Losing Love Made Nura Decide to Change Her Life, and Lose 19 InchesPosted on Apr 25th 2011 11:37AM by That's Fit Editors
Filed Under: Motivation
By Nura Maznavi
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My fiancé dumped me at the end of 2009, just three weeks before our wedding. It was my first relationship and he was my first love. I started 2010 with a broken heart.
My family and friends were an incredible support, but I didn't want to burden them with my pain. I knew that my calls home to my parents in Southern California would keep them up at night with worry. My friends were there whenever I needed them, but they were going through their own life changes and I didn't want to add to their stress – four of my five closest friends had their first babies in 2010.
But I needed help. I turned to sleep and food for comfort, sleeping more than 10 hours each night and eating whatever I felt like putting in my mouth.
I hit rock bottom at the end of 2010. I was the heaviest I'd ever been in my life, and the unhappiest. I knew I wanted things to be different in 2011, but I didn't know where to begin.
I learned about a weight loss challenge, "The Body Transformation Contest" on literally the last day of the year, during New Year's Eve dinner with friends. The contest was being organized by mutual friends in Southern California, and there were already 30 women participating. For 12 weeks, the women in the contest would simultaneously support, encourage and compete against each other to lose the most weight, body fat and inches – the winner would be the contestant who made the most progress as measured by numbers and a visual transformation, judged by "before" and "after" pictures. I took the contest as a sign – Divine Intervention – and signed up without hesitation.
I realized very early on that the contest was not about our physical bodies. It was about our minds. It was about transforming the way we thought about the relationships in our lives. Our relationships with other people and our relationship with food. But, most importantly, our relationship with ourselves.
By signing up for the contest, I made a commitment to myself.
I kept that commitment in mind each Sunday as I prepared my meals for the week. When I would feel frustrated or bored by my food options, I'd think about how fortunate I was that I had easy access to healthy and nutritious food and the guidance to make the right choices about what I was putting into my body. I'd also marvel over the fact that taking the fatty, sugar and salt-laden foods out of my diet had already boosted my energy significantly.
I kept that commitment in mind when I woke up each weekday morning at 5am to get my exercise in before work. I knew that if I was changing my diet, I also had to change the way I approached exercise. I needed to push myself. I signed up for a boot camp that met three days a week, where we'd focus on strength training along with cardio. I'd do an additional two days of cardio by taking spinning classes at my gym. On the weekends, I'd take advantage of the beautiful trails by my San Francisco apartment by going on a hike or a run. Some mornings I'd wake up exhausted, having slept late the night before. But I reminded myself that I was doing this for me. I just had to get my shoes on and get myself out the door – I'd feel great after my workout was over.
And I kept that commitment in mind when I felt mentally tired. I was the only woman in the contest living outside of Southern California, so I didn't have the benefit of the face-to-face support or motivation of others who understood what I was trying to accomplish. But then I realized that, by being on my own, I couldn't compare myself to others or worry that I wasn't making as much progress as someone else. My journey was my own and I had to build up the strength to support myself.
Twelve weeks seemed like an eternity at the beginning of the year, but the contest flew by in a way I could not have anticipated. On "judgment" day, I was amazed by how my body had transformed in such a short period – I lost 20 pounds, 19 inches, and eight percent body fat, and tied for fifth place. I was proud of my physical results, but even more so, proud of the transformation of my attitude and my mind.
The silver lining to my broken engagement is that it resulted in me taking control over the direction of my life and committing to myself. And because of this new engagement, 2011 is shaping out to be one of my best years ever.
Nura Maznavi is a civil rights attorney and writer living in San Francisco. She is the co-editor of the book Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, to be published by Soft Skull Press 2012. Read her blog on Red Room.
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