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Published June 08, 2013, 11:40 PM

Woman learns emotional healing is necessary for lasting physical transformation

FARGO - It took a few attempts for Angela Skaff to summon the courage to send a text message to her former employer in January. “I wasn’t sure if I could make it on my own anymore at that point, and I didn’t know who else to reach out to,” the 29-year-old West Fargo woman says.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

FARGO - It took a few attempts for Angela Skaff to summon the courage to send a text message to her former employer in January.

“I wasn’t sure if I could make it on my own anymore at that point, and I didn’t know who else to reach out to,” the 29-year-old West Fargo woman says.

Back in 2009, Angela worked for Mariah Prussia at her Fargo fitness studio as a personal trainer for a few months.

She worked hard to get there, shedding over half her body weight, working out and studying exercise science at North Dakota State University.

But in the years since, she returned to overeating as a coping mechanism to deal with things like job instability, homelessness and abusive relationships.

“Because it’s something I grew up with, it’s very comforting, and it’s something I can go back to. It helps me ‘shut off,’ ” she says.

Mariah, who owns Xtreme Measures, was surprised to learn that Angela regained all the weight she’d lost.

“When she told me, it kind of took me aback. Then we got into a more in-depth conversation about why, what’s been going on in however many years. A lot more things started coming out,” she says.

Beneath the weight

In her adulthood, Angela’s lowest weight was 193 pounds, her highest 480.

She’s lost about 20 pounds since she reconnected with Mariah, but the weight is only part of her journey.

This time, Angela’s addressing the issues behind her drastic loss and gain.

“The first time I lost the weight, it was truly just about getting small. I didn’t bother to touch on the issues that had caused the addictions and habits I formed,” she says.

Despite having the knowledge she needed to keep it off, living in poverty, not caring enough to take care of herself and shutting down provided the window for the weight to creep back on.

“Regaining the weight had slowly begun in 2009, but in 2010 through 2012, it just flooded back, and everything I had worked so hard for crumbled right before my eyes,” she says.

The remnants of Angela’s past continue to haunt her, but she believes everything happens for a reason.

“It has been a hell of a ride so far, and yet I can truly say if I would not have gone through everything I have, I would not be the person I am going to be,” she says.

Mariah, who teaches a kickboxing class Angela takes, says the physical aspect doesn’t matter if you don’t address the emotional.

“When you have financial stress, when you have emotional stress, when you have physical stress, it’s like a roller-coaster ride, and your weight loss is going to be like a roller-coaster ride because the thing is, if you don’t love yourself, you’re never going to be able to maintain, and it sucks,” she says.

Now that she’s bound and determined to take control of her health and her life, Angela has lots of goals, ambitions and dreams.

“We made a list, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, girl, I’m getting carpal tunnel here, slow down,’ ” Mariah says.

Together, they’ve been working on tying her goals – including a return to personal training – with emotions to help make them stick.

“I struggle because I have a hard time focusing, so my goals are all over, and I have emotions to all of them in different ways,” Angela says. “It’s been really easy for me to get distracted and not deal with any of them.”

Although she’s not progressing as quickly as she’d like, Angela knows she’s more likely to succeed long term if she takes her time.

“I know everybody wants to see this instant, rapid weight loss, but when you burn it and lose it fast, you’re usually not going to maintain it. Slow and steady wins the race,” Mariah says.

Strength through faith

Throughout the process, Angela’s faith has helped her find the strength to overcome her fears.

It’s helped her break free from her addictions – food, exercise, alcohol and back to food again.

“At the end of the day, sadly, those who choose food will make it clear to the outside world what their issue is versus other addictions that can be hidden in different forms,” she says.

She’s been sober for almost four years now, and this year she’s conquering the next hurdle, her weight.

“This time, it’s about enjoying the journey and not saying, ‘My life will start when I am ‘X’ number of pounds,’ ” she says. “My life is now, and there will be ups and downs, but I am learning to live day by day.”

Angela believes if she can heal on the inside, she can work toward the “total package” she envisions for herself.

“In this time, I have developed a relationship with God, and only until you’re ready can he heal, love and provide,” she says. “I have had such a hard time letting him in, but slowly, the walls have cracked.”

She sees sharing her story as a piece of the “sozo puzzle.” Sozo is a Greek word meaning salvation – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

“For me, it’s all about getting my life together as a whole for the rest of it,” she says.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590

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