By Laurie Cobb
What does it mean to be your best self? To me, it means to be strong, confident, and to stand up for what you want for yourself or others. It means doing things you never thought you could do in your life – like running a marathon, getting healthy, losing over 200 pounds – these are things that I never thought I would do. I've gained the confidence to wear a bathing suit in public; work out in clothes that aren’t big, baggy sweatpants; wear shorts, skirts, or dresses, and not jeans when it’s 90 degrees — I never thought I would do any of these things in my lifetime, but I've done all of this, and I am continuing to do more.
Recently I read a quote by Kurt Cobain that “wanting to be someone you are not is a waste of the person you are,” and it really resonated with me. For so long I felt like I was trapped in a body that I hated, and not strong enough to make the changes that I needed to be healthy. I allowed myself to get to 390 pounds before I had a wake-up call, started really looking in the mirror, had a good cry, and decided it was time to take back my life.
"For so long I felt like I was trapped in a body that I hated, and not strong enough to make the changes that I needed to be healthy."
A little background about me: I didn’t grow up overweight, I played sports in high school and college, but after college I packed on pounds as I went through the stress of grad school and adulthood, and got lazy. I knew what to do to get healthy, I just wasn’t willing to put in the time before — but now it was real. When I finally stopped to look at myself, I was really out of control and I needed to get myself together if I wanted to have any type of future. At age 30, it was already difficult to walk up the subway steps without help. I knew I couldn’t continue like this.
The first thing I did was get my nutrition straight and was militant about reminding myself that food is only for fuel for my body. I stopped drinking all alcohol, set some small goals for myself, and when I achieved them set more. I focused on being healthy and turning myself into the best version of me I can be. Once I really began focusing on that, I noticed the weight started dropping off, and that inspired me to start getting back into working out.
"Everything changes – even my shoe size shrank – but you get addicted to the sweat and you start to see the changes, and you feel empowered and bold and you want to keep going."
I started Groupon-ing for workouts, then found ClassPass and Gilt City, which were lifesavers, because the thing no one tells you about losing this much weight is that it is expensive! Everything changes – even my shoe size shrank – but you get addicted to the sweat and you start to see the changes, and you feel empowered and bold and you want to keep going.
It wasn’t all easy though. In the beginning, I did get a few sideways glances as the biggest person in a room at a class and some stares in the locker rooms when I was changing, but it just made me more determined to succeed and to remember that when I got myself under control, I would make sure to encourage others to keep going. I try to do that every day, whether it's online via social media posts or in person, I really don’t want anyone to ever feel the way I did in those locker rooms, and to have the confidence to continue.
Once I got used to moving more, I started trying different workouts, everything from kickboxing to aqua cycling, and it felt so good to see the connection between the change in my health and the change in my attitude and outlook. My mind and body kept changing, and I started feeling like my old self again.
Throughout my adventures all over the city, I didn't really find any workout I was hooked on or my "go-to," I was just trying everything, until I tried Flywheel. Once I did my first Flywheel class, I knew I'd found what was going to get me to the next level of my healthy journey. I continued to go to Flywheel and Flybarre, and my body has changed and developed so much more, that I am wearing clothes I had saved in my “someday I’ll wear this again” box from college. (I cried the first time I fit back into my cute jean skirt from J-Crew.)
"I started trying different workouts, everything from kickboxing to aqua cycling just to get moving again, and it felt amazing."
The best part about being a part of the NYC fitness scene is the people: both instructors and attendees are just the best. I've met some truly great people, some of whom encouraged me to branch out and try running. I laughed because I was never a runner, unless a coach was blowing a whistle and telling me to run a lap — but I set a new goal that year: in 2015, no matter what, I was running the NYC Marathon. When I set this goal, I was on my way to 200 pounds lost. In one year, I did my first 5K, 10K, ½ marathon, and full marathon and hit the 200+ pounds lost mark. When I crossed the marathon finish line, I couldn’t breathe, I was crying, laughing, and shaking all at the same time. I don’t think I realized what I had actually just done until that moment someone put a medal around my neck.
"I set the goal that that year, no matter what, I was running the NYC Marathon."
Since then I have done my first triathlon and am running the NYC Marathon again this year (here is my fundraising page!), and am continuing to stay healthy. Since making the decision to live my life as the best me I can, I haven’t looked back — except to reflect and realize how much time I wasted in that body, and how much better off I am being healthy in this one.
Laurie Cobb lives in Jersey City. She works in financial services, and in her free time enjoys finding new places and races to run, serving on the Young Professionals Committee for Boomer Esiason Foundation, and exploring different neighborhoods in the five boroughs.