Emotional Baggage: the extra pounds you can’t see

OK… it’s time to get real. This is a true story.

“Hello Toni, you are doing great. What’s the secret? How did you make the change? What happened?”

takecareofyourbodyRecently, this has become the typical start of a conversation between me and family or friends that have known me for years. People that know that I have struggled with my weight, know that I have tried dieting and/or exercising before, and are understandably surprised to see me succeeding this time. Sometimes it’s hard to answer because the answer is really very simple leaving people looking at me as if I am leaving a super incredible secret out. The answer is that I just got it. I just understood internally that this is the only body I will ever have and that I am the only one responsible for taking care of it. (wow, that sounds so deep… it isn’t).

There is, however, something that a lot of my friends and family don’t know and that is that for a while there I was also very depressed and that it wasn’t until I dealt with that that I was really able to deal with the weight. I wasn’t hiding my depression, I just didn’t know. I didn’t realize that for at least a couple of years I was barely going through the motions of life and only pretending to be OK. One day, one of my professors finally confronted me about my lack of progress in my final stage of my doctoral degree. This happened last May. About three months before I started my weight loss journey. For the first time in a long time I started crying and couldn’t stop. My professor recommended I see a therapist and the therapist sent me to a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with clinical depression (that was very hard to accept) and put on treatment and in group therapy. The treatment also involved getting active and my weight was also a concern so I was also referred to a nutritionist. At the time I started swimming and six weeks later I was a lot better. I was sleeping through the night, something I hadn’t realized I wasn’t doing. I was socializing more and enjoying it for real. And I was also more awake and self-aware. In that eye-opening moment I decided I needed a break from school to reassess my life and I made the decision that I needed to lose this weight that had transformed me into somebody I did not recognize. It would be another six weeks before I started the process for real.

I suppose it had something to do with regaining control. In August, my depression had subsided. With a clearer mind, the task of eating healthy and exercising now seemed doable. I also came to terms with the fact that the changes that I would make would be for as long as I live. Eating healthy and exercising would be something I’d be doing for the rest of my life. Thinking about it that way made weight loss a simple side effect of that change. I didn’t care anymore about how long it would take me to lose the extra pounds because I would be doing what I am doing even after I got to a weight where I felt comfortable and where doctors would agree that I was healthy. In my Let me start at the beginning post I explained that I had finally put into practice everything I had learned about eating healthy and exercising. Many of those things I learned in those last three months before August 19, 2013. There is still a lot more to learn about my body, about dieting and exercising, and I enjoy finding out new things every day.

Sometimes, emotional pounds can weigh you down even more than the actual pounds. It was my experience that I had to become aware of that emotional extra weight before I was able to do anything about the physical extra pounds. I share this story because although I hope that what has worked for me can help someone else, I also want to make it very clear that each process is unique and personal. We all have our own points of origin and I hope that by sharing mine somebody reading this will find theirs.

Keep going – Toni



  1. This just goes to show that the first accomplishement is in the mind and that hinges everything else to it. It sounds so deep because that is the essence of a truism.

    Glad to see that it has brought you back from the abyss. Every time that I read your posts I just want to keep telling you how inspiring your stories are. Keep it up.

    Clifford Mitchem
    Advocare Distributor
    Nutrition + Fitness = Health

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