Just like a lot of people I’ve struggled with my weight, but I decided at a young age that I didn’t want to be another statistic. I am a 19-year-old Personal Fitness Trainer who has lost over 100 pounds in one year and managed to keep it off. Ever since I was 14 years old I struggled with my weight, at only 5’ tall I weighed over 235lbs. I came from a family that cared about their health. As much as they wanted to help me, at the time I couldn’t see that there was anything to help. I was oblivious. I would eat 3 cans of ravioli in my pantry as fast as I could without my family walking into the kitchen (I swear) I was a closet eater… Can’t say I was proud of that title. Food and television were my outlets and comfort after a day at school or work. I couldn’t climb up stairs without getting out of breath and I would make up excuses to make sure I wouldn’t have to participate in physical activities, my weight resulted in bullying which seemed like an everyday occurrence when I was at school or on social media.
One day after babysitting a young boy, a light switched in my brain, I realized that I genuinely wasn’t healthy, what I thought I looked like was nothing like I really looked… something needed to be done, in order to save myself from the devastating path that I was on.
The following day I did hours of research and started to take my weight loss journey into my own hands without the help of anyone else. Within one year I lost over 100 pounds through clean eating and working out, primarily focusing on cardio. After that initial year, my love for cardio slowly started to disappear, trust me hours a day isn’t maintainable. I knew that I needed to find another outlet to ensure that I didn’t go back to the way I was. I started to find myself spending more and more time in the weight lifting area of the gym more so than the cardio machines.
Just like a lot of women, I didn’t know how to use the machines properly and I was scared that lifting heavier weights would make me more “manly” or “bulky”, so I would always opt for the lighter weight and high reps which was great at the beginning, until I plateaued. I wasn’t losing the weight I wanted, my body composition wasn’t changing, and I wasn’t finding pleasure in what I was doing. As I always do, I did some research and realized that women actually don’t become bulky or “super muscular” because our hormone make up is different from that of men. This ultimately lead me to weight lifting.
Recently, I found multiple empowering women on YouTube who were powerlifters and I decided to try something new. I would spend hours reading articles and watching videos of people pushing these mind-blowing weights, it mesmerized me with what the human body was capable of… The first day I tried to increase my weight on squat I failed. I was embarrassed but that didn’t stop me from trying again and again and again until I accomplished the goal I set out for myself. I remember that for the longest time I never picked up a barbell for deadlifting because I felt like my form was off and everyone would judge me (don’t worry, no one is looking at you), but I picked it up and was confident in the lift and kicked butt.
Every time I didn’t reach my goal the failure gave me a fire, and I fell in love with the feeling that I would get when I hit a PR (Personal Record) in the gym. That feeling would give me so much satisfaction and drive to become better. I went from squatting 85lbs for 3 reps to squatting 315lb for 3 reps and it grew my confidence ten-fold not only mentally but physically as well.
My journey has been all over the place, I’ve dealt with depression, obesity, eating disorders, struggling to find self-love and everything in between. It all changed when I allowed health and fitness into my life, it was by far the best thing that I ever could have done. When anyone asks me what to do to lose weight or change their body shape I always tell them that health is a lifestyle. It isn’t a quick fad diet. It isn’t hours of cardio. It is about finding a plan and regime that works for you. Everyone is different, some people love eating chicken and rice every day whereas some people (like myself) enjoy the ability to be flexible and that is so important to remember. No two people are the same, what might be easy for one person might be difficult for the next and that is okay, it will take time and it will take patience, but if you have those two things nothing is out of your reach!
By Kiersten Zimmermann