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Weight loss is more than dropping pounds: The struggle you don't see

The following article was written by our guest blogger Alex Washington. Alex is a westside Detroiter, cheap wine connoisseur and Detroit rap aficionado.

Around this time of year is when the fire underneath our New Year’s resolution’s ass slowly starts to die down. New year, new me. We’ve all said it (some of us more than others), and most of us have made a resolution about our health and fitness. Whether it’s to take more steps, practice yoga or to eat our muffins instead of carrying them around our midsection. I made that resolution five years ago. Coming out of what I’d like to call my post-graduate depression (which apparently amongst millennials is a real thing), I made the decision for my 25th year not to carry my weight into my next birthday. Some people cry their way through stress and depression — I ate.

Food in the Black community is more than just for nourishment, it is its own language.

Soul Food is comfort food and I was comforted a lot. I had gotten to a point where I was comfortable in my discomfort. Even though I was big, I felt incredibly small. I felt my life was chaotic and my weight reflected that. I was inching closer to 300 pounds and I had finally had enough. I had read a quote that said “control the controllable,” and that’s what I did. My body and my health was the one thing I could control for free, so that’s what I did. I joined a low-commit gym with one of my friends and began a fitness journey. Starting the journey was the most difficult part of it. Going to the gym and being surrounded by real life Instagram fitness goals was certainly intimidating in the beginning. There was a time I saw one of these IG fitness types staring at me and immediately my thoughts went to she’s talking about me. A few moments later, she approached me and simply said “try this.” She helped me correct my squat form. We talked more and she told me no matter how uncomfortable I may feel, I should feel proud I was taking the steps to change my life. I’ve maintained a 65 pound loss so far. Throughout this journey, I’ve learned that a lot of things associated with weight loss go undiscussed. When people talk about how hard weight loss is, they only talk about how difficult dieting and exercise might be, but no one speaks to the rest of it.

Let’s start with a simple thing, you will not lose what it took decades to gain, overnight.

This is something that I had to learn early. You read the headlines, you watch the shows, you browse through #TransformationTuesday posts and see people who have these incredible 100+ pound weight losses in a year, while you’re still struggling to lose a single pound. The reality is, those people only represent a fraction of a weight loss community. No two bodies are the same and your health is not a race. My goal was never to just lose weight, it was to create better lifestyle habits that would replace what I had grown accustomed. There’s a price tag for weightloss. Non-scale victories are my favorite. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to wear that shirt as the dress it was intended to be or finally feel comfortable rocking a pair of shorts. As powerful as these moments are, they are expensive. The mention about the cost of replenishing an entire wardrobe gets lost in conversation somewhere around comparing the price of kale and a Whopper. I learned to begin a savings for clothes. From the outside, it sounds vain, but that cushion helps when you’re a bustier girl who loses a cup size or you need to buy a good coat for the winter. You will also be surprised by the emotionally attachment you’ve formed with clothing which flows into my next point. There will be tears — lots of them. There will be tears of joy and tears of frustration. There will be days where you think you are absolutely out of your mind for being emotional over your journey. You will lose friendships and relationships along the way. The weight loss journey is more than just shedding pounds, it’s a journey about you. It’s about who you are and who you desire to be. This journey strips you and forces you to look at the rawest version of yourself. You will discover new strengths through every tear shed and every pound loss. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, you will be reborn into the life you dreamt of — and you deserve it. That’s the one thing I always remind myself — I deserve the life I want to live. I deserve to be the person I want to be.

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