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My 30 lb Weight Loss Journey – An Immigrant’s Story

Filed in Personal — March 28, 2024

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My 30 lb weight loss journey as an immigrant commenced after I relocated to the United States. I got married at a young age, in my early twenties. Not one of my better decisions. My husband was fixated on moving to the United States for a fresh start, while I dreaded leaving behind my family, friends, and everything familiar.

Despite my reluctance, I followed him being the subservient wife I am. We immigrated to the United States in 2006 settling down in Florida to start our new life. My husband secured a job at a Graphic Design company and I was the ‘stay-at-home’ wife.

A couple of weeks into his new job, I noticed a couple of changes – :

  • He started coming home later – The usual time was 6:00 PM then it went to 8:00 PM then 10:00 PM
  • His behaviour changed and our communication became non-existent
  • I will cook him dinner and he will not eat it
  • I barely saw him anymore

Eventually, the inevitable happened. I decided this was not the life I wanted.  I filed for divorce and moved out in July 2007.

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Adjusting to the Single Life

I eventually got a job at a car dealership and met a great friend, Victoria.  I took up residence at her house and was paying her $500.00 monthly to rent out her guest room.  We gained a great and close friendship where we did everything together. We both had an insatiable love for food.

Slowly but surely I started gaining weight.  Between the stress, all the great food in Florida and the lack of exercise, it seemed that the weight just packed on easily.  I grew depressed but still turned to food as an emotional buffer.  

“I was missing my family so much and I was spiralling downward.  I felt like I was losing control and just wanted a life raft to be saved.” 

At work, I met someone and we began dating. He was the mechanic at the dealership, and we shall call him Peter. He had a substantial group of friends where we would find ourselves grilling out on the weekends or heading out on the boat to the sandbar at Haulover.  

I befriended many of his female friends and I began building great relationships with them.  I felt like these girls were my friends and I was finally finding my place in the United States.  Or so I thought.  

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

There is a saying in my homeland Trinidad and Tobago that goes “Familiarity Breeds Contempt!”  Well, there was no exception to this rule in the United States.

It seemed like the more I socialized with this group of people, the more they thought they could say anything to me without suffering consequences.  They began labelling me as ‘the brown girl’ because I was from a third-world country, Trinidad and Tobago. Their behaviour and choice of words were very condescending and hurtful.

They criticized me for the way I spoke, my weight gain, and my choice of clothing. They played well on my insecurities to the point I would cry myself to sleep at night.  I was at my heaviest by now.  I ballooned to 152 pounds and just wanted to take refuge, back home in Trinidad.

Consequently, the relationship between the mechanic and myself failed miserably.  I felt he never defended me to his friends. We did not share the same goals and dreams – he never wanted to get married or have kids which contradicted all my desires.  I cut ties with him and his group of friends.

It was time for me to take charge of my life!

Breaking Point: The Beginning of My 30 lbs Weight Loss Journey

I don’t think that life was meant to be easy.  I think we are faced with obstacles as detours.  They push us to exactly where we need to be.  These detours make for great stories.  The ones where you can smile and say “The comeback is always better than the setback!”  

Not long after the failed relationship, I secured a rental lease for an apartment in Hollywood, Florida. The view from the living room was that of a beautiful fountain that lit up at night. To be honest that view comforted me and gave me a sense of hope for my future.  

My parents always instilled perseverance in me.  Don’t give up!  I kept hearing my mother and father’s voices repeatedly echoing in my head.  Let’s be honest.  The easiest option for me was to pack up and leave Florida.  However, I did not want to take the easy way out. Heck, I ain’t no quitter!

One morning while sleeping in my cosy, newly purchased bed from “Rooms to Go”, I heard my inner voice say, “GET UP AND TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE!”  To which I stubbornly replied, “Are you kidding? How?”  The voice replied assertively, “Go for a drive!”

 I steups.  For all my non-Trinidadian friends who do not know what that means, it simply means the act of “sucking your teeth”.   I acquiesced to the directions of this inner voice. I got in my newly leased 2012 Toyota Camry and decided to head South.  

I do not know why I decided to head in that direction but I just did. Not even half a mile out, I saw an LA Fitness to my left.  They had a special advertisement where one can qualify for three months of free training with a personal fitness instructor if you signed up today. 

I went in, inquired and they enrolled me with my very first gym membership and personal training package for the next 3 months. This was the turning point in my life.  I had made this commitment and was mentally, emotionally and physically prepared to give it my all.

I made this investment so there was no way I was going to let my money go to waste. This was the catalyst for my 30 lbs weight loss.   

Healthy Habits: The Changes I Made to My Lifestyle to Foster My 30 lb Weight Loss

The first month was the most difficult.  I would wake up at 5:00 a.m. to get to the gym in time for a spin class. Furthermore, in the evening I will go meet my trainer, Spencer, for a one-on-one session.  He introduced me to weight lifting, progressive overload and new exercises that utilized muscles I did not even know I had. 

My body ached for three weeks straight. I thought to myself, “Trying to lose weight is more excruciating than I would have ever thought!” It was a good type of ache nevertheless. I knew it was working and in time I would see the results.  Consistency is the key!

I also opted to plan and prepare all my meals. I started cooking at home which I really enjoyed. I no longer ate out at fast food restaurants. If I did, I always opted to the healthiest meal on the menu as I was determined to stick to my fitness goals.

By the third month, I was down twenty pounds.  At times it seemed daunting.  The struggle was real, however, I felt fit and strong for the first time in my life.  The inches kept “melting” away and my clothes started fitting me again.  I had to buy new clothes because the old ones were too loose on me. 

My diet changed considerably. It consisted of – :

  • Lean meats such as chicken breasts, fish etc
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, and brussel sprouts just to name a few
  • Fresh salads
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Rice
  • 2% Greek yogurt
  • Fresh fruit
  • Eggs
  • Tuna

I drank at least 8 glasses of water a day as Spencer stressed it was important to stay hydrated.  My time with Spencer was slowly coming to an end.  I had the option to keep Spencer as my trainer, however, I would have had to pay an additional fee so I rejected the offer. 

Hence, I learned a lot of new exercises. Thanks to Spencer, I was taught how to properly use the gym equipment and free weights in the gym.  Eventually, weightlifting turned into a hobby of mine. One where I did a lot of research to keep myself informed about new exercises and target muscles.

Achieving My Weight-Loss Goal – 30 LBS

As the fourth month dawned, I reached my weight loss goal of 30 lbs. Despite the numerous roadblocks and my incessant bouts of self-doubt, I’d achieved a milestone I never imagined possible. The scales no longer held the power to shackle me with fear. Instead, they were a testament to my relentless pursuit of fitness and self-worth.

My diet had evolved beyond recognition. I had long since given up junk food, replacing it with wholesome and nutrient-dense foods. I had developed a newfound love for food, appreciating it for its ability to nourish and heal rather than as a tool to control my emotions. 

The departure of Spencer marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I was on my own. There was no one to guide me, to push me, to hold me accountable. Just thinking about that seemed unnerving, yet I felt ready.

He had equipped me with the knowledge and tools to navigate the gym on my own. I was no longer intimidated by the rows of machines and free weights. I knew what they were for, how they worked, and most importantly, how to use them to my advantage. 

As I ventured into the world of fitness on my own, I found myself delving deeper into the mechanics of exercises and their impact on various muscles. My curiosity was insatiable. I spent countless hours researching, learning, and experimenting. The gym became my sanctuary – I felt most at peace.

“Like a Boss”

By the end of the fifth month, I had not just lost 30 pounds but had also gained something far more valuable – independence. I was no longer dependent on a personal trainer to guide me. I had taken control of my health and my life. In doing so, I discovered my worth, my strength, and my ability to persevere against all odds.

The journey was far from easy, but the lessons learned and the transformation experienced made it all worthwhile!

Six months had gone by and I remained consistent with my new and improved healthy lifestyle.  Although I lost 30 lbs, I felt my body getting stronger. I was still going to the gym in the mornings and afternoons. I cooked at home and barely bought restaurant food.  I felt so good – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  I was in sync. 

Exercising, meditating, and praying all synchronized in a manner that exuded the best version of myself. 

One afternoon I got a text from my ex-boyfriend, the mechanic Peter asking me to accompany him to one of his friend’s 40th birthday party.  I hesitated at first because I knew I was going to see all the people from my past that I no longer had a friendship.  However, I eventually agreed to go. 

It was going to be a red carpet-event, and while I would’ve dreaded the idea a few months ago, I was looking forward to it this time. One of my friends let me borrow her dress made by the designer “Herve Leger”.  It was a beautiful gold bandage dress and after my weight loss, the dress was flattering. 

I had another friend who was a professional make-up artist and she offered to do my makeup.  I got dressed and was on my way. 

Defying Expectations and Redefining Your Identity 30LBS Later

30lbs weight loss journey first time out at a 40th birthday party

When I walked in, there were stares, gasps, and then silence. That 30 lbs of weight loss sure looked good on me. All those friends who had once taunted and ridiculed me were now looking at me with admiration. Some walked up to me and complimented me.  Others were shocked and just stared as if they had just seen a ghost. 

I felt a sense of vindication and satisfaction that I had never experienced before. Losing weight wasn’t just about shedding pounds, it was about shedding the self-doubt and insecurities that had held me back for so long. The journey was tough, filled with moments of despair and self-doubt.

But each hurdle overcome, and each pound lost, was a step towards a healthier and happier me. Now, I stand tall and proud, not just because I lost weight, but because I found the strength within myself to make a change.

I found my worth and independence, and I hope to inspire others to do the same. I felt confident, independent and happy. I left the party early and never looked back. 

Before and After picture of weight loss

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My 30 lb Weight Loss Journey – An Immigrant’s Story

Before and After picture of weight loss

My 30 lb Weight Loss Journey – An Immigrant’s Story

Before and After picture of weight loss

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