March 2, 2021

Transformation Tuesday #16 - A Weight Loss and Mental Health Transformation

This transformation really spoke to me because it's not just a weight loss transformation, but a huge mental health transformation. Colena suffered from severe social anxiety and transformed her health and her life. Very inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing, Colena. 

I was raised in a dysfunctional household--alcoholic parents, no structure, routines, rules or goals--but still felt loved and protected. At age 15, I became an alcoholic. I had a son at age 19. At age 25, I married someone who was 49. He gave me structure while I gave him chaos, but we are still together 19 years later. I stopped drinking and smoking cigarettes, cold turkey.

Without a crutch, I couldn’t socialize or deal with normal everyday situations. I was a people pleaser and couldn’t say no, so I stopped answering my phone and I began hiding from visitors. I would avoid any type of social situation where I had to interact with people. I had an anxiety disorder, to put it mildly. 

I can’t put into words how miserable I was. I made everyone around me miserable. It was a sad, awful life. As a result, I still don’t have super close friends and never got close to my husband's family. I kept everyone away. 

My anxiety was so bad that I couldn’t take medication because if I took a pill, I would panic because I couldn’t get it out of my system if it made me feel weird. I would research the side effects and have every single one and I would stop taking it. I was a mess and the doctors weren’t friendly!

In 2016, my world was shattered when my dad had a massive stoke. We stood around his bed and sang his favorite song, “Battle of New Orleans”, as he took his last breath. Leaving him in that hospital room and going home, 800 miles away, was the oddest feeling I have ever felt. My dad was gone--age 58, strong, active, lover of life--gone so suddenly. This heart-wrenching tragedy changed my life. 

Ironically, it was not in a bad way. I’m not as proud of the weight transformation as I am of the life transformation. I’m still considered ‘obese’, but I don’t care to lose any more weight. Society’s opinion doesn’t matter to me. I feel satisfied and I don’t want to stop eating this or that to satisfy someone else’s definition of what my body should be. It’s mine and it’s not bothering me how it is--I can run, walk, hike, wear "normal" clothes, kayak, go on cruises and live life--but most exciting is that I no longer have crippling social anxiety.

My anxiety now feels normal, not debilitating. If I say or do something stupid, I don’t dwell on it for days, months or even years! I do struggle with guilt and regret--I have to keep my mind from dwelling on it. One regret is that I raised my son to be super aware of everyone and every action. Because of my own anxiety, I didn’t let him just be a carefree kid. Now, he’s anxious, always apologizing to everyone and stresses out to the max over minor things (like finding a parking spot). Also, I feel guilt over how I treated my husband because of my own misery.

Here’s a list of things that help me. I remember feeling like nobody understood the depth of my anxiety and reading things like I’m writing seemed a million miles away from attainable.

1. Turn off the news! I would stress out over things beyond my control.

2. No alcohol at all. Any amount makes me feel extremely anxious, guilty and depressed!  I’m not missing anything by not having it.

3. I no longer worry excessively about other people’s opinions about me. We are all human and all trying our best. Their best isn’t my best. Their goals aren’t my goals. Size 14 is super morbidly obese for some but feels normal to me. My family is super critical about weight--always on diets and always talking about so-and-so having gained weight. This affected me greatly and it made me stay away from my family reunions and get-togethers. Now, I refuse to let myself stop living because someone will think I’ve put on weight, look old, etc. There will always be something. 

4. Sunshine and walking. It's free and it's the best medicine! Look at the scenery, sunrise, sunset, trees, flowers. There is beauty all around us.

5. Not binge eating. Don’t do it! Being stuffed full of food creates self-hatred and can easily spiral into oblivion. Many nights I stood in the pantry just searching, grabbing and stuffing my face. I would go to sleep hating my guts. 

6. It’s ok to throw food out. I was raised not to waste. I would eat it even if I didn’t like it or want it. I would binge on the yuckiest things so as to not waste it. I still struggle with this one. Why does it matter if I throw it in the trash?

7. No fad dieting. I would go off of my diet so I could eat "forbidden" foods. Then I would eat more than normal because I was restarting tomorrow. I got to nearly 300 pounds doing this. Each week, I would eat all the bad food, buy all the healthy food, cave, repeat. I lived with an "I’m a big failure" mentality. I went to bed every night with such a negative view of myself because I, once again, failed at life. 

8. Shower! I feel so good when I’m showered and hair fixed. I don’t feel so good when I stay in my pj’s and never comb my hair. (And brush my teeth- yes, I try to talk myself out of doing this! Eww!)

9. Do all the things! I’ve done a lot of things I never dreamed of doing. I made happy memories that I can  recall rather than depressing ones! Things like hiking a trail rated "difficult" make me feel proud of myself. 

10. Be kind! Listen, give gifts and see the good in all the people. That is freeing beyond words.

Oh, and I should add that I got my Commercial Drivers License and I now drive a school bus. I interact and socialize with all types of people, big and small! That blows my mind. I think my dad would be proud.

- Colena


  1. Love, love, love this transformation. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I have tears streaming down my face as I type this. WOW! I struggle too and I'm going to print out her list and post it where I can see it every day. Thank you for being so brave to share!!

    1. Me too! Her dad would be sooo proud. She amazes me. And she looks beautiful!

  3. Best transformation EVER! Wishing you and your son all the best.

  4. Wow I loved this! Very heartwarming to read. I too would be considered "obese" in society's eyes but I feel happy where I am. I've been working on caring less of what others think and this is just the thing I needed to read today! You should feel so very proud!!

  5. Absolutely love this! Thank you so much, you are very inspiring! I am printing out the list also!

  6. Love this....just printed out that list of ideas. So glad you are finding happiness!

  7. Thank you for sharing! Loved this transformation. You go girl :)

  8. This is amazing! I love how Colena even managed to find a job despite her crippling anxiety. Great work!

  9. fantastic post!! :D Inspirational!

  10. This was so inspiring and amazing! Way to go Colena. Thank you for being do honest with your struggles. All the best to you!!

  11. Love, love, LOVE this post!! Beautiful! Thanks for sharing! My anxiety monster still wins at times, but I get better at fighting everyday!

  12. Thank you for opening up and sharing with us. Congratulations on your journey!

  13. What an awesome story! Thanks for sharing that great list!

  14. WOW! Colena, thank you for sharing. Katie thank you for posting. This is the best transformation to date.

  15. Beautiful and inspiring post! Thank you!

  16. Amazing! So proud of you, Colena. <3

  17. I tell myself: if it is garbage in my body, then it is okay to put it in the garbage. I will even spray it with Windex so I don't get it back out. Very inspiring post. We can change and improve.


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