I originally told this story way back last March when no one knew about my blog. Everytime I come across this picture it makes me happy, so I thought I’d share the story with you who probably missed it. . .
It was extremely difficult to gain weight. Not the gaining weight part – that was easy. But it was hard to go from overweight, to obese, to morbidly obese. I felt judged. I was ridiculed. I endured humiliation. At 300 pounds, physical activity was very difficult for me. Simple things were impossible to do, and I lived in a virtual prison of my own making.
BUT, once I started losing a substantial amount of weight, the change in my attitude and the attitude of those around me were very encouraging. Sometimes though, I secretly worried that no matter how much weight I lost, some people would still perceive me as fat.
After I had lost about 110 pounds, my mom and the rest of my family went to visit Sea World. We loaded everyone and everything in the van and drove to Orlando. What a difference those 110 pounds made in my energy level. Instead of lumbering through the park with a fake smile pasted on my face, I enthusiastically walked from show to show, and exhibit to exhibit. At times it felt as though my family had to hurry to keep up with me, instead of vice versa. It was turning out to be a great day.
The highlight of the day came as we sat in the big arena to watch the killer whale show. As we were waiting for the show to begin, we watched the beautiful killer whales swim around the large pool. They were amazing. Imagine my surprise when one of the Sea World employees came up to my family, walked over to ME, and asked me if I’d like to be the trainer’s “helper” for the show. Very calmly I said, “Sure.” However in my mind, I was screaming, “ME, ME?” You see, I knew that if I had weighed 300 pounds, he would NOT have selected me to be the helper. As a Floridian, I had been to amusement parks countless times and had never seen a morbidly obese person asked to “assist the trainer.”
It was a wonderful experience to have the female killer whale trainer point to me, and ask me to come down. I walked down the stairs and greeted her. I stood in front of the huge audience, did what she asked, and had my picture put up on the gigantic screen. As I stood there I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. I realized that people didn’t see my as obese anymore. I realized that I had passed moved through obesity and survived. All the hard work and dedication were paying off, and I was proud.
I remember looking over at John and the children. The girls were waving and bouncing in their seats, and the smile on John’s face was a memory I’ll always carry. When my little part in the show was over, I sat back down. John put his arm around me and said, “That was one memory I’ll never forget.” I leaned into him and said, “Me neither.” For the rest of the day, as I walked around the park, people who had been at that show would say, “There’s the girl who got to pet Shamu.” I would think to myself, “Yes, and here’s the woman who will never go back to being fat again.”
Over and over again throughout the years since losing my weight I’ve seen dreams realized that I probably would have thought out of reach as an obese woman. And that’s my fault – because my confidence level was around my ankles rather than bursting through the ceiling. Nevertheless, those experiences and dreams are some of the things that kept me going in pursuit of long-term health and fitness.
Where are you today? Are there experiences you’d like to have or dreams that haven’t been realized? Weight loss certainly isn’t a magic cure. But losing weight improved my health and gave me energy to try things I never would have attempted before. Thanks for sharing my story! Diane