For me, weight gain has been an area of contention every since my late 20's. No one in my immediate circle has ever pointed out that my weight was an issue that needed to be addressed; however, when I look back at some older pictures of me, I often wonder why no one told me just how bad I looked.
For me, my weight became very noticeable when I interviewed and accepted a position (circa 1995) working in South Jersey. In my mind, I was a little on the heavier side, but then I began to lose weight without the benefit of a meal plan or exercise.
I had no understanding of this, but I was loving the results. Then in late summer/early fall of 1997, I began to gain weight, and it seemed as if every day I was gaining more and more. Before I knew what was happening, I had gone from 150 pounds to 205 pounds in less than two (2) months.
One day I went home for a visit, and my mother immediately noticed a variety of changes in my appearance and indicated that something was not quite right. She further verbalized she believed I had a thyroid condition. At that point, I had never heard of a thyroid condition, let alone knowing anyone it had affected. That was when my mother informed me that she and her mother both had been diagnosed with a thyroid condition known as Graves’ disease.
Once I returned back to Jersey for work, I immediately made an appointment with my primary care physician and was tested. The blood test results returned positive for hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease).
As a result of my rapid weight gain, I reverted to eating one (1) to two (2) meals per day. During that time, I truly believed that if I didn't eat much, I would lose most, if not, all of the weight I had gained. Needless to say, this method did not work out well for me, and I continued to gain weight.
After several follow-up doctor appointments with my primary care physician, the endocrinologist, and receiving one treatment of the radioactive iodine medication coupled with being prescribed synthroid medication - the weight still remained.
I began to question the doctor as to why I was not losing weight, and he never explained it to me in a way that I could understand. Instead, he simply told me that I needed to push away from the dinner table, and that his pen was just that, a pen, and not a magic wand.
At this point, I was ready to explode, and knew that I needed to find a new doctor, and get back home to Buffalo where I had the support of family and friends, as I did not have that luxury in South Jersey. Needless to say, I was extremely angry, miserable, and I had not been able to fully comprehend what was happening to my body.
Sometime in late 1998, I was able to transfer to a different agency and subsequently moved back home, where I obtained a new doctor and had the support of my family and friends. I hooked up with a personal trainer twice per week and while I can't remember exactly what I was eating at that time, I do remember I was eating copious amounts of green vegetables. Eventually, some of the weight began to melt away; however, I was never able to lose all of the weight I had gained. Because I didn't know any different, I had always believed that my struggle with weight loss was related directly to the fact that I suffered from thyroid disease.
Fast forward to late 2009, I interviewed for and accepted a promotional position in Western Pennsylvania. At the time of my move, my weight was pretty stable and I was weighing approximately 165 pounds and I was comfortable at that weight. However, as luck would have it, I slowly started to regain weight. Once again, in my limited thinking, I believed the weight gain to be a result of my thyroid being under-active, the medication not working properly, me being fatigued all the time, etc. etc.
One day I looked at myself in the mirror. I mean, really looked at myself in the mirror and I was horrified at how I looked. When I stepped on the scale, it read 182.5 pounds, and then I became more disgusted. First of all, I was totally clueless about how to lose weight; I didn't have a support system in the area because I didn't know anyone. Anyhow, Facebook was my saving grace. On there, I saw pictures of women who were posting before and after pics of their weight loss. I sent messages to them and asked them how they did it, and I was referred to a gentleman who was responsible for helping the women transform their bodies. Because I was desperate and ready to do almost anything, I reached out to him and asked him if he could help me. He replied, for a small donation I will put together a meal plan for you. I immediately went to his website and made the monetary donation, and as promised, he provided me with a very detailed meal plan, which I began on October 24, 2010.
I had set a goal of wanting to lose only 25 pounds, and I posted a before picture of the top half of my body and indicated to my Facebook family and friends that I was going to transform my body. In all honesty, I had no idea what that meant and was afraid that I might not meet my goal. On the other hand, I thought, if other women could do it, and they had far more weight to lose than me, then I could do it too! In essence, I used their success as the mechanism to drive me to stick to the meal plan and exercise regimen.
My WHY was so great, that I would check-in on Facebook to post my weight loss on a weekly basis, as well as take weekly pictures for accountability sake. The other part was that I am a person of my word, and I didn't want to look like the fool in front of hundreds of people on Facebook, so I knew once I posted it - I had to follow through. At the point in time that I had shed the desired 25 pounds, I posted a full body shot of my before and after pictures.
It was sometime around November/December 2010 when I met Sandi from Sisters In Fitness and Health (SIFH). I am not sure how we became Facebook friends, but all I remember is that she sent me an inbox message asking me if I was going to be on the SIFH conference call. I didn't know what SIFH or the conference call was all about, but I said yes, and she provided me with the call in number and access code. After that, I continued to call in weekly, although I didn't have much to contribute to the conversation as I was new to this lifestyle and didn't know much. Therefore, I would just simply listen and try to absorb as much information as I could from the women on the call. Also, during that time, I was only doing cardiovascular exercises twice per day, and knew absolutely nothing about weight training. It was Sandi who began to lecture me about the need to find a personal trainer and begin to incorporate weight lifting into my regimen. She also encouraged me to find a trainer who could help me to transform my body (one who would get me the results I desired and one who was knowledgeable in meal planning).
She always said that a trainer who is worth his/her weight in gold, will be knowledgeable in both areas). Because I knew no one in Pittsburgh, I began to search the internet for personal trainers, all while praying I would find a good trainer. During that search, I came across Gary Udit - National Physique Committee (NPC) Zone Chairperson for Western Pennsylvania. I sent him an email advising him of what I was in search of and asked if he could help. He in turn directed me to my current trainer Mike Kamdar, who is also a NPC Competitor; Competition Promoter; International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Judge; and Personal Trainer.
I have been training with Mike ever since February 2011, and have entered and competed in six (6) shows since that time (September 10, 2011; October 8, 2011; May 5, 2012; September 7, 2013; October 12, 2013, & November 9, 2013). As additional information, I began my journey on October 24, 2010, at 182.5 pounds, and my very first show I weighed 134 pounds, and my last show I was 130 pounds.
My journey has had many ups and downs but through it all I knew I had to keep going, and I am so glad I did.