As with all my photography experiments, I had an amazing time trying to capture some of my friend's beauty. We took these photos at my house, using the bedroom and living room as the setting. Michelle is wearing a black slip by Mary Green from Freudian Slip in Eugene...except the shots where she has on her man's plaid shirt :). The necklace and bracelet are vintage. For the bed shots I used the window light to Michelle's right and had another friend, Beth, hold a reflector to Michelle's left, bouncing light from the window onto the shadowed side of her face. I practiced editing skin in photoshop with the aid of ProRetouch2 by Totally Rad. Maybe I took it too far in a couple of these images. Some of the other photoshoot touches were the wire lights from Urban Outfitters, pillows from Pier One and Target, beautiful wool blankets from Plume Red/Heritage Dry Goods and the white sheepskin from Passion Flower, both in Eugene. We also had Michelle's hair and makeup done by another friend, Molly (@mrsmollybrooke on instagram). The really amazing part of this story is about Michelle and what an inspiration she is! You'd never know that she lost 140 lbs, and turned her life around in many inspiring ways. She reminds me that I should never stop reaching for my dreams. What might seem beyond reach might not be so far away after all. I love you so much my friend! Here are some questions I asked her about weight loss and Michelle's own writing in response about her story, so inspirational!
How old are you? Describe your life before your weight loss. Why did you make the change? How did you make the change? When did you make the change? How do you stay with your decision, and get through the tough days? What has the change done for your self esteem/life?
I am 41 years old and have always thought of myself as very overweight. I actually was not overweight until I was about 20 years old and continued to put on pounds until I eventually got to 312lbs. Before I lost weight I had terrible self esteem issues and grew up in home with a mother who continually told me that if I was not skinny I would never find a man and without a man I was nothing.
Three years ago I realized that if I did not change my mindset about who I was as a person as well as lose weight I would end up in a wheel chair before I was 50. I have arthritis and Fibromyalgia and was in constant pain. I had trouble breathing at night and just hated myself more and more. I would not speak in front of a group of people for fear they would all be making fun of my weight.
In Feb 2011 I started Weight Watchers and stayed on it for about a year. I was also going to a Pain Psychologist weekly. Therapy was really the key to my weight loss as well as my self-image and self-esteem issues. Once I began to realize that I was a worthwhile person losing weight came easier and easier.
For the most part I no longer eat my feelings and have much better ways of coping with the challenges that come my way. After 3 years I am down 140lbs and feel good and more importantly I like who I am. I do not deprive myself of yummy treats but I do not eat them to push down my feelings.
I still struggle with comparing myself to others but hardly ever. I cope with tough days through prayer and meditation. I remember my blessings and try to exercise as much as possible.
I am a completely different person now than I was three years ago. I am much more confident and outgoing. I like who I am 90% of the time and I am happy. I love feeling sexy and pretty even with the “flaws” I still see sometimes.
Losing weight was half of the battle but realizing that I am truly a worthy child of a higher power and letting go of all of the lies that I shouldered for so long is what has made the most difference in my life. I think that the weight loss is a natural benefit to changing my mindset about myself.