Realizing transformation through challenges: weight loss & empowerment

activist, author, former political prisoner

Camille A. Marino
July 17, 2018

Is there anyone who doesn’t struggle with their weight from time to time? As a rule, I think it’s a mistake to focus on our physical appearance; making ourselves strong in spirit, feeding our passion, and developing a relationship of deep love and respect with ourselves is what it’s really about. For me, however, my weight tends to be an outward manifestation of what’s happening on a deeper level. I began to understand these connections — really began to know myself — within the past several years.

Between 2014 and 2015, I was confronted by arguably the most challenging period in my life; more stressful than waking up a quadriplegic at the age of 28. That was simply about being stubborn and unwilling to remain paralyzed. 2015 was different. Thriving after a series of politically-motivated arrests and incarcerations, my life was disrupted yet again. This time, a perfect storm of malignancy — one narcissistic lunatic, one corrupt judge, and one misogynistic boot-licking enabler — were able to drag me across the country and throw me in jail for 6 months in New Mexico. My crime? Using Facebook to defend myself against an outrageous campaign of defamation and hate. Don’t believe me? Google my name. Every time you see the words stalker or lunatic, the authors are without exception cowards who felt threatened by my words, by my truth. It was an unfathomably difficult period and the only honest and factually-documented account of what happened exists in my memoir.

The point of this post is not to rehash history, however. It’s to simply articulate the fact that I am intimately familiar with stress. And whatever challenges you may be facing right now that threaten to destroy you, you need to understand that you’re actually being handed an opportunity in disguise. It’s a chance to use everything you’re enduring to become the absolutely most-empowered person you can be. For me, stress expressed itself in a 40-pound weight gain over several years.

So I found myself locked up almost 2000 miles from home and my First Amendment rights had been suspended on top of it. It never occurred to me that I was a victim (oh, the unfairness of it all) or that I  could be broken. I don’t think like that. I realized I had six months locked away from the world so I was given a period to do nothing but focus on myself. It became obvious to me that the 40 pounds I gained was an expression of all the toxicity I had allowed into my world. So I exercised every day and recorded everything I ate. I rarely was able to stay within my 1200-calorie-a-day goal. But that was okay. And with every pound that came off, I was releasing all the bad things that I’d psychologically or emotionally absorbed. I also spent my time in jail talking to a counselor with whom I genuinely connected. And the bottom line is that I was proud of myself. I took immense pride in having fought for my beliefs, standing up for myself, and never sacrificing my integrity despite relentless and overwhelming consequences. The more I learned to love myself, the more I wanted to take care of myself. And the weight started melting.

I walked out of jail in July of 2015 over 40 pounds lighter and stronger in spirit than I had ever been. I knew who I was, I liked who I was, and there’s extraordinary empowerment in overcoming. Over the past few years, I’ve gained back some weight and decided to use this time to lose 10 pounds and take a refresher course in me. So if you are facing a difficult time right now, stress, a convergence of things in life that threaten to break you, then right now is the perfect time to do an about face. Stop focusing on what’s happening outside of you. Focus on what’s happening inside. Take the next month and lose a few pounds with me. Or gain a few pounds if you’re on the other end of the spectrum. It doesn’t matter because it’s not about the weight.

It’s about knowing that you are the ultimate source of power in your life.

If anyone wants to lose that last ten pounds with me, I have a training schedule and diet plan that I’ll share with you. It’d be fun to have a partner. I also only have a before picture that I’m not brave enough to publish today. Maybe in a month I’ll do a before & after. 🙂

10 Responses

  1. Hans Kopp says:

    I was mesmerised by your words. I felt like I could see inside you at your essence. I love what I see.

    • admin says:

      thank you for visiting my site, hans. you’re one of my favorite people and someone who is very special to me. i owe you a debt of gratitude for helping to get me through those difficult years; probably more than you know. so your words mean a lot to me. <3

  2. outi says:

    I have had some eating disorders, I was comforting myself with food. After that, I look at myself and thought I was fat and discusting,so I quit eating and started to smoke very heavily. I wanted to be what I thought others wanted to me be. Bullshit. I was thin and even more miserable. Of course,wrong kinda men were interested of me,because I was thin. What a bullshit!
    Nowadays, I am a vegan,give a shit what people think about me, still single,but happy . And want to be happy. I do yoga and walk with my rescued dog. I am 45yrs and I realize that I have to exercise,just to be health and firm. So count me in.

    • admin says:

      thank you for sharing that, outi —

      i didn’t know that. but i’m so glad you’re at a place where you realize it’s entirely about you. it’s way too easy for us, especially as younger women, to try to live up to others’ ideals or look like what someone else dictates is beauty. i just turned 54 so i’m a little older than you, but basically in the same stage of life. of course i’m vegan too. and single. so we have a lot in common. 🙂

      i’m taking today off because i’m recovering from yesterday. but tomorrow i’ll probably do 45 minutes of aerobics (between a stepper, eliptical, and something called an arc trainer) and maybe 20 or 30 minutes of strength training. i don’t do anything i don’t feel like doing. but the one thing i always have in my mind while i’m working out is that i’m making myself stronger and healthier. and, yes, i would love for us to get stronger and healthier together.

      it’s important to follow our passions. and one of my passions is being the best me i can be. no compromises 😉

  3. Camille,
    Thank you so much for your post this am on your connection to your Higher True Self, congratulations! It was a reminder I definitely needed this am. I am so stressed out and have been for a long long time to where “I” have let it start to wear me down emotionally & physically. I am very aware that “I am the Power” and also unfortunately the “Creator”, but have lost my way due being trapped in circumstances and am struggling to extricate myself. I do need to withdraw somehow and focus only on myself as you have so eloquently done my friend. Probably on some deep level my self love is lacking, and it must be an all knowing of mine to which I won’t see or admit to, or my Higher Self would not have let me get into this situation. Unless of course the “all knowing” Higher Self is busy at work teaching me what I need to learn. Which it is my belief is true for everyone, but had not put it into words until now. I’ve got a lot of soul searching and work to do if I ever expect to save myself and enjoy what is left of my life. Thanks for listening Camille. You keep up the good work! Hugs

    • admin says:

      that was wonderful, june, thank you for sharing. you are, indeed, the source of your greatest power. we all are.

      and i wrote this post just somehow knowing that others would connect. it’s way too easy to get distracted, and taken off track, and get stressed by life. who among us has nothing else to do but sit around and meditate all day? lol that’s why i’m calling this my empowerment “refresher.” like you, i understand my inner source. but i’ve become unfocused and need to get myself back where i want to be — that place where i am at peace and empowered.

      for me, exercise (and the whole corresponding weight loss thing) is my greatest form of cleansing. i know for many it might be meditation or yoga — two disciplines i’ve not mastered. but from wherever we get our “charge,” i think the important element is to redirect our energies into ourselves. after all, we may not be able to control all the constant chaos in the world around us. but the one thing we have complete control over is how we process it and respond.

      stay strong, june. let’s take a month-long journey together. don’t forget to look in the mirror before you go to sleep and tell that person looking back at you how amazing and awesome she is. maybe she just needs to hear it. 🙂

  4. law says:

    Camille, You are an inspiring person. You are a survivor. You are human/humble. Thanks for being, and sharing. I read Uncensored recently. I liked it, and reviewed it on Amazon.

    • admin says:

      hi law,

      i’m so glad you enjoyed my memoir and i genuinely appreciate your generous review on amazon. i check it every so often to see if anyone’s weighed in and your review made my day. 😀

      thanks for your kind words. i’m glad i have something to say that resonates. <3

  5. outi says:

    I love bicycling. I have old fashioned so called grannybike,no gears. I live i suburban,the nearest city is 15km far. In summertime i take a ride to Oulu,feed some ducks in the park and ride by bike back. I cannot run anymore, because difficulties in my lower back. I do yoga and so e exercises at home. I need to find a good gym. I use to train kickboxing a few yrs ago,but then I hurted my right elbow and after that,my leftie.
    I love to walk in the forests,in winters,you see,in Finland winters can be amazing! As a vegan,my diet is healthy,but all my eatind problems are mental. Nowadays I regonize them better than in the past. But demons are still there. Only Light can overcome them. When I feel bad, I take a good and long naps. I have relaxinx pills, and I take them, when thoughts are getting really bad. And nothind is better than a good cry! Cry, until your eyes are swollen,red, yout nose run and your voice has all gone! Then sleep. I call that state frontal cortex flipped off. And then you feel better.

    • admin says:

      I can’t run either. it’s a residual deficit from being paralyzed. but it sounds beautiful in Finland. if o ever get there, we need to go take one of those long walks. 🙂

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