When I got gutsy — and finally lost that weight

I wasn’t sure I could do it.

And I wasn’t sure I wanted to.

I’d grown used to being the curvy girl — the one with the “pretty face.” Even as my dress size climbed through my teens and twenties, I refused to give in to self-doubt. I didn’t want to focus on my weight — even though, in reality, I already was.

When I needed larger jeans, I bought them.

When I wanted to have a second cupcake, I did.

Christmas cupcake

I’d gotten listless, cranky, easily tired or sick. But I wasn’t a woman accustomed to depriving herself or scaling back. I was afraid to address the issue of my climbing weight because I “didn’t want to obsess about it,” as I told my fiancé. The idea of a weight loss program where I’d have to track points — and be held accountable for everything that passed through my lips — intimidated the heck out of me. I played it off as an annoyance, but the truth?

The truth was that I was scared.

The idea of joining Weight Watchers* had entered my mind years before, mostly as a method of control, but I shunned it because I was afraid my “last-ditch effort” to get healthy with the program wouldn’t work . . . and where would I be then?

I’d tried the gym, sweating miserably on a treadmill and bored out of my skull. I’d briefly embraced Zumba classes, trekking out on weeknights to dance with coworkers until an injury sidelined a friend . . . and I used her absence as an excuse to bail.

I went through a phase where I upped my veggie intake, tried to scale back on eating out, stepped away from my favorite hobby — baking — so we wouldn’t have so many goodies hanging around.

Nothing worked. After a while, I always slipped back into my old routines.

I just didn’t have the right tools.

Though I’m probably going to come across as a Weight Watchers disciple, I really feel passionate about the program — because it changed my life. WW became my new home-away-from-home in mid-January 2013, the day after a minor car crash rocked my world. No one was hurt, thankfully, but it was my first real accident — and it shook me to my core. Plagued by sudden “what ifs?” and anxiety, I suddenly knew it was time to get serious . . . about my life.

I’d been engaged for less than a month, heavier than I’d ever been, and suddenly dealing with two weddings to plan — mine and my sister’s. As I talked with insurance companies about my car accident and tried not to imagine what would have happened if the truck that hit me had been going just a little faster on a dark night, I began to process my impending move from my parents’ house while my fiancé and I simultaneously discussed guest lists and wedding venues.

I was overwhelmed. When Spencer started talking about weight loss, I felt emotionally exhausted — and not ready to even try. I almost let those little fires, those anxieties, keep me from ever stepping foot into Weight Watchers. But when my fiancé suggested going to a meeting “just to try it out,” something told me to go.

It took guts for me to walk into that first meeting — to finally admit I wanted to change. I was so afraid of losing confidence, of “admitting defeat” about my physical self, that I resisted the idea of needing to get healthy.

But I’d seen family members and friends felled by illness. I had my own health scare a month earlier — at a time when I should have been celebrating my engagement. At 28, I knew my body wasn’t going to simply “bounce back” from poor decisions.

It was time.

To everyone’s shock — especially my own — I embraced Weight Watchers with a vigor typically reserved for religion. From the moment I was handed the tools to make better decisions about my food and my life, I gained a sense of confidence. Instead of deprived, I felt empowered.

Tracking my food came naturally, lending a sense of control to an area of my life that had felt haphazard for so long. I rediscovered my love for fruit and vegetables, especially apples, and learned new ways to prepare them. I started (healthy) snacking.


I’d been worried I’d become “obsessed” with what I was eating, tracking everything to a T . . . and I did.

But it’s been awesome.

Where once I’d eat a sleeve of cookies and feel guilty all night, I learned to have two, track them and move on with my day. I hadn’t realized all the negative self-talk I’d been foisting upon myself, making less-healthy decisions and then berating myself for them.

Portion control became my best friend. I educated myself on smarter choices, on the importance of fresh fruit and vegetables, on all the little choices I thought were good for me that were actually a form of self-sabotage. In short, I’d been eating way too much — and out of emotion. Food was love, and food was comfort. I ate until I felt full to bursting because . . . that was just what I did.

I had to retrain myself. Retrain my body, retrain my brain.

It hasn’t been easy. It took patience, dedication, discipline. Food had been my drug—my crutch—for so long, and there were times it took a Herculean effort (and literally sitting on my hands) to resist reaching for the bread basket.

But I kept with it, never missing a Wednesday weigh-in, because I knew I was working toward the best possible goal: getting healthy for myself, my family and my soon-to-be husband.

When I took a step back (and I did), I learned to be gentle with myself. To be patient.

When I gained some weeks, I chose to remember I was in this for a lifetime — and that rises and falls were inevitable.

That’s the beauty of Weight Watchers — and why it worked for me: I’m not on a diet. I didn’t start the program with a stopping point in mind, figuring at some mystical point I’d be “done.” Being healthy means you’re never “done” . . . but I didn’t realize that the tiny changes I was making were adding up to a complete reboot of my relationship with food.

Some folks assumed I was losing weight for the wedding, a natural thought in our “Say Yes to the Dress” culture. It was easier to let them think I was another image-conscious bride than to explain the truth: that my engagement was merely the wake-up call I needed to realize the rest of my life was waiting, and I didn’t need to bring all those extra pounds into it. It was about so much more than a white gown.

Hands and dress

I dropped 4 lbs. in the first month, amazed to see the number on the scale sliding down. I’d grown so used to cringing at the doctor’s office, the only time I ever weighed myself, that wanting to peer at those digits was a new feeling.

I tried on and bought a wedding dress in March, already 10 pounds lighter than when I’d started — but I’d have to leave it for alterations in August after losing three dress sizes.

On Dec. 11, almost exactly 11 months since I started the program, I officially hit my goal weight: a number that placed me below the overweight zone for the first time in my adult life. I’ve lost 34 lbs. since Jan. 16, which makes my fingers tingle as I type.

But that’s really just a number.

Weight loss grid

View More: http://birdsofafeatherphotos.pass.us/megan-and-spencer-wedding

What have I really lost? My guilt. My awkwardness. My fear of having my photo taken and pasted on Facebook for all the world to see, wondering how much old friends and acquaintances are judging my appearance. Never one obsessed with looks, it pains me to admit how much I worried about what others thought of my body . . . but I did.

And what did I gain? Confidence. Swagger. Comfort. Peace. A sense of control that was so lacking in my everyday life—the idea that I’m not ruled by food, though I can still enjoy it (and do). If anything, I enjoy food more now — because I’m making better choices, ones that make me happy. Because I don’t eat pumpkin pie twice a week, my rare indulgence tastes sweeter than the sweetest thing in the world.

I feared weight loss would be all about deprivation. That I’d have to starve myself, get angry with myself, berate myself. That I’d feel so much worse before I’d feel better.

But I feel awesome. I’ve felt motivated and empowered from the beginning. For finally doing something instead of just talking, talking, and for committing to my health.

For committing to myself.

Standing here at the “finish line,” I know my journey is really just beginning — and I feel far more than 34 lbs. lighter. A weight has been lifted from my shoulders, literally and metaphorically, and if I’d known I could feel this good? Well, I would have done this years ago.

It started with a single step: acknowledging that I wanted to change. And with the encouragement and support of my husband, family and friends, I just kept taking tiny steps toward one happy Megan.

But it was a solitary journey, too: one I began for myself.

And I am proud. Very proud.

If you’re thinking about tackling a challenge and getting gutsy in 2014, remember that the time is now. Every cliché you’ve ever heard about committing to yourself and being worth it is absolutely true. You are worth it, and you can do it. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you.

Be your own biggest fan . . .

. . . and if you’re looking for a sign, as they say?

This is it

Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals. This is my entry in Jessica Lawlor’s #GetGutsy Essay Contest.
To get involved and share your own gutsy story,
check out this post for contest details.

*This post was not sponsored by Weight Watchers — I’m just very passionate about the program. All opinions are my own. Though I was not asked to nor compensated for sharing my thoughts, clicking on a Weight Watchers link and signing up for the program may grant me a referral credit.

99 thoughts on “When I got gutsy — and finally lost that weight

  1. It truly is an amazing transformation, and you looked drop dead gorgeous for your wedding. Hats off to you…I know it isn’t easy. It is crazy how we believe the lies that our mind tells us.


  2. Congrats! It is a big step, and the maintenance of maintaining weight can sometimes be one big pain in the arse!! But the energy and the health benefits are priceless. Oh! And it feels so good to feel good;)


  3. I keep thinking I’m going to drop out of Weight Watchers. (I’m an online only subscriber). I haven’t *really* tried to follow Points since . . . well, ever. Letting sweets go, for the most part anyway, seems almost impossible. How did you get over that hump? I’ve GOT to do something.


    • Sweets are definitely tough for me to avoid, too, but I’ve learned little tricks for coping:

      You can’t eat what you don’t have — but you don’t want to deprive yourself, either! Deprivation just leads to cravings, which leads to anger and a quick tumble down the rabbit hole, as it were. My husband and I make sure we always have chocolate around, but we buy the snack-sized, individually-wrapped versions and have learned to eat one (or two, who am I kidding?) and stop. I track them in advance, which makes me less likely to overindulge. I just figure I’ve “budgeted” for two, so that’s what I’ll eat.

      I don’t bring “big” sweets — like pies — into the house. I’ll feel guilty if it sits around and goes bad, which means I’ll eat far too much of it . . . and then feel guilty for eating far too much of it. It’s a shame spiral. And since it’s only the two of us, there’s no one else around to share it with! If we receive them as gifts or bake them ourselves, we leave the leftovers with friends or bring them in to our jobs. No exceptions.

      Rather than hunkering down with a pint of ice cream, I make sure to scoop out what I’ve tracked, points-wise, and put it in a separate bowl. I put the pint back in the freezer, and I don’t go back for more. I’ve developed a mean taste for fat-free Cool Whip with sprinkles! 🙂 It’s relatively “free,” points-wise, and still gives me that little sweet taste I crave after dinner.

      Because I really do crave sweets after dinner . . . and have something almost every night. I just try to plan ahead, make sure I have good options available, and stay disciplined enough to quit while I’m ahead.

      You can do it, Heather! 🙂 Don’t think about giving up sweets completely. That really would be almost impossible . . . and you don’t need to. Just make a few small changes here and there.


  4. You have done fabulously in keeping to the program and losing weight. Those pictures tell a lot! Kudos to you!

    I would love to join a program that won’t mention tracking food. I can follow programs. I just cannot track. For now, I’ll just workout to videos at home.


  5. Really inspiring – taking those first steps to feel like you’re in control is so hard but it’s amazing how empowering it is to see that you *can* do it. And you look great!


  6. Thank you so, so, so much for sharing your inspiring weight loss story, Meg! I’m so honored to have you enter the contest.

    As you know, I too lost weight a couple years ago and it completely transformed me as a person. I love hearing that it did the same for others!



  7. Pingback: Start Your Week Right Sunday: Links and Goals - Jessica Lawlor

  8. It’s like your talking directly to me, Meg. So many things about this post. I lost about 25 pounds two years ago and I maintained that loss for two years, but lately I’ve seen the scale slowly slowly creeping back up and I’ve begun to hate the way I look again. And weirdly, it seems to have started with the exact same thing that started your journey towards health: a minor car accident that could have been so much worse. The accident made me feel fragile, but I think instead of using that to empower me, I’ve just felt out of control. I need to find a way to bring that control back into my life, to have success, to let go of things that scare me or stress me out. But I haven’t quite figured out how to do that.

    I’m so so happy for you, Meg. You have always been beautiful, but I’m glad you’re starting to feel beautiful, too. ❤


  9. What a fabulous and healthy post about weight loss. I really connect with the guilt aspect. We pride ourselves on “not caring” and giving ourselves what we want, but a lot of the times guilt still creeps in. Learning to manage that in a healthy and positive way is awesome. Thanks for sharing!


  10. Congrats! I recently decided to re-take control of my eating by tracking intake with a smartphone app (as well as activity, which I’ve done for years). I’m way too uncomfortable with social accountability for WW – although I know it works really well for most people – so this is my way of being personally accountable.

    A data-driven approach works really well for me. I find that although it can be a nuisance effort-wise, it’s empowering to put myself in the driver’s seat and make those food consumption decisions more mindfully.

    Thanks for sharing your story!


  11. I sure know the feeling of starting out well and then allowing excuses to keep me from the success I know that I deserve. After reading your blog, I have been thinking that perhaps I too need to go back to Weight Watchers.


  12. I just have to say how proud I am of you! My niece had extra lbs. after she had her lovely baby girl, Aisley, but nothing to compare how much weight she gained with depression “after” the baby. She decided to embrace life and reclaim herself. She looks amazing and so do you! I struggle with my weight everyday. Took prednisone for many years with Lupus/RA. Gained 100 lbs. Weight Watchers worked for me, too, but the drugs still distorted my face shape and waist. I’m off the steroids now, but still working at reducing. This year has been successful, especially for someone mobility restricted. Thank you for the inspiration! You were beautiful at any weight, but now you’re amazing, too!


  13. Congratulations on your accomplishment and your journey. It was inspiring to read. I found it particularly interesting when you mentioned how you were in it for the journey, for life, rather than for a particular date when your “diet” would end. That I think, may have been pivotal (among other things of course) in your success. You made your ultimate goal to be health, health in the long-run. It looks like your weight loss was a byproduct of something even greater which was a gaining a healthy lifestyle. A great lesson to learn. Ironically, this lesson got me out of a year-long struggle with anorexia. I didn’t know what a “healthy meal” or a “normal workout” looked like after I resolved in my heart to get better. I needed to re-learn. I also needed new goals. Rather than making my goals “Eat less so you get thinner because thinner is better,” I made my goal, “Eat healthy because healthy is better.” I had to observe folks I knew were healthy and had a balanced perspective of eating. What was healthy? What was balance? What was proportion? It’s interesting, balance is everything. It looks like you’ve found a balance that will empower you for life. You’ll spare yourself all kinds of health complications and problems down the road by the simple, pivotal, life-changing decision to step into WW that one night. That took courage. That took commitment. That took incredible strength. You go, girl!


  14. Thanks Meg! You and your post has been an inspiration and I hope by the end 2014, am writing my guts out too! Congratulations on your wedding and for having achieved what you did and for the millions of hope of you have distributed. Thank you so much!


  15. Weight Watchers changed my life, too. It’s not a diet, it’s a way to eat healthier and to be healthier. I lost 40 pounds in 1987 and have kept the weight off by applying the principles I learned in my meetings. I’m a lifetime member and would recommend it to anyone who is ready to take control of their eating. And congrats to you on reaching your goal – and on your marriage. Happiness to you and your husband!


  16. First off, Congrats! Some sound advice there, and for other changes people want to make, not just food relationships.

    Remember, though . . . curvy chicks are sexy, scrawny . . . not so much. But if you are HEALTHIER now, that’s the important part.

    Thanks for the reminders about picking oneself up, dusting off, and getting going again. And not just about food.

    Rock on!


  17. Awesome post and congrats!! It’s good to hear weight loss stories that is about changing and starting a new lifestyle, not the latest craze/fad. WW seems like a real legit program.

    Again, congrats to feeling good!!


  18. Congratulations and just want to say you look beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story. Wishing you and your husband happiness and hope you will continue to embrace the eat healthy lifestyle for many years to come.


  19. This is great! I am a newlywed too, and although I didn’t lose as much weight as I wanted to before the wedding, people are surprised that I’m keeping at it. I guess the assumption is that now that I’m married, I don’t care? So crazy.
    I am glad you found that WW worked for you, and thank you for sharing your story.


  20. Congratulations on your personal achievement. Having been in a similar position, I know exactly how rewarding it feels! Now that I am in a place where I feel more confident, I have begun training for specific events. Add an extra layer of motivation!


  21. Congratulations gorgeous girl! Changing long established habits in any aspect of our lives is the hardest thing, but with practice and persistence, as you’ve so bravely demonstrated, yield the greatest rewards…and with time and diligence, the tough becomes the new and improved habit. I myself focus every day on “delayed gratification” which helps me to see the big picture as opposed to the oh so tempting “instant gratification”. I’m not a rockstar at it by any means, and stories like yours help me to stay on track. So does this Tony Robbins quote I keep tacked above my desk “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently”. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂


  22. Loved your vulnerability and your triumph! Your enthusiasm and energy is contagious! I got to serve many who were struggling with weight loss for several years as a Health Coach (now Life Coach). What stood out for me in your story was how you went from avoidance to being present. I look forward to hearing more about your journey!


  23. Love your writing style- sharing your story with transparency, humor and grace- beautiful!
    Isn’t it crazy the lies we believe- controlling us without our realizing how we have imprisoned ourselves by making excuses and justifying. Taking responsibility for your life means seeking accountability and being intentional in your decisions- a great tool I have found is Donald Miller’s Storyline- check it out at http://storylineblog.com.
    I had a heart attack last summer which led me to redirect my energy and focus- with Storyline helping me sustain and accelerate my progress toward some awesome life goals I’ve only recently articulated clearly.
    There is victory in life… For those who never quit!


  24. I applaud your will power. It is a life choice that you made before you had to. I, on the other hand waited to long and had a partial stroke which forced the issue. I lost ninety pounds and my diet consisted of getting rid of salt , bread and soda. Good for you.


  25. Amazing story. Good for you! I was thinking to join weight watchers as I have gained 30 lbs since getting married 4 years ago. I really haven’t been able to deal with the fact that I am 30 lbs heavier than I have been my entire adult life. I still have my skinny clothes and rarely go clothes shopping for larger clothes because I feel like I will have given up if I start buying larger sizes. You have inspired me to sign up for weight watchers and get my health back under control.


  26. Awesome! You are beautiful inside and out! Congratulations for losing 32 pounds! That is a lot of weight, and you look so healthy and happy and gorgeous. And I hope you had a lovely wedding. Your husband is a lucky man! I send my love to you and your husband. Have a happy wedding, and God Bless.


  27. I have had the same issue as you in the past. I went from not caring what I ate, to obsessing over it (which made me become really unhealthy), then onto a leveled out type field. I know that it’s hard, there’s ups and down, times when you are satisfied with only fruit for dessert, and times when you could see yourself biting the hand that just took one of you cookies. You are doing great work!


  28. Congratulations on your success! I too recently hit my heaviest weight and decided to make a change. What I have learned and what you seem to be doing as well, is creating daily habits! I have been on a Herbalife nutrition plan for 2 1/2 months and have lost 15 lbs! It is amazing to see the change, it makes you want more and more… I have also learned that it is a complete lifestyle change, 80% nutrition 20% exercise! Keep up the great work. If you feel your in a rut, look into Herbalife, the products are great!


  29. Congratulations! I’ve lost 60 lbs since May 4, 2013. I use a great app for tracking my food but it is kind of like Weight Watchers in that if I do exercise, I get a few calories back but I try not to use those calroies and stay under 1200 calories a day. I also cut out carbs completely and that made a BIG difference! The holidays are proving hard but I’m trying. I have about 30 more to go.


  30. Oh, VERY well done! – I do compliment you. My problem is being alone and thus having no-one with whom to relate while making the effort (again). You can only achieve weight loss when someone gives a toss about it. And that’s not detracting from your most commendable adventure …


  31. We all have “what if” moments in our lives. For me, finding out that I was going to be a father began my “what if”. Reading statistics posted on the walls of the hospital where I was working regarding the effects that Obese parents have on their children was a smack to the face. At my heaviest I was 416 lbs! Even after that moment, I still took me almost two years to fully understand the damage I was doing to myself and my family. These situations do not define us, our response to our “what ifs” do. I am happy to say that I have lost over 100lbs to date, and reading your post reminds me of my “Whys”. Why I am doing what I am doing. Thank you so much for sharing your story!


  32. You look absolutely gorgeous. My favourite line is definitely this one, “Where once I’d eat a sleeve of cookies and feel guilty all night, I learned to have two, track them and move on with my day.” People really underestimate how big this peace of mind can be and how negative we can all get when we know we’ve done something wrong. Love this post!


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