Vanessa, 30, Lost 53 lb*
*People following the WW program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds/week. Vanessa lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on WW FreestyleTM.
“To be here, to be laughing again, knowing that this experience is behind me—I’m very grateful.”
I’ve run two marathons. I’ve taken back control of my health. I feel strong. And I’ve made a powerful realization: I have the power to fill myself with strength by using positive words to replenish energy I lose through negativity.
I learned this lesson the tough way: In the summer of 2016, I was on WW and I posted a selfie on Instagram of myself in shorts and a sports bra after a run. A man I’d never met sent me a message: “You’re hot, but other women are hotter than you, and have hotter bodies.”
I ignored it. I thought I’d brushed it off until a few months later when I started training for my next marathon. Marathon training can break you down mentally and spur a lot of self-discovery: Through my long runs, I realized how much the comment had saddened my core, how much I’d started questioning my abilities, how much it had affected my self-worth. I’d started eating in secret, I’d stopped tracking my food as often, and I was afraid to train in my sports bra.
That started to change during the Santa Rosa, CA, fires in October 2017. The air quality wasn’t safe for running where I lived, so one day I drove nearly two hours to run 14–16 miles to continue my training. That morning, I realized how much value I have, and how empowering it is to do what you love.
That same month, when the #MeToo hashtag went viral, I wanted to speak out. I needed to share how strongly I felt about myself and my worth. There were so many terrible stories out there about physical abuse but I wanted to discuss the verbal abuse that people can experience about their body. I think words have a huge impact; they affect the reel that you have in your head. The man who left the comment took all of my power because of his words. Even though it might not feel like a #MeToo moment for some people, I do have a story and I wanted to tell it.
When I shared this experience on Instagram, I thought it was just another social media post. But I felt like I had taken something back. I wasn’t feeling so weepy and pitiful about where I wasn’t in life—that I wasn’t fast enough, thin enough, hot enough. Instead, I started feeling strong and courageous about where I was, a feeling I had lost for a long time.
It’s so easy to think, “Someone has it worse than you, it’s not that bad, just forget about it.”
But speaking out and owning my story brought back the spark that I had lost. By setting myself up for success through goal-setting (and achieving), through completing my second marathon, through celebrating every step of my journey, through practicing self-care, through remembering how much I live now that I’ve lost weight, I’ve learned to believe in myself and the amazing things my body can do.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, click here for resources.