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May 23, 2023

Transforming the Relationship with Food and Body: Journey to Health and Happiness | Laura Harless

In this episode, Laura Harless shares her journey of transforming her relationship with food and body to achieve a whole-body transformation. She discusses the importance of self-awareness and internal stabilization to avoid extremes in diet culture. Laura also shares her successful weight loss journey without medication or surgery and the importance of changing one's relationship with food.

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In this episode, Laura Harless shares her journey of transforming her relationship with food and body to achieve a whole-body transformation. She discusses the importance of self-awareness and internal stabilization to avoid extremes in diet culture. Laura also shares her successful weight loss journey without medication or surgery and the importance of changing one's relationship with food.


"I tried everything that I thought was healthy. I tried, you know, eating foods that were baked, not fried, and not snacking between meals. I tried exercising 30 minutes a day, and I would do that for months at a time. Like six months was my longest, and I lost maybe 10 pounds. And so it was frustrating. I get back into my old habits because it wasn't working and repeat later on because I let society tell me that it was my problem and I had to fix it, and I let that in." - Laura Harless


But Laura's story is not just about weight loss. It's about rediscovering oneself without the weight. She emphasizes that weight struggles do not define her, but they are a significant part of who she is now and how she got to be the way she is. Laura encourages listeners to enjoy their journeys, whatever they may be, and to embrace the positive changes that come with them.


As a psychology instructor, Laura loves helping others reach their potential. Her story has been featured in several magazines, including Fitness Magazine in 2011, and on news outlets such as Chanel 6 Orlando. Laura's Facebook page, LaurasFitLife, is dedicated to helping others achieve their fitness goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle.


Don't miss this inspiring conversation with Laura Harless.


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Hello, my friends, welcome to the Life Shift podcast. I am here with a longtime coworker and hopefully new friend, Laura. Hey, Laura. Hi. How's it going? It's great. And I'm so happy to have you here and we've known each other for a long time, uh, because we work in the same college here in Orlando, but we've never really had much more than a, a couple sentence conversation. Is that true? Yeah, that's true. Um, I think I've seen you in passing a lot but I don't think we've actually stopped and actually had a conversation. Yeah. So we work at, we work at a school here in Orlando and it has a lot of employees and at one point in time we were all in the same building or we were all in, in crowded buildings before, in the, before times. And so that's kind of when I saw you and I would see you walking around, which is part of your story and I'm really happy that you want to come on this conversation journey with me and talk about your life shift moment because I think it's going to resonate with a lot of people I don't think that you're unique in your story and, and not in a negative way, but in a, in a sense that you have a human experience that I think a lot of people can relate to and maybe be inspired by if they feel that they're in the, the earlier version of Laura experience. So just thank you for being willing to come on and, and have a chat about it. 

Yes, I, I, I love sharing my story for that particular reason. I know there's a lot of people who are struggling with the same things I struggled with. And just knowing that my story is possible, kind of, I find helps people to get motivated and uh kind of lights that fire. 

I think I, I agree. I, I didn't know if I really knew this when I started the podcast. But looking back on my life and, and growing up after my mom died, I felt very alone in the experience. I think logically, I knew I wasn't the only person who had a mom die, right? Like it wasn't, that wasn't unique to me, but I did feel very alone in that experience. And so by sharing these stories and hearing from people behind the scenes saying, wow, what Laura said in, in that episode, it just hit me right today. 

You know, it was like the right time, right place. And that's always been my goal is that each episode finds those ears that needed to hear it on that particular day, you know, and then everything kind of feels less alone in the experience that they're going through. Yeah. And I, I, the same thing, like, when I was growing up it, it felt like I was kind of the only one experiencing this and, uh, and I knew better. 

It's like I definitely knew better but you can't help but internalize it sometimes and the more you internalize it, the harder it gets and the harder the habits and things get to break. And, and so finding somebody out there that you can connect with sometimes is just enough to say, hey, I'm not alone. I can, I can definitely do this. So yeah, that is the main reason I share my story often because of that. It also helps keep me motivated and uh because, you know, my story is one that needs continuous motivation, like I need to stay motivated to keep my journey going. And so sharing my story helps with that. And uh it does definitely give confidence because you get the, the comments later that, oh, this is exactly what I needed. I can't believe, you know, you came into my life at the right moment and uh those are very powerful statements. Absolutely. It's, it's, it's amazing. So be let's not hold out any longer. 

Maybe you can kind of paint the picture of what your life was like leading up to this, this specific pivotal moment that really changed everything for you. Just kind of paint that picture for us. Well, it was interesting in the fact that I've struggled with weight my entire life. 

Uh, I started gaining weight when I was five and didn't stop, like my metabolism was just messed up basically. And I didn't know how to eat from my body. And when I was little, I was very active, I didn't fit, you know, those stereotypes of just sitting on the couch eating and playing video games or whatever. 

I mean, I was an eighties child so we didn't have much of that. Plus I was poor like I had nothing. So I was outside playing all the time and like barely eating and I would still gain weight. And when I was a teenager, my appetite increased, my energy level went down because I wasn't eating the best foods and my weight shot up and I probably weighed about 250 when I graduated high school, not the best school experience ever for me. Uh I was bullied. 

I was teased, uh even 1/4 grade teacher actually came to me and was like, yeah, you watch out, you might break the swings down and it, you know, we were talking about internalizing stuff and I internalized that I never told my mom, I never told anybody that I was bullied to the extent that I was and I didn't want to go to school. I absolutely hated school. I loved learning, hated going to school in my adult years. It was jobs and I could tell I got turned down from some jobs because of my weight and it was, it wasn't as bad in my 20's. 

I felt it, but not to the extent I did. It's almost like when I reached 30 it was like, boom, you feel everything now. So I know I was over 300 at the time, I didn't weigh myself, but I knew I was over 300. It started to take its toll on my body. And then, you know, my social life was next to nothing. 

I just, I didn't want to go out. I didn't want to do anything because it felt like I didn't fit. And so it was, it was a very tough kind of thing. 

People who knew me back then thought that I was the most confident person ever like I could fake it really well, but I didn't feel it. Um I've been confident in who I am on the inside forever like that probably saved me from developing eating disorders, things like that. I've always been confident in who I am but the outside that was where I had zero confidence and I just felt like I couldn't fit. 

I mean, even the place we work the chairs that are there. I had trouble fitting in the chairs like the the silver ones that they have out there. It hurt and so I I could not sit in chairs and so I would go home, go to work in a store. So it was, it was very tough for me at that point. And growing up, I mean, you mentioned bullying and you also just mentioned that the confidence that you had in yourself allowed you to avoid disordered eating of some capacity. And so looking back at this now, I mean, Hindsight's 2020 is, is most of, of that journey of weight gain. That's like a health related thing or something in your metabolism or what in your genetic makeup? 

That was, that was creating that. I know you mentioned like you ate a little bit more maybe in your teen years because probably hormones and, and things like that probably contribute to to the hunger aspect. But you, you didn't gain any disordered eating issues through all that journey. Just it was just like a, a weight gain. Yeah. And thankfully I, yeah, I, I didn't have, I'm not a stress eater. 

I'm not, I mean, the most I had was being bored like, you know, it was like I'm bored so I go get a bag of chips or something that was like the the most I had. Thankfully uh I had a lot of tragedy in my childhood as well. I had a death of a parent very early and my father died when I was 12 and my house burned down like a month and a half before that. And so there was a lot of tragedy in my, my early life as well. But thankfully I didn't have that idea of comfort eating. 

Uh, if I did I would have been really, really out of control. But, uh, I didn't have that. Thankfully I had other avenues entertainment was my, my relief and my way of dealing. 

Uh, but yeah, so there was a lot of tragedy there as well. I, so it wasn't that, that caused the weight gain. It was just not knowing how to eat for my body. And I tried everything that I thought was healthy. I tried, you know, eating foods that were baked, not fried and not snacking between meals. I tried exercising 30 minutes a day and I would do that for months at a time. Like six months was my longest and I lost maybe £10. Wow. And so it was frustrating. 

I get back into my old habits because it wasn't working and repeat later on because I let society tell me that it was my problem and I had to fix it and I let that in. So I figured that I got to where I was myself. I had to solve it myself. Interesting. I think it's interesting too to just point out that I think people make assumptions about people and their weight gain that it's, you know, that people are doing this because, you know, they're grabbing 15 bags of Doritos and just having, having a field day. And so I think this story, your story, even for me is opening my eyes a little bit in the sense that sometimes people are doing all they can to avoid it and yet it still comes and it's kind of like any other disease of some sort. Right? And that you can't prevent this coming unless you're, you're attacking it in the way that your body or your DNA or whatever is, is needing. Right? And so it's very interesting to hear that because I think people, especially Americans, I would say that we make this assumption in general, we not you and I, but we make this assumption that people are just letting themselves go. And it sounds like your story was not this, you were well aware of what was happening and you were trying things that society was telling you to do. Is that true? That is absolutely true. 

Yes, I, I was trying, you know, because when especially growing up in the 80s, you grow up with the food pyramid and this is what you need to do to, to keep a healthy weight, which, yeah, which we know is, you know, not quite it these days. And I was doing all of that. I was doing everything that they said to do now, granted, you know, it wasn't all the time because I would try for, you know, months at a time and then when that didn't work, I would go back to my old eating habits, which weren't that bad. It's just, I wasn't eating the right kinds of foods. I wasn't eating out 24 7. Like, um, like I said, we, we didn't grow up with a lot of money and so it's not like I could just go out and buy stuff all the time. But, and like, even when I was going to school, I couldn't eat breakfast. It made me sick. Like it was too early in the morning. 

I've never been a morning person and so it would make me nauseous. I hate mornings. I always have been. I still, yeah. And I just, I can't like if it's before 10 or 11 o'clock, you know, forget that. 

Of course, I've gotten a little earlier now because I have AAA puppy who gets me up, but it was, I couldn't eat breakfast. So I would have school lunch which, you know, pizzas on the books as a vegetable. So the school lunches were not that great, but I would eat school lunch. 

I would come home eat dinner in front of my favorite television show which lasted all of like an hour I think. And then I was outside playing like that was, and I maybe had a little bit of snack before I went to bed, but it wasn't anything outrageous. And so I was maybe getting three meals a day, but a little bit later in the day and still my weight shot up and I was, I played basketball. 

I rode my bike. I jumped rope, which was my favorite pastime. I love jump rope and all. I was doing all of this when I was little and still gained weight. Wow. You know, and it's interesting too, as I kind of attach, I mentioned before we started recording that I've, I've faced disordered eating throughout my life and I think a lot of it stems to my own childhood trauma. And when my mom died, I felt that I needed to control everything and I needed to make sure everyone else felt fine and that, and so I think part of the, the wave of disordered eating things that I've gone through in my life come from that trauma. So it's so interesting to hear that you also had trauma early on but not attached to that and not, you know, and, and here I go again saying like this would, my brain would attach those things. And so like the disconnect is like, wow, you know, I, it, it's, it's fascinating to me how people can go through the same things but everything, we face it differently. And it's, it's fascinating. Yeah. And I, it's like with, I had a lot of death in my early years. 

My, like I said, my father died when I was 12. That wasn't even the first funeral I'd been to by the time I was 12. I'd been through at least two or three funerals before that I had a half brother who passed away and when he was 25, actually due to a lot to weight issues. And, uh, so my grandmother passed, like, there's been a lot of death, uh, in, in my history. It was something that I, I, I guess I could say. 

Uh, thankfully I don't know if that's the right term that I got comfortable with. Um, because yeah, because, you know, I knew it was gonna happen. I knew, you know, this happens, this is a part of life and um, it didn't make it easy, but it made it easier in a way to experience that grief, understand it and then get past it. Uh I also have, you know, an amazing support system with my mom and she's amazing and uh we kind of went through it together and, uh, so she, she was my rock. 

I was hers kind of thing. Yeah, I was gonna ask, you know, you, you, you briefly mentioned you this terrible thing that your fourth grade teacher said to you and how you internalize that? I was wondering, you said you were bullied. So did you get, were family members, uh were they supportive or were they also contributing to, to this as well? 

I remember being like one summer I gained 40 lb. I was like 12 and I was on a vacation. I was visiting my family back up north and I came home and the people around me were like, what happened to you? And I, and I don't think they meant it, like, I don't think they meant to be mean. 

I don't think they meant for it to scar me still in my 40s. That I think about that. And I think that triggered a lot of disordered eating after that. But did you experience any of that, of the people around you or was your mom always like the rock and just like, knew you were trying to do the best you could? 

Yeah, the, the people around me were very supportive because a lot of my family has weight issues as well. And so there, I didn't have an idea of weight until I went to school. That was when I first started noticing that there was hardly anybody that looked like me. Uh, you know, back when I went to school, like weight wasn't as big of an issue as it is now. And so there were, there were maybe two or three kids in my class that, that look like me. Everybody else was very small and, and, you know, all of that. So I didn't have a sense of my weight until I went to school. 

My family was very supportive. They never mentioned it, they never talked about it. They didn't do it in a negative way at all. And I think it's because they, you know, struggled with a lot of the same issues. So they kind of knew how it felt. And so I, I didn't have that growing up until I went to school and that was when it, it hit, did you, when you were in your twenties and, and kind of in college and whatnot? Because I, I'm guessing, you know, that was around the time when social media was starting a little bit and magazines and things like was society playing any role in your head, like huge role. Um you know, growing up in the eighties and I keep mentioning that but eighties Children, we had, we had so much going on. Uh if you notice like when you look in the media and when you watch shows and especially the shows that I was watching like those teenage shows like State By the Bell and things like that, you see the heavy friend and she's always the one to be avoided. 

She's always wearing glasses, which I wore glasses uh when I was younger and she's always the one that the lead guy gets set up with because the more attractive female classically is the one that he wants to be with, but he's trying to get with her. And so he gets with the more unattractive friend, which is usually the heavier set girl and she's always the one to be avoided. She's always standing there at a buffet table like shoving food in her mouth. I mean, this is the mental picture I had of myself because this is what was projected in the media when I would listen to radio show, I, I recall this one moment very clearly when I was listening to a radio show, when I first moved to Florida and the DJ on the show was saying that he doesn't like to go out to restaurants because overweight people gross him out when they're eating and it just went into this whole thing. And I'm like, I'm sitting there internalizing all of this still. 

It's going into my self esteem and you know, in the back of your head, you know, that that's not the way it should be. That's not how it is. You have to love yourself no matter what. But that little voice gets drowned out by everything else. And when the majority of the media that you see in here tells you that you should be ashamed of how you look, whether it's to sell a product, whether it's because of stereotypes or whatever it is, the majority is telling you you should be ashamed of the way you look. It's hard to listen to that little voice that says, no, they're wrong. You're right. Yeah. And, and then then add the complexity of your own circumstance in which you were not doing these things that were being epitomized and you know, like that were being shown in these TV. 

You weren't standing at the buffet table shoving you know, a full box of doughnuts and you, you know, like you weren't doing these things and so you add this like, but that's not me. But now they're telling me that's me. I can't imagine what that does to like, you know, a teenager or a 20 something year old or even just a kid. Just all the, the baggage that comes along with that is like, I'm not, I'm not trying not to put words in your mouth or anyone's mouth. But I can imagine thinking, well, I'm not worthy of X Y Z because this is how I'm being portrayed everywhere. Yeah. And you almost start to buy into it. 

You almost start to think that this, this is how it is, this is what it's supposed to be. I mean, I think we, I think a lot of people do that even to this day, you know, you're not, you're not set. So therefore you're not good enough yet, you know, and we buy into this and they count on that. 

I mean, as an industry, they count on you doing that, especially like the beauty industry and, and things like that. They count on that and it's, it's a hard thing to fight against. It's absolutely, it's fighting an uphill battle to, to even just be comfortable with who you are. And I mean, I'm glad the body positivity movement is something that happens and I'm glad that that's out there because that might have actually been a lifesaver for me when I was little. 

Had that been a thing and unfortunately it wasn't at the time. Uh, and I wish at the time I could have saw the beauty that was there. I looked back at the pictures of me in high school and I'm like, I was cute. Like, I was really cute back then, but I could not see it at all when I was living it. And that was, I mean, that's the tough part and society does not help that at all. Yeah. Still, I mean, to this day I know, yes, there are more body positivity pieces. But I think we have a long way to go. 

So, you know, you said that at one point you knew you were up to £300, but you hadn't weighed yourself. Like, what, what got you to that change? What was that moment in, in your journey that we were like, ok, I'm gonna try something new. 

There were, you know, a couple of things. Uh, one of the things was, you know, not being able to participate in a lot of entertainment, things that I wanted to do. I went to an amusement park and one of the rides that, you know, it says built for certain upper body proportions. And I went on the ride thinking I wouldn't have any issues. 

I never had issues before, even though it was heavier. I know it, you know, I didn't think I would have an issue. I got on the ride, I got in a regular size seat couldn't fit. And so they took me off the ride, which was, you know, shameful enough for me. 

I was like, wanted to kind of crawl up in a ball and they were like, we have seats for, for bigger people. So we'll wait until the next car comes. So they wait until the next car comes. I got into that seat, I got into it, but they had to shove me in like they had to shove the thing down and like the guy was putting his foot on it and shoving me in. And of course, it ruined the ride experience for me. It ruined everything. And I promised myself that I would not go back until I could ride every single ride and not have to worry about that. And that was a major turning point. Although it didn't quite get me to, I, I call it hitting my wall and I call it that because when I hit my wall, I ran out of excuses. 

I ran out of, I can't do this because of this. I can't do this. I can't do that. 

I ran out of those. And it was almost like overnight, I had decided overnight, almost overnight. It was like, ok, I need help. 

I absolutely need help. There's no way I can do this on my own. I've tried it over the years. I need to do this. And as soon as I made that decision, as soon as I it clicked in my head, it was almost like things just ran smoothly after that. And it was like, it fell in place like it was meant to happen. 

This way, I woke up, literally woke up, got on the internet, searched for doctors that specialized in weight loss. Found one literally a block from my house called. And she's like, yeah, we had somebody cancel. I think I called on a Monday and she's like, we had somebody cancel for Thursday. And if not, then you'll have to wait until August. This was June of 2009. 

I was like, yeah, give me Thursday because I knew if I waited until August, I would talk myself out of it. Lots of excuses could come up. Yes. So when the doctor did not offer any kind of like medication didn't because I didn't want medication, I didn't want weight loss surgery, I knew people that went through weight loss surgery and gained it back. 

I knew I needed to change my life. And so I was like, this is what I'm looking for and she's like, ok, we have a plan. I've had some success with the plan. Let's try this and if this doesn't work, we'll go to plan B and I was like, cool, looked at the plan, got home, threw out all of the food that didn't fit that plan, went, shopping, started it that day. I didn't wait until Monday because usually when we say we're gonna start a die, we're gonna wait until Monday. I was like, no, I've had 30 some odd years of my life to eat what I wanted. This is where it got me. 

I started the plan that day, started exercising that day and I lost £224 in 22 months. My highest weight when I weighed in at the doctor was £376. 2 24. Yes, £224 in 22 months. And not using medication, not any special surgeries. 

Just finding what worked for your specific body and your genetic makeup and what you needed to do. Do you think back to that, that night that you went to bed, was there anything? Can you, do you think there was anything that like triggered you to like that was the final straw? I don't think other than, again, just kind of internalizing everything and thinking back which I would do occasionally, I would think back on my life and wonder how it is. I got here and it just, that thought process just kept going in my head and I think that particular night it was like, I'm done with this. I'm done thinking back, I'm done wondering how it could be if I'm done. And I didn't have the excuse of, well, I don't have time to do this or I can't do this because blah, blah, blah, whatever the excuse was, I was like, none of those excuses work for me right now. None of them. Like, nothing is more important right now than my health and my health is, you know, my health was starting to deteriorate. 

I couldn't walk upstairs where we work. There's, uh, you know, one of the buildings, there's a, a staircase and I would have to walk up that staircase to go to class and the halls echo and I could hear myself breathing so heavy because of walking up the staircase. And it's like, it's not even a big staircase. And so I was starting to get overheated more. And so my health was definitely starting to deteriorate and, you know, having my brother pass away of, uh, he had an enlarged heart, but he also had a heart attack due to the fact he was over £400 and I saw myself in that. 

And, uh, again, media plays a huge part in my life. Uh There was a movie What's Eating Gilbert Grape? I don't know if you've seen it. 

The, the woman in there was actually about the same size as me, or at least the same weight and that movie is heavy for me. I love the movie and I watch the movie a lot, but seeing what they had to go through with her at the end of the movie, I'm like, I don't want that to be me. And so, so many things just kind of piled up and piled up and piled up. And that particular night I couldn't ignore them anymore. 

I just, I couldn't ignore all those little thoughts going on in my head. And I was like, ok, it's time, it's absolutely time. Sometimes we wake up with this clarity. That's like, where were you, where did you come from? And that's fantastic. What was like, I mean, give us a glimpse into what that plan looked like for you. It was, uh, eating every 2 to 2.5 hours for me. 

Uh, the plan was every 2.5 to 3 hours. But in the beginning I treated it like a science experiment. It was like, what affects my body and how, and I found that if I waited three hours, I was getting too hungry. And so I wanted more food as opposed to every 2 to 2.5 hours, which meant that the, the food satisfied me, the serving size satisfied me. So I ate every 2 to 2.5 hours, paid attention to carbs versus protein and ate a healthy dinner, which, uh, she called a lean and green. So a lean protein with a green vegetable and then exercised 40 minutes a day. And the fact that I think it was eating every 2 to 2.5 hours was the main thing. 

That did it because my metabolism is, is so out of sync with everything that that's what I need. And every time I go off of that I gained like there's, there is definitely, you know, backup saying this is what my body needs. This is absolutely what my body needs. And there wasn't like a huge thing. 

She didn't say specifically eat this food. She just gave me that bare bones thing and said here take it, run with it. And so I had to learn how to read labels. 

I had to learn how to tell the difference between, you know, what they say is healthy versus what actually is. And so it's a learning process and figuring out what did affect my body and carbs and me do not get along at all like the kind of carbs that are in, you know, just white bread and things like that. Uh certain carbs, of course, you know, there are good carbs and do need carbs. Yes. Uh So there's people still think that there are not carbs and, and vegetables, but there were also carbohydrates, uh fruits, things like that. 

It's like the there are good carbs and your body does need carbs. But if I would look at a piece of bread, you know, it's like I gained £5 kind of thing. It's like my body does not like that at all. Uh So, you know, there are certain things, yeah, it does love it. 

Yes, it loves it but it doesn't need it. But it, no, not at all. Uh, so, you know, it's like you have to get used to a different lifestyle and I had to change the way I thought about food. 

I had to change the way I thought about eating habits, about exercise, about myself, about everything. And, you know, the wage just started coming off. I had been teaching psychology, I guess, for three years up to that point, and I was surrounded by psychologists and caring professionals which gave me a huge support system. And that really, really helped because once they found out what I was doing, I didn't tell them at first because I wanted to see if it took. And once I started seeing the weight loss and once people started saying, hey, you know, what are you doing? It looks like you're losing weight. 

I started sharing and I started sharing what I was doing. And when I started doing that, I got a lot of support and they would come around with doughnuts and they were like, nope, I'm skipping you. And so they would, they would understand that this is not what I want. And I'm gonna say no. And so they would just move on. And so they tried to, to support me in that and help me with that as opposed to because, you know, a lot of times when you go on these diet things, they're like, oh, you can have one, you can do this, you know, you get like loosen up a little bit and I know a lot of times when I share my story, people will say I don't like telling people. 

No, I'm like you have to. It's like you come first in this scenario, this is your health journey. You are important too, their feelings, you're gonna have to get over hurting those because if they support you, they're not gonna be hurt by it. And if they are hurt by it, they're not supporting you. So you're gonna have to, to put yourself first. 

Say no, if you don't want to do it, say no to it. Yeah, I think I, I, for me in my journey, macro counting was like the, the only way that I could do it and I got super obsessed with it. Did you find yourself getting into like an obsessive component to this or was it a, it was more you kept a realistic eye on it because I can see how if you get to this, this quote unquote drastic space and then you start to see things work. I see, I guess you said there was no disordered eating but I see someone could get into a disordered eating pattern. Did you have any of that? Thankfully, I didn't. Um I, I kept a really uh a kind of a realistic eye on it. 

I um had my days off when I first started, I had kind of my safety net day off and that was more for a psychological thing. Yeah, because I knew that I, I kind of had to go pretty much full force into it. I'm not one of those people that can kind of snowball where you can make a small change here and a small change there and just let it add up. I had to go into it all the way And, but I had that, that one day where I was like, ok, I can't have this today, but I can have it on Saturday. And when Saturday came, I forgot what I wanted, you know, most of the time. So I knew it was more of a psych out than anything. And because I know how I work, I know my mind and I know how I work and when it got so far into it and I started seeing the results. 

I didn't really want that day off anymore, but I was still having little things like I would have a little chocolate square or something like that to, to kind of satisfy because sweets are kind of my downfall. And so I would have something to do to kind of satisfy that. But I would also, if it was a holiday season or something like that, I would, I would take some time off. And so I didn't get so obsessed with it that I, it was a detriment to me that it was a detriment to my mindset and I was also wanting to make sure that I didn't lose too much because people can do that too. Especially if you start off at something like 376, it's easy to go too far in the other direction. And I've never seen myself small. 

I had never been without the weight, so I didn't know how much I really wanted to lose at the time, my first goal was £206. And when I got there, I was like, no, I think I can lose a little bit more and I lost it. And at the time I, I liked the way I looked and then I gained a little bit back because life circumstances, you know, your journey is not A to B it's like a and all over the place before you get to the, to the end of it. And so I gained a little bit back and I was like, you know what I feel more comfortable with this and because I never really set out to be like supermodel, skinny or anything like that. 

It's like I just wanted to be comfortable in my own skin. And so when I gained a little bit of weight to back, I was like, you know what? Yeah, I like this better. I like this a little bit better. And so I ended up, you know, adjusting my goal and so it was you know, I never got to the fact where, like, I was depriving myself of too much. 

I never got to where I was going too far with it. And so I, I definitely credit my internal stabilization for that. My, my internal psychology for that and knowing myself very, very well. And uh so thankfully I didn't, I didn't go too far with it. Yeah, it's fascinating. And I think it comes down to what you said earlier is like you were very confident in who you were. And I think that helps because with diet culture we're gonna call it that I think that a lot of people are very convinced that, you know, I'm, this amount, I need to get down to this amount. 

They don't know what that looks like. They don't know what that feels like. They just want to be quote unquote skinny and it sounds like you just wanted to find a space where you felt like everything just felt right for you. Yes. And, and I did you, oh, go ahead. 

Oh, and it's like, I never, I mean, yes, I had a number in mind but it was always more of a, let's see what it looks like when I get there kind of thing or let's see what it feels like when I get there. And so it's like I had the number just mainly because I work better with some kind of goal. And, uh, so that was there but it was always a soft goal and it was never one of those things. It's like I need to lose this amount in this amount of time. It was always, it, it'll take however long it takes. And as long as I'm healthy and as long as I can feel, you know, the, the benefits of what I'm doing, then I know the visuals will come later. So I, I think I went into it with more of a healthy mindset than some people do. And I think that that saved me a lot from, from a lot of the, the pitfalls. 

Well, and, and you did, you said it, you had to hit that wall and I think by getting yourself to that end point, if you will that like, OK, the nothing else, I, I should be doing nothing else to support the direction that I'm going. It's time to make a change. I think that's helpful too. And I think that's why it's been successful because I think there's a lot of people that aren't, they haven't hit that wall and they try something works for a little bit, then they give up because it's not working as well as they wanted it to or it's not fast enough. And this has to be, I mean, you're a testament to this because what the start of 2009, right? And you said over 22 months you lost AAA significant amount of weight. 

He found a comfort spot for you. What feels good for you. But this is a lifelong journey. 

This is not like, ok, now I can go back to the way I was before. Yeah, this is a life change and it, it's funny because I, you know, I go on a lot of weight loss pages and, and uh you know, health journey pages and things like that on social media and one of the pages that I was on asked for stories. So of course, I gave my story and the way that I start my story is usually the same of I have struggled with weight since I was five. And this well meaning reply, like he replied, it was very well, meaning I know it was, but he was like, OK, you haven't struggled with your weight or you're not still struggling with your weight, you struggled, it passed tense. 

Don't let this define you. Shouldn't you change how you start your story? I was like, look, I know you mean, well, I I really do thank you for your, your comments. But first, this is not one battle that I've won. And it's end of story. 

This is a war that's going on in my entire life and I've won battles. I've lost some battles, but I've won some battles and this is a war I plan on winning because I want to increase the chances of me having a good quality of life for as long as I possibly can, this will go on. My body is still struggling to get back to where it was at least over 200 lb. Because what people don't realize is once you lose the weight and especially if you were as overweight as I was for, as long as I was, you have to eat less to maintain than somebody who was your size their entire life. This is going to be a struggle for me for my entire life. 

I signed on for that. When I hit my wall, I signed on for it. So I'm going to struggle. 

This is part of it. This is part of who I am. It's not all of who I am. 

My weight struggles do not define me, but it is a significant portion of who I am now and how I got to be the way I am. And so it's always gonna be a part of me, but it doesn't define me. And so it's, it's hard for people who've never struggled with it to understand that I think that there are a lot of people in which their weight gain journey was triggered by a trauma of some sort. We see it on TV, we see it in magazines. 

The story of your mind has to or like you have to process a lot of the things in your mind first, in order for all these changes to really make an impact on your actual body, right. And, and so I think your story in its sense is a little bit unique in that, in that you knew who you were, you were confident in who you were. You experienced all these things. Sure, you internalized a lot of it, you know, throughout those years. But at the end of the day, this journey is different for you because it, you're, it's, you're not fixing those things, you're just finding the right way to do the things for your body and not like all the other mental stuff that other people have to deal with first and then they can maybe follow a similar process and, and be able to keep it off. Yeah. And that's, you know, when people come to me because obviously, you know, when they know my story, they come to me for advice. And I was like, at first you have to figure out what's driving the weight gain and if it's something psychological, you're gonna have to deal with that first because anything else that you do is just gonna be a band aid. And it's like, yes, you may lose the weight, but that's gonna show up in another place. It's like whatever that eating was doing for you is going to show up someplace else unless you deal with the psychological issues first. And I, you know, tell him flat, I was like, you know, thankfully I didn't have that to deal with, which is why I would, I think I was able to have, you know, part of the success that I did and as quickly as I did, because it was just a matter of figuring out what worked for my body. Right. Because you had tried before in your own way. Right. Right. And so I knew I could stick with something. 

I mean, I knew it wasn't a, a self-control issue. It was more of a, I just don't know how to do this kind of thing. Yeah. And so once I found the plan that worked for me, it worked. 

But, you know, people who are struggling with psychological issues and that's what's driving the weight gain have a tougher time because they have to deal with whatever it is that's driving it first. And if it is trauma, if it is, you know, something else that happened, they're going to have to make their peace with that first. Uh, not that I would discourage getting healthy by any stretch of the imagination if you want to try that at the same time, go for it. But just understand that if you don't deal with that trauma, it is going to show up someplace else and, uh, whether that's, you know, different habits and it probably bad habits that's gonna come up. 

Uh, it's almost like playing whack a mole with, you know, with whatever it is that you're doing. So deal with that first and then, you know, deal with the, the weight because chances are, once you deal with that trauma, the weight loss is gonna happen. Chances are anyway, because then you'll want to adapt a better diet. You'll want to, you'll feel worthy even though of course you are now. But you have to feel that, uh, to, you know, adopt those, those good eating habits and things like that. Well, and I think it needs to be a whole body transformation. Right? We can't just focus on the physical and not address the mental and also, and maybe you experience this and maybe not because of your different circumstances. But I think while you're on that journey, some people have to rediscover who they are without that weight because their whole life they've defined themselves or other people have defined themselves as that particular person just even to your point of watching those TV shows and seeing this representation of, of these people on the TV. Show. How do you dissociate yourself from that or how is, was that something that you had to deal with? Like this is a new, a newer version of you or was it just like it's like a new set of clothes kind of thing? 

It's, it was interesting because I think it was more physical than mental. Uh because there were times when I would look in the mirror and not recognize the person staring back at me and I would go to do something that I couldn't do at 376 and hesitate. And then I would have to think, wait, I can do that. Now, I can do that. I had to like, crawl under my desk at one point to, to plug in the phone. And I was like, in my head thinking I'm never gonna get out from under there. How am I gonna do that? And I was like, wait, I can do that now and not have to worry about uh getting stuck or, you know, whatever would happen. And I think so it was more of a understanding who I was physically, more than mentally because I don't think of course, you know, we always have a little blind spots when it comes to ourselves, but I don't think I changed overly much. 

I did get more confidence. It gave me confidence to go for my master's degree and things like that because like I lost £200. I can do a master's degree. And so it gave me, gave me confidence a lot of other areas, but I don't think my base personality changed much. 

I am who I am. And I've kind of always been this way, but physically, it's still kind of even though I've been at this and I hit my goal, so to speak in um 2011 I still sometimes look in the mirror and not recognize that person and it's not a bad thing. I mean, it's, it's just different and so it it still kind of blows my mind sometimes when I see myself in pictures because I'm expecting to see £376 and I don't, and it almost makes me feel a little narcissistic sometimes when I'm posting pictures and things like that. But it's, it's more of kind of coming from a place where I am proud of what I've done and I'm proud of who I am. 

So, it's not that I think I'm this beauty queen or anything like that. It's just I'm proud of this accomplishment. I'm proud of who I am, which is something that I couldn't say before this journey started. 

I wish I could have, I wish at that time I could have said I love myself, but I couldn't. And so, I mean, I'm, I still struggle with self esteem issues. I still struggle with that because that doesn't go away with the weight, but I'm getting better. And it's, it's easier for me to say I like me uh physically because again, you know, internally I've always liked who I am even though I'm a work in progress. Uh but it's getting so where I can actually say I like, I like me, I love me. And it's a big thing. Do you think there was a reason why you didn't seek professional help earlier in your journey? 

You know, because like at that point, you were like, I need someone's help to do this. Was there a reason. Do you think it was a shame? 

Uh, I was ashamed of how far I let myself go. And even though, you know, I didn't fit those stereotypes, even though, uh, I wasn't standing there shoving food in my face, it just felt like that's the way I was going to be judged. And so I let that shame, that internal shame that I had internalized for years stop me from seeking help. And, uh, I, you know, I take that on myself, that was, that was me being irrational but, or just being a human. Yeah, being human. Yes. And because I know a lot of people suffer with the same thing. 

It's like they, they're afraid that they're gonna be judged. I've heard people say I don't want to go to the doctor right now because I'm afraid that, you know, I've gained so many pounds or whatever and I'm afraid that I'm gonna get judged because of it. And so I know I'm not alone in that thinking. And so I think that was what held me back was shame and saying that, uh, you know, I, I got myself here. Why can't I get myself out? 

Well, I think we're, we're kind of conditioned to think that we should be able to do everything ourselves. And, you know, we're in a collective society and there are, we may know some things but we don't know everything and, you know, people have studied and, and whatnot would you say that that was the real, like the real change for you was that you were willing to accept help from someone because you couldn't do it all yourself. You did all the hard work yourself, right? But you still needed some guidance of some sort. Do you think that was a big part of your, your change? Yes. Yeah. It was a huge part just being able to have the courage to reach out for help and that I had to get it straight in my head that I didn't have all the answers and that repeating the same behaviors over and over again, expecting different results, results is the definition of insanity. And so I kept, and I kept doing that. 

I would do that for months at a time, you know, go back to my old eating habits and then try again. It's like, oh, maybe I missed something, maybe I did something wrong last time. Maybe if I tried it this way. And of course it would never work because I wasn't eating for my body type. I was doing three meals a day when I needed to do six. 

And, and I had heard that before somewhere I'd heard, you know, the, every 2 to 2.5 hours or whatever and before I hit my wall it was like, well, I can't do that. I can't eat every two to, yeah, it is. It's a lot of work and it's a lot of setting alarms and, and things like that. I would, my mom was very supportive in, in my journey and in fact, she started mirroring some of the things that I did and lost weight herself actually. And it was funny though because we would be out someplace and we'd be in a store or something like that and it would be my time to eat and I'd pull out my snack. 

I'm like, I don't care like this is what I'm doing. And so she would laugh but, you know, in a good way, she's like, you're just, you're gonna do what works. I was like, yes, I am. So I don't care where I am. 

Yeah, here's my three rolls of turkey and a piece of cheese. Yes, exactly. I, I've been there if you could go back to Laura in that amusement park that day with, with what, you know, now, and this journey that you're on now, is there anything that you could say to her that maybe might make an impact? 

Um, I would say just hang in there, you're gonna get it. Um, you can't really force somebody who's not ready to go on that journey because then it won't work and then they'll get discouraged and they won't, you know, it sometimes keeps them from trying again. So I would just tell her hang in there. You got this, uh, find a way to love yourself as you are. 

The rest is gonna come. And I think that just loving myself is a huge thing. And being able to say that is something I wish I could have done a long time ago. And it would have made the journey easier because then it would have meant that I wouldn't have let all of that external stuff in and all of the comments and all of the media, I could have ignored that because a lot of times I think people go too far on the body positivity thinking that if you're OK with who you are, if you love who you are, you don't want to change. And that's not how it is. 

If you love who you are, you're going to want the best for yourself. And that means when you're ready, you're going to want to get healthy and whatever healthy looks like for you. And so I think just being able to say I love myself and believe it, that's the best advice I could have given myself when I was younger because it would have, I think it would have gotten me through to the point to where I was ready to, to go on that journey. It sounds like you might subscribe to kind of what I believe is that I had to go through all of these things to get me to this version of me right now and had you done this a little bit sooner, maybe you wouldn't be who you are right. 

Now, or, you know, you have to, all these little pieces, like you said, you, it took, you adding all these things to hit that wall. So, would you subscribe to the fact that, like, you're exactly where you are because of all the things that you've done and, and the good things are a product of some of the not so great things that have happened. Oh, yeah, I have no regrets. I, you know, there's a lot of times people say, well, what would you do differently? 

I'm like, I wouldn't have done anything differently. This is who I am because of everything else. And, yeah, everything that I went through, everything that, that happened shaped who I am and I love who I am and I would not change that for the world. I mean, do I wish I still had my dad here? Do I wish I still had my brother here? Absolutely. But the way they impacted my life before and after it's made me who I am. 

My weight struggles have made me who I am. And although I am still a work in progress, I am still happy with who I am and who I turned out to be. So I would not change a thing. Absolutely not. I love that. I, I think that's important for people to understand is that, you know, it's, we're doing the best that we can with what we know at the time and, you know, we process that and we move forward and maybe we do better in the next time, maybe we don't and then we learn from that and continue to grow. And I think a lot of people listening to this will be inspired by your story of just how you approach life now and how that alignment of your confidence on both the inside and the outside and how everything is kind of just manifesting for you. Now, in this, this new version of you, that's still kind of the same, right? 

It's just you look a little different from the outside and it's like I, like I said, I don't, you know, of course, there's probably changes that I don't see because we have those blind spots, but I don't feel different on the inside other than a little bit more confidence. I have confidence a little bit more in putting myself out there. Uh But I don't think I've changed overall in my core personality. And yeah, so it's, it's an interesting change to go through when you're kind of the same on the inside. But you see that outside changing and, and growing and, and uh becoming who I think I became more of who I am on the, the outside that I am on the inside kind of my, my outsides are now matching my inside, this is who I am. And uh so I, yeah, I, I love the journey and that's another thing that I tell people. 

It's like enjoy the journey, whatever journey you're on. Enjoy it. Yeah. So we get, yeah, we don't have tomorrow promise to us we only have today. So enjoy it. Yeah. Well, what we'll do is we will uh share some of the links to the things that you're you're doing with your fitness journey and the thing and the ways that you're helping people. And if someone listening wants to get in touch with you, we'll provide them those links in the show notes and uh make some connections there. And uh thank you just for, for being willing to just share your story and, and, and be a part of the life shift podcast. Yeah. Thank you for having me. I love sharing my story anywhere I can in case it does help, like anywhere I can there's, you know, and, and what I found too is that someone listening might not be going through a weight struggle, but something that you said in this conversation, something about your story will resonate with them. And that's, that's why we do it. That's why we be vulnerable. That's why we share our stories. That's, that's at least that's why I am an open book and, and just try to just do the thing and I think you're the same way. So thank you for being a part of this and we'll share all that information with the listeners so that they can connect with you and learn from you and be a part of your journey. And if you are listening to the podcast and you like what you hear, obviously a five star rating would be lovely. A review is lovely. And with that, I will say goodbye until next week for a brand new episode of the Life Ship podcast.