What I’d Say to My Overweight Self

Body Positivity, Healthy Living, Lifestyle, Mindset

By: // February 25, 2015

Today I am 45 and fit, but I spent a good chunk of my life overweight. My weight has gone up and down like a rollercoaster because I never took control of it. I always loved exercise, but I also love food—and I used food  to comfort myself way too many times.  (Picture it:  Alone in my apartment, Golden Girls reruns, a pint-size of ice cream, me and a spoon.)  And that was probably after a heaping plate of spaghetti with lots of parmesan cheese covering the sauce. What finally clicked for me? I saw a picture of myself. It’s amazing that you can look in the mirror every day and not see what you see in a picture. I couldn’t believe how heavy I let myself get. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, but if I could go back and talk to my overweight self, here’s what I would tell her.

A picture of an overweight woman holding flowers.

The Before Me

Fit woman in a bikini

The After Me

1)      You can have total control over your weight and how you look.

Boy, would I tell my old self this one. I thought fit was for fit people. I didn’t think I could be one of those people. I didn’t think it was possible for me. I knew my bad habits led to my overweight status, but I couldn’t picture myself fit. At my heaviest, I was 40-plus pounds overweight and stuck in an overweight loop: the extra pounds contributed to an extra-low self-image, which made me feel defeated,  so I never made a concerted effort to change. I dabbled, but I never went full tilt with healthy eating and working out because I didn’t believe it would work for me. My belief in my self was nil. Enter Team Chris Freytag: As part of Chris’s team, I see every day how people achieve their fitness goals with clean eating and regular exercise. Making healthy recipes is fun and women supporting each other with exercise has the coolest community vibe! So let me tell you: You can do it.

2)      Stop wishing you were someone else, and get busy becoming someone else.

Nothing changes unless you do, and I wish I got this lesson a little sooner. I’d look at other fit people and wish I could be them. I’d see someone rocking a dress with no belly poking out and I’d wonder what it felt like to smooth your dress and not have lumps. I admired every woman who didn’t need to lose weight. But I’d also see other fit women (in the gym, out at a dance club) and I’d wish I was them. It was a whole lot of self-torment feeling crappy about me as I lifted everyone else up with adulation. If I knew then what I know now, I’d tell that girl: Take all of that energy you spend wishing you were someone else and put it toward changing yourself … cause girl, it’s totally possible to change.


Overweight on the Beach

picture of Sandra Bienkowski

Forties and Fit

3)      Eating healthy does not have to be complicated.

I am much more of a cook now than I was in my twenties and thirties, but I see now that I could have easily made healthy meals. I didn’t have to magically wake up one day and be a vegan sous chef in order to get healthy. Small changes work. I eat more salads than mac and cheese. I only eat pasta (wheat pasta now with veggies, olive oil and garlic) as a treat instead of a staple meal. I go to farmer’s markets and focus our meals around vegetables and then I think: What lean protein should we have with those veggies? Salmon? Eggs? Chicken? Tilapia? And sometimes I experiment with clean eating recipes.  For snacks, I often have a handful of nuts or a KIND Bar that has a high grade on Fooducate. (Fooducate can help you become a smarter shopper because it gives the food you buy a letter grade) Instead of a pint of ice cream and a spoon, I might have a Skinny Cow Fudge bar. Bonus, here at team Chris Freytag we put up healthy clean eating recipes on her website all the time and that means weekly ideas for you and me! Score.

4)       You can lose weight and still have your favorite things.

I remember my reluctance to embrace healthy living because I thought I’d have to take up residence on deprivation street. I liked my life of happy hours after work with my coworkers, eating out most of the time or grabbing take-out food at a restaurant after work. I liked having something sweet after dinner like we always did growing up. I thought thin people or in shape people had to give all of that up—from the margaritas to the ice cream and pretend they liked only eating celery and carrots. Now I realize I can have what I want if I follow a few simple rules.

Big indulgence means big workout. (And I try to make it a rare occurrence.)

Eat healthy most of the time.

Have water within arms reach 24/7.

Use the weekend to lighten up a bit and get right back on track on Monday.

Find an exercise you love (for me that’s running) and do it most days of week.

Enjoy happy hour but only have one or two drinks … and make happy hour an occasional occurrence.

Use your weight as a gauge on how you are doing.

5)      You are going to love life so much more fit.

OMG. Can I list the things I love about living life fit?

I love going to the doctor and seeing my numbers. I love hearing the nurse say “great blood pressure, great resting heart rate, great iron level.”

I love clothes!

I love feeling strong when I exercise and running without extra weight.

I love shopping.

I love getting the compliments from my hubby.

I love looking in the mirror and not seeing a chubby face staring back at me or thick arms.

I love not thinking all the time about being overweight. Now I think about getting more fit or working on getting sculpted and that’s way more fun to think about than wanting to drop pounds or a dress size.

I love bathing suit season and ditching that wrap I always used to wear.

I love running a 5k and beating my fastest time.

I actually like seeing pictures of me now.

The best thing about my weight loss is the confidence gain. Knowing my healthy decisions changed my body (no gimmicks) gave me a sense of empowerment that never goes away. I did it! If I could go back in time and talk to my overweight self, I’d tell her fit is possible. It’s not just for other people.

READ THIS NEXT: What I’d Say To My Younger Self About Healthy Eating! 

This blog was originally published in 2014 and updated in 2015.

Printed from GetHealthyU.com


on November 24, 2015 at 11:05 PM Reply

Hi this is Leanne from Melbourne Australia. It is good you changed your life around. All my years growing up I was a stick being involved in competitive athletics. I remember I weighed only 46-47 kilos in year 10 at 16. In my 20s and early 30s I was around 51-52 kg. A rake lol. I ended up having 4 Kids. In my late 30s I think I was around 56 kg nice and slim and fit. I hit menopause at 40. I am now 46. I think I have lost 1-2 centremetres of my height since I was younger. I was around 5ft 6-7. According to my doctor I am now only about 5ft 5. I Will get it checked again. I went to Peru in 2012 for two months and when I came home I weighed around 56 kilos as I was around 61 kilos before I left as I was doing no exercise and eating lots of pizza's and junk although 61 kg was still healthy. Then over the next 2 1\2 years or so I ate custard tarts almost everyday pizzas, finger buns from the bakery, vanilla slices mmmmmn. No exercise. I juped on my scales in about may this year and got a shock. I was the heaviest I have ever been except for when I was 9 months pregnant 4 times. I was around 67 kilos. It was a miracle I was not over 70 kilos. I went to the doctor and he ordered blood tests. My blood sugar was pre diabetic fasting at 6:2 also cholesterol was 5:5 just out of the normal range also my thyroid was slightly under active my blood pressure was mildly high at 140\100. My results was a warning to me. Diabetes are strong in my family with my mother having it with a few toes amputated and she had a silent heart attack about 2 1\2 years ago. I was told to start walking and stop eating garbage. So I started brisk walking off and on at first for about 30-40 min a few times a week. I lost 1 kilo in about 6 days. In September this year I went back for another blood test after losing about 3 kg at the time. So I was around 64 kg that is about 141 pounds when I did another blood test. My blood sugar dropped to 5:5 fasting which was on the high end of normal which was not pre diabetic anymore. My cholesterol was down from 5:5 to 4:7 with no medications. My thyroid was a bit lower too. I ended up going from a brisk walk to brisk walking with a jog in the brisk walking for 30-40 mins a few times a week. I stopped the finger buns and cuatard tarts and pizza as I was eating it lots. I then went from a brisk walk with a jog to jogging about 30-35 mins everyday non stop. Now I am running 50 mins 5-6 days a week. Every second day in my 50 min run I increase the pace for the last 10 mins of the run. I now weight 61 kilos and I will go back to get another blood test soon and I hope my fasting sugar is under 5 and my cholesterol is back to normal at under 4. My blood pressure is now 120\80. I hope my weight comes down by another 5-6 kilos by middle of next year if not before. I am very much now in the healthy weight range I believe 61 kg is about 134 pounds. That is still very good for my age. I am going to increase in my run strides at the oval and maybe 6-8 250m sprints with a 25Om jog in between. Then jog home. I hope to be doing this by end of the year or January next year. This is no big deal for me because I was a highly trained athlete when I was younger. I will increase my Saturday run to around 1 hour on Saturdays starting next Saturday. I eat much better now. I am not on a stringy diet but I eat so much better now. I hope to be down to what I was in my mid to late 30s of 56 kilos. I think that is 122 pounds. I would not be surprised if I was less then that if I kept up that program next year sometime. But I don't want to look rakey anymore. I don't want to be under weight anymore. 54-56 kg is low enough for me at my age. My advise to others is don't compare yourself to others. Getting healthy and staying healthy should be your goal. I say if your blood pressure is good your blood sugar is normal your cholesterol is normal etc and you are in the healthy bmi of 19-25 that is the main thing. Start brisk walking 5-6 days a week and eat fruit and vegg most days at least of the week. Then you will see result's maybe not in one day but over time. Take care everyone.

on May 21, 2015 at 7:13 AM Reply

I am 66, probably older than most of you. My job was stressful and over the years I gained and lost the same 30 pounds quite a few times. When I retired at 60 my new job became taking care of ME! I am more fit now than I was in my 30s. I lift weights, attend Pilates, yoga and Zumba classes, walk and run a bit, too. I'm planning on running a 5K on July 4 and am excited about it. My advice to all of you....don't wait to retire to start taking care of yourself. Make your health a priority and just do it. There are so many resources and help if you need help understanding nutrition and exercise. You don't need a gym membership either...just get moving! This site is an excellent one. Eat healthy foods in the proper-sized portions. Treat yourself occasionally and then move on and enjoy life.

on March 10, 2015 at 11:47 PM Reply

I would love to get in touch with you, I am a 20 year old girl who has been always really active except for after I had a minor car accident when I was a sophomore in high school. I have now gained 40 pounds in 4 years. I am very self-conscious about my weight and even admitting this is frustrating and hurtful. I know this is an old blog but it really hit home for me.

    on March 16, 2015 at 10:04 AM Reply

    Hi, Cassidy - If you want to change, you can do it. Keeping a food journal really helped me. I also keep track of my workouts because seeing them marked on a monthly calendar really motivates me. I just wanted to send you a note to let you know that you are not alone and you can do this! :)

    on March 16, 2015 at 9:46 AM Reply

    Thank you for writing to me Cassidy. The best thing to do is to just start. I believe we all should work to love our bodies at any size, but if you want to lose weight, start taking steps toward that goal. When we dwell on what we are unhappy about, those negative emotions just increase. Once we start taking action to change, we feel better almost immediately. The secret to weight loss success is in all those little decisions you make all day long. Here's an article I wrote about losing weight that has lots of great tips! https://gethealthyu.com/55-ways-lose-weight-good/ In the meantime, don't beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself and support yourself in your journey to get healthier! You can do it!

on March 10, 2015 at 5:12 AM Reply

Thank you for your story. I went through a time in my life where I took up food as my sense of comfort, reward and companion. I was sad and had stopped being active and just ate fast food. Last year I drastically cut calories and started exercising a bit. I lost 30 lbs. I then took on a new job and regained 18 during the stress of moving and slipping back into old patterns. I now have lost that 18 again but it's different now. I am learning to cook in new ways, see I can eat and enjoy food but healthier choices and am working out. I still have stress but am learning to cope better. I have quite a ways to go but feel I am finally on the right track. I can't wait to buy clothes for a slimmer me one day! At 46, life can begin again.

on March 9, 2015 at 11:35 PM Reply

What a great story...I have been up and down with my weight my whole life..I am almost 46..My knees are starting to hurt now...I have always lost the weight but ALWAYS gain it right back...What is "clean eating"...Someone today told me to cut back on carbs....should I try that? I was in a bad accident about 10 months ago so I can work out but not to my ability yet...I have also started menopause and feel like I am gaining even more weight...Is there any hope in my future????

    on March 16, 2015 at 9:58 AM Reply

    Hi, Heidi - Clean Eating is eating REAL FOOD, not packaged or processed. I am not so concerned about carbs as long as they are healthy ... fruit and veggies are quality carbs! I have a Clean Eating Guide if you want to learn more about how to eat clean. It also includes a two-week meal plan and a grocery list! https://gethealthyu.com/product/get-started-with-clean-eating-a-14-day-guide-to-better-health/

on March 9, 2015 at 1:03 PM Reply

thank you for being a inspiration to so many. Your story sounds a lot like me except I never got to that fit place. I am 52 years old, single, friendless and living a lonely over weight life. I never go anywhere but work mainly because I'm embarrassed of my weight and I never have anything to wear. I've always thought you had to be skinny to fit in so, I have never fit in. I've been over weight my whole life. I've been divorced for 15 years. At this point in my life, I can't even imagine being in a relationship. I don't even know where to start on fitness. It's easy to say I'm going to start exercising tomorrow but, just to start doing it is another story. I feel like my life is over at 52. Please help.

    on March 10, 2015 at 12:17 AM Reply

    Melanie, Don't feel discouraged, this article oversimplifies the whole weight issue. 90% of the population indulges in emotional eating but only those of us who are overweight get the flack for it. I am much more overweight than the woman in this article. I am 5ft 3ins. And I weigh 250 lbs. I have been through the Self loathing and the loneliness, but I'm done with that now. I have a fabulous life. This year I decided to start dating and I go out every week. It's only a matter of time before I find the love of my life. I still think about losing weight and Im still working on it, but nothing I have tried so far has worked, so I will keep trying but in the meantime I will love myself and I think you should too, because you are a great person!!!

      on March 16, 2015 at 9:54 AM Reply

      Like you, I am all about loving yourself at any weight. I try to encourage people away from any self-loathing because I believe lasting change happens from a positive place. If you want to lose weight, you can do it. I wrote an article that includes many tips here. I want you to believe in yourself and believe you CAN CHANGE if you want to! Yes You Can is what I always say! https://gethealthyu.com/55-ways-lose-weight-good/

    on March 9, 2015 at 1:19 PM Reply

    Hi, Melanie - This story from my editorial director Sandra and her story (like your story) are true of many people. First know that you aren't alone. And you can change even if you don't see it yet. I believe you need to love yourself no matter what your size and it's easier to live your healthiest life when you love yourself no matter what the scals says. Love your journey! You are young at 52 and you have so much life left to live, so just start with baby steps. You can change your entire outlook by just deciding to start. I have healthy recipes on my website and lots of workouts you can do at home. I always encourage people to find an exercise they love because we tend to do what we love! Did you see this article I wrote? I hope you find it helpful! You really can get excited about your life again. I believe in you! https://gethealthyu.com/55-ways-lose-weight-good/

on August 19, 2014 at 5:51 AM Reply

Thank you so much for so generously sharing your story. I am now 44, too, but I am unfortunately and up and down on a weight loss/gain yoyo. Sometimes, the frustration of trying and failing sends me running to my two friends, Ben & Jerry. I find this article SO inspiring that I have copied it to read regularly, especially when I feel myself getting lazy with exercise and start getting stuck in a bad eating rut. Yesterday was one of those bad eating/ no exercise days. Today I woke up feeling stuck again but this article is helping me to turn it around. I know if I keep it turned around most of the time, I will get fit too. Thank you again!

on August 8, 2014 at 9:01 AM Reply

You look great and you deserve to enjoy it. You're an inspiration.

on August 7, 2014 at 3:16 PM Reply

Loved this! I am 22 and I've been overweight my whole life, with no fluctuations. Just a little chubby forever. I don't know what it feels like to be fit, and most of the times I think being fit is just not for me. So when I'm doing good and maybe even losing weight, I sabotage myself!! I really want to be healthy and take care of myself while I'm young so I can carry it onto the rest of my life. Thanks for this post! I deserve this!

    on August 8, 2014 at 1:09 PM Reply

    Lucia - You do deserve this and you can do it. It was just a mental block that I thought I couldn't do it. We can all do it with determination! As for sabotaging yourself, we all have those moments. Try planned indulgences instead. That works for me. You can have something that's your favorite and then go right back to eating healthy the next day. It works and I learned it from Chris!

on August 6, 2014 at 5:22 AM Reply

I cried when I read this post. I have struggled with my weight off and on for years. I have been divorced for 5 years-I chose to stay in the same town so that my daughter(a beautiful 13 year old)could have her father in her life. Unfortunately I am 9 hours away from my family and he "inherited" all of our friends.I have come a long way in restoring my self esteem but I want to get back in shape and be a role model for my daughter! Being a single mom-I don't have the money to join a gym. I love to walk and I did buy Chris Freytag's Get moving DVD. I just have to find a way to say no to those cupcakes!

    on August 6, 2014 at 9:41 AM Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. You can do it and you don't need a gym membership. You can walk, use free weights at home, use your bodyweight for lots of exercises like squats, planks and lunges. And you can have the occasional cupcake! Just make it more of a once in awhile treat than a regular occurrence. I am sure you will watch your confidence soar as you go after your goal! You can do it! Check out my website for lots of free recipes https://gethealthyu.com/ and my Facebook page for exercises you can do at home! You can do this!!!

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