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Weight Loss Journey

Weight Loss Journey | Yanira

Weight Loss JourneyJasmine LopezComment

Please tell us about your story:

Growing up, I was never over weight. Even in High School I was a good weight (115lbs). I was always into sports and dance, I considered myself to be very active. I never worked out but up until about 18 my weight ended up taking a turn for the worse. The loss of my grandmother in May of 2000, took a big toll on me. I became an emotional eater and only found comfort in food. My boyfriend at the time, (who is now my husband :)) would tell me to stop eating out so much that he could tell I was gaining weight. I should have listened but since it was only a 10lbs difference at the time, I didn't see it as a big deal. On top of that I just had started college at Robert Morris University and I enrolled full-time. So being a full-time student and a full-time employee at a Law Firm, I had no time to eat healthy. I became addicted to fast foods, especially the caramel fraps at McDonald's, I drank two every day! The years passed and even though I was happy I had graduated from college and continued working at my Law Firm, I was still not happy with myself. I knew it was because I had gained so much weight. I tried signing up for a membership but always found excuses not to go. I became comfortable and complacent with the way I was and I almost had accepted that this was how my life was going to be now.

At the age of 26 I got married to my childhood sweetheart, who thankfully still loved me no matter what size I was. At the age of 27 I got pregnant with my first born son named Josiah. I thought to myself well if I breastfeed, I'll definitely lose the weight since I heard it burns over 500 calories. Thankfully, I was able to do it for 8 months but still I didn't see the results I wanted. I was so naive thinking I had to eat certain foods for the baby and being pregnant I ate whatever I wanted and told myself I would worry about it after I had the baby. What a rude awakening that was because at 30 years old I decided to weigh myself for the first time in years and the scale was not very nice to me, the scale said I was 173lbs. I cried, I felt horrible, like what kind of life am I living? I always knew I wanted to be healthy, I wanted to live long for my son and husband.  Diabetes runs high in my family and I told myself that I refuse to continue to allow myself to go in this direction. I had to make a change for myself and for my family. So determination was planted in my head and God would give me visions of me being and looking healthy, so now that my mind was set, my actions needed to follow. April 28th 2012, our Firm was having a seminar called Fit26. It was a health challenge that would take place for 26 days. Our Firm would pay half and we would pay the remaining $35. I decided to embark on this journey with my co-worker/friend Wendy and we decided to take a leap of faith and invest in ourselves. From that moment on, our lives have NEVER been the same. We followed the food program which was eliminating dairy, grains, sugar, wheat, and caffeine. You're probably thinking what's left to eat, well I'm glad you asked :) I decided to repeat the 26 days as doing it for a total of 3 months and that included veggies, protein and water. It was hard, the first 3 weeks were the hardest. I would get headaches, feel nauseous, and wanted to quit a few times but this time I was dedicated like never before and having a friend by my side to go on this journey with me gave me more motivation to continue. I wanted to not only do this for me, but for my family and friends that are all over weight and wanted to make a change but didn't have the tools or the right influence around them to make the change. I wanted to be someone's fitspiration :) During those 3 months, I took a few pictures, kept a weight log and also incorporated Cardio. I had been working at my company for 7 years and always new they had a mini gym but I just started using it. This gym has also been a blessing to my life, no membership fees, convenient and it doesn't interfere with my wifely or motherly duties. After the 3 months I started to incorporate almond milk and Ezekiel bread into my diet. I love dairy and I love carbs. Now that I have the knowledge, everything is in moderation. I've learned what to replace so I can have a variety of things to chose from. My church started a fit program called Storehouse Fit that was very motivating and helped me on this journey as well. This has been one of the best, hardest and most rewarding journey's of my life! I never liked running. Running 0.50 distance I would feel exasperated but little by little my endurance started building and in November I decided to enroll in a 15k race with my friend Wendy. That was one of the happiest days of my life! I was so proud of us being able to conquer 10 miles with the help of God. Not only did we finish the race but we came in an awesome time. I finished at 1 hour and 33 minutes, to God be the glory! 7 months later I've lost 50lbs!!! I am now 123 lbs and I feel great, I sleep better, I have more energy and I love eating right and working out, I can't see myself ever living without great nutrition or doing some kind of exercise. But I didn't do this all on my own, I definitely have to thank God first and for most, I would always repeat Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me". My husband for his encouragement. My Pastora and parents for always pushing me beyond my limits. My sister-in-law Rachel for always pushing me to join a race. I started doing 5k's with her last year and now she's pushing me to do a half marathon with her later this year! We'll see how that goes :) My friend Wendy for being my weight loss journey partner. I also want to thank my boss for buying me fruits and vegetables for Assistant day, it reminded me how soon I needed to start this journey. Last but not least, for my son who without him knowing pushed me to be the person I am today. Although my 50lbs goal has been reached, I definitely want to incorporate weight training so I'm excited to see what's in store for me next :)

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story? *
It's important to put yourself as a priority. Stay dedicated, determined, driven and committed. You are your biggest competition, you never know what you are capable of until you push yourself to your limits. With God all things are possible!

Weight Loss Journey | Sami

Weight Loss JourneyJasmine LopezComment

Please share a bit of your story:

My entire life I was the chubby kid. I was the chubby kid in my family. My brother and sister were half my size. I heard my entire life nothing but negative comments about how I looked and my weight. I was called pretty much every name you can associate with someone being overweight. After you hear those comments your entire life, you tend to become harsh on the outside. I formed tough skin and tried to act like I didn't hear the comments people made or act like it didn't bother me, but on the inside it tore me up and I wanted nothing more than to be "skinny". My self-esteem and confidence were pretty much non existent. I had learned to never really deal with my emotions. I never told anyone what was wrong. I was the chubby friend all my friends. They were at least half my size so going out with them all the time always issued even more comments and whispers from people. Guys only paid attention to me if they wanted to talk to one of my friends. I never really had a boyfriend or really any guy in my life.

By the time I had got into college in '07 I had pretty much tried to accept that I was going to be big, that didn't change deep down that I didn't want to be fat anymore. My confidence and self esteem had got a little better in college as I tried to accept myself. Every year I would tell myself this was the year I would lose weight and start over, but it never happened. I stayed the same every year. When my brother got engaged and my soon-to-be sister in law asked me to be in the wedding I told myself I would be skinny for their wedding. Well their wedding rolled around and I was still wearing size 20 and weighing in around 260lbs. The heaviest I topped out at was 272, which is the Roman numerals on my right wrist, an everyday reminder of where I started. (I honestly don't even remember when I saw that number, I'm pretty sure it was my sophomore yr of college. I hated myself for getting that big and vowed to never weigh more than that) In 2012 I tried again to lose weight again and started educating myself on nutrition and the proper way to lose weight.

I had finally gotten too tired of being overweight. As a photographer, I knew I wouldn't be able to keep being overweight if I wanted to shoot weddings the rest of my life since I was dead tired for 2 days after a wedding. My knees killed, my back was dead, I didn't want to walk because my feet would hurt so bad. I knew my body couldn't physically handle me being so overweight.

I had started cleaning up my diet in October of 2012, I cut out dairy and started adding more vegetables to my diet. I had always had a gym membership and luckily liked working out, but I still didn't see results.

It wasn't until the start of 2013 that I had gotten 100% serious. I bought a Groupon just before New Years for a boot camp. It was m/w/f at 6:30 in the morning ( I had gotten realistic with myself and realized I need to work out in the morning, I made too many excuses to not work out at night. I started choosing going out with friends instead of going to the gym). The boot camp was taught by an ex state trooper captain. Buying that Groupon was the best thing I did for myself. When I started the boot camp Dec 31, 2012, I weighed 255lbs. I had gotten serious about my diet. I had literally cut out all processed foods, most dairy, most bread/carbs. I started paying attention to what was in food and what those ingredients did to my body. I have PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) which already set me back and made it more difficult for me to lose weight, but once I cut out certain foods my weight went down every single Friday from January to July. I plateaued at about 207 from July until December. I did a 1 week juice to break my plateau and lost 10 more lbs. I'm not 100% where I want to be. But I'm trying to learn to be okay with who I am now.

2013 was an amazing year with getting healthy. The easy part is the physical health. I'm now dealing with the mental health. I still see myself as the girl who still weighs 260 lbs and not the girl who weighs 190 lbs and fits into a size 14.

I'm excited to see what 2014 brings to my life business and health wise. I go back to my doctor in April for a checkup and I'll have my pcos re-evaluated ( I was diagnosed with it in 2007 and haven't been re-evaluated since). I'm excited to have left 2013 behind and start 2014 with a positive outlook and a healthy mind.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?

Don't give up, keep going, even if you think it's not working. Trust the process and believe in yourself.

Wieght Loss Journey | Wendy

Weight Loss JourneyJasmine LopezComment

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!