Please share with us a bit of your story:
I am married to my high school sweetheart, Mark Santoyo, with two beautiful boys ages 12 (Ethan), and 8 (Luke). I was a teen mom at the age of 18. I was able to finish high school and became pregnant shortly after graduating. I was very determined not to let my pregnancy let me become another “statistic” so I continued my schooling at Fox College, a two year college. While attending school, I gave birth to my son on March 7, 2001, and with the help of my mom, taking and picking my son up from daycare I was able to continue my schooling until I finished. My now husband, we did not live together during this time, so I was basically doing it on my own working and going to school while caring for my son. After graduating Fox College with my associate’s degree I was able to find a job at a law firm in 2001, which I still currently work at 12 years later.
Fast forward to the year 2005, this year was a very difficult year. I was having some bad migraines and the doctor did an MRI and found a brain tumor which I needed surgery have it removed. The doctor was not sure if the tumor was cancerous or benign. I had my surgery in January 2005, and thank God the tumor was benign and surgery was successful. Recovery from surgery was a little difficult physically and emotionally. I think I started to get depressed which is when my weight gain began. I became pregnant with my second son a month after my surgery, February 2005. I was excited and happy for this blessing but I wasn’t acknowledging my depression and was still recovering from my surgery. I gave birth to my son on October 20, 2005, and shortly after giving birth I spiraled even deeper in my depression. I was emotionless to my son, I cared for him as I should as a mom but I was checked out. Recovering from surgery, having a baby, and on top of that the doctors discovered I had a thyroid problem, hypothyroidism. I was put on medication and will have to be on medication for the rest of my life for that. One of the symptoms of hypothyroidism is weight gain and I attributed my weight to my baby weight and to the thyroid problem. Losing weight with hypothyroidism is very difficult so I used that as an excuse why I was gaining and couldn’t “lose weight.”
I’ve always been self-conscious with a low self-esteem. I’ve never really been comfortable in my own skin. After my surgery, baby, thyroid issue, I didn’t care about myself and let myself go. I wasn’t exercising and ate whatever I wanted to. I hated taking pictures because I didn’t like how I looked and I still struggle with that to this day. My depression got better and was able to work through that on my own. I wanted to make a change for myself so I got my first gym membership. I started going to the gym 3 times a week for 30 minutes just doing some quick cardio. Going to the gym while working full-time, kids, husband; it’s hard but I wanted to “lose weight”, I never saw the scale move. I was just the same. The heaviest I’ve ever been was at 174 and I thought I was okay with that, at least I’m not gaining, I’m just maintaining. My eating habits were the same, eating bad stuff and I thought I’m exercising I should lose weight. Lol, that’s not the way it works and that’s why I was just maintaining.
May 2013, my law-firm was having a weight-loss challenge called the Fit26. They would teach us how to eat healthy and lose weight for 26 days and it was $35. Wow, I can’t say it enough those $35 have been the best investment in my life!!!!!! My friend and co-worker, Yanira, and I decided to do this together. We both had family vacation trips in the summer so we wanted to lose weight for our trips. So we signed up and got started on the program which isn’t a “diet” it about eating healthy. We were instructed that we would have a detox period for the first week and that first week was torture. We couldn’t eat any sugar, bread, milk, tortillas, beans, cheese, juice, alcohol, or coffee, encouraging us to eat fresh meat, veggies, and water. It felt like we’d starved and the first week I was sick to my stomach, I had headaches, feeling nauseous I wanted to quit. Yanira was my cheer leader and kept telling me to stick to it, to keep going and after the first week we were smooth sailing. We kept each other accountable for what we ate and would tell each other when we would cheat. We would have weekly weigh-ins and the weight started melting off I was amazed. My starting weight was 174.2 , weigh-in #1 176.4, weigh-in #2 172.4, final weight in-168.8!!!!! After 26 days I had lost 6 pounds. I was pumped and motivated to keep going we’ve both been continuing the Fit 26 healthy eating it’s become our lifestyle now. The weight just melted off, and as expected we did cheat here and there and fell off the wagon but we just would start over.
Yanira and myself started working out during our lunch hour at our law-firms little gym. We started running and we both could barely do a mile but our endurance increased we started running 2, 3, 4 miles and it kept increasing and the weight kept coming off. I sometimes work out twice a day if I have the time because I still have my gym membership. Yanira came to me and told me about the Hot Chocolate 15k race (10 miles) that would be in November 3, 2013. She said we should do it to celebrate our weight loss journey. I thought I could never do it, but then thought why not, so we signed up in October, with a little over a month and we started doing our own little training. Race day came and we did it!!!!!!!! And our times were amazing. I came in at 1 hour and 40 minutes!!!! That was a great day I was so proud of both of us for taking on such a challenge and doing it.
My life has changed soooo much. I am much happier, and a little more confident than I was before. I still struggle with self-image issues but I’m working on it. My husband and family have been so encouraging and motivating and I am proud to show my kids that if you put your mind to it you can do anything. Currently, my weight is 136, that is 38 pounds lost. I’ve never ever felt confident in my skin, in grade school and high school I thought I was “fat” and I’m finally at the age of 31 starting to feel comfortable in my skin. I owe a lot to my wonderful friend Yanira for embarking on this weight loss journey with me because without her I think I would’ve quit when I struggled. I have finally learned how to eat correctly, and make better choices. I do indulge sometimes but I never deprive myself. I’m never hungry or starving. Eating healthy and exercising every single day have become a necessity just like breathing. I never want to go back to feeling unhappy with myself. I need to take care of myself for my family, I have two kids I need to be around for. Life is WONDERFUL at the moment.
What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story? *
Being comfortable in your own skin is possible at any age, put yourself first to lose weight. It's going to be hard, but don't give up. The end result is worth it!