Guest Post from Starla: Learning to Love Me

My Journey: Learning to Love Me

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In the summer of 2003 I found myself moving again, a military transfer with three kids and a dog. Our first stop was my best friend’s house. She’d been on her own journey struggling with weight and had recently lost some.  She owned a few bathing suits she thought might fit me, so I tried them on.  What I hadn’t realized, until that moment, was that I hadn’t seen my body in a mirror, below my neck, in years.  But there I stood in a bathing suit, in front of the full length mirror, crying. I truly saw my weight, all 207 pounds of it. That was the height of it for me. This isn’t a story just about my weight though; it’s one discovery and learning to love all of me.



By October that year, I had a job and joined the local Weight Watcher meeting.  I made a lot of friends, learned how to eat and started exercising. In the past, I’ve always loved to exercise once I was doing it. It was the lack of motivation to get there that caused a problem. I created and allowed many excuses to get in my way, but once I joined there was no stopping me.  I lost 72 pounds in 15 months and by January 2005, I’d made lifetime. Weighing in at 135 pounds and a size 6, down from a size 18/20, I was the smallest I had ever been in my life.  I was happy and motivating others, at least that is what I led people to believe.


Then, as life carries on, another transfer was upon us and we moved back to the Keys. My husband was moving to a big boat which meant we wouldn’t see him much.  So, needing to keep myself busy, I decided to do something for me, and I went back to school. This schedule meant I had three years to start and finish the nursing program before we would transfer again.  What I didn’t realize, was that August was how everything was going to change.

2005 was a busy year for me. I started going to college, really for the first time. My three children ranged in age from elementary to high school and my husband was deployed.  I lost a cousin that was like a brother to me to cancer and then in October we were hit by a hurricane and lost almost everything we owned.  For 5 months we lived in temporary quarters.  We were very blessed to be safe and a have a safe place to live and we all knew it.  Within the next two years, I lost 4 more family members that were close to me, moved back into my house and graduated nursing school in May 2008.


Immediately upon graduation, I started working at the local hospital.  Husband was deployed, working 12 hour shifts and taking care of the children afforded me more excuses to not take care of me.  I was still going to my meetings and still wearing the badge of lifetime, but didn’t see where I was.  After one year of working in the hospital, I left it, took a job at an office so that I could take better care of my family, and myself.  It took a while, but I realized my mistake when I lost weight the first time.  I had never learned to love me.  When I would look in the mirror, I still saw the same person I was, not the person I had become.  No, this wasn’t a visual thing, I could see the weight loss, but I would always see what needed to be fixed.  The stretch marks, the wrinkles, the weight that was still there.

During the two year period between 2009 and 2011 I would try to focus on the program that helped me lose my weight, but I still wasn’t where I needed to be emotionally to do it right.  Summer of 2012 found us moving again, this time to Orlando, where I decided to go back to nursing school and finish my masters. At the same time, I was planning to refocus on me and take care of my health.  In the fall of 2012 I started classes at the University, and started going to the gym regularly.  I still wasn’t really focused on my eating, but I was on the right track.  Then I bought a few workout DVD’s I knew would challenge me (Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution).  That set was amazing and truly helped me to physically get to where I am.  January 2013 I hit it hard and started focusing on eating and working out.  Now when I say that, I don’t mean that I went nuts. I’m not as disciplined as so many others and I have never believed in deprivation.  What I mean is I started eating more of the weight watcher friendly meals, cooking at home, eating more fruits and vegetables, and not going out. It truly isn’t a magical thing, eating healthy and working out truly does work, you just have to have a great support system.

Currently I weigh around 153 and I still have more weight to lose. While that may not happen immediately because I am in the toughest semester ever right now, I’m not worried about it. I am still doing what I can to get my workouts in and eating healthy. I am learning to love me, the stretch marks, the imperfections and the wrinkles and grey hair.  During this journey I learned that I have to love me to be able to be healthy.  Now I know that you have only seen me focus on the number, and I want to make sure that you are aware I truly mean that isn’t the focus for me now.  I have two herniated discs in my back and have had back problems for years. After working out and learning proper stretching and building my core muscles, I haven’t suffered from the back pain in at least 2 years.  I have spurs in both of my knees, and as long as I follow the doctor’s instructions and stretch properly, they don’t bother me either.  I have a bad shoulder that I endured an intense physical therapy program for 9 months to be able to move it at all.  Now I can do planks, back bends, downward dogs, all the things that really make me feel good.  I know that you may not be at this point yet, I wasn’t either. I have found that when I miss my workouts, I become very sad. The hormones your body releases when working out do more for you than any medication a doctor can prescribe.  I know this because I have had to experience that as well.

Focus on something other than the scale.  These are called non scale victories (NSV).  Getting into a smaller size pants, looking in the mirror and feeling good because you made a healthy choice today, these are non scale victories.  It takes one step to start a journey and this is definitely a journey. All you need is the courage and motivation to start it.



Starla has created a new Facebook page about her journey. Join her there at


  1. Starla is quite an inspiration. She has always been so supportive and I am lucky to call her a friend!

  2. I am so proud of you Starla! You inspire me!! Xoxo

  3. Starla, Thank you for sharing your story. Many things I did not know. Love you girl. Keep it up. I shared this on my page. I’m putting u on my fridge;)

    • Yea, it isn’t a story I share a lot, the heavy pictures of me are still a little hard to look at, but like I said, I had to learn to love me to be able to become healthy. Thank you, and I am happy that you liked my story. You know it continues. Love you too <3

  4. Shelle Tee says

    Your story. Ugh. I am glad that I didn’t read it until today. It has impacted me that much stronger for having met you first.

    Not going to lie, I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. Partially from the pride I feel for you, and partially for the shame of the bowl of ice cream that I just ate for lunch. I’ve started following your new page, and I have a feeling just seeing your face is going to help me find that motivation that I recently lost.

    I’m grateful to have met you! Looking forward to this journey.



    • Shelle Tee,
      I am astounded that my story moved you so much. I am very blessed to have met you and we will get through this, whatever your goals are. And the ice cream, enjoy it. Never feel guilt. Guilt only leads to more negative behavior. At least in my experience. Life happens, if you didn’t enjoy it, then it wasn’t worth it, but if you did, embrace it and move on. WE all have to love ourselves and enjoy life as it happens. Hugs to you, and I promise to be posting more soon.

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