Even after losing 85 pounds, Chandler Sosebee had to reevaluate her entire weight-loss journey. 

By Faith Brar
February 12, 2019
@tacoboutamangover / Instagram

Chandler Sosebee has struggled with her weight and body image ever since she was a young girl. "I grew up on fast food and didn't know anything about healthy eating," she tells Shape.

But being an active kid and playing sports, Sosebee didn't quite realize how much her eating habits were impacting her body. That changed once she got to high school. "That's when I really started gaining weight," she says. "By the time I got to college, I was 220 pounds."

After earning her degree, Sosebee wanted to find a way to put her health first, but a series of personal tragedies and an unhealthy relationship held her back. (Related: 5 Lessons I Learned from Going On a Relationship Cleanse)

"I started to really doubt myself and my confidence was in the gutter," she says. "I felt like my life was so out of control and that I didn't have any power to make positive decisions. More so, I just didn't know how."

Then, at the beginning of 2016, she came across Anna Victoria's training program: Fit Body Guides. "I knew I wanted to make a change, and an easy-to-follow fitness program felt like a good place to start," she says. "Plus I really liked Anna's message that focuses on loving your body while wanting to change it for the better." (Did you know that Anna Victoria was once the last person you'd see at the gym?)

So Sosebee started FBG with no set end-goal in mind. Unexpectedly, the program began changing her life.

"Anna's message is rooted in working out because you love your body," she says. "It's about learning to embrace every part of you despite your flaws and despite anything else you may think is wrong with you as a person. Most of all, it reminds you that if you're unhappy with something, you have the power to change it."

That message empowered Sosebee in ways she didn't expect. "Three months after starting FBG, I had broken up with my boyfriend, moved out, and started a life on my own," she says. "Moving my body and listening to Anna's positive reinforcements every day gave me the strength to reclaim the power in my life that I'd lost a long time ago. I realized that while I was unhappy, I wasn't stuck, and I could get out of the situation I was in." (Here's proof that you don't need to be in a relationship to be happy.)

While Sosebee was making huge strides forward, it wasn't exactly smooth sailing from there. "Emotionally, I could feel myself starting to change," she says. "But physically, I didn't see the results I wanted right off the bat."

"I was doing the workouts, but with everything else going on (the break-up, moving, and reevaluating my life), I didn't understand how important the food aspect was," she says. (BTW: All that dieting is ruining your relationship with food.)

It took Sosebee a solid six months before she started reevaluating her eating habits. "That's when the real change came," she says. "The second year of the program, my body changed drastically, and I learned so much about how much different foods impact my mind and body."

By 2017, Sosebee had lost 85 pounds, but she didn't realize that she'd reached her goal weight and size. "I wasn't really weighing myself. I was just working out and eating right because I loved it," she says. "One day, my clothes just stopped fitting, so I decided to go shopping for the first time since I started my journey." (Related: Kelsey Wells Shares Why You Should Consider Ditching Your Goal Weight)

To start, Sosebee remembers grabbing a size 8, which was way too big. Then, she tried a size 6 and 4, before finally realizing she was now a size 2. "I immediately started bawling," she says. "My whole life, I thought that all I wanted was to be a size 2. Now, I'd reached that goal—but my body didn't reflect what I thought a size 2 should look like."

At that moment, Sosebee realized she had to reassess her entire weight-loss journey. "Even when I got to my goal size, I still didn't love my body, and that wasn't fair," she says. "I realized that I was dismissing all my hard work because of some stupid ideal number that, at the end of the day, measures nothing and means nothing." (Related: Why Losing Weight Won't Magically Make You Happy)

"So, this last year, I've focused on learning to love my body whatever size it is," she says. In the process, she's gained about 10 pounds, but she feels stronger and more confident than ever. "When I look in the mirror, I love my body and am proud of how far it's come."

Sosebee credits FBG for her mental and physical success—and she became such an advocate of the brand that she's now the creative director. (Yes, really!) "Anna herself interacted with so many of my posts and we DM'd a couple times when I first started using the program," she says. "I actually reached out to her to see if she'd be a reference for a job when I found out she was hiring for my current position. So I sent over my résumé, interviewed, and that was that. It was like everything came full circle."

Now Sosebee gets to help other women change their lives—and, more importantly, how they feel about their bodies—through FBG. (Related: The 10 Rules of Weight Loss That Lasts)

"If you're struggling to make a change in your life, start by letting go of the idea that you need to be perfect," she says. "Taking small steps makes all the difference. Switching out unhealthy snacks, going for a walk in the evening or on your lunch break—those things start to add up real fast. Just do the best you can every day, and remember that you're not in a competition with yourself; you're in a collaboration with yourself. Be as consistent as you can, stick to your goals, and the results will come."

This article originally appeared on Shape.

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