It is easy to judge people. Most times, we aren’t aware that we do it, but we judge people. We judge them on their looks, where they live, where they work, what their habits are…We judge people.
Most people think that an overweight person eats too much and never exercises. That is the “typical” judgment. It is so crucial to remind ourselves that sometimes, weight gain is out of our control.
One day, while wasting some time on Facebook, I came across a post from a childhood friend of mine that really inspired me. I always knew Kristen as being super outgoing, friendly, popular and FUNNY. She is tall, gorgeous, and really kind. The sort of girl that anyone would want to be friends with. Social media showed me pictures of a vibrant girl who was healthy and happy…then something changed.
One day, she posted about a serious weight gain, and now weight loss that she was going through. She publicly and BRAVELY announced that she had gained over 50 lbs, was suffering from a severely under active thyroid, and was in the process of doing EVERYTHING she could to lose the weight. I was not only in awe, I was inspired by her strength and courage. Here is her story:
(above Kristen in 2012)
Name: Kristen Lyman
Work: For the last 8 years I have worked in retail. I have been an assistant store manager, a store manager, a buyer and a global licensing brand ambassador. For the last 3 years a typical work week was anywhere between 45 to 70 hours a week. Even when I would be on ‘vacation’ I would still spend nothing less than 10 hours working on schedules, analyzing sales data, product levels, sales operations etc. My job took over my life!
What are you suffering from?: In August of 2014 I was diagnosed with a severely under active thyroid.
What were your eating/drinking habits before your diagnosis?:My entire life I was never super skinny, but I certainly was not heavy. I played sports and was active. I would run 2 to 3 miles a day, simply because I wanted to, and had incredible amounts of energy. I ate fairly healthy but never really had to think too much about it.
When I went to college in 2004 a lot of that changed. The unlimited amounts of food in the dining hall, exorbitant amounts of take out, and of course, alcohol, really got to me. When I went away to school I was 5’6 and weighed around 150lbs. I came home that winter weighing close to 180. I vowed that year to make a complete lifestyle change.
When I went back to school I worked out, I would go to the gym and do a lot of cardio. I used to swim in high school so I took advantage of access to swimming at the college I went to. I got down to aboutI 140 lbs, and I was really happy.
(below: after a 45lb weight loss, feeling really confident)
When did you notice yourself gaining weight again?:
Through out high school and college I smoked a lot. Finally, after quitting (I’m 5 years smoke free and proud of it!) I noticed I started quickly gaining weight. Towards the beginning of 2014 the size 4/6 jeans I usually wore were tight. I bought a size 8, then a 10 and then late in the year I had to start buying a 12. Suddenly NOTHING fit. I had “love handles”, my thighs had never been so big, my flat stomach was gone and in the shower it was hard to shave. I started having trouble breathing and sleeping.
When did you know it was time to seek medical attention?:
I knew something was wrong because my period had become irregular. That had NEVER happened before. Of course the thought of being pregnant did cross my mind but a test cleared that up right away!
My boyfriend and I had just bought a home. I had 2 very active dogs. We had 6 wonderful acres of land to let them run and enjoy the upstate country air. Instead of enjoying those things, I was inside. I was tired, depressed and forcing myself to go to work because of obligation.
At my high schools 10 year reunion I looked at pictures of myself and
wanted to die. I could not believe how big I was. That was when I finally stepped on a scale. I literally had an anxiety attack, I weighed over 200lbs. Never in my life did I ever think I would see that number. I sobbed. I was angry. I had every emotion possible. I could not believe that in the course of 16 weeks I had gained over 40lbs.
When I was home for that reunion weekend I couldn’t even keep up with my 6 year old niece. The sadness of not being able to play with Lily, the anger and frustration of that number on the scale all made me want to really change my life. I knew it was time to see a doctor.
What happened when you did?:
I had to push for specific blood work because diagnosing an under active thyroid is not always very clear. I had done my own extensive research. I read a TON, and learned as much as I could about thyroid issues. I knew without any doctor telling me. I had all the symptoms. It was my thyroid. Finally I was diagnosed. I then began the difficult process of losing the weight.
(Below, with my amazingly supportive boyfriend.)
What was this weight loss journey like?:
I tried lots of “quick fixes”,
but I finally realized that a fad diet was not going to work. I was 28 years old and I was on the verge of becoming diabetic, I had to do something. If I wanted any serious change, I had to seriously change my lifestyle.
I started with just going to the local High school and walking the track, everyday. Usually I would bring one of my dogs. At first it was hard, but then I started to love it!
Next I took a look at my diet. Gone were the days of the Big Breakfast from my beloved Mcdonalds (contains over 1180 calories, that enough for someone my height to eat for the day!) I swapped that for eggs or oatmeal with fresh fruit. Now don’t get me wrong the eggs were not egg whites, they were regular eggs, there was some cheese involved and the Long Island girl in me always loves her ketchup! But it was still a far cry from what I normally ate. I gave up Diet Coke (which I used to really love). I replaced it with TONS of water (Often, I added lemon to it). For lunch, I would eat a salad which chicken or tuna and then dinner I was chicken, or steak and a fresh vegetable. I also swapped regular pasta for whole grain but in moderation.
What are the hardest parts about managing your new lifestyle?:
One of the hardest parts for me is moderating sweets. I LOVE sweets. Cookies, cake, anything with sugar I’m a sucker for. So, if I did have a treat it meant an extra mile. Yes mile, not a lap, a mile. Although my lungs have made great strides in healing from the not smoking, running was hard for me. I also noticed that I had to put in a lot more effort than the old days. What would have been an extra lap was now 4 laps or a mile around that track. I don’t LOVE the gym, but when my jeans started fitting bigger it fueled me.
(<-(It’s a good angle), but I’m getting somewhere! Finally seeing some definition!)
Where did you find support?:
It goes without saying, when people tell you how good you look or notice you lost weight, it feels great. It’s motivation. Most importantly I was very vocal about my entire journey through Instagram and Facebook. My father, who has just lost over 50lbs on weight watchers, was one of my biggest supporters. My family, is super supportive and my sister is a huge motivation. My wonderful circle of best girlfriends have been there through all of this. Most importantly my boyfriend, no matter what size he loved me. He always tells me I am beautiful, and even at my worst he inspired me to be better. I will never be able to thank him enough for that.
What do you want people to know?
I want people to know this can happen to you at any time in your life. I was really young when it happened to me; It doesn’t have to be in your 40’s like a lot of books will tell you.
What I want people to get from this is to not judge, do not mock and most certainly do not ever put someone down. When your weight is out of your control, and is a medical condition, its the hardest battle. When someone is already down, help them up. Inspire them. Most importantly, love the person that you are.
I want people to know its okay to go through this! Gaining a little weight isn’t what is alarming, but when it starts to affect your health should you be concerned. Be alert. Watch the changes your body is going through and keep a journal of how you feel or whats going on. When something is wrong you will know and your body will tell you.
Surround yourself with good people, cut out the negative, and love yourself. Think of your body as your temple, you only get one and no matter what size, the best size to be is healthy!
Ive learned I trust My Doctors, My instinct & my heart .