This Mother’s Day, it is my honor to spotlight a woman who embodies strength and beauty.. Amanda. When I first heard Amanda’s story I was moved, not only by her raw honesty, but by the internal strength and fortitude that transcends her physical beauty and transformation. In celebration of the power of a mother’s love, let’s hear from Amanda..
I’ve struggled with weight all my life. I have 3 sisters and a brother who were all sizes 0-4. At the age of 13, I weighed in at 219 pounds. I’ve always been overweight but I pushed the unhappiness so far back in my mind. Now that I think about it, I wasn’t unhappy about my weight unless someone mentioned it in a hurtful way or I saw a picture and couldn’t recognize myself.
Well, with low self-esteem and low self worth, I fell in love with a man who I felt loved me just as I was.. I was wrong. I spent 10 years in a physically abusive relationship. I had my daughter in January, 2010. At my six week check up I weighed in at a whopping 289 pounds and my doctor was suggesting high blood pressure medicine. This was scary because my grandmother died at 49 from high blood pressure and diabetes; now my mother, who was 49 at the time, was in and out of the hospital with high blood pressure. I was miserable, going through post-partum depression accompanied by emotional and physical abuse. I was falling apart. I knew that I had two little people who needed me. They didn’t ask to be here and, one way or the other, I was in a situation where either my health or my partner would take me from them way too soon. One night I prayed for an answer and the answer I got was, “If you just walk way, I’ll change you mentally, physically, emotionally, and take care of all your needs. You and your children will not only survive you will succeed and help others”. I wish I could say I listened but it took a few months before the message set in.
Anyway, in March 2011 I started my weight loss journey by having Lapband Surgery. Now I’m hesitant to mention this because I don’t want people to say “She had Lapband. She didn’t do it on her own”. This is INCORRECT. I have changed my entire life. I eat right, exercise daily (cardio and strength) and NO Lapband or weight loss surgery will do that for you. It was just a tool to get me started and I knew that going in. Knowing that and doing my part to change my life is what made me a success. I saw a nutritionist who taught me about fiber, carbs, protein (all the stuff we hear about but have no clue what it means.. lol). I started walking everyday with Leslie Sansone’s, “Walk Away the Pounds” DVD’s. By Dec 2011 I‘d lost about 50 pounds and also gained strength and confidence. I knew that I could stick to eating right and exercise.. I did it every day.
I was stronger and ready to take on more intense exercise programs; but there was one thing I had to do first to prove to myself that I was really ready to take on new challenges. On December 4th, 2011 I walked away from a 10 year abusive relationship with nothing but my two children. The strength from taking control of my health spread over to every area of my life.
In Oct 2013, I ran my 1st 5K and finished in 30:43, number 47 of 120 runners. I still work out every morning. I completed Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred and Body Revolution, Shaun T’s Insanity, and now am doing T25 along with running 3-6 miles on Saturdays and Sundays.
Now the challenges come from outsiders or people who have not seen me in awhile and insist on making negative comments about me being too thin. In my community (African American) there is this thought that women should be “thick” but the line between being “thick” and “overweight and unhealthy” have been drawn in the sand. I’ve gotten comments from “You are addicted to working out and it’s unhealthy.”; “If you lose any more weight you’re going to be able to dodge raindrops.”; “The only men who like bones are dogs.”; “You better stop. You are building angles now and losing curves.” to just flat out.. “EEW! OMG! You are so small. You have nothing left to lose.” I continually say to myself, none of you told me when I was overweight that my health was in danger and that you were concerned, but now that I’m “fit”.. not thin, not skinny.. but fit and athletic you are somehow concerned that I’m too small. Why was it okay for me to be too big?
Over the last few months, this has really gotten to me and I have started questioning myself. I find myself saying, “Okay, when I was heavy, I was blinded by what I looked like. I didn’t know unless I saw a picture that I was as heavy as I was. Am I blinded now? Could it be that I am too small and not seeing it?”
I think we can all agree that Amanda is fit and beautiful and strong!
I asked what motivates her and keeps her going despite the self-questioning and nay-sayers..
What keeps me going is the support of others and internally I don’t want to ever be where I was before. I have a coworker who supports me daily in my journey and I believe that support has been the biggest factor in my success.
Now that I think about it, that fact that I motivate others, even if it’s only one, is what keeps me going. I believe we are all in this fight together and no one should be left behind!
YES! We are indeed all in this together! At some point in each of our lives, we will find ourselves fighting for something important.. regaining our health, battling cancer, picking up the pieces of a broken home and/or heart. Thank you for being an example of strength and showing us how to not only survive but thrive and inspire others!
Please share if you agree that by supporting each other we become more powerful than we will ever be by tearing each other down. We are in this together.. let’s leave no one behind.