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Name: Mark Monacelli
Before Weight: 480 pounds
How I Gained It: It's a hard story to tell, because I really don't remember what initially triggered my weight gain. I started gaining when I was just a little kid, probably around 4 years old. As a teenager and adult, I ate a lot for emotional reasons. If I got made fun of, I'd eat. Bad grade on a test, I'd eat. Troubles at home, I'd eat. Then I'd completely beat myself up about eating to the point where I'd eat again.
Binge eating was also a huge problem. I'd eat until I couldn't possibly eat another bite. Food was definitely my best friend and worst enemy at the same time. I really didn't do much for around 10 years. I took care of my niece five days a week from the time she was 3 months until she started school. I cleaned up the house once in a while, made dinner pretty much every day for the family. I didn't really eat with them too much. I'd wait until late at night and then binge eat like a mindless zombie who just caught his first brain of the day. Depression really had its hold on me.
Breaking Point: I've had my ups and downs with anxiety and depression. I'd lose some weight and then I'd gain it back. What changed was figuring out that I deserved better. I deserved a life, a family, love, everything I had always hoped and dreamed of growing up. I wanted to get married, settle down and grow old with someone.
How I Lost It: I started walking. I'd walk every day, first a mile, then two, and finally five or six no problem. I started seeing a therapist to help out with my depression and anxiety issues. My best friend started picking me up to go to the gym three or four times a week. It was tough, but considering death was the alternative and happiness could be right around the corner, I stuck with it. I got a job as a cook and went back to college. This summer I picked up biking, and the most I did in a single day was about 24 miles.
Now, I make sure to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. At first, I didn't eat after 6 p.m., but now I find that as long as I don't go crazy, there is room for eating later on. I eat way fewer sweets, and I really don't eat any red meat anymore. Now I'm learning that it's okay to eat a variety of food without guilt-tripping myself. It's hard to pick up a piece of pizza without thinking people are judging me for what I'm eating, but I'm hoping replacing those thoughts with more positive aspirations will make them go away.
When I finally got down to a size that's about normal, people started saying, "You're too skinny, you look unhealthy, eat a burger." It's really tough to hear that kind of stuff. It's almost as bad as hearing, "You need to lose weight." Then there are also the people who assume I've had surgery and that I was just lazy. It's a question I always get asked. It's kind of annoying, since I worked really hard to lose all the weight, physically as well as emotionally.
But I feel pretty darn good about myself now. I still have issues with my body, but I'm definitely healthier. Every day is still a struggle; I don't want anyone thinking that it's easy after you lose the weight. I equate it to the same fight I'd imagine alcoholics have. Food will always be around, there will always be temptations, but you have to realize they're there and you're ready to handle them. There are some side effects of losing the weight that aren't very fun, either. The amount of excess skin I have is crazy. I have no clue if I have five, 10 or 20 pounds of extra skin, so it's hard to tell what I should weigh. I'm constantly freezing, my hands and feet are like icicles. I don't want to sound like a complainer, but most people think everything's just wonderful now since I'm not carrying around so much extra weight, but making so many bad choices for so long does have consequences.
I still don't always see the man I've become in the mirror. But I can tell myself that reality is different now, and all of those negative thoughts will go away with time.
After Weight: 180 pounds
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