When I first started following this beautiful soul she was pregnant. I was so impressed and inspired that she was in her third trimester and she was kicking butts in the gym.
If you’ve ever pregnant you know that last trimester is not the most comfortable. She’s a prime example of how amazing women actually are.
Though she’s not a 100% yet. She’s still determined to continue on her journey. If you’d like to follow her weightloss story you can find her on Instagram @big_butt_and_a_smile.
1. Tell me about yourself. Something unique and dynamic. Not the generic things that someone can find out on social media. But also add your name (first name) and age, please.
My name is Heather and I am 39 years old. I grew up in New Jersey as an only child. Always had a passion for art, designing, and I really loved to eat! I was always on the larger side and ended up at my first weight watchers meeting in the 4th grade….this is when I started to lose weight but then my weight crept up over the years. I was very shy, but got along with pretty much anybody. I always wanted to be a part of sports, but was never great at it, especially being overweight, it wasn’t as easy for me. I spent most of my time after school doing my own fun crafts and playing video games. When I was around 16 years old I started to exercise in my house and started to feel better about myself, but then once again gained it back. Soon after I went to college at Penn State University where my weight went out of control. I could never figure out how to get my eating under control since I enjoyed it so much. This is where my weight loss journey started, but ended very quickly after. After graduating, I worked at a desk job for about a year then ended up moving to New Orleans!! Wow, the food there was amazing and there were festivals all the time! This is where my weight sky rocketed very quickly, I think I gained around 40 pounds within the 2 years I was there, then realized that I might die of a heart attack or get diabetes if I stayed there! After 2 years, I moved to Florida where I wanted to start a family.
I have always had a love of dancing since I was young, except I was too embarrassed about my size to join cheerleading or a dance team (which I completely regret now because it is something that I truly love most in life). Over the last several years, I have been amazed by twerking and since I have a butt and hips larger than the average white girl, I have become really good at it!! There are several videos of myself twerking before my back surgery. I even won a twerking contest on a cruise ship!
2. What gave you the motivation to start your journey?
I have had so many weight loss journeys in my life and some were successful but short lived. The real motivation started when I moved to Florida and was ready to have a baby at the age of 31. It wasn’t happening right away so I thought that if I lost weight, it would help me conceive. I started to lose weight and over the next few years decided to start fertility treatments since I was struggling with getting pregnant. Between the fertility drugs and a mild case of depression from failing IVF a few times, my weight started to go up again. Once I got through all the emotional part about not being able to have a baby, I decided in early 2017 to focus on myself again. I was still sad, but deep inside didn’t want to give up so I started to exercise more and eat better. By 2018 I got more serious and discovered how much sharing my journey on social media (Instagram) and following other people on the same journey has helped me so much!
3. How did you start? (Did you start by exercising or did you clean up your diet first? And did you clean up your diet gradually or did you jump right into it?
I usually try to do both at the same time, but I was always better at getting my exercise under control over eating right. From early 2018 until summer 2018 I was doing really well and finally started to see my weight drop.
4. What’s the hardest thing about your lifestyle change?
I feel like I always have obstacles that I need to overcome every time I get started. I finally had everything under control until June 2018 when I started to have severe pains down my right leg which I didn’t quite understand what was going on. July 2018 I discovered that I had a herniated disc at L5-S1 of my spine that was compressing my sciatic nerve giving me severe pain down my leg and created numbness in my right foot and toes. By the mid-end of the month, my mobility dropped and I could hardly move or stand. The beginning of August got really bad and no drugs or physical therapy was helping, I was bed ridden now for weeks. August 8th, 2018 my family called 911 and had me rushed to the hospital where a few days later I had emergency surgery on back. Recovery for this time of surgery would be 3 months and I had to start learning how to walk again using a walker because I lost about 70% of strength in my right leg. My weight at this point was the lowest it had been in a while. I was able to start physical therapy around 2.5-3 weeks after surgery and then I slowly started to go back to the gym in September. At this point I was feeling really good about myself and no longer had any pain! My weight stayed within a 10 pound range at this point and did not go down anymore. From the start of 2018 until around the time after my surgery I was down around 35 pounds, but it was still not enough, I had a long way to go on my journey so I was starting to look into different food programs I could follow. Since my body was stronger by October, I was mentally ready to continue my journey except I started feeling really nauseous all the time and couldn’t stand eating any of the new healthy foods that I bought. October 31, 2018 I found out that I was 6 weeks pregnant! No wonder why all I wanted was carbs and I could not stand the thought of chicken! I was so excited because I never thought I could get pregnant after trying for so many years, so what changed? I found out that my herniated disc was also constricting blood flow into my uterus so my embryos would never survive! I was shocked! Now that I was pregnant, I was dedicated to exercising during my entire pregnancy and I did!! Carbs were my friend and it was the only thing that didn’t make me feel sick since I had morning sickness up until around 22-23 weeks. My first weigh in at the doctors office was 256 pounds and at the time I was about to have the baby I hit 300 pounds! A number I thought I would never see! My baby boy was born at 37 weeks, 6 days on June 11, 2019, perfectly healthy and adorable! I dropped 25-30 pounds of weight in 2.5 weeks which included baby weight and water weight! I was so full of fluids. My next obstacle that has started was that the epidural injection for my c-section irritated my back and sciatic nerve. Once again I am in a lot of pain and fear that I messed up my back again, but at least I am still able to move around. My surgeon told me that I have a lot of swelling and to give it time. Well it’s been over 3 months and I’m still in a lot of pain. Taking care of a baby while in this much pain has been challenging especially since I had to stop breastfeeding which was mentally hard for me to deal with but I had no choice since I have to live off of pain medication. I am in the process of seeing another doctor and getting an mri so I can take care of this problem and can move on with my life & my weight loss journey.
5. What has kept you going even when you didn’t feel like it or when you felt like it’s not working out how you planned?
At this point, my baby boy is what keeps me going because I want to be healthy for him and teach him better habits than what I have had since a child. I never want him to struggle with weight the way I have over most of my life.
6. Do you have any regrets on where you had to get to change your lifestyle around? And did you have to evaluate yourself to find the source of your weight gain?
No regrets because my weight loss journey in early 2018 changed my life. Working out and lifting weights as heavy as I was set off my herniated disc and sciatic nerve which in turn forced me to get back surgery and now I have my miracle child…..so all those events I went through led me to having a baby. I don’t think I will ever understand why I love food so much, it’s just me trying to control myself while still enjoying the foods I love.
7. Why is/was this time different from the other times you’ve tried to lose weight? What gave you the strength to not give up this round?
I think Instagram has helped me continue my journey where in the past I have always felt alone. Social media is so motivational to me and has kept me going. I love following people with the same journey.
8. What has been your happiest or the most rewarding moments since you’ve started your journey?
Of course my miracle baby! He is a gift!
9. What advice would you give someone who is thinking about or just started their lifestyle change?
Never give up, just keep going and take it one day at a time. It’s ok to not be perfect, but just keep moving forward.
10. What is the ultimate goal? Do you have a specific weight goal? Is there something you want to achieve after getting to your ideal place?
I would love to say I lost 100 pounds! How awesome would that be? My first goal weight is 175 pounds and I will see how I will feel once I get there because ultimately it is about being happy and healthy. I want to look into the mirror and like what I see.
Remember the first step is trying and the next step is not giving up when things get hard!
Keep going! If no one else believes in you know that I do. You’ve got this!
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You are a pink starburst and don’t let anyone tell you differently! xoxoxo