September 28, 2012 by Darlene McC
This is not your typical weightloss story. Randi Reed does not talk about no-fat cottage cheese or deprivation; she’s not rambling about her skinny jeans or upping her calories because she was nearly anorexic at some point and then started working out. She’s not hear to please anyone but herself. She comes right out with it; she’s blunt (and we love that about her): Randi Reed lost 200 lbs to save her life.
Meet Ms Randi “Gun Show Tickets” Reed:
“I was 16. I was 350 lbs…and I was wearing a size 50 men’s pants because they were the biggest I could find.”
We’re sitting in a cafe in Manhattan, and to look at Randi now you’d think she was always a super-athlete. In fact, when I met the NYC based personal trainer I thought she was a same-old-story gal: another skinny, fit trainer here to Jillian Michael’s the shit out of her clients. So WRONG!
The three times I’ve heard Randi tell this story it starts in the same place: that moment of realization that her new life pivots on. On vacation with her family they realize, even though she was always the “big girl”, that she’s not eating the way they had assumed.
“No sheet cakes, no triple cheese burger dinners. I was just eating when I was hungry, like any teenager.”
Fortunately, her parents were the pro-active kind in the face of concerns, and a quick doctors visit changed things. He started with a series of questions to nail down any metabolic disorders. Turns out Randi was carrying the testosterone of a 16 year old boy and her insulin response was over-reactive – some extra hair, crazy periods, and that most of her weight was visceral (meaning around her organs. Considered a more dangerous kind of fat). Everyone assumed it was her food; turns out it was her body. She was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It had been messing with her hormones for her entire adolescence and turned a “heavy kid” into a health risk. She went on a few fast-acting medications and a very strict diet because the doc told her under no uncertain terms: “The weight needs to come off or you’re going to die.”
Thanks to supportive adults and an aggressive plan she lost 90 lbs in 9 months during her senior year of high school. There was some concern over the speed of loss (the teachers at her school asked her parents if she might be on drugs) but for the first time in her life she should jog around the track during gym. 260 lbs; and she could buy women’s clothes in her home town for the first time since 4th grade. No longer in danger of heart failure she worked her way through college with little change.
No Carbs = A Little Crazy
Post-college her job prospects were slim and Randi hit the mall to get by… and quickly backslid. Fortunately, her dad was observant and intervened. Another MD trip and her doctor decided she should go no carb, no sugar, no caffeine…
“And I turned into a mega-beast! I wanted to kill everyone around me!”
So Randi said screw that, cause that’s how she is. She would have rather been a little bigger than a lot miserable.
In 2006 she moved to New York (w00t w00t!) and was walking more… and met someone new… and was happy. For awhile things were in stasis and they were good – until her new lady love quipped “maybe if you lost some weight you wouldn’t stand in front of the mirror so long”. This caused a moment of pause; and a bit of action.
This is the first time in our conversation when Randi mentions other people’s opinions on her body. This person who was supposed to love her, but was conditionally supportive…and the pain this has caused her is palpable. We don’t get too deep into it quite yet, but it’s obvious that this person hurt her, and that it’s tied to her journey. She’s reflective of this as a turning point to action. Back to this in a moment…
This sparked Randi stabbing in the dark for how to hit her health goals. Her New York doc gave her another test for Polysystic Ovarian Syndrome and it was negative! The changes in her diet and lifestyle had reversed the POS; but she still wasn’t where she wanted to be. So the doc recommended Weight Watchers and starting to move more.
“The moment I changed it melted away.”
After a lifetime of people making assumptions about her body Randi was taking control. She didn’t fall into a lot of what she calls “Weight Watchers traps” – ways that you can beat the system and not really learn how to care for yourself. She started doing treadmill intervals, taking long walks, and making up some strength training routines out of things she picked up in magazines and on line.
Understandably, her life was shifting. Things with the girlfriend were smoothing out and people weren’t bringing up her body like the used to. This was a turning point, both in her body composition and her self esteem – “The moment I changed it melted away.” When pressed on what she means, Randi describes a shift in confidence and a belief in herself. That she no longer felt obligated by social expectation to be out and participate in a ritual behavior just to please others – that just because she’s at a bar doesn’t mean she needs to get drunk to fit in. She was becoming her own badass self.
“Can you just shut up? Because your so annoying.”
…So Randi was in love; and this love didn’t really love new Randi. She gets visibly agitated when describing this event, a little red in the face and a shift in volume. Randi was home talking about her achievement and how far she’d come, and her formerly wonderful lady snaps “Can you just shut up, because you’re so annoying?”. It sounds like a benign comment to us, perhaps; but I can only imagine the tone to see the affect it has had on our new BFF.
Randi has said it over and over in the weeks I’ve known her and the line is embedded in her mind. While celebrating her success a certain someone tried to shoot her down, so Randi turned it into a sling shot.
This is another pivot point, one that builds on the confidence she had harnessed before. The full and lasting realization that these changes are for herself, and no one, including this gal, can take them from her.
Aggression to Inspiration
Over Christmas two years ago Randi went home for the first time since nailing down her nutrition; and her family was stunned. Though her parents and siblings were thrilled, her sister-in-law was biting. Another instance of someone who loves her dumping their bullshit all over her achievement. Sissie lashed out over dinner at Randi success, apparently projecting her own previous failures, hating that there wasn’t a plus size woman around to help her feel good about herself; but when bringing Randi to the airport she asked for advice to get started. Randi gave her all the info she had to give, and that sissie is now 50 lbs down and Crossfit obsessed.
That taste of inspiring someone she loves pushed Randi to change her life even more radically. Earlier this year she switched careers and joined Equinox as a personal trainer. She’s on the road to helping others change their lives for the better. A shiny button on a long journey to rebirth.
Q & A
I had a few more questions for Randi after she shared her story:
What did it take to stay motivated?
As a teen I went into it blindly. Just, you have to do this. I did what the adults told me to do. Years later, when I wanted to get the final 60 off… I physically made the appointment and went to the doctors office, I was there. I was in it. I was in the zone. I made the conscious decision and I didn’t have someone else telling me to do it. So I was my own motivation. I worked as a birth dula, a birth coach… and saw how heavier moms… got pre-eclamsia and diabetes and the problems I saw with these women and their birth and the difficult time that they had. I thought to myself “if I want to have babies one day I want to have an all natural, unmedicated childbirth at home. And if I’m a big girl that’s never going to happen.” I was afraid of diabetes and some little things, but those were my motivations.
(When she says I’m a size 8 – 10) Do you give a crap about that number?
I have a pair of jeans in my closet and when they don’t fit right I now know on my new frame I know when my body goes south… the number so much? I know if I’m on the scale and I go down to 145 lbs I look gaunt… I want to gain strength.
Are you worried at all about getting “bigger”? How do you feel about that?
I am FINE with that. I have a picture of Abby Wamback on my phone and she is built. I’d like to build and get stronger. I don’t want to get smaller, but I want to tone and shape and be happy in my clothes. The heavier number is something I struggle when thinking about…and I’m aware of the neurotic system that comes with that.
What was your biggest challenge?
“I’m still huge.” I am still huge. I’m still 350 in my head. I’m very funny and outgoing. I was never down on myself and never made fun of myself; but I made sure I was the funniest most bubbly thing in the room. When I walk through New York city and see myself in large windows I don’t see myself in them.
How does that affect you?
It’s hard for me to take a complement and I don’t realize when I’m getting hit on. … the most difficult part is still trying to be present in the body I have right now. It’s a new body, I have to adapt for it. Even when I’m shopping I tend to look for the large and extra large… and I don’t mean to do it, it’s just sense memory.
What is your biggest success moment?
When I put on THAT ex-s clothes! She was always smaller and trimmer… I put on a dress that I bought her and loved it; and I said ‘oh my god it fits me!’. And she said “it does… and it looks better on you”.
Do people treat you differently now?
Yes! <laughing> I get hit on now and I have no idea! My friends will tell me that I’m turning heads… it’s a new world and I’m blissfully ignorant.
Does that piss you off at all?
You know, it does a bit. I was always trying to be the funny girl; the nice girl; trying to make people laugh. Like, if I’m here, I’m going to be the nicest person here so people wont have a reason not to like me. (pauses)
The body image issue is frustrating. People think that big somehow equals sick. But that’s not always the case. There’s a pride thing there like “look, I’m going to be how I’m going to be”. How are things different? Since losing the weight I don’t really hang out with the plus size women I used to know; like, I’m different and my new lifestyle was annoying and now I’m not around them anymore. It’s sad. And it makes me a little angry on both sides.
What are you most proud of?
I. Did. This. Without surgery. I inspired people I love to lose weight and be more healthy. A random friend on facebook posted to my wall yesterday that she worked out and thanked me. I didn’t tell her to go work out; but she thanked me for it. I just feel like now “lets give this to everyone else!”
Any last words you want to leave the Amazons with?
I am a reality!