Five hundred and fifty pounds. How did I get to this point? That’s the question I’m constantly asking myself. I’ve been overweight since I was a child. I hit puberty headfirst around eight years old and the weight just kept piling on. I can remember being in the 5th grade and participating in mandatory weight and height checks. At ten years old I was about 6-8 inches taller than everyone else in the 5th grade and had finally tipped the scales at 205 pounds. I was humiliated that day. And of course, all my classmates were peeking over my shoulder, laughing, and snickering about what the school nurse was writing down which only made it worse.

I’m not sure about my weight through middle school or junior high but I can remember senior year and the embarrassing task of getting measured for my cap and gown. At a VERY athletic 17 years old I was 5 foot 11 and 315 pounds on the dot. And naturally the room was full of almost 400 other seniors waiting to get measured for their caps and gowns when the assistant dean called out my measurements to the school secretary. I swear everyone must have been placing bets on which senior weighed the most because there was nothing but dead silence around me as the assistant dean shouted out “315 pounds and 71 inches!”. Seriously? Like I didn’t already get enough attention being the tall, blonde, awkward Amazonian. They had to broadcast my exact weight for everyone to hear?

It hurt but I was used to being made fun of about my weight. I grew up with two older brothers and a disgustingly cruel mother. The boys were always making wise cracks about my weight, calling me things like Thunder Thighs and Heavy San-D (like the rapper Heavy D). The younger of the two found it hilarious to sing Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move’ when I jogged in the yard or shuffled through the house. His favorite part to sing was “I feel the earth move under my feet. I feel the sky tumblin’ down. I feel my heart start to tremblin’, whenever you’re around.” So funny right? Not really.

My mom, however, wasn’t so lighthearted in the way that she informed me I was fat and an embarrassment to have around. She was constantly telling me how embarrassing it was that she had to introduce me to her friends and coworkers because no little girl should be so fat. By the time I was 9 my mother had already started giving me Dexatrim and forbidding me from eating certain foods in the house. If she saw me preparing something to eat, I could almost guarantee she would have something to say. “Do you seriously think you need that?” “Are you eating again?” “God you’re so worthless. All you do is eat, sleep and sh*t.” My favorite was “Go ahead and keep eating. No one is going to love you when you’re older”.

That very treatment forced me to spend my life hiding in the shadows, hoping that no one would notice me. It was almost all I knew. The only true peace I knew came from my paternal grandmother and my father. By the time I was twenty-six years old I had lost them both as well as the love and peace that they had to offer. The only thing that was left were the broken pieces created by every form of abuse imaginable: physical, emotional, mental, and sexual.

When I was 16 years old I thought I had met my way out. He was 7 years older but he was so sweet and loving, until he wasn’t. I moved in with him on my 17th birthday after a huge fight with my mother. She had just attacked me in the kitchen for sighing. Sighing?! She grabbed me by my hair, pulling a clump out, and threw me to the floor where she proceeded to kick and punch me until she was content with what she had done. It wasn’t the first time by far but it was going to be the last. I packed what I could fit into a 30 gallon garbage bag and called my “boyfriend” to pick me up. Things were OK for a short time but not long after settling in things changed. He wasn’t looking for a relationship. He was looking for a housekeeper, a cook and a mother for his 2 young children. While that man never put his hands on me, he tore me apart in every other way imaginable. For 11 years he continuously told me how fat and ugly I was. He would call me stupid and remind me of how worthless I was. He’d openly cheat on me and then stalk my every move as if I was the one being unfaithful. He threatened to send me back to my mother and take away the only children I’d ever know or love. He ostracized my family and friends and kept me cut off from the world because he knew I was weak and alone and that I would do anything to stay with my children.

When I was twenty-seven I had finally had enough. I packed up everything I owned and moved just over 1,000 miles away, hoping to leave my past behind. I wasn’t so lucky though because my mother and severely alcoholic brother packed up and followed me. I was worthless, but they didn’t seem to know how to function without me around to abuse. Shortly after the move my mother became sick and needed constant care. I spent the next eight years caring for her and my brother both. There were weekly chemo appointments, dialysis appointments several times a week, weekly three-hour long drives to a nursing home and back so my mother could visit my brother. Those were on top of my full-time job, attending full-time college and trying to build a life with my now husband. During this time my weight continued to climb. By age thirty-three I was 390 pounds.

Some time in between my mother’s death in 2011 and my brother’s death in 2013 I took a pretty bad fall onto a set of concrete steps outside my home. I fractured my knee and couldn’t put weight down on it for almost a year. My weight began to climb, again. My weight wasn’t the only thing that seemed to be increasing during this time. I began to notice that the circumference of my left thigh, just above my injured knee, was beginning to increase rapidly. Within six months it had almost doubled but of course I avoided the doctors and never got it checked out. I really wasn’t in the mood to visit some fatphobic doctor who had no intentions of treating me for the condition at hand. I had been through that scenario several times before. “You need to lose weight.” “If you would just lose weight, the issue would alleviate itself.” Well, as it turns out I really SHOULD have sought medical attention because injuring my knee led to the development of lymphedema, and a large lobule that’s roughly the size of a small watermelon on my inner thigh. By the end of 2019 I had all but completely lost my mobility. My weight had hit an all-time high- 550 pounds.

Knowing that something had to change, I spent 2020 implementing little changes here and there. I began making healthier decisions and focusing on adding more movement to my routine. Slowly but surely the weight began to come off. Within a year I had lost 200 pounds! I began to venture out more so that I could enjoy time with my family and friends. It was great, but it was short-lived. People began to stare. Random people began to think that they had the right to comment on my body. I had this large mass on my leg, and I was very bottom heavy. Clearly, I looked this way because I was lazy and ate too much, right? I spent far too many years being torn down, abused and made to feel worthless. I wasn’t about to relive that again, so I hid away. I stopped leaving my home. Outside of a few hospital visits, I no longer existed.

Fast-forward to the beginning of this year. It was in January that I decided to try pushing myself again. I was tired of living in the darkness, smothered by depression. I knew I wanted to live but I didn’t know how. I didn’t quite know it yet, but the answer came to me through a group on Facebook.

That Facebook group is where I met Robert Reames. I was excited! I knew things were about to change; I could feel it in my bones. I knew I was going to get my life back. Don’t ask me how, I just knew it, and I couldn’t have been more correct! The past several months have been nothing short of a miracle. I immediately began working my way through Robert’s health and wellness courses. I started utilizing the workout videos that he provided and going to the weekly meetings. It wasn’t too long before my mindset began to change, and pounds started coming off again. My clothes began getting looser and my heart began to become much lighter. I found my happy place.

Robert Reames has completely changed my life for the better. He’s given me the skills to live my best life and enjoy the journey to a healthier me. His program is so much more than a diet. I’ve tried numerous diets and failed. This program is exactly what it claims to be, a life-changing program that helps you set realistic goals, make healthy changes to your lifestyle, and stay motivated on your journey to a healthier you . I’m learning to eat cleaner, move more, and completely change my mindset. It also brought me community, something I never truly had before. The members become your family, because they truly get it, and empathize in a way that no one else can. I will forever be grateful to Robert Reames and this wonderful, LIFE-CHANGING program that he created. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for reminding me of my value and accepting me completely for who I am.