Over the past year and a half, I have made big changes in my life. For those who missed my last story a few months ago, in 2010 at 23 years old, I weighed 324 pounds and had elevated blood pressure. It hurt to wake up in the morning. I lost my breath when walking up stairs. I hated to exercise. I ate fast food on a daily basis, and I always helped myself to a second plate. But all that changed when I saw a commercial for Weight Watchers. I committed to a six-month plan and thought if I could learn to live healthy in that time, I could do it for the rest of my life.
After moving back to the Hollywood Reservation in March 2012, the reaction from my community overwhelmed me. It made me feel so proud of myself, even more than before. My friends, family and fellow Tribal members continuously told me how great I looked and how proud and inspired they felt by me. One reaction I was not expecting was for people who knew me since I was a child to walk right past me. I would run back to my mother, Wanda Bowers, and tell her, “Mom, they just completely ignored me! Why would they do that?” Her answer made me laugh: “Christine, they don’t recognize you!”
It was true.
Sometimes I did not even recognize myself in the mirror. Weight loss has a powerful way of changing an individual. At my heaviest, I never realized how sad and self-conscious I felt. Now, I stand up taller, smile more and look forward to community events.
But with all that said, one topic most diet companies forget to mention is that losing weight is easy compared to maintaining weight. To date, I have kept off 130 pounds since January 2012. However, there have been days when I was heavier, some days when I was smaller. The important thing I discovered though is no matter what, as long as I continue to eat healthy, treat myself occasionally and exercise to my fullest potential, I can continue my healthy lifestyle. Even during the summer months, I understand these significant steps.
It is in our culture to eat high-calorie foods. I still enjoy stew beef over rice and frybread in moderation. When temptation starts calling my name, I think about the bigger picture. In the future, I want to encourage my family to take every opportunity they can in life and enjoy it. I also think about all that I’ve accomplished. The first time I could go into a “normal” clothing store and try on a dress, I started to cry.
I encourage all Tribal members to seek a healthy lifestyle. Weight loss is only difficult if you believe it is. Taking small steps can honestly make a difference. At a restaurant, order any sauces or dressings on the side. Drink more water instead of soda. But most importantly, incorporate more activity into your daily routine. These small changes add up. It helped me, and I know it can help others.