"You have a better chance of turning 25 again than you do of losing 25 lbs."
Wow! All I could think was "wow" when I heard that arrow shot directly towards me. Too many of us hear discouraging words on a daily basis that determine our own mindset on how we are going to treat ourselves.
When I heard that foolishness I made up in my mind that I was going to lose the weight. Being the overachiever that I am, I not only lost the 25 lbs., I lost 50. So take that, I thought. Then what happened next is what most dieters' experience. I gained it all back plus some. I placed those very harsh words that once fueled my determination in the back of my mind, and I became very comfortable being obese. However, being fat and comfortable comes with a price. I know morbid obesity is the politically correct term but I think the real way to say it is fat and dying. Don't judge it, just respect it.
I knew I needed to lose weight but didn't. For me to make the lifestyle changes I needed, it took a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, the expense of medications and supplies, and a talk with God.
Have you ever heard "you have such a nice face" and the compliments stop there because clearly you don't have society's ideal body image. People disregard what you say because you look like you have no control over your life. Even when you go to the doctor and due to the fact that you're on the larger size they minimize your concerns and take your complaints as something that just happens to big people. Don't let it happen! Become a better advocate for yourself, and be ready to push for more answers if you know something isn't normal for you.
Being my own advocate helped save my life. I went to the doctors complaining that my ankles were swollen while I was on a trip. The physician advised me that everyone swells up when they travel. I was frustrated with her response; it felt like a total disregard for my very valid concerns. I've been traveling all my life. My family is from the South, and I live in New England. I don't normally experience swelling when I travel.
When the phone rang the next morning, I knew it meant there was a problem. The doubting-doctor informed me my thyroid doesn't work; I was diagnosed with hypothydroidism, a condition in which the thyroid doesn't produce enough hormones. All I could think about is why I had to work so hard to convince her that something was wrong. She said if untreated, it can lead to complications including obesity and heart disease. Medication was prescribed.
What came next was not good. My health was on a steady decline. My diagnosis, medications and bills were on a steady incline. I still didn't feel well and required four shots of insulin a day to live. I had sleep apnea (breathing that temporarily stops during sleep), high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A perfect recipe for heart disease, which causes one in three women's deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.
However, 80 percent of heart disease is preventable. Like most people with a family history of these types of health conditions I thought this is just how things are going to be. My mom and grandmother both have been diagnosed with diabetes and they live with it. I know I gained weight but with my hypothyroidism compounded by the voices in my head that said you'll never be able to do this I had convinced myself that this is just how things are. No need to exercise I'm never going to be skinny.
But I changed my mindset. I truly thank God for waking me up to the realization that skinny was never supposed to be my goal. Healthy was and continues to be the goal. I'm 100 pounds down and no longer insulin dependent. Working out each morning before work and sticking to a strict diet plan was the healthy combination needed to shed those unwanted pounds. I lost weight and reduced my thyroid, blood pressure and cholesterol medicines. I feel better than ever.
I want to show the world that if I can do it, so can you. I'm not going backwards, and I thank the people who called it impossible because I got a chance to prove that I am more than a conqueror through Christ who strengthens me. Healthy is my New Skinny!
I am proud to volunteer with the American Heart Association and share my story with other women. I encourage them to take responsibility for their health and make sure they get the medical care they need.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women in recognition of National Wear Red Day (Feb. 6, 2015), the aim of which is to raise awareness that today women are more likely than men have heart disease or a stroke, and 1 in 3 will die. But 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. To read all the stories in the series, visit here. And to follow the conversation on Twitter -- and share a picture of yourself wearing red -- find the hashtag #GoRedSelfie.