Knowing what you know now what advice would you have given yourself twenty years ago so that you could have done things differently? What valuable information would you try to pass on to save yourself all the years you spent going up and down, compromising how you felt because you were focused on that number on the scale?
“I would first have explained to myself the difference between eating healthy and just not eating. Yes you lose the weight, but health is most important. Secondly, I would have tried to impress upon myself the need to put myself first. I can serve my family much better if I am healthy, and be happier while I am doing it.”
This article features Mrs Angela Essam of the North Dallas area of Texas. She was hesitant to tell her story at first because she felt that she has not yet reached her fitness goals. She felt she is “still a work in progress”. But that’s precisely why she was chosen. She is an inspiration because she didn’t just throw in the towel and give up when she found herself on the wrong path yet again, after she initially thought she had “it all figured out”.
“After my daughter was born in 1985 I did great. At her six week check up I weighed the same as I did when I got pregnant (121 pounds). Then 6 months later when I stopped nursing her I got a rude awakening. The pounds just piled on fast. By the time my daughter was two years old I’d hit nearly 160 pounds and knew I needed to do something. But I just didn’t. With all of the other things going on in my life I just put taking care of me on the back burner. Then in 1987 I found out I had cancer and it was a true wake up call. I’d been trying to have another child but this wasn’t to be. So two out-patient procedures later I had what the doctor described as a radical, modified hysterectomy. After that experience I got energized and lost forty pounds. I was afraid of turning thirty and not being able to lose the weight. I was working with horses, and cut my eating way back but I was also drinking a lot of beer and not eating healthy. I was having marital problems which ended in a divorce in 1992. I managed to keep the weight off for several years. Working construction enabled me to eat like two men and still burn it off. The only problem was that I got old! Dang it!”
You beat cancer, lost the extra weight, revamped your personal/professional life only to gain the weight right back. What led you to the decision to try and find the path to doing things “the right way” this time?
“I couldn’t work as fast without the pain of older age slowing me down. Then I met my hubby, the best guy I ever met. We got together and all of the sudden I have three step kids who are getting married and having families. It was everything I ever wanted. I quit smoking in February of 2004. I also quit the bar drinking that goes with construction work when I retired from the field work in October of the same year. Now I’m getting grand babies and I want to be around for them. That is what motivated me to lose the weight this time. I got down to about 142 pounds and was walking daily. While traveling with my husband we got stranded in northern Nevada for three months that winter. Daily snow kept me indoors much more than I would have liked. I had nothing else to do and became depressed. I suffer from “SAD” (seasonal affect disorder) anyway, but I’m aware of it and can usually work through it. Not this time. On a trip home my family doctor prescribed a low dose of Lexapro for me. It worked great on my depression, but left me not really giving a sh*@ about myself or anything else. It wasn’t really bad. It was just that nothing was important anymore. So January of this year I woke up and decide that if I don’t do something, I won’t be around much longer. At this point I was 166+ pounds, the heaviest I’d ever been. I had a hard time breathing doing simple chores like going to the grocery store. I had no energy and no drive at all.”
So how did you start getting back on track?
“First I joined the local YMCA with a buddy who also needed help getting started. Then I got off the Lexapro and offered to do landscaping where I live so I’d stay busy in the afternoons. I’m only down 9lbs, but 4 entire sizes. I go to the “Y” daily Monday through Friday for at least an hour, most often two. Fortunately my husband is very supportive. We both started cracking down on portion control and snacking. He’s also lost 13 pounds. It would have been so much harder for me to do (nearly impossible) without his support. Now I fall down …a lot. But he catches me every time. For example, if he finds me with a bag of chips, he will ask me if I want the whole thing. It’s only because I know he loves me that I don’t turn around and bite his arm off.” …Angie quips.
Do you see this time as being different than the other times you thought you were getting your weight under control? And if so, Why?
“I feel that it is different because I’m not so concerned with the numbers anymore. I am more concerned with how I feel. I feel better than I have in a long time and I want to stay this way. I’ll never be a Barbie Doll. But I don’t care. I can play with my grandsons and enjoy so much more in my life by being healthier, not skinnier. I could starve and get skinny, but I wouldn’t feel this good.”
And so it is that Mrs Angela Essam is the featured person for this “Biggest Winner Inspirational Mom” because she didn’t give up even after life had taken her to the mat several times. She finally “got it”: the realization that she doesn’t want to be “The Biggest Loser” after all. She now knows that there is no hurry to the finish line where there is some magic number on the scale. The quest for better health and fitness is what motivates her to keep on track at a steady, sensible pace.
Without question, as statistics demonstrate, everyone will be “The Biggest Loser” when they sacrifice their health and well-being chasing that magic number. Are you a “Biggest Winner” too? Please don’t hesitate to contact this writer and share your story. There is no need to be shy. Enthusiasm should be contagious.
Angela and her husband Mark have four children: Dezi 31, Nic 29, Shane 25 and Becky 24. They have a home in Nebraska but have been living in North Dallas for approximately 8 months as his construction company brought them here. They may be here for up to two years more.
This interview was originally published on examiner.com.