Nurse loses 107 pounds to set healthy example for her patients: ‘I was eating myself into an early grave’

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Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Rebecca Nicholson is 5’7” tall and currently weighs 148 pounds. In 2017, after becoming a nurse, she was inspired to become healthier to set a better example for her patients. This is the story of her weight-loss journey.

The Turning Point

My final year of nursing school I remember attempting to tie a pair of new shoes and realized it was hard to breathe with all the weight on my abdomen. I knew I was overweight, but I had never truly felt how severe it was until that moment.

Rebecca Nicholson before and after losing 107 pounds. (Photo: Courtesy Rebecca Nicholson)

I decided to start losing weight after I got my first job as a nurse. I really felt the responsibility of my role as a nurse. It was my job to help people attain a higher level of health or functioning. How could I preach exercise and healthy eating, while I was eating myself into an early grave? I had a new role to play and had to make hard changes.

The Changes

I knew I had to start with adjusting my diet. My body was under so much pressure and pain from the weight that I felt exercise would only hurt me at that point. I started substituting items from my diet instead of eliminating them. I had done elimination diets before and only felt restricted, which ultimately lead to binges and a cycle of self-hate for my failure. I switched from regular pop to diet pop, coffee with cream and sugar to black, etc. These changes didn’t make me feel like I was missing out. I was still eating the foods I liked, but in a healthier way.

I also had to tackle the mental health aspect of my weight. Learning to love myself and accept myself despite my failures was key. I had to care about myself to actually want better for myself. Once 50 pounds came off, I felt confident and knew I could start exercising to help with the rest of the weight. I started jiu-jitsu at Niagara BJJ [martial arts class] and that experience changed my life. I was expecting a martial arts club to be cold, unwelcoming, and that I would be judged for my body not being in shape and overweight. Instead I got nothing but support and encouragement from the coaches, Kevin, Scott and Reggie. Once I started getting better at the sport, and seeing what my body could do, my improvement gave me more motivation and discipline to keep going.

At the start of my journey, I wasn’t sure I would be successful at losing the weight, but I was hopeful. I held onto that hope, and with each success I had I let myself feel that accomplishment and empowered myself with positive words and thinking. Changing my mindset from failure to rejoicing in the small victories was essential for my long term success. Seeing the number on the scale go down, and clothes fit looser was definitely a huge motivator too. But I think above motivation is discipline. Motivation is a fleeting emotion. Being disciplined to eat what you set out to eat, to work out when you set to work out is what keeps you on the path to success. If all you’re chasing is a fleeting emotion, then you will only find failure.

The After

I‘m in disbelief over my accomplishment. I still have a hard time saying over 100 pounds lost. A whole person has basically been removed from my body. I feel so full of life now. I want to go out, do new things, explore, go to concerts, and be present for the people in my life that need me. I now have the emotional availability to be there for other people — before I was so closed off. I was exhausted physically and emotionally. I now love exercising. I love healthy foods and what they do for my energy and well-being. I literally am a new me.

I’m surprised that doing activities of daily living is so much easier. Grocery shopping, clothes shopping — everything is easier without carrying around 107 extra pounds.

Nicholson, before and after losing more than 100 pounds, says, “A whole person has basically been removed from my body.” (Photo: Courtesy Rebecca Nicholson)

The Maintenance

I eat a lot of seafood, rarely eat red meats or pork. I love shrimp and rainbow trout. Fresh steamed veggies and seasonal fruit genuinely make me happy now. I try and go to jiu-jitsu a few times a week; if I can go more I am in heaven.

I make an attempt to do something each day and get out of the house. Simply getting some fresh air can totally change your head space. I drink water as much as I can. I keep my fridge stocked with healthy, easy snacks for boredom eating. If I know I have a problem food like Nutella, I simply do not buy that food. Recognizing your weakness for certain foods and not buying them is pivotal.

Jiu-jitsu is my main inspiration, as well as my work. I am training for a tournament, which has me motivated to make weight and to be strong enough to handle myself on competition day.

The Struggles

I struggle with my body after massive weight loss. My body is not the same as someone else at my same weight. I have stretch marks. My skin is loose on the inside of my thighs. My boobs don’t look very good, so I am saving up for augmentation because it is a source of insecurity. I know some people may not agree with my wants, but you have to find a way to be happy with yourself. This is one of those things I just need to do.

Advice

The best advice I can give is to be kind to yourself first. Love yourself and put your physical health and your mental health as top priority. You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re not caring for yourself you can’t care for others. It’s that simple. I would never have lost the weight if I didn’t start to love myself. I would’ve kept listening to that voice that says, “You can’t do it, you’ll fail.”

You have control over that voice. You can change the narrative. Live your life as your best life because you deserve it. Eat right, measure your portions, drink more water and love more. You absolutely can do it!

Nicholson then and now. (Photo: Courtesy Rebecca Nicholson)

Need more inspiration? Read about our other wellness winners!

Wellness Wins is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

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Source: Nurse loses 107 pounds to set healthy example for her patients: ‘I was eating myself into an early grave’

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