Summer used to push people away, and eventually found her life in a state she was unhappy with.
What she’s learned about habits & triggers, and how she’s kept off 140 pounds for over a decade.
“Bring on the haters.”
Weight Gain Background and Contributing Factors
Summer recalls having an overweight parent whose side of the family was also predominantly overweight. She was chubby as a child – while her siblings were not – and the extra weight persisted into adult years with a few occasional dips.
“It was so commonplace… that’s how people in our family were. It wasn’t even brought up as a topic.”
Summer (and her family) didn’t equate a lot of her presenting health problems—painful knees, throwing her back out—with weight at the time, whereas now to her they seem obviously linked. Growing up, even while she was raised to love herself unconditionally, acknowledging her obesity was something she completely avoided. She worked to hide her obesity from herself and just ignore it.
How Being Overweight Impacted Summer’s Life
Summer describes having been unable to climb two flights of stairs without needing ten minutes of recovery afterwards.
“Carrying twice as much weight as I should’ve been carrying was making a big impact. I just chose not to see it.”
She shares about how she used to often wear headphones as a way to create a barrier between herself and people who might make remarks about her weight. No one ever discussed it with her, and she did not attempt any diets before her Turning Point.
“It was like shutting it out and putting up blinders and sticking my head in the sand whenever possible, whenever the topic would come up. It was literally like trying to ignore it as much as possible.”
By the time she was 25, Summer had reached her peak weight of 271 pounds (123kg) at 5’3”.
The Turning Point
When Summer turned 25, she took a mental inventory of her life and the state of things. She was in debt, living with her parents, couldn’t stand her job, and was the heaviest she’d ever been in her life.
A personal “breakdown” brought Summer to the realization that she was “stuck” in many parts of her life. This gave her the kick-start she needed to begin making changes. She decided the first change would be her weight.
Summer says that she began to feel that there were “cool” things she simply couldn’t do, such as go roller skating. This made her angry.
“There really are things I cannot do because of my situation. I’m stuck right now in many different ways.”
Starting The Weight Loss Journey
Summer admits she started her journey in all the “wrong” ways. She began taking weight-loss pills, supplements, and reduced her diet to rice and vegetables.
In hindsight, she wishes she had done more research online to learn about nutrition from reputable sources.
“I had no clue what I was doing. I just knew that I was going to lose weight.”
She eventually found advice and information online, and also looked there for community support. Conformity was not encouraged in her family growing up, and she was happy to have that strength behind her during her journey, as naysayers simply empowered her more.
“If someone was going to imply that I was going to fail, the next day I
was 100% on point.”
Walking was her first form of exercise for weight loss. She walked 5 days a week and ate only 3 meals a day with no snacking and cut out all junk food. Summer shares that she often used to eat out of boredom, and that was one of her first bad habits she worked to change. She feels that you don’t have to get it exactly right at the beginning, but you can learn along the way.
Summer has maintained her loss for over a decade now.
The transition to healthier living was like “literally flipping a switch” for Summer. Halloween season the first year of her journey was a real challenge—seeing candy all around her, but not eating it—so much so that she would escape to the bathroom at work and cry.
Summer points out that the crying response was maybe just as unhealthy as eating some candy. It took her until she lost her first 100 pounds that she let herself relax a little bit. After that initial 100 pounds, once she saw that the first cheat meal didn’t hurt her, she felt happy with one weekly cheat meal.
What Summer Learned About Food, Exercise, and Herself
Summer explains how viewing any diet plan as clear black and white, or demonizing a specific food, is not helpful. That stage of her journey where she was combating that all or nothing thinking might have been easier if she had known the nutrition facts she knows now.
“I don’t have to have all the answers. Take the time to learn, and do your research.”
You don’t want to build an eating and exercise plan that doesn’t work, or as Summer puts it: “Read your IKEA instructions.” Her weight loss journey was also full of a lot of self-discovery.
“I’ve really learned how to channel my anger.”
Summer has to practice working against her self-defense mechanism of pre-rejecting new acquaintances and pushing people away.
Summer has very organized weeks and each week is very much the same. Dinner is her higher calorie meal of the day, she sort of saves up her calories for the evening. On a rest day she eats less calories.
Heavy weight training is her favorite activity. Workouts are similar each week: 3 days heavy lifting, 1 day weights conditioning (lifting lighter weighs faster), and 1 day of the “most boring cardio in the universe.” She makes sure to choose a time of day to work out when her gym is not busy, and she prioritizes her workouts in her personal calendar.
Summer views her workout schedule as just as important as going to her job:
“These are things that you do, and they’re not negotiable.”
Summer’s Advice For Your Journey
“Take a look at where all of your triggers and your biggest problems are.”
For example, Summer conquering her boredom eating really helped her weight loss move along. She urges people to find where their weak spots are, because that is what will derail them first. Find your trouble patterns around food before you even begin the work of weight loss.
Summer is a strong realist about life, and that helped her look directly and honestly at what problems she had with food. Summer advises that in any weight loss journey a person needs to be prepared for a barrage of hurdles and derailments, and you have to be ready to look hard at your own bad behaviors.
“So much of weight loss is mental.”
Different strategies work for different people. Slightly different habits and genetics for all people means that everyone’s eating approach might be different from each other. You’re going to screw up, but that doesn’t make you a failure. Bad days do not mean you will not succeed, because you can fix anything.
Resources Discussed In This Podcast
On Summer’s Workout Playlist
- Bombs Over Baghdad by Outkast [ Amazon ]
- The Leper Affinity on Blackwater Park album by Opeth [ Amazon / iTunes ]
Summer is currently getting ready for a surgery to remove the excess skin left from her weight loss over 10 years ago. She and her husband are running a campaign to fundraise for 1/3 of the cost of the surgery. You can donate to her at tinyurl.com/igggloom, and the campaign ends Sept 2nd, 2014.
You can also find Summer online at the following social profiles. Say Hello!
- Fitocracy: @gloomchen
- Facebook: fb.com/gloomchen
- Twitter: @Gloomchen
- Google +: Summer Lorenzsonn
- Youtube channel: Summer Lorenzsonn
- Medium.com blog