The following story was submitted by OAC member Anita Saah, from Rockville, Maryland, as a self-reflection from the past two years. Anita’s story is a good reminder that the journey with weight is not just a physical one. It can also change us mentally and emotionally, which is why it’s so important to surround yourself with a strong community and support system.

Anita Saah wearing her roller bladesAs I reflect on how my life has changed over the past two years, I am proud of the challenges I have overcome. Aside from navigating two bariatric surgeries, a bowel obstruction surgery and losing 140 pounds, I’ve really stepped out of my comfort zone.

Finding Joy with New Activities

I had never danced before, taken a group class or exercised regularly. But recently, I started Zumba and I absolutely love it! I was attending classes at the Y, but now I’m doing virtual classes due to the pandemic. I’ve always been self-conscious of my body, but now, while I’m this class, I feel no shame or embarrassment. I schedule Zumba 4x a week and I look forward to the music and the movement. Instead of comparing myself to others, I embrace my body and strive to improve.

When I am faced with a challenge such as being unable to follow certain steps, or being unable to do some upper body movements due to my nerve and spine issues, I make accommodations instead of giving up. I’ll either do lower extremity movements instead of upper body ones or I’ll put the weights down. For me, Zumba has become a priority and I’ve kept it on my schedule. It’s not just on my schedule like the old days when I would write down, “exercise 7 days/week.” That never happened. This time, if it’s in my calendar, it’s happening.

In addition to my fancy dance moves, I’ve also re-discovered skating! As a child and teen, I spent many afternoons roller skating at the rink or in my neighborhood. It was fun and I was fast. But over the years as a person with obesity, I had no confidence and no love for my body. I never thought I would be able to get on skates again.

Learning to Embrace the Positive

Things changed in the past couple of weeks. I started rollerblading with my sister and my niece. My old brain would tell me I was “too fat” to skate and I would simply think that I couldn’t do it. Well, I was wrong.

I am still approximately 30 pounds away from what I feel would be a comfortable weight for me, but I am now rollerblading. To be clear, I’m not doing roller derby, long distance skating or speed skating. I’m rollerblading on a tennis court – but I’m doing it! I’m doing something I never thought was remotely possible. I have already skated several times this week and I love it – the laughs, the family bonding and the physical activity. I’m not good yet, but I’ve somehow managed to stay vertical! I will improve each day, and I won’t give up because I can do it. Thanks to my incredibly wise and compassionate therapist, who by the way is also a member of the OAC, I am learning to see the positive in myself and my body. I am allowing myself to experience more of what life has to offer.

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