April Wood weighed 250 pounds at her heaviest but now weighs in at a slim and trim 145 pounds, and she's maintained that weight for five years.
“For as long as I can remember, I was overweight,” recalls April Wood, 40, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, who since childhood, was held back by her self-perception: fat, fearful and insecure.
As a child, April was expected to finish every morsel of food on her plate. As April got older, she lived by the motto, and ultimately developed an inability to curb her eating habits. She gorged on homemade dinners, sugary snacks and fast-food.
During her childhood, she was often teased by her peers and ridiculed about her size. It wasn’t until years later she realized the impact such an experience had on her self-esteem.
“As a child I didn’t realize that being overweight affected me,” April said. “I was quiet, shy, withdrawn and had very few friends, but I didn’t know that anything was wrong with that. I didn’t want to be noticed. I just wanted to disappear. I was afraid to try anything or reach for what I wanted out of life.”
Socially, April suffered. Mortified by her appearance, she feared strangers’ reactions and often automatically assumed she was undesirable or a burden because of her large size.
It took nearly three decades for April to finally feel comfortable in her own skin, to pursue relationships without indulging in self-loathing or social anxiety. Looking back, she realizes she alone was responsible for the many emotional and physical hardships she endured.
“I finally came to the conclusion, on my weight-loss journey, that people may have put me in that box, but I was the one holding the lid down tight.”
At 19, April married and soon thereafter had a child. Like her own parents, she passed down the lesson of not wasting food to her own kids. It wasn’t until years later that she became aware of the cycle, and finally understood that she didn’t need to finish an entire plate to feel full — it was simply a psychological hurdle. Emotionally, she was a wreck; she knew her attitude toward food veiled deep-rooted insecurities and issues: “I hated myself and what my life had not become, but I felt helpless to change things. I was fat and that was who I was, period.”
Physically, April’s body was a mess: She ached in all her joints, suffered from stomach pain and headaches, constantly felt out of breath and her hands often went numb during sleep. Such discomfort left her with little motivation to exercise or pursue any physical activity, and it took an emotional toll on her. “I was very unhappy with my life,” April said. “I felt worthless. I hated my weight and felt out of control.”
By adulthood, April had given up any hope of losing weight; she tried “every diet out there,” and none seemed to stick or have any profound impact on her size. She was only 35 years old, but physically, she felt 60.
One day, and at 250 pounds, April felt fed up. She went to the public library and began educating herself about proper eating habits and nutrition. The next day, she woke up at 7 a.m. and ate a small, relatively healthy breakfast. A minimal gesture, but it was the first step forward in a new, positive direction. “I looked at ways to slowly change my diet. I then started walking, maybe a tenth of a mile a day.”
Initially, she didn’t tell anyone of her new plans. Still fearful of others, she decided to keep mum on the subject until she actually saw results. April had no support system because she refused to divulge her plan to anyone: “I didn’t want my family and friends to witness yet another failure by the fat lady.”
Little by little April incorporated new, healthy foods and habits. By focusing on health, rather than weight loss, she slowly introduced new healthy foods into her diet and began building on her exercise routine.
“I lived two houses from the stop sign, and I started just walking to that stop sign and back home. Then I got to where I could go to the next stop sign and back, until eventually I made it the three miles around my neighborhood.”
Even though the initial months proved difficult — as exercise irritated her joints and limbs — she was determined to pursue an active, healthy lifestyle. She would often even have to talk herself into exercising, spending 30 minutes to an hour trying to convince herself that it was worth the inconvenience and pain.
“It was not an easy process,” April said of her struggle, “but eventually I started feeling so much better that I couldn’t imagine not doing the exercise.”
With weights and heavy cardio, April pushed herself to try harder - to give her body a new opportunity to perform at a level she’d never experienced. She constantly repeated the same motto whenever she felt the urge to quit: “Failure is not an option, so choose something else.” That something was another chance at life. In 11 months she lost 105 pounds and, at just 145 pounds, she now works as a group fitness instructor and regularly runs marathons. “I am as healthy as they come now,” she said proudly.
April’s life now differs completely from that of five years ago: Whereas she once struggled to take her children to the ballpark, April now enjoys a successful career as a certified trainer and aerobics instructor. Having once feared social functions and new relationships, today she thrives on new friendships and helping others.
“The weight loss turned my entire life around. I became an instructor because I want to help release others from their box. I feel that they will trust me more to because they know that I was in their shoes only a short time ago... If you have never been overweight, you can never understand the emotional and social implications it can have.”
Armed with her new exercise and diet habits, April hasn’t suffered from any aches or pains — or even a cold — in more than four years. And to curb any uncontrollable cravings, she eats five times a day (but only when hungry and not at designated meal times). Careful not to backtrack, April considers everything that goes in her mouth, from drinks to snacks. With portion control, she knows she can indulge in her favorite foods without guilt or worry.
“I eat a little of everything, but always in moderation. My new lifestyle has changed me because I understand that I can do anything that I set my mind to. The only limitations are the ones that we put on ourselves.”
Although she realizes most people easily get caught up in the positive physical changes, April constantly reminds herself that looks come second to the health benefits of weight
loss. First and foremost, she wanted to feel good about herself, not starve her body or attain society’s vision of what constitutes thin or attractive.
“I have curves. I am not a size two, but I am healthy, happy and free; I feel free to live my life to its fullest. I love myself and who I have become.” For those looking to pursue weight loss or change their eating habits, April says, “Look to your health; the weight loss will follow.”
Check out the video of April Wood's amazing story here.
Click here to read some great diet tips from women who have lost over 100 pounds. I watched the video and it's great (the video features April Wood, Vivian Dimmel, and Jodi Davis). Enjoy!
Jenn Barton Lost 114 Pounds!
Adina Stewart Lost Over 120 Pounds!
© 2008 Thanks for taking the time to read A Junk-Foodaholic's Journey to a Healthy Lifestyle. Please feel free to peruse my blog for more great content.
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What an awesome story! Thanks for sharing it! :)
Claudia at Denver Cereal
its stories like these that keep me inspired
my mom was so inspired when i showed her your article. my mom needs a lot of work out. thanks for the post!
Hi Claudia, Latease, and Aybi! Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you liked the post. These weight loss success stories inspire me too!
What a brave and strong woman! A very inspirational story. I think stories that have people losing weight by changing their diet and adding exercise tend to inspire more than those who had a surgery and then have to just maintain...Just my opinion!
Regina, Yes she is an incredibly strong woman. I can't tell you how much her story inspires me.
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