It was 2016 and Christy Justus had just started date night with her husband. As she slipped into a restaurant booth, she made a startling discovery. She couldn’t fit in.
As she tried to move further in, she remembers feeling her stomach squeeze into the table and the space getting tighter. She said that alone would have made her uncomfortable, but what happened next was far more brutal.
A table of young, thin women sat just a few feet away, and soon one of them noticed Justus’ struggle. She didn’t look away, but caught the attention of her friends, and the entire table began to watch and giggle. Justus pretended not to notice to avoid further embarrassment, but now admitted that she had cried for most of the meal.
“What those girls don’t know is that I’ve lost 17 pounds,” she said.” Before that day, I felt good about my 17 pounds.”
Having struggled with her weight for most of her life, Justus is no stranger to this kind of hurtful behavior. The Grundy, Virginia, resident was teased throughout her school years for her size. In retrospect, she realizes that she wasn’t even that big – just bigger than the other girls – but the bullying led to emotional eating, which quickly became a cycle that was hard to break.
“My home life wasn’t bad, but I did have self-esteem issues,” she recalls.” I was bullied and called ugly at school, which I believed because I didn’t have a boyfriend. So I would turn to food to make myself feel better. I just always felt ugly.”
By 2008, her weight began to seriously affect her life. She had trouble getting dressed, had trouble moving and bending, and even started having health problems.
Justus then embarked on a seven-year yo-yo dieting cycle – first losing weight, then immediately gaining it back. Things got even harder when she met her husband, as she started going on dates and indulging in city dinners.
But that night in 2016 would be a turning point in her experience in a restaurant booth. Although she had lost weight in the past year – from a high of 270 pounds to 253 pounds – she decided to set her sights on a bigger goal: 180 pounds.
Her husband joined her in her commitment to getting healthier, and they each began participating in different Beachbody programs. However, Justus didn’t like the portion-control containers and strict diets that came with these plans. After searching for other options online, she discovered MyFitnessPal.
When she started logging her meals, she was shocked at the numbers.
“I couldn’t believe the number of calories we were eating in a normal day,” she says.” It’s crazy – no joke, some days it’s about 10,000 calories. I was terrified. No wonder there are so many obese people in this country. Some foods are just ridiculous.”
With this new information, Justus began to watch her portion sizes and cut out some foods altogether, like high-calorie drinks, before deciding that they just weren’t worth it to her.
She made other discoveries, too. Justus, who had long thought of herself as lazy, realized that she actually liked the way activity made her feel good. She started logging all of her activities in the app, enjoying what she was accomplishing each day. She even uploaded progress photos as she lost weight, marveling at the changes she saw on her face.
After 10 months, Justus had surpassed her goal and landed at 170 pounds – a total loss of 100 pounds since she first started. She continued to lose more than 160 pounds and kept it off for more than a year until her life took a welcome but unexpected turn.Justus, who had long struggled with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), found out she was pregnant.
Justus admits she was initially a little disappointed that she might reverse the weight loss she had worked so hard for, but she knew her baby was more important. She was committed to having the best pregnancy possible.
Nine months later, her daughter, Kora, was born happy and healthy without complications. However, Justus – who, like many women, could only eat fatty, high-calorie foods for most of her pregnancy – found herself in a similar position to years before. She had 70 pounds of weight to lose.
“Although I gained weight within nine months, it was like an instant weight was added on after she was born. I was no longer a ‘pregnant’ woman, I was just an ‘overweight’ woman again.” She said.” But what happens if I restrict calories during my pregnancy? Will my daughter be just as healthy?”
It hasn’t been easy, but Justus has renewed her commitment to staying healthy. Since then, she’s lost 40 pounds and is training for her company’s annual 5K race. In addition to MyFitnessPal, she also credits her family for her success. Her husband, who initially lost 70 pounds, is back on the road to health with her. And her daughter, she says, inspires her every day to be the healthiest mom she can be. She hopes to someday pass on the lessons she’s worked so hard to learn.
“I want to teach my daughter about health, portion control and having a healthy relationship with food,” she says.” I also want to teach her about being a compassionate person…. Don’t make fun of someone who can’t fit into a stall. The last thing the world needs is more mean girls.”