything I could on health and fitness. I could not afford a personal trainer to help me five to six days a week, nor did I want to rely on one. I started to learn and teach myself about different types of cardiovascular exercise; the benefits of lifting weights (how to do it and what exercises benefited which muscle groups); what foods I should eat and why; and learned how to cook clean. There was not one subject in the health-and-fitness field that I did not read and try to live. Countless notepads, binders and Word documents helped me instill this knowledge and put it to use.

During the time period of September of 2008 to 2012, I lost more than 100 pounds, added more than 20 pounds of muscle and maintained my health. Then at 22 and 23 years old, I started encountering real-life, adult problems that forever changed my life. I hit rock bottom.

In October of 2012, I started a down destructive path with my weight. I was in an extremely bad relationship. To couple with that, my employer was consistently losing business and I was ensuing my third "downsize" with them in two years.

To handle all of that at 23 years old was not easy. Food became my refuge. Since I had already lost so much weight, I would justify eating my feelings. I would say to myself, "I have had a bad day. I do not feel like working out, so I am going to get a pizza and go home. I have lost a lot of weight so it will be okay." A person can only tell themselves that for so long before the weight starts to slowly creep on. One of my biggest afflictions in life is that food provides an emotional fill for me. It always has. I have to fight 18 years of eating habits every single day.

For months, I ate really badly. I would make healthy choices occasionally out of habit and I still went to the gym, but everything was slacking. I was eating bad foods and large quantities of them; my gym schedule became less structured; my workouts become shorter; and I did not push myself as hard. Due to the hardships I was enduring, I let my health suffer. On March 12, 2013, I was getting out of my car at work, returning from my lunch break, and the next thing I knew, I was in a pool of my own blood. I rushed to the urgent care a couple of blocks down from my office and from there they realized I was losing too much blood and needed a hospital. They called an EMS to rush me there. That is where I fainted and almost died. I was hemorrhaging. I had to have emergency surgery and transfusion.

By April of 2013, my body heals and life goes back to "normal." Normal as in my relationship was okay, my job was still declining and I was supposed to continue on with life. Physically, I was normal. However, emotionally and mentally? Not in the least. I was really depressed after all of that. Over the course of the next few months, I would try to get back to my weight loss 100-percent, but it never worked. My passion was gone. My poor eating habits and slacking workouts continued for the next six months.

Finally on November 1, 2013, I obtained a new job. Starting that job gave me the ability to believe in myself again. It lit a fire of motivation and hope inside of my soul that I have been void of for over a year. I left my bad relationship, moved, and decided that if I want to be healthy again, it was up to me to do it. I have done it before and I can do it again.

On Monday, November 25, 2013 I started a brand-new journey. As of Tuesday, June 3, 2014, my weight loss is 55 pounds! People have asked me: "How do you do it? I have no idea how to start."

I do it by making one healthy choice at time. That is all you have to do to start. I started drinking water instead of soda. I made fresh food instead of going through the drive-thru. I ensure I get plenty of rest. I plan my meals weekly, write my grocery list and designate Sunday afternoons to prep all of my clean food for the week. I plan my workouts, pack my gym bag every single evening, and place it by the door so I never forget it when I leave for work in the morning.

Organization goes a long way on a weight-loss journey. I constantly coach myself and tell myself "I can do this." I relish in small accomplishments throughout the journey, because those small victories are what keep you going. I learned how to stop eating until I am sick. I know the feeling of being "satisfied" instead of being "sickly full," which has been very beneficial because now after I eat, I have a lot of energy. I am not in a food coma craving a nap.

I surround myself with positive people who have their health as a top priority and also to know I am not alone. I read and educate myself on exercising and proper nutrition all of the time because knowledge is power. I also started to write. Writing is my way to release my struggles, pain and best of all, triumphs and successes! Through losing weight and getting healthy again, I developed a passion to help other men and women who struggle with weight loss and self-love like I did. Most of all, I have learned that I am solely responsible for the success of journey. If I want to be healthy and fit, I am the only one who can make it happen.

Over the past six months, I feel as if a new and improved version of me was born -- it felt like a fresh start so I got to work. I knew this time losing weight, I wanted to face my addiction to food and emotional eating head on. I wanted to fight it. I wanted to change the way my mind thought about and saw food. I knew this time that I had a problem with food that needed to be addressed and dealt with. If you have an addiction to something, do not let the problem define you. Do not become a victim seeking pity. Let your fight define you. Let how you overcome the problem define you.

I am truly implementing changes. I coach myself every single day. It is surreal to finally say "I am really, really proud" of the strength and control I now exude when it comes my nutrition. I believe that more people have emotional issues with food than they realize. By sharing my story, I hope to help at least one person. If just one person feels like they can fight and overcome their battle with my words, then my openness is worth it.

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When someone asks me how I have overcome this addiction and/or lost weight the answer is always simple: I have done this simply because I accept that it is up to me to do so. I do this by coaching myself. I do this by educating myself and by making my mind and heart stronger. Motivation is the number one thing a person needs to lose weight and/or transform his or her life from any problems he or she is encountering. However, the stipulation about motivation is it cannot be bought. It cannot be surgically implanted. It cannot be taken every morning with a glass of water. Motivation has to come from a person being mentally stronger than he or she has ever been. It comes from one being able to push through the "hard."

I share my story because this does happen. A person can dismantle all of his or her hard work and gain a lot of the weight back. I thought because I had lost so much weight, that was the end, but it isn't. Weight loss and health is a journey that will always keep going. Being fit is a way of life and requires consistency, which is a very rewarding feeling. You will encounter a lot of ups and downs, weight gains, weight loss and everything in between. You just simply have to keep going. It is never too late to start either. I messed up and I messed up so bad that I had to start over again. I thought I was too far gone but I wasn't. If you wake up in the morning, that is a brand-new chance. I took that chance, even though I was at the bottom again, and I pushed on. I push on by taking it one day and one healthy choice at time.

Throughout the crazy, ever-evolving journey I have endured with weight loss, self-love, and self-esteem, a passion inside of me to help other men and women has been born. I started a blog a year ago called "Fitness Blondie". On that blog, I document my journey. I document the good, the bad, the great and the really ugly. Every week I share my exercise and nutrition regimen, plus I am constantly creating healthy alternative recipes to people's favorite foods. I feel my purpose in life is to share my story and help other people become the healthiest and happiest they can be. My approach is real, raw and solely due to hard work. I am just an ordinary girl from a small southern farm town with an extraordinary story and passion to share.

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Current weight: 189
Goal weight: 165

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