Who is Michelle?

I wrote this article for FigureAthlete.com and was extremely honored to be selected as their 2009 Transformation Winner! This was originally published on FigureAthlete.com in February 2009 - see the official link here.

"Who is Michelle?"

I gave the usual answers: I'm a divorced mom, domestic abuse survivor, my life revolves around my kids, I'm originally from Hawaii and moved to the Midwest in 2002, I like this, I like that, blah, blah, blah...

He shook his head and asked again, "Who is Michelle?"

That was two years ago, during an interview for the reality show The Biggest Loser. At my heaviest weight, 255 pounds, I thought the show was my last hope. I was willing to literally bare every single roll of fat in a sports bra and shorts to the entire world.

I struggled with that question for the next twenty months. I had no idea who I was.

I've lived my life liking what other people liked, disliking what they liked. I had no real clue as to what my likes and dislikes were.

I mean, I knew the superficial facts, like the fact that I was fat. I knew I liked chocolate, and that I love to read. But deeper than those shallow facts, who was I?

The majority of my life, up until the beginning of my transformation, existed to make others happy. I learned at an early age that it was easier to pretend to be what my parents wanted me to be, than to exert my own thoughts and opinions. Don't get me wrong, my parents were the very best and loved me dearly, I just made this assumption on my own and began to apply it to everyone I met.

So and so liked this music band — so I did, too. So and so didn't like to watch this show — so I didn't either. What do I want to do today, you ask? Well, what do you want to do today, I'd counter.

I'd spent the first thirty three years of my life living like this, without even realizing I was doing it.

Back then, I avoided mirrors at all costs. I'd glance at myself as I brushed my teeth or did my hair, but avoided really looking at myself unless I absolutely had to. Why? Because I utterly despised the hopelessness, despair, and the depression I'd see staring back at me.

I saw a girl who was hopelessly lost.A few months ago, September 2008 to be exact, I finally started looking. Really looking, trying to see through this girl gazing back at me in that mirror.
I try to look into her eyes and really see her. See her the way my children do. See her like my true friends do. See her through God's eyes.At first, I had no idea what I was looking for — but slowly, I started to see the answer.

Imagine a tiny flower seed. It's so tiny and insignificant. It isn't much to look at; in fact, it's rather plain and indistinguishable. You plant it in the earth with good intentions, you water it, give it sunlight, keep it from the chill, and then you wait.

Sometimes waiting seems to take forever, but eventually, the seed sprouts out of the ground, then blossoms and flowers. It's a thing of beauty.

But it's what you can'tsee that's important: The growth deep beneath the soil, the myriad of roots that branch out, seeking out all that's important to its growth and life.

A very good friend of mine helped to plant a seed of belief inside of me a long, long time ago. It took several years of trying and failing for it to finally root and grow, as it had to crowd out the seed of self-doubt that I had carefully cultivated and nurtured for many years.

It wasn't easy, and sometimes self-doubt would try to crowd out that tiny seed of belief.

Of course, the seed of belief has won because when I look in the mirror these days, I see love, hope, and strength. I see a leaner face — without the double chin and chubby cheeks; I see a flash of the future strength and victory in my stance.

With 90 pounds lost, I know that this time is different. I know this with every fiber of my being.

Why is this time different from the rest? Because I finally learned to love myself just as I am, flaws and strengths included.

As miserable as I've been in my past, as overweight as I was and as hard as it's been to lose this weight, I truly never want to forget those feelings. Those oh-so-painful memories created the person I am today; and in some odd, twisted way, I'm happy I endured the things I've lived through.

I used to wish certain things never happened, or wish I turned left instead of right. Now, while I'm not exactly overjoyed that those things happened and certain decisions were made, I'm happy where I am today.At this moment, as I sit here in my cute black high-heeled boots and new size 12 slacks, it hits me: My life has been forever changed.

Physically, I've gone from a size 22 to a size 12 in four months. My insomnia, high blood pressure and GERD have all been cured. My skin glows, my hair shines (without products!), and my nails would become talons if I didn't give myself a manicure every Sunday.

But more important and meaningful than any physical change in the world, I've changed on the inside. I've finally found my voice. I know my self-worth and I've gained self-confidence.

Food no longer maintains its hold over me. I know food will always be there. I face whatever problem, issue, or social situation head on and deal with it; then I move on, stronger and better than ever. There's no way I will even consider stopping until I reach my new goal of becoming a Fitness Athlete. A whole new life awaits each and every one of us. All we need to do is take that first step, and believe.


Anonymous said...

I love your writing. It is so honest and completly inspiring. Very well said!

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