All I can remember is, I’ve always been big, the biggest child in my family and the brunt of jokes in school. Elementary and Junior High were the worst years of my life because I was constantly made fun of for my size. I still hate the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.” I think to myself, “What idiot created that lie?” I lived most of my life simply trying to heal from the impact that words left on my soul, the words that led me to internally hide every moment I could, the words that haunted me and made me feel inferior, the words I tried to pretend never really occurred in the first place. Oh the power of words combined with pain of being fat, left me in such an emotionally and psychologically crippling state. Though I never verbalized it and no one really knew. I lived in a sort of dual reality. I had family that loved me. I smiled and laughed a lot and to an extent, I truly enjoyed my life. I was a people person and I enjoyed the beauty of relationships. I have recently realized that I am naturally an extrovert and my introverted moments have derived from years and years of training myself to hide, to remain out of the spotlight because of my fear that I would be judged or humiliated due to my weight. The Liana who loved to be around people also had a paralyzing fear of them. I’d rather be alone than in the midst of people I was not familiar with or felt extremely comfortable with because of the fear that at any moment, my weight would become the brunt of someone’s joke and once again my only desire would be to hide and disappear. This was the pattern of my life until I entered college.

My freshman year of college I suffered bouts of depression. One week, I cried every day. I slept as much as possible and I truly hated my reality. My weight became overwhelmingly obvious to me and I felt incapable of beating my reality. Sure I had attempted to lose weight in the past but over and over again, I gave up because it seemed impossible. In my mind, I was incapable of loosing 5 lbs, let alone the 200 plus that I needed to lose.

Somehow, I got through my moments of depression and I continued on with my life but I was never completely happy. I lived a sort of fast pace life so that I never had to slow down and consider my reality. And when I did slow down long enough to evaluate, I hated it. There were times that I would get so frustrated and overwhelmed that I would do things like hit my stomach continuously. Crazy I know but being fat can drive a person crazy. Time went on, and I pushed through life. I lived how I knew best and I loved but there was a huge part of me that I knew I needed to tackle, but did not know how, and more importantly did not feel empowered to do so.

A year and a half into my undergrad, I transferred colleges. One year I was invited to a dorm retreat. I decided to attend the retreat and an activity I did, while on that retreat, initiated the breakthrough in my life, which led to my determination to lose weight. It was Spring 2007, we went up to the mountains and we did a meditation exercise. We went off to ourselves and we did and exercise on “fear.” Actually, a few months before I went on another school retreat I read a book entitled, “The Gift of Being Yourself” and the main statement that stood out to me in this book was a idea that “You can never change who you are until you embrace the person you are today.” I realized that I lived much of my life wanting to change but I was too fearful to look myself in the mirror and truly accept all of who I was. It was too painful to address my issues and how they had impacted me but until I was ready to truly do that, I would never be able to change. So I went on the following retreat and I had determined in my heart that I would be “real” with myself during the “fear” exercise. We had a sheet of paper and we had to write out all of our fears and then a light bulb came on for me. The majority of my fears were linked to one central factor, my weight. And in that moment I knew that I would never overcome those fears until I accepted my reality and begin to tackle it. Some of my fears included travel because I never wanted to wear an extension seat belt again, amusement parks because I could not fit on some rides, people because I never wanted to be made fun of and the list goes on....I left that retreat determined to lose weight. When I returned home from the retreat, I immediately began changing the way I ate. Why? Not because I wanted to be skinny but because I WANTED TO BE FREE!!!