This is Heather. A California native, Heather has been in Topeka for eight years now. She’s a professionally trained stylist with hopes of winning the $100K from Top Tank Topeka to open A La Carrot, a juice bar/restaurant.
“I used to weigh 280 pounds. I was overweight from the age of nine and I tried probably every single thing there was to try. Most of life I was on reduced milk, or I couldn’t eat certain things that my siblings could eat and things like that, so I tried everything and nothing was working. Then I really started educating myself about food and kind of learning what it does for you and about complex carbs and proteins and just reading about all that stuff. I’m kind of obsessed with it. I think it’s really interesting. So, I just started out slowly, eating low-carb-no-carb and then healthy foods in general, and as I progressed I just wanted all the fake stuff out of my diet and it felt really good. So that kind of got me into first doing smoothies and then graduating into juicing.
I used to literally lay in bed at night crying and begging God to give me the tools to change my weight and I promised that I would never let it happen again. For years I cried about it. Some days were totally fine and some days were really hard. When I got bullied or teased, those were definitely tougher days. I’ve always hidden behind humor or hidden behind certain things, but there’s nothing like the freedom of being able to be myself without having to have walls up of being scared, of being judged, of being made fun of or all those things that I went through the majority of my life.
I think I’m getting close to where I’m at the point where I’ve almost been like this as much as I was like that, but really, still, it’s kind of the other way around. I’m still just now adjusting to the fact that I look like this, if that makes sense at all. It kind of messes with your mind a little bit, so I’m probably a little extra hard on myself than most people would be, but also extra understanding too.
I’m grateful that I went through that, that I had my trials and triumphs because it has made me the person I am today. I’ve been able to help other people, which really means so much to me because sometimes you don’t even think it’s possible until you meet people that have gone through it. I got really lucky because when I started to lose weight and change my diet, I decided to go to the gym and I got a personal training session that was on special that day. They stuck me with whoever and I was like “No, listen. I know that you’re looking at me and thinking ‘She’s going to come once and never come again,’ but I’m really serious and I want you to put me with whoever is going to change my life.” And they put me with this girl who had lost 84 pounds and that made a huge impact on me.
I felt like she got it. She wasn’t someone who had been skinny her whole life. She understood what it felt like to be embarrassed or ashamed, or any of those things when you feel like you’re not like everybody else.”