I remember always being different than everyone else when I was growing up. It wasn’t until I was 8 years old that I knew what that difference was.

The first time they made fun of me for my weight – came in 3rd grade. My mom had just given birth to my brother, David and my parents made my older brother and me shirts to wear to school. I proudly wore it the next day but remember wanting to rip it off and never be seen in it again. The shirt said “I’m a big Sister!” Something to be happy about right? Not when kids make fun of you for truly being a BIG sister. That’s when my self confidence first crashed and was quickly on a downward spiral for several years. 

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Growing up people around me always told me to lose weight; told me I needed to take care of things before it got out of control. I never listened. I always knew my weight was a problem but I tried to pretend it wasn’t as issue and convinced myself I was who I was and things were never going to change. This has been a struggle I thought I would never  be able to overcome.

I started middle school, a weird transition for all kids, I think. I hated school and spent way too much time by myself because I was insecure and didn’t have very many friends. It was a tough time emotionally and spiritually. I felt like my whole life had been turned upside down after my parents separated and turned to the only thing I knew I could control – my food.

I ate ALL the time.

I hid food in my room, I stopped for donuts on my walk to school, I stopped at the food cart in the grocery store parking lot on my walk home from school. I was constantly eating whenever possible to cope with my emotions. I was addicted to food. 

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In high school, I  tried weight watchers several times. I would lose 20-30 pounds but gain 40-50 back. I was never successful which spilled over into me feeling like I would never be successful in anything. I never had major plans for my life, I was just barely surviving.

I didn’t want to be alive.

I didn’t want to be struggling but I didn’t know how to ask for help. I was embarrassed with myself and I was embarrassed with all of my families issues/parents divorce that I just continued to drown myself with food. This carried over into my freshman year of college. Most kids gain the freshman 15, I gained 50, in just one semester! I only attended one semester of college at UNK because I was too embarrassed with myself. Plus when you are so overweight walking to and from class is no easy task. I remember at the beginning of school I would walk in trying to catch my breath and would be sweaty from just walking across campus! Every day activities wore me out. 

January 13th, 2012 I went to the doctor for an ear infection. They had me step on the scale and it read 285 pounds.

I instantly panicked as the thought of 300 scared me. I had also gone to to the mall that day, I needed to buy jeans because I was quickly outgrowing my size 26’s. I went to the mall and shopped at my favorite store that carries plus sizes. I’m pretty sure I tried on every size 26 in the store and not one pair fit. I couldn’t even get anyone to help me because there were no other options left. I once again was ashamed of myself and what I had done.

The next day I went back to what I knew worked, for a while. I joined weight watchers for the 100th time. I posted on my Facebook that it was time for a change and that I needed support and prayers. Each week I posted my weigh in for accountability. The weight was coming off! I had the support which I lacked before. I was surprising myself (and others I’m sure!) each week with continued weight loss! I started joining my aunt at the gym 4-5 days a week just walking on the treadmill. I stuck with weight watchers for 6 months and lost 50 pounds through the program.

It was then that I knew something was different about this time, I had the support and I had finally believed in  myself. I knew I could do this on my own.

I stopped going to weight watchers in July and switched over to clean eating. I also started going to Crossfit those two combinations have transformed my body in ways I could have never imagined! It hasn’t always been easy and I have wanted to quit more times than I count. This has been the craziest journey of my life but I am so thankful for each thing that has led me down this road.

Since January 13th, 2012 I have lost over 100 pounds, dropped 10 pant sizes and 5 shirt sizes. Most importantly I have self confidence for the first time, I love who I am and who I am becoming. I have hope for the future and and am excited to live again! I feel like God pulled me out of the dark patches in my life to help others; those that know they need a change but don’t know what steps to take; parents who know they  need need to make a change for their kids but aren’t sure how to! I feel very passionate about fighting childhood obesity in some way. Being an overweight child, I want to help other kids so they don’t have to go through what I did. I am currently back in school working on getting my personal training certification and am getting Crossfit Certified in a couple weeks to eventually start up Kids Crossfit here in Kearney.

It’s no longer about the weight I have lost but the life I have gained. 

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Sara Theesen

Sara has struggled with her weight her entire life. After losing over 100 pounds at 20 years old, she is on a quest to help others overcome their battles with weight. Sara is currently a student at UNK studying Health and PE K-12 with a minor in nutrition. She also is a certified CrossFit L1 CrossFit kids trainer at CrossFit Archway. You can follow her blog at http://fattofreedom.wordpress.com/ and follow her on Facebook at Fat to Freedom.