I lost 75 pounds in the ninth grade. The weight that had claimed residence on my body vanished. A well-defined frame asserted a new found freedom from insecurity. A lifetime of perceived inferiority blossomed into confidence, but this was not just because of weight. This was a journey involving eight months of personal growth, manifesting an intangible sense of resolve I never knew I possessed.
At 245 pounds, I was unhappy. Unproductive. Fed up. But as Lao Tze once said, a thousand mile journey always begins with the first step. With weeks remaining before school started, I did away with passively wallowing in circumstance and took a different route- initiative. This was my first step. For 14 years, countless people told me to lose weight to no avail: Parent-paid gym memberships were wasted, diet plans were ignored, and doctor-referred dieticians were never seen. It was only until I took the initiative to look at myself in the eye and say “I can and will lose 75 lbs”.
Every journey has its obstacles. The first came days after the journey started, as initial determination plateaued when it registered just how arduous the attainment of this goal will be. However, surrendering ambition to self-doubt was not an option. Instead, I adjusted approach. It was at 235 lbs that I started utilizing the power of incrementalism. Keeping focus on reaching short term goals rather than an outlandish long-term one, I set my mind towards losing 10 pounds every month. Two months into this journey, another obstacle arose- school. Honors classes, 3 clubs, mosque volunteering, and my weight loss journey all demanded the fullest of my potential. At 230lbs, I began to understand the importance of implementing good time management. This meant creating daily time schedules as well as weekly agendas to make sure all time was maximized. I refused to let life’s obstacles deter my progress. I developed a plan to surmount these challenges, and eventually, they actuated my best.
45 pounds were pushed and shoved through in 5 months. Things were falling into place. But there comes a point in every journey when the road ahead becomes a rock wall. When the journey reaches its roughest point. When all motivation begins to fade. For me, this happened at the turn of the new year. The scale boasted impressive numbers, but I did not look the part. People laughed for what they believed were dismal results. School was getting harder. It was at 200 lbs when I looked at myself in the same eyes that prompted initiative and developed the most important value of this journey- grit. I did not start losing weight to stop 30 lbs away from my goal. I developed the power to pick myself up again and wake up the next day with the same mindset I had on the first day of my weight loss journey. I had to prove the world wrong. I had to keep the dream alive. I had to power through that rock wall. And two months later, I reached my ideal weight.
In retrospect, it was never about the destination. Weight loss was not the remedy to my ills, but rather the journey of losing the weight. It was the night when I took initiative that gave me the courage to fearlessly face the world. It was days after when I learned that manifestation comes best through gradualism. It was the first few months of school when I learned how to take advantage of time. It was in the journey’s last legs that I learned true perseverance. My story of weight loss is neither one that champions copious physical activity nor one that focuses on healthy eating, but rather 8 months of mental rewiring. What I learned during this time- the power of initiative, incrementalism, time management, and grit- remain ingrained into the backbone of my now 170lb frame.