Losing weight, finding motivation

Elysha Lang works out at Dixon Recreaction Center. Lang uses her own personal experiences to teach students how to be healthy through training.

Cassidy Wood, News Contributor

Elysha Lang uses her life experiences to help others make healthy choices

 

When asked about food, chances are that Elysha Lang knows what it’s made of.  Years of monitoring what she’s been putting into her body has turned Lang into a nutrition label expert. 

“I know food labels now better than anything else,” Lang said. “I’m not kidding.  If you named any food right now, I could probably tell you exactly what’s in it.”

Majoring in exercise science and public health, Lang’s success as a trainer already has come from spending the majority of her life focused on fitness and health. 

“I am very open about my story,” Lang said. “Because I want to help people like me. I’ve been there, I know what you’re going through. I still do.”

Lang’s fitness journey has not been an easy one. But Lang has turned her experiences into motivation to help those around her.

“I think one thing that will really help Lang excel in this industry is the amount of empathy she is able to have for her clients,” said co-worker at Dixon Recreation, Gabby Kent.  “She has been there before, both physically and emotionally, so she is already someone who can feel for people and that will take her far.”

 

“I was the cute chubby kid”

 

Growing up in Oregon, Lang’s parents only kept veggies and fruits around the house, and she rarely ate any sweets. But coming from a family of five who all have thin, athletic builds, Lang somehow did not get those genes.

“I was a big girl,” Lang said. “In elementary school, I was the cute chubby kid. It wasn’t until middle school that I started having to deal with the bullying, but then it got pretty bad.  I was this fat kid that nobody really liked or

paid attention to.”

Sixth grade was the beginning of an ongoing life struggle for Lang. Nicknamed ‘Ellie’, Lang started getting called things like ‘Ellie Belly’, or ‘Ellie the Elephant.’ Classmates would even make beeping noises at her in the hallways, as if she were a semi-truck.

“The funny thing is, I never even talked to these kids before,” Lang said. “I literally didn’t even know some of their names, and they probably didn’t know mine either. Yet they would beep at me in the hallways, or make noises at me, because I was fat.”

After being ridiculed her entire sixth grade year, Lang began to tell herself what the other kids would tell her.  She started believing she was actually like an elephant, and started to get really down on herself.

“I looked in the mirror and began to see what others were constantly telling me,” she said. “And that’s so wrong.  It shouldn’t matter what others are saying about you.  It’s your life!  You’re the only one that has to live with yourself the entire time. It should only matter what you think of you.”

 

“I was too embarrassed to go to a gym”

 

The summer after seventh grade was when Lang decided it was time for a change.  She wanted to be thin, she wanted attention from boys, she wanted to feel popular.  So she started to lose weight.  She went about it the right way at first, but quickly lost sight of what was most important—staying healthy.

“What I did to lose the weight, I did it wrong.  I will admit that,” Lang said.  “I started off right.  I worked out once a day, and I was monitoring what I was eating.  But then, I started to see results.  I saw the numbers on the scale going down, so I started to get more aggressive with it.”

Lang noticed that as she ate less and less, the numbers would go down quicker, and if she worked out even more, they would go down even faster than that.

She started working out up to six times a day; eating one half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch and the other half for dinner—and that was it.

“Remember, it was the summer time,” she said.  “So I devoted every day to losing weight.  I didn’t work out at a gym, I was too embarrassed to go to a gym.  So I would watch fitness videos and do exercises at home, constantly.”

Lang managed to lose a total of 120 pounds in just the summer between her seventh and eighth grade years.  She was down to 82 pounds, from 202, yet she would still look at herself in the mirror and think there was more work to be done. 

When she returned to school after that summer, everyone thought she was a new kid.  Even her teachers had trouble recognizing her. But despite gaining popularity among her peers after becoming thin, Lang couldn’t overcome the negative body image that she had built up in her head.

“It’s pretty bad, how distorted I saw myself,” she said.  “I mean there was proof, the scale said I was losing weight, but I would still look in the mirror and not be happy with myself.”

She began to notice how unhealthy she was being once she started playing volleyball

in eighth grade.  

“I was completely exhausted, every day,” Lang said.  “I had no energy, and I was starving!”  

It was Lang’s mom who finally convinced her she needed to make a larger change.

 “I grew up my entire life being insecure; I grew up my whole life thinking I needed to be skinnier.  My sisters are thin, my family is thin—I was the odd one out.  But my mom was the one who finally said, ‘Elysha, you are too thin. You are just as unhealthy when you’re that thin as you are when you’re overweight. You need to find a balance.’”

 

“The healthiest I’ve ever been”

 

Lang’s mother was a big part of her becoming healthy again.  Having to go through many life challenges, including defeating cancer, her mom has a really good appreciation for life.

“My mom is the one who told me there is more to life than being a size 0,” she said.  “She would just constantly be there, by my side, pulling these negative thoughts I had about myself out of my head.

Lang began to research how to eat healthy, how to work out, and how to gain muscle—something she had not considered before.

“I never knew (gaining muscle) was a thing, and now I found a way to be healthy without having to weigh 90 pounds.”

In high school, Lang began eating more healthy foods and cut down the number of workouts she was doing per day.  Sports played a big role in her life too, during that time.  She was able to be distracted from her insecurities, while still living a healthy life.

“I was building muscle, gaining the weight back,” she said.  “It was good, it was necessary.  But to this day, I am still trying to figure it out.  Right now, I think I’m the heaviest I’ve been since I lost all that weight; but inside, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been.”

 

“Spreads motivation like glitter”

 

Lang uses her personal life experiences as a platform to connect with clients as a trainer.  She is not afraid to open up about her story, as she’s found a new passion for helping people overcome the same struggles she’s faced.

“My passion in training is to help my clients altogether better themselves,” Lang said.  “I have so much knowledge with this, I could honestly transform anyone into what they want to look like; but I like to focus on the bigger picture.  I help with meal plans, and I am just that buddy to have who will be a good influence, but who will also hold you accountable. The ‘tough love’ aspect.”

Although she’s only worked at Dixon for a year, Lang has already been a positive influence on many of her coworkers.  

“Elysha is so motivating,” Kent said.  “She’s the kind of person who has that spark, and there really aren’t a whole lot of people I know

who have that.  

Outside of work, Lang makes huge positive impacts on the students around campus.  So much so that she was interviewed by Polly Lisicak on the KBVR-TV show ‘Grabbin’ Life by the Pollz.’

“That girl is extremely inspiring,” Lisicak said.  “She spreads motivation like glitter, and I will treasure our relationship for the rest of my life.”

It took a long journey for Lang to get to where she is today, and she still isn’t done yet.  She is determined to help her clients make more long-term goals to live a healthy lifestyle, rather than trying to lose weight for the wrong reasons. 

“That’s why people are constantly gaining and losing weight—because their ‘why’ is constantly changing,” Lang said.  “Your goal setting has to be on point, and once that is done, you move on to making the small changes.”

Lang will graduate from OSU this summer and plans to move to Florida to work at an internship with Edible Education.

“My main objective in life now is to make people understand that health is fitness,” she said.  “There is no such thing as being perfect.  People are human; they’ve struggled, and they will continue to struggle.  Don’t listen to what the fitness programs are telling you.  There is no easy fix.  You will have to work at this for the rest of your life, and you have to be willing to do so.”