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I have struggled with being overweight all my life. This is a problem many face and fight to overcome. My story is one of hope and I pray it encourages you as you read.

It was January 2007 and lunch break had just begun. Being the last semester of my senior year of high school, I had gotten into a routine of buying time rather than enjoying my last days in school. I was ready for college. Most of my friends went to other schools so I settled for sitting at the table of least resistance — the band kids (I was in the band). The guys were great, we just didn’t have common ground.

After a while, the conversation went from video games to anime. I knew it was time to leave. This was one subject I was not sticking around for. I stood up and decided to find some friends. After walking around a while, I saw some people I had gym class with so I stood near and engaged in small talk. Shortly afterwards we began walking towards the cheerleaders table. I froze on the inside. Paralyzed by the thought rejection and reliving years of bullying.

You see, being overweight has more than physical consequences — it weighs on your self-esteem and emotions.

And somehow I had managed to let jr high boys define my self worth. Now at 18, my fears were showing.

I stuck to the script and sat down at the table with my new friends. I’m not sure I had ever been more insecure in my life. To my surprise, lunch went well. Rather than isolating me, they seemed genuinely interested in my story and thought I was funny. As they asked questions, my responses came with more confidence and humor. I’m not sure I’d ever been happier as I walked away from lunch that day. Was this real life?

As the day pressed on, I kept reliving lunch. I couldn’t help but wonder if that was a freak incident or if these people would truly be my friends. The next 24 hours I kept contemplating if I would brave my fears and return to the table or fall into the social construct I’d been accustomed to. I decided to risk rejection. The chance at being their friend was worth potential failure. I walked right up to the table and sat down, they pleasantly greeted me and thus the beginning of a new era of friendships began.

Three Lessons I Learned About Losing Weight

Love yourself
While my friendship with them grew, my appetite began to curve. I realized, many people over eat not because of the presence of food but because of the absence of love.

It’s crazy how many of us try to lose weight with self-hatred. We have bought into the lie that if we are disgusted by what we see in the mirror long enough we’ll change. If you can’t build good friendships with hatred how do you expect to build a good self-image with it? Those you love well, you treat well. Including yourself.

Encourage yourself
Shortly afterwards, I began exercising but this time with purpose. While running I started declaring things over my life.

“I will lose weight”
“I will be successful”
“I will not quit”
“I will marry a beautiful woman”
“I will always do my best”

I saw how many toxic fears I had in my life and began to speak against them. The power of declarations and self-motivation changed not only the way I saw my present, but it cultivated hope for a better tomorrow. If you’re interested in more information here is a link to a great TedTalk on the psychology of self-motivation.

Treat yourself
In my weight loss journey, not once did I remove any type of food completely from my diet. It’s not realistic or sustainable. If your weight loss plan involves removing cakes and cokes from your diet then how will you respond once you are back to the real world?

Real life change comes not from isolation but moderation. We live in a world where running from desserts and fried foods isn’t feasible but limiting your consumption of them is.

Losing weight isn’t easy. It is filled with highs and lows, not to mention a whole spectrum of emotions. But it’s possible. Fifty pounds and 10 years later I want to encourage you. No matter where you are in your weight loss journey, take these three lessons from my life, apply them, and commit to consistency – I believe in you.

If this blog resonated with you or if you have experienced something similar, I’d love to hear your story in the comments below!

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Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • Mars Allen says:

    This is what I needed to hear today. Thanks, Daniel.

  • Cody Fain says:

    Man I really enjoyed reading this!

  • Tiffany says:

    Daniel, I have experienced the same all throughout high school and middle school. I have lost weight but I still have the voices in my head screaming at me that I am not good enough, people will never like me, no on wants to date me, etc. I try every day to fight off those voices but they are still loud in my head and some times I buy in and my self-esteem goes down. How do you get yourself to completely tune out those voices and convince yourself you are worth, you are awesome, and you are beautiful? What tricks or tips work for you?

    • Daniel Maddry says:

      Yeah, I completely understand. Those voices didn’t develop overnight and they likely won’t go away overnight. So I go back to number 2, encourage yourself. I constantly tell myself who I am. Whenever I hear the voices that I know are lies, I instantly replace them with the truth! I feel it has more impact when I pair these declarations with something productive, ex: exercising, cleaning, planning, etc!

      Good luck on your journey!! and thanks for sharing!

  • Rachel Hanes says:

    Daniel, this is GOOD. Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing this! I love seeing the freedom you’ve found in this journey. Your story is filled with hope & I’m glad you’re willing to share it!

  • Madison Burch says:

    Proud of you, Daniel. You are such a hard worker & it shines through all you do. I hope Sweden is going well!

    • Daniel Maddry says:

      Thank you Madison, you’re awesome!! Sweden is going well, I hope your last semester of high school is as amazing as mine was!

  • Les says:

    I could NOT believe what I saw when I finally got to see you after losing sooo much weight!!! I was SUPER impressed! I’m sure it was hard to eat things in moderation with Uncle Grady and your mom cooking as great as they do! I’m proud of you Daniel and grateful for my Maddry family! Love you!

    • Daniel Maddry says:

      Hahaha, you know that’s the truth!! If dad wasn’t such a good cook maybe I wouldn’t have been here to begin with!! Love you man, miss you guys!

  • Shelby says:

    Thanks Daniel . This was encouraging to read. God go with you everywhere and bless all your roads you go down. I hope your experiences make you stronger and know that no suffering is in vain. I know you will change the world with your spirit of love.

  • Natalie Dodson says:

    “If you can’t build good friendships with hatred how do you expect to build a good self-image with it?” SO GOOD!! Thanks for boldly sharing the vulnerabilities and lessons from your past — you’re such an encouragement!!

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